Notes: Tiger ditches Torrey, plans on Pebble

By Doug FergusonNovember 22, 2011, 8:00 pm

MELBOURNE, Australia – Tiger Woods appeared to turn his back on Torrey Pines when he announced last week that he would open his 2012 season that week in Abu Dhabi at the HSBC Championship, with an appearance fee that likely approaches $3 million.

Woods not only is a seven-time winner at Torrey Pines – including the 2008 U.S. Open – he has started every season when healthy in San Diego since 2006, and the Farmers Insurance Open was the only California event he played during the West Coast swing.

But there’s a bigger picture to his scheduling.

Indications are that Woods plans a return to the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am for the first time since 2002.

Such a move would make sense. Even though AT&T became the second corporate sponsor to drop Woods after revelations of his extramarital affairs in November 2009, it stayed on as the title sponsor of his tournament. Woods no longer is the official host of the AT&T National in early July, but his foundation remains the main charity beneficiary.

Woods had planned to play Pebble Beach in 2010 when he had the AT&T logo on his bag, though that was before his personal life imploded. He could not play last year because it was opposite the Dubai Desert Classic, and Woods was fulfilling an existing contract.

Since he last played the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, the tournament has improved by trimming the field from 180 players to 156 players, and taking Poppy Hills out of the rotation and replacing it with the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula.

Woods last played Pebble Beach in 2010 at the U.S. Open, when he shot 75 in the final round and tied for fourth. His link to Pebble Beach will always be 2000, when he came from five shots behind in the last round to win the AT&T for his seventh straight PGA Tour victory, then shattered records with a 15-shot win at the U.S. Open that summer.

As for Abu Dhabi?

It had the strongest field of any European Tour event this year outside the majors and World Golf Championships, yet the title sponsor cannot be overlooked. HSBC is one of the primary corporate sponsors (AT&T is another) of the Tiger Woods Foundation, which includes being a founding partner of the Tiger Woods Learning Center.

Besides, there is precedence to Woods skipping Torrey Pines.

In his first full year on the PGA Tour, he instead went overseas for two weeks of appearance money. Woods won the Asian Honda Classic and tied for eighth in the Australian Masters. That was two months before he won the 1997 Masters.


NEXT UP: When Nick Price was last seen at the Presidents Cup, the tension was so high in South Africa that he snapped a putter over his knee on the 18th hole at Fancourt. His next appearance is likely to be as the International team captain.

Price fits the profile as a three-time major champion, an immensely popular player from Zimbabwe who was No. 1 in the world and played on the first five teams.

As for the United States’ next captain? That’s where it gets a little more up in the air.

The logical choice would be Mark O’Meara, snubbed by the PGA of America as captain of the Ryder Cup went it went to Ireland in 2006. The two-time major champion is interested in the job and was the first player to go 5-0 in the Presidents Cup.

Other options could be Kenny Perry, a three-time winner of the Memorial at Muirfield Village, site of the 2013 Presidents Cup. The PGA Tour might also inquire about Tom Watson, in keeping with earlier times of the Presidents Cup when the captains included Arnold Palmer, Peter Thomson, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.


WORLD CUP: Gareth Paddison of New Zealand was raving about the power of Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson, asking which of them could hit it the longest off the tee. A short time later, Paddison mentioned how thrilled he was that he and Michael Hendry would be playing in the World Cup, which starts Thursday at Mission Hills in China.

Paddison holed a bunker shot in the playoff as New Zealand earned one of three spots in a qualifier at Malaysia. The Kiwis will be part of the 28-man field.

“I know Matt Kuchar is playing for the United States,” Paddison said. “I don’t know much about the other guy.”

For someone intrigued by sheer power, wait until Paddison gets his eyes on Gary Woodland.

Kuchar and Woodland will try to end a 10-year losing streak by the Americans, who once dominated an event that dates to 1953. They will be far from favorites, however. Far from it.

Northern Ireland is sending the last two U.S. Open champions (Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell), while South Africa counters with Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen. Ian Poulter and Justin Rose are playing for England. The defending champion from 2009 is Italy, which returns Francesco and Edoardo Molinari.


HOPEFULS AND FAILURES: As a reminder how quickly fortunes can turn in golf, consider Woody Austin in the Presidents Cup just four years ago. He fell face first into the water at Royal Montreal trying to play a shot and was nicknamed “Aquaman.”

As the Americans were winning at Royal Melbourne, Austin failed to get through the second stage of Q-school and now only has status as a past champion.

Austin wasn’t alone. Among others who failed to get through the second stage were past PGA Tour winnersWill MacKenzie, Joe Durant, Robert Damron, Ted Purdy, Parker McLachlin, Eric Axley and Frank Lickliter.

Advancing to the final stage were Tommy Armour III, former major champions Rich Beem and Lee Janzen, along with Boo Weekley, a favorite in the Ryder Cup just three years ago at Valhalla.

A pair of college kids who won this year on the Nationwide Tour had mixed results – Harris English advanced to the final stage next week in California, while Russell Henley did not. Henley, of course, still has full status in the minor leagues.

Sam Saunders, the grandson of Arnold Palmer, also made it to the Q-school finals for the first time. Ty Tryon, who first earned his card in 2001 when he was 17, made it back to the final stage 10 years later.


DIVOTS: Phil Mickelson now has played 42 matches in the Presidents Cup, breaking the record held by Vijay Singh (40). When he lost to Adam Scott in singles, it ended an 11-match unbeaten streak for Mickelson in the Presidents Cup. … Gary Hallberg, the first of six players who earned PGA Tour cards without going to Q-school, was among five players who earned Champions Tour cards last week. The others were P.H. Horgan III, Jeff Hart, Jim Rutledge and Jeff Freeman. … Symetra has signed on as the umbrella sponsor for the LPGA’s developmental tour. It now will be called the Symetra Tour. … Those who buy tickets to the Memorial next year will get a one-time link that allows them access to Presidents Cup tickets in 2013 at Muirfield Village at a discounted rate of $165 for a grounds pass. That ticket normally is $207 for the week.


STAT OF THE WEEK: The Americans have a 7-1-1 record in the Presidents Cup. After the first nine matches at the Ryder Cup, the Americans had a 7-2-0 record.


FINAL WORD: “Just because we lost doesn’t mean to say we didn’t win.” International captain Greg Norman, whose team lost 19-15 to the Americans in the Presidents Cup.

South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

The fourball results:

LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.

 

Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

Made Cut

The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

“Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.


Missed Cut

Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Updated at 9:50 p.m. ET

Images and footage from Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson's round Friday at Trump National in Jupiter, Fla., alongside President Donald Trump:



Original story:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.



Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''