Notes: A suggestion to improve HOF attendance

By Doug FergusonMay 14, 2013, 5:22 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – On a night of celebration, one of the embarrassing moments at the World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony was early in the program, when Hall of Fame members in attendance were recognized. The introductions didn't take very long.

There were only eight of them, all women.

''Getting players to come back has always been a bit of a challenge over the years,'' PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. ''It does raise a question in my mind about whether this is the best time of the year to do it.''

Back in 1998, the inaugural induction at the World Golf Village was held in May. The ceremony also has been in the late fall. It has been indoors and outdoors. Finchem had to be persuaded to move it to the week of The Players Championship, fearing it would detract from the tournament.

Whenever or wherever, it's not working.

Here's one suggestion. The Tour should consider working with IMG (along with title sponsor PNC Bank) and move the Father-Son Challenge from Orlando to north Florida, near the Hall of Fame. The tournament is for fathers who have won major championships, such a long list that the Father-Son often has an alternate list. Make the Hall of Fame induction ceremony the centerpiece of that week, and it's sure to be a big night.

Attendance isn't the only thing under review.

One element of the Hall of Fame that becomes confusing is players being inducted in the prime of their careers. The minimum age to get on the ballot is 40. Phil Mickelson was inducted when he was 41, and he has won twice more since then. Ernie Els won a fourth major after his induction.

Golf is a game to play forever, but why wasn't the age set at 50, the same age when players are eligible for the Champions Tour? Why 40?

''I don't really remember why,'' Finchem said. ''It seemed to be the thing to at that point in time for whatever we were looking at.''

He said the minimum age has been discussed in the last couple of years, and ''it's currently under discussion.''

There's also the matter of having a PGA Tour ballot for the ''World'' Golf Hall of Fame. It sends a subtle message that this really is about the PGA Tour. International players get their own ballot.

''I think it's timely to take a look at everything we're doing and take a fresh look,'' Finchem said. ''We haven't done that in several years.''


WORLD CUP: Rory McIlroy said two weeks ago he would not be playing in the World Cup of Golf this year. There is speculation that if he were to represent Ireland at the World Cup, he would be have no choice but to play under the Irish flag in the 2016 Olympics.

But the announcement over the weekend that the World Cup was going to Royal Melbourne this fall under a new format piqued his interest.

Northern Ireland, for the first time, can field its own team.

''That might change things a little bit,'' McIlroy said before leaving TPC Sawgrass.

Graeme McDowell certainly hopes so.

''I need my partner in crime in Melbourne,'' he said. ''Regardless whether Rory wants to play or not, I want to play this year. If it works, I'd like him to be there, as well. But we'll see.''

McDowell spoke before he was aware of the change in format and that Northern Ireland can choose to have its own team.

Padraig Harrington smiled when told that Northern Ireland could have its own team. ''It suits me,'' he said. Harrington is the highest-ranked player from Ireland.

The $8 million purse will be divided with $7 million of it for the individual competition (which also provides world ranking points) and $1 million for the team. It will be stroke play, combining the scores of the two-man teams. The field will be capped at 60 players. Countries are allowed no more than four players – provided the additional two are inside the top 15 in the world – but the two players with the highest ranking will be the team. If the cutoff were now, and everyone wanted to play, Tiger Woods and Brandt Snedeker (No. 5) would represent the United States in the team competition.

Players and countries are selected from the world ranking until the 60-man field is set. There likely will be no more than about 18 teams.

Perhaps the strangest part of this World Cup? Royal Melbourne will hold two events in successive weeks. The Australian Masters will be Nov. 14-17, followed by the World Cup of Golf Nov. 21-24.


OPEN AND OUT: Louis Oosthuizen isn't making big plans to see Merion ahead of the U.S. Open because he's not sure he will be there. His wife, Nel-Mare, is expecting their third child on the Saturday of the tournament.

In a perfect world, she will have the baby the weekend before.

''But if it's during the U.S. Open, I won't play,'' Oosthuizen said. ''If it's Monday and she hasn't gone into labor, I probably won't go. When the doctor said the date, I looked at the calendar and said, 'Wow. Well done.' But family is more important.''

His other two children were born in December and February, so the South African hasn't had to cope with babies born around the majors.


OGILVY GETS HIS MATCH: Geoff Ogilvy missed out on the Match Play Championship in Arizona when he plunged in the world ranking, a tough blow for a guy who has won the event twice and reached the championship match another time.

But he won't be shut out from his favorite format.

Ogilvy was on the charter from Sawgrass to Bulgaria to take part in the World Match Play Championship that starts this week. His agent called him a few weeks ago to make sure he had no plans to play the HP Byron Nelson Championship and to let him know he might get in the Match Play.

''It wasn't even on my radar,'' Ogilvy said after missing the cut at The Players.

Nicolas Colsaerts is the defending champion in a 24-man field that includes Graeme McDowell and Henrik Stenson. There are eight groups of three players who play a round-robin format with the top two advancing to single elimination.

''It's a good format for me, probably – hopefully,'' said Ogilvy, who is having a year to forget. He not only failed to qualify for the Match Play in Arizona, he narrowly missed out on the Masters. He already has missed seven cuts this year. Match play is his favorite format, so maybe this can shake things up for him.

''Besides, when am I ever going to go to Bulgaria again,'' Ogilvy said. ''And it's a match play tournament. And they're getting us there easily. And I wasn't going to play Dallas, anyway. Why not at this point?''


DIVOTS: Jimmy Walker has made 22 consecutive cuts, the longest active streak on the PGA Tour and only 120 tournaments short of Tiger Woods' record. ... Sandy Dawson of Australia, former captain and now president of Royal Sydney Golf Club, has been appointed captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews for 2013-14. He is only the second Australian appointed to the post. ... Ernie Ransom, president of Pine Valley Golf Club from 1977 through 2001, died last week at age 86. ... Phil Mickelson has confirmed that he will return to the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart, a week before the British Open. ... The European Tour returns to Denmark next year for the first time since 2003. The tournament will be called Made in Denmark.


STAT OF THE WEEK: For the second time in his career, Woods won his last tournament before the Masters and his first tournament after the Masters.


FINAL WORD: ''Nobody has ever sued the Tour for being cleared of getting a drug violation.'' – Harrington on Vijay Singh's lawsuit.

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The Social: G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T.

By Jason CrookJanuary 23, 2018, 6:00 pm

Tom Brady compares himself to Tiger Woods, who coincidentally is returning to the PGA Tour this week, Jordan Spieth hangs out with some decent company and kids these days ruffle some feathers with their friendships.

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

Well, it’s finally Farmers Insurance Open week and Woods has been spotted practicing for his official return to the PGA Tour on Thursday.

Some thought this day might never come after a 2017 filled with mostly downs for the 14-time major champ.

But as he has taught the golf world time and time again, you just can't count Tiger out.

So even as Jon Rahm attempts to overtake Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world this week at Torrey Pines, all eyes will be on one of the greatest we've ever seen do it, even if that guy is ranked No. 647 in the world.

Speaking of greatness …

There’s not many who can just offhandedly compare themselves to Tiger, but if anyone gets a pass, it’s Tom Brady.

The 40-year-old New England Patriots quarterback led his team back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year despite playing the AFC title game with a cut on his throwing hand.

When asked about it after the Patriots come-from-behind victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady answered, “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”

So there you have it. A 40-year-old Brady is winning AFC Championships with his C game. Good luck, Eagles; you’re going to need it.

Also, if for some reason you wanted an update on Justin Thomas' life, it's still awesome:

Yeah, that's last year's PGA Tour Player of the Year hanging with Cy Young winner Cory Kluber in a suite at the Patriots game and teasing us with a possible #SB2K18 cameo.

Curtis Strange likes his competitive golf straight up, hold the friendliness.

This, according to Curtis Strange.

The two-time U.S. Open champ took to Twitter during the CareerBuilder Challenge to vent his frustration regarding the constant chit-chat and friendliness between Rahm and Andrew Landry:

This, of course, makes sense in theory. But good luck watching golf – or really any sport – from here on out. Sure there will be a few old school guys who buck the trend here and there, but for the most part, it’s really hard to share a private jet/dinners/vacations/(insert awesome thing here) with someone, and then completely turn off the friendship coming down the stretch of a big tournament.

Damn millennials. They ruin everything.

By now you've all seen that poor Philadelphia Eagles fan who lost his battle with a subway station pillar (from multiple angles), so instead here is a video of a man attempting to stand on an egg. Bet you can't guess how that goes.

Tony's gonna stand on an egg

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Seriously if you haven't seen the video of that Eagles fan, here's your last chance in this column. You'll be glad you did.

Jordan Spieth, Michael Phelps and Bryce Harper walk on to a golf course … there’s no punchline, that actually happened last week in Las Vegas.

Was the whole thing just a big advertisement for Spieth’s new Under Armour shoe? You bet.

But that doesn’t make the optics of three of the biggest superstar athletes on the planet teeing it up for a round any less awesome.

Off to the next. #Spieth2 #TEAMUA

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The trio has three major wins, five All Star Game appearances and 28 Olympic medals between them, and there they were over the weekend just fake laughing for the camera and driving around individual golf carts with their own personalized logos on them.

Just guys being dudes. Nothing better than that.

Matt Kuchar. Still good at golf. Still overly polite. This according to European Tour pro Eddie Pepperell who had the privilege of hitting on the range next to Kuuuuuch in Abu Dhabi last week.

That image is burned into your brain forever now, thanks Eddie. From now on when you think of Kuchar you're going to think of those Sketches ads and "oopsies."

Which, I suppose is better than a, "Did you get that?"

Blayne Barber's caddie, Cory Gilmer, collapsed and hit his head while at a restaurant at the Sony Open and has been mostly unconscious in the neurological intensive care unit ever since.

The outpouring of love and support from the golf community has been overwhelming on social media, and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with the mounting medical costs for Gilmer and his family.

Check out the link below for more info or to donate to a worthy cause:

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Top-ranked amateur wins LAAC, earns Masters invite

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 5:38 pm

Joaquin Niemann walked Augusta National Golf Club as a patron last year. He’ll be a competitor in 2018.

Niemann, the top-ranked amateur in the world, shot 8-under 63 Tuesday at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Santiago, Chile, to win the Latin America Amateur Championship.

And with the title, both redemption and an invitation to the Masters Tournament.


Full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship


Niemann finished runner-up in last year’s LAAC to fellow Chilean Toto Gana. He followed Gana around Augusta grounds, watching as his best friend played two rounds before missing the cut.

Niemann, who was going to turn professional had he not won this week, started the final round one back of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz. Niemann was sluggish from the start on Tuesday, but then drove the 313-yard, par-4 eighth and made the eagle putt. That sparked a run of five birdies over his next six holes.

Niemann was bogey-free in the final round and finished five shots clear of Ortiz, at 11 under.

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Judges Panel, Host Announced for Wilson Golf's "Driver vs. Driver 2," Premiering This Fall on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 23, 2018, 4:15 pm

‘Driver vs. Driver 2 Presented by Wilson Currently in Production; Sports Broadcaster Melanie Collins Returns to Host

Morning Drive: Driver vs. Driver 2 Judges Announced

Golf Channel and Wilson Golf announced today the panel of judges and host for the second season of Driver vs. Driver, the innovative television series that follows aspiring golf equipment designers as they compete for the opportunity to have their driver idea or concept transformed into the next great golf driver from Wilson. The show is currently in production and will premiere this fall.

Joining judge Tim Clarke, President of Wilson Golf, are two newcomers to the series: 9-time National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star and current NHL on NBC hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick – an avid golfer with a single digit handicap and a self-described golf equipment junkie; and PGA Professional, golf coach, equipment reviewer and social media influencer Rick Shiels.

“Golf is a big passion of mine, and personally I enjoy learning about new equipment and concepts,” said Roenick. “To be able to see this side of the business in how equipment is developed first-hand is fascinating. Being a part of the process in reviewing driver concepts and narrowing them down to an ultimate winning driver that will be sold across the country is a tremendous honor.” 

“Jeremy, as an avid golfer, and Rick, as a coach, equipment reviewer and golf professional, bring incredible, real world insights and different perspectives to the show and this process,” said Clarke. “I’m excited to work alongside these two judges to push the boundaries of innovation and bring a next-generation driver to golfers around the world.”

Sports broadcaster Melanie Collins returns as the host of Driver vs. Driver 2. Currently a sideline reporter for CBS Sports’ college football and basketball coverage, Collins hosted the inaugural season in 2016 and formerly co-hosted Golf Channel’s competition series, Big Break.

Production for Driver vs. Driver 2 began in the fall of 2017 and will continue through the summer, including this week at the PGA Merchandise Show. The series is being produced by Golf Channel, whose portfolio of original productions include interview series Feherty hosted by Emmy-nominated sports personality David Feherty, high-quality instruction shows School of Golf, Golf Channel Academy and Playing Lessons and a slate of award-winning films.

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Tiger Tracker: Farmers Insurance Open

By Tiger TrackerJanuary 23, 2018, 4:00 pm

Tiger Woods is competing in a full-field event for the first time in nearly a year. We're tracking him at this week's Farmers Insurance Open. (Note: Tweets read, in order, left to right)