Notes: Tour says no changes in store for FedEx Cup

By Doug FergusonJanuary 4, 2012, 1:24 am

KAPALUA, Hawaii – In the last two years of the FedEx Cup playoffs, a runner-up finish for Martin Laird at The Barclays and for Chez Reavie at the Deutsche Bank Championship was enough for them to lock up a spot in the Tour Championship - and three of the majors - after what had been ordinary seasons.

That scenario is not likely to change for 2012.

After crunching numbers using different models, the PGA Tour has decided to leave the points structure alone for the FedEx Cup. The system was changed after each of the first three years in existence. This now is the third straight year with no tweaking.

At least not yet.

PGA Tour spokesman Ty Votaw said even though FedEx Cup points will start being awarded this week at the Tournament of Champions, changes could be made at the next policy board meeting in March, though “I would say that’s unlikely.”

The formula has been working well for the most part. The reward for a strong regular season is a high seeding going into the playoffs, which translates to better odds of reaching the Tour Championship. And there’s still plenty of volatility for a high finish in the playoff events, as Reavie showed last year and Laird did in 2010.

Points are worth five times as much in the playoffs. Votaw said Tour officials looked at how the standings would be if points were only tripled, or quadrupled, and didn’t see anything worth changing.

“Going down to four (times the points) doesn’t change a whole lot. We don’t think going down to three changes much,” Votaw said. “There has to be some premium on funneling down to the playoffs. The whole question of volatility has been a vexing one from the start. But we think the last three years have been good.”

Volatility was evident all the way to the end last year. Bill Haas narrowly got into the Tour Championship as the No. 25 seed, then won the $10 million bonus by winning the Tour Championship with most of the top players in the standings faltering.


RANKING THE TOURS: The first month of the golf season is when American players typically complain about the world ranking, either how many spots they dropped since they last played or how many more points are available on the European Tour. Over the course of the season, though, the PGA Tour remains the strongest, and their players will have ample opportunity.

The average ranking points awarded to PGA Tour winners last year was 54.05, compared with 43.78 points for European Tour winners. Throw out the four majors and four World Golf Championships, and the average points for PGA Tour winners was 46.94 compared with 35.12 in Europe.

There were only nine weeks when European Tour events offered more world ranking points - Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Malaysian Open, World Match Play, Wentworth, Scottish Open, Dunhill Links Championship, Madrid Masters and Andalucia Masters. Of those last three tournaments, two were opposite Fall Series events in America, and the last one was opposite the Asia Pacific Championship.


NOT A TOTAL LOSS: Dustin Johnson, Fredrik Jacobson and Brandt Snedeker didn’t make it to Kapalua for the Tournament of Champions, though $59,000 will make it into their bank accounts.

Because they are recovering from injuries and unable to play, those three players will be awarded last-place money. It is not official and will not count toward the money list.

Eight other players who chose not to play will not get last-place money. Most of them are international players who are taking time off, from Charl Schwartzel in South Africa to Luke Donald, who played three times in December.

Justin Rose, whose wife gave birth to their second child on Sunday, does not get last-place money. According to Tour policy, that’s only for players who can’t compete because of a serious personal emergency, injury or other disability that requires medical attention.


DIVOTS: In an email Q&A with The Associated Press for the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship, Tiger Woods was asked why he never considered adding a few tournaments and taking up European Tour membership to win both money titles, as Luke Donald did this year. “To fulfill playing commitments on both tours is a huge undertaking,” he replied. “I really admire Luke’s achievement.” … Ian Poulter will be taking off the entire month of January for good reason. Poulter only recently disclosed that his wife, Katie, is expecting their fourth child in four weeks. … Nick Watney’s wife gave him a surf board (called “The Dominator”) for their anniversary, and he planned to bring it to Maui to try some grown-up waves. Alas, the board was broken on a recent trip and he couldn’t surf. The good news for Watney, a surfing novice, is that it improved his chances of a healthy start to the new season.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Twelve of the 28 players at Kapalua are in the Tournament of Champions for the first time.


FINAL WORD: “Getting that invite to your first Masters … it’s probably not as big of a deal to the younger guys. But when you’ve tried for 14 or 15 years, it’s a real emotional moment.” - Harrison Frazar, who at age 40 will be playing in his first Masters.

 

Rahm, Koepka both jump in OWGR after wins

By Will GrayNovember 20, 2017, 1:19 pm

Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka both made moves inside the top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings following wins in Dubai and Japan, respectively.

Rahm captured the European Tour season finale, winning the DP World Tour Championship by a shot. It was his third worldwide victory of 2017 and it allowed the Spaniard to overtake Hideki Matsuyama at world No. 4. It also establishes a new career high in the rankings for Rahm, who started the year ranked No. 137.

Koepka cruised to a nine-shot victory while successfully defending his title at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix. The victory was his first since winning the U.S. Open and it helped Koepka jump three spots to No. 7 in the latest rankings. Reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele, who finished second behind Koepka in Japan, went from 30th to 24th.

After earning his maiden PGA Tour victory at the RSM Classic, Austin Cook vaulted from No. 302 to No. 144 in the world. Runner-up J.J. Spaun jumped 48 spots to No. 116, while a hole-out with his final approach helped Brian Gay rise 73 spots to No. 191 after finishing alone in third at Sea Island.

Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas with Rahm and Matsuyama now rounding out the top five. Justin Rose remains at No. 6, followed by Koepka, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson. Rory McIlroy slid two spots to No. 10 and is now in danger of falling out of the top 10 for the first time since May 2014.

With his return to competition now less than two weeks away, Tiger Woods fell four more spots to No. 1193 in the latest rankings.

Love to undergo hip replacement surgery

By Rex HoggardNovember 20, 2017, 1:08 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Two days removed from arguably the most hectic week of his year, Davis Love III will undergo replacement surgery on his left hip.

Love, who hosted and played in last week’s RSM Classic, said he tried to avoid the surgery, but the pain became too much and he will undergo the procedure on Tuesday at the Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala.

“I had a hip problem the last few years, and I had a hip resurfacing trying to avoid hip surgery because I’m a chicken, but after playing [the CIMB Classic and Sanderson Farms Championship] I realized it was an uphill battle,” Love said.


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


Love said doctors have told him recovery from the procedure will take between three to four months, but he should be able to start work on his chipping and putting within a few weeks.

Love, who missed the cut at the RSM Classic, said earlier in the week that his goal is to become the oldest PGA Tour winner and that the only way to achieve that was by having the surgery.

“Now I’m excited that I’ve crossed that bridge,” said Love, who will turn 54 next April. “Once I get over that I can go right back to the Tour. I won after a spine fusion [2015 Wyndham Championship] and now I’d like to win with a new hip. That’s the reason I’m doing it so I can get back to golf and keep up.”

LPGA awards: Ryu, S.H. Park tie for POY

By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:56 am

NAPLES, Fla. – In the end, the CME Group Tour Championship played out a lot like the entire 2017 season did.

Parity reigned.

Nobody dominated the game’s big season-ending awards, though Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park came close.

Thompson walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for low scoring average. If she had made that last 2-foot putt at the 72nd hole Sunday, she might also have walked away with the Rolex Player of the Year Award and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Park shared the Rolex Player of the Year Award with So Yeon Ryu. By doing so, Park joined Nancy Lopez as the only players in LPGA history to win the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year titles in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park also won the LPGA money-winning title.

Here’s a summary of the big prizes:

Rolex Player of the Year
Ryu and Park both ended up with 162 points in the points-based competition. Park started the week five points behind Ryu but made the up the difference with the five points she won for tying for sixth.

It marks the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

Ryu and Park join Inbee Park as the only South Koreans to win the award. Park won it in 2013.


Vare Trophy
Thompson won the award with a scoring average of 69.114. Sung Hyun Park finished second at 69.247. Park needed to finish at least nine shots ahead of Thompson at the CME Group Tour Championship to win the trophy.

There were a record 12 players with scoring averages under 70.0 this year, besting the previous record of five, set last year.


CME Globe $1 million prize
Thompson entered the week first in the CME points reset, but it played out as a two-woman race on the final day. Park needed to finish ahead of Thompson in the CME Group Tour Championship to overtake her for the big money haul. Thompson tied for second in the tournament while Park tied for sixth.

By winning the CME Group Tour Championship, Jutanugarn had a shot at the $1 million, but she needed Park to finish the tournament eighth or worse and Thompson to finish ninth or worse.


LPGA money-winning title
Park claimed the title with $2,335,883 in earnings. Ryu was second, with $1,981,593 in earnings.

The tour saw a tour-record 17 players win $1 million or more this season, two more than did so last year.

Ryu came into the week as the only player who could pass Park for the title, but Ryu needed to win to do so.


Rolex world No. 1 ranking
The top ranking was up for grabs at CME, with No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Sung Hyun Park and No. 3 So Yeon Ryu all within three hundredths of a ranking point. Even No. 4 Lexi Thompson had a chance to grab the top spot if she won, but in the end nobody could overtake Feng. Her reign will extend to a second straight week.


Rolex Rookie of the Year
Park ran away with the award with her U.S. Women’s Open and Canadian Pacific Women’s Open victories among her 11 top-10 finishes. She had the award locked up long before she arrived for the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

Ko ends first winless season with T-16 at CME

By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:07 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Lydia Ko carved a hybrid 3-iron to 15 feet and ended the most intensely scrutinized year of her young career with a birdie Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

“Nice to finish the season on a high note,” Ko said after posting a 3-under-par 69, good for a tie for 16th. “Obviously, not a top-10 finish, but I played really solid. I feel like I finished the season off pretty strong.”

Ko posted two second-place finishes, a third-place finish and a tie for fifth in her last eight starts.

“Ever since Indy [in early September], I played really good and put myself in good positions,” Ko said. “I felt like the confidence factor was definitely higher than during the middle of the year. I had some opportunities, looks for wins.”

Sunday marked the end of Ko’s first winless season since she began playing LPGA events at 15 years old.

Let the record show, she left with a smile, eager to travel to South Korea to spend the next month with family after playing a charity event in Bradenton, Fla., on Monday.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


Much was made of Ko beginning the year with sweeping changes, with new equipment (PXG), a new coach (Gary Gilchrist) and a new caddie (Peter Godfrey).

In the final summary, it wasn’t a Ko-like year, not by the crazy high standards she has set.

She saw her run of 85 consecutive weeks at No. 1 end in June. She arrived in Naples holding on to the No. 8 ranking. She ends the year 13th on the LPGA money list with $1,177,450 in earnings. It’s the first time she hasn’t finished among the top three in money in her four full years on tour. She did log 11 top-10 finishes overall, three second-place finishes.

How did she evaluate her season?

“I feel like it was a better year than everyone else thinks, like `Lydia is in a slump,’” Ko said. “I feel like I played solid.

“It's a season that, obviously, I learned a lot from ... the mental aspect of saying, `Hey, get over the bads and kind of move on.’”

Ko said she learned a lot watching Stacy Lewis deal with her run of second-place finishes after winning so much.

“Winning a championship is a huge deal, but, sometimes, it's overrated when you haven't won,” Ko said. “Like, you're still playing well, but just haven't won. I kind of feel like it's been that kind of year.

“I think everybody has little ups and downs.”