Notes: Spieth sports AT&T logo like Tiger used to

By Doug FergusonNovember 4, 2014, 1:45 pm

SHANGHAI – For the first time in nearly five years, the AT&T logo can be found on a golf bag on the PGA Tour.

It belongs to Jordan Spieth.

Spieth showed up at the WGC-HSBC Champions with a black-and-orange golf bag promoting AT&T. He signed an endorsement deal with the Texas-based telecommunications giant earlier this year, and this was the first evidence of the logo while he was on the golf course.

AT&T is one of the top supporters of the PGA Tour, with title sponsorship at Pebble Beach and the Byron Nelson on the PGA Tour, and a Champions Tour event in Texas.

The last player AT&T endorsed on the PGA Tour was Tiger Woods. He had an AT&T bag when he returned from knee surgery early in 2009. The company ended its endorsement deal a month after revelations that Woods had multiple extramarital affairs.

Spieth is playing for the first time since the Ryder Cup. He is headed back home to Dallas after the HSBC Champions, and then returning to Asia to play in the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan and then the Australian Open in Sydney before ending his year at the Hero World Challenge that Woods hosts in Florida.


KOEPKA'S DILEMMA: Brooks Koepka is spending a much-needed week of vacation in Thailand before two final events on the European Tour that could shape his schedule next year.

Koepka began his career on the Challenge Tour in Europe, winning three times to earn an instant promotion to the European Tour. He did well enough in his limited starts on the PGA Tour last year – a tie for fourth in the U.S. Open and a tie for third in the Frys.com Open – to earn his U.S. card.

He would like to play both tours again next year, but that can only happen if he's entrenched in the top 50 in the world. That would make him eligible for the World Golf Championships and the majors, which means he would need only limited starts in Europe to keep both cards.

But right now, Koepka is at No. 60.

Even though he was a European Tour member first, PGA Tour regulations do not allow the Floridian to claim Europe as his home circuit, meaning he would need to get a release to play overseas. Players typically are granted three ''conflicting event releases'' when playing 15 PGA Tour events, with one more release for every five more PGA Tour events they play.

One caveat is for players to claim an alternative home circuit, but only if they have been a member of that tour at least five years and commit to playing at least 20 times on the PGA Tour. Frank Nobilo of New Zealand went that route when he joined the PGA Tour after several years in Europe.

Koepka finishes his year in Turkey and Dubai, both of which will have strong world ranking points.


DUSTIN JOHNSON: That voluntarily leave by Dustin Johnson certainly isn't hurting his position in the world ranking.

Johnson was at No. 16 in the world after the Canadian Open when he announced he was stepping away from golf to seek professional help for ''personal challenges.'' He is No. 15 in the world now.

Johnson will start losing points, starting with the HSBC Champions. He won a year ago Sheshan International and is not back to defend.

His agent at Hambric Sports, David Winkle, said Tuesday that Johnson is not expected back until sometime early next year. Johnson's fiancé, Paulina Gretzky, is expecting their first child and Johnson won't play again until the baby is born.

''They haven't announced when the baby is due yet,'' Winkle said.


DIVOTS: Adam Scott is trying out another caddie this week at the HSBC Champions. He is using David Clark, who works for Cameron Tringale. ... Graeme McDowell says he will be joining a task force, only it has nothing to do with the Ryder Cup. McDowell says he has been asked by his alma mater, the University of Alabama-Birmingham, to be part of a group that studies the future of the football program. ... Tickets went on sale Tuesday for the British Open next year at St. Andrews. A daily ticket for adults will increase 5 pounds to 70 pounds (about $110) if bought before May 31, and to 80 pounds ($125) after that. Weekly tickets are available for 240 pounds ($380). A daily ticket went for 60 pounds ($95) in 2010 when The Open was last held at St. Andrews. ... Davis Love III tied for eighth in Malaysia, his first top 10 on the PGA Tour in two years.


STAT OF THE WEEK: McDowell is the only player with top-10s in every World Golf Championship this year. He was a quarterfinalist at the Match Play Championship, tied for ninth at Doral and tied for eighth at Firestone.


FINAL WORD: ''I know one thing for sure. We can't have more than 52 tournaments.'' – Henrik Stenson on what the golf calendar will look like in 10 years.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

Getty Images

Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.