Notes TV ratings up Harmon critiques Tiger

By Doug FergusonFebruary 2, 2011, 4:51 am

PGA TourSAN DIEGO – PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said golf doesn’t depend solely on TV ratings, although good news never hurts.

Golf has shown some promise the first month of the year, with significant increases in viewers on Golf Channel, which broadcast the opening three events and the first two rounds of Torrey Pines; and CBS Sports, which had the weekend at Torrey.

Even without Tiger Woods around – he tied for 44th in the Farmers Insurance Open and was on the air for about 30 minutes Sunday – CBS said its national rating for the final round was 3.5 with a 7 share, which was up 59 percent from a year ago.

Golf Channel, meanwhile, said it got a 1.0 with 997,000 viewers for the first round of Torrey Pines, which was up 89 percent from last year. It said the season-opening Tournament of Championship was up 38 percent, and the Bob Hope Classic was up 60 percent, despite the final round going up against the NFC and AFC Championship games.

Finchem described ratings as a “unique animal,” and said golf depends on them less than other television programs. The tour over the last few years has touted “cumulative audience” because it is on TV for some six hours on the weekend.

He also mentioned that golf ratings were hurt last year by a successful Winter Olympics, Woods being out of action for the first three months of the season and having his worst year, and by the NFL having one of its best years.

“We’ll see how we perform this year,” he said last week. “We’re up a little bit early in the year, but it’s way early.”

It might have helped golf its first network coverage came on a weekend when the East Coast was buried under snow.


THE KING IS GROUNDED: After nearly 55 years in the air, Arnold Palmer is leaving the cockpit.

Palmer on Monday flew his Cessna Citation 10 from Palm Springs to his home in Orlando, Fla., a significant trip because it was his last one as the pilot. His license expired that day, and the King chose not to renew it.

“I’ll still be flying in my plane as much as always, just not in the cockpit,” the 81-year-old Palmer told Golf Digest for a story on its website. “Flying has been one the great things in my life. It’s taken me to the far corners of the world. I met thousands of people I otherwise wouldn’t have met. And I even got to play a little golf along the way.”

Palmer grew up about a mile from the Latrobe, Pa., airport. He earned his first license in 1956 (and made his first solo flight after only eight hours of training) and bought his first plane in 1961.

In 1976, he set a record that still stands when he circumnavigated the globe in a Lear 36 in 57 hours, 35 minutes and 42 seconds. His longtime assistant Doc Giffin, told the magazine that Palmer stopped to refuel in Boston, Paris, Tehran, Sri Lanka, Jakarta, Manila, Wake Island and Honolulu.

“The stops were brief,” Giffin said. “But Arnold had time to ride an elephant in Sri Lanka, and in Manila he was given a gift from President Ferdinand Marcos that he still has.”


NO MEXICO: The LPGA, already facing a limited schedule, lost another tournament this year when it decided to postpone the Tres Marias Championship in Morelia, Mexico, over concerns of violence from drug wars.

The tournament had been scheduled to be played April 21-24. Ai Miyazato won last year.

“It won’t be held this year,” LPGA spokesman David Higdon said in an e-mail. “Our security firm determined the safety issues were too severe. We hope to return next year, though things will have to improve dramatically.”


HARMON SPEAKS: Butch Harmon believes 2010 took its biggest toll on Tiger Woods between the ears.

Harmon, the coach for Woods when he turn pro and during the rebuild of a swing that produced four successive majors, said what once separated Woods’ from everyone else was his mental strength. That changed last year, when Woods endured a year of being mocked for his extramarital affairs that ruined his marriage, and a game that was so bad he didn’t win for the first time in his pro career.

“I think his nerves aren’t quite as good as they used to be,” Harmon said on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” show last week. “I don’t think he’s as mentally tough as he used to be.”

Harmon attributed that to a life that “got out of hand.”

“I think that takes a toll on your nervous system, and it takes a toll on your focus,” Harmon said.

Harmon said he expects Woods to have a good year when he gets through another swing change under Sean Foley, and he expects that he will get back to No. 1 in the world.

“I don’t think he’ll ever dominate like he did before,” Harmon said. “I don’t think anyone can in this age.”


OCHOA AWARD: Lorena Ochoa is being honored for her work with underprivileged children in Mexico, including “La Barranca,” which began as an elementary school and last fall opened the high school.

The Golf Writers Association of America selected Ochoa for the Charlie Bartlett Award, given to professional golfers for unselfish contributions to improve society. Ochoa will be honored April 6 at the GWAA’s annual awards dinner in Augusta, Ga.

It will be her second award this year. She is to receive the Bob Jones Award this week from the USGA.


PLAYER COUNCIL AND VERPLANK: The 16-member Player Advisory Council for 2011 has a few new faces this year, such as Justin Rose of England, Jason Day and Kevin Sutherland. This is the group that advises the policy board and commissioner Tim Finchem on tour issues. The other PAC members: Jonathan Byrd, Michael Bradley, Ben Crane, Tom Gillis, Charley Hoffman, Matt Kuchar, Billy Mayfair, Webb Simpson, Paul Stankowski and Mark Wilson.

From that 16, three players are up for election to be the PAC chairman, meaning he will graduate to the policy board. The election is among Jim Furyk, David Duval and Scott Verplank.


DIVOTS: The PGA Tour continues to tweak pairings, serving up the all-South American trio of Jhonattan Vegas, Angel Cabrera and Camilo Villegas. … Robert Garrigus, who won the last tournament of 2010, picked up the tab for the caddies’ meals all week at Torrey Pines. Garrigus wanted to do something earlier, but the caddie trailer does not travel to Hawaii for the first two events. … The PGA Professional National Championship is going Bayonet and Black Horse on the Monterey Peninsula in 2012. … Rickie Fowler becomes the numerical replacement of Tiger Woods in one respect: He’s been signed as a playing editor for Golf Digest magazine.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have combined for only one PGA Tour victory in the last 16 months.


FINAL WORD: “I can’t understand it when people say, ‘Would you swap something?’ Because in golf, you certainly only ever get what you deserve.” – Lee Westwood, on whether he would trade the No. 1 ranking for a major.

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Lesson with Woods fetches $210K for Harvey relief

By Will GrayDecember 13, 2017, 2:51 pm

A charity event featuring more than two dozen pro golfers raised more than $1 million for Hurricane Harvey relief, thanks in large part to a hefty price paid for a private lesson with Tiger Woods.

The pro-am fundraiser was organized by Chris Stroud, winner of the Barracuda Championship this summer, and fellow pro and Houston resident Bobby Gates. It was held at Bluejack National in Montgomery, Texas, about an hour outside Houston and the first Woods-designed course to open in the U.S.

The big-ticket item on the auction block was a private, two-person lesson with Woods at Bluejack National that sold for a whopping $210,000.

Other participants included local residents like Stacy Lewis, Patrick Reed and Steve Elkington as well as local celebrities like NBA All-Star Clyde Drexler, Houston Texans quarterback T.J. Yates and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.

Stroud was vocal in his efforts to help Houston rebuild in the immediate aftermath of the storm that ravaged the city in August, and he told the Houston Chronicle that he plans to continue fundraising efforts even after eclipsing the event's $1 million goal.

"This is the best event I have ever been a part of, and this is just a start," Stroud said. "We have a long way to go for recovery to this city, and we want to keep going with this and raise as much as we can and help as many victims as we can."

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LPGA schedule features 34 events, record purse

By Randall MellDecember 13, 2017, 2:02 pm

The LPGA schedule will once again feature 34 events next year with a record $68.75 million in total purses, the tour announced on Wednesday.

While three events are gone from the 2018 schedule, three new events have been added, with two of those on the West Coast and one in mainland China.

The season will again start with the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic on Paradise Island (Jan. 25-28) and end with the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., (Nov. 15-18).

The LPGA played for $65 million in total prize money in 2017.

An expanded West Coast swing in the front half of the schedule will now include the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in the Los Angeles area April 19-22. The site will be announced at a later date.

The tour will then make a return to San Francisco’s Lake Merced Golf Club the following week, in a new event sponsored by L&P Cosmetics, a Korean skincare company. Both new West Coast tournaments will be full-field events.

The tour’s third new event will be played in Shanghai Oct. 18-21 as part of the fall Asian swing. The title sponsor and golf course will be announced at a later date.

“Perhaps the most important aspect of our schedule is the consistency — continuing to deliver strong playing opportunities both in North America and around the world, while growing overall purse levels every year,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “There is simply no better [women’s] tour opportunity in the world, when it comes to purses, global TV coverage or strength of field. It’s an exciting time in women’s golf, with the best players from every corner of the globe competing against each other in virtually every event.”

While the Evian Championship will again be played in September next year, the tour confirmed its plans to move its fifth major to the summer in 2019, to be part of a European swing, with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

The Manulife LPGA Classic and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational are not returning to the schedule next year. Also, the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open will not be played next year as it prepares to move to the front of the 2019 schedule, to be paired with the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

The U.S. Women’s Open will make its new place earlier in the summer, a permanent move in the tour’s scheduling. It will be played May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek Golf Club outside Birmingham, Ala. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (June 28-July 1) will be played at Kemper Lakes Golf Club on the north side of Chicago and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (Aug. 2-5) will be played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.

For the first time since its inception in 2014, the UL International Crown team event is going overseas, with the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, scheduled to host the event Oct. 4-7. The KEB Hana Bank Championship will be played in South Korean the following week.

Here is the LPGA's schedule for 2018:

Jan. 25-28: Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic; Paradise Island, Bahamas; Purse: $1.4 million

Feb. 15-18: ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open; Adelaide, Australia; Purse: $1.3 million

Feb. 21-24: Honda LPGA Thailand; Chonburi, Thailand; Purse: $1.6 million

March 1-4: HSBC Women's World Championship; Singapore; Purse: $1.5 million

March 15-18: Bank of Hope Founders Cup; Phoenix, Arizona; Purse: $1.5 million

March 22-25: Kia Classic; Carlsbad, California; Purse: $1.8 million

March 29 - April 1: ANA Inspiration; Rancho Mirage, California; Purse: $2.8 million

April 11-14: LOTTE Championship; Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii; Purse: $2 million

April 19-22: HUGEL-JTBC Championship; Greater Los Angeles, California; Purse: $1.5 million

April 26-29: Name to be Announced; San Francisco, California; Purse: $1.5 million

May 3-6: Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic; The Colony, Texas; Purse: $1.3 million

May 17-20: Kingsmill Championship; Williamsburg, Virginia; Purse: $1.3 million

May 24-27: LPGA Volvik Championship; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Purse: $1.3 million

May 31 - June 3: U.S. Women's Open Championship; Shoal Creek, Alabama; Purse: $5 million

June 8-10: ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer; Galloway, New Jersey; Purse: $1.75 million

June 14-17: Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Purse: $2 million

June 22-24: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G; Rogers, Arkansas; Purse: $2 million

June 28 - July 1: KPMG Women's PGA Championship; Kildeer, Illinois; Purse: $3.65 million

July 5-8: Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic; Oneida, Wisconsin; Purse: $2 million

July 12-15: Marathon Classic presented by Owens-Corning and O-I; Sylvania, Ohio; Purse: $1.6 million

July 26-29: Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open; East Lothian, Scotland; Purse: $1.5 million

Aug. 2-5: Ricoh Women's British Open; Lancashire, England; Purse: $3.25 million

Aug. 16-19: Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim; Indianapolis, Indiana; Purse: $2 million

Aug. 23-26: CP Women's Open; Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Purse: $2.25 million

Aug. 30 - Sept. 2: Cambia Portland Classic; Portland, Oregon; Purse: $1.3 million

Sept. 13-16: The Evian Championship; Evian-les-Bains, France; Purse: $3.85 million

Sept. 27-30: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Purse: $1.8 million

Oct. 4-7: UL International Crown; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $1.6 million

Oct. 11-14: LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $2 million

Oct. 18-21: Name to be Announced; Shanghai, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Oct. 25-28: Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship; New Taipei City, Chinese Taipei; Purse: $2.2 million

Nov. 2-4: TOTO Japan Classic; Shiga, Japan; Purse: $1.5 million

Nov. 7-10: Blue Bay LPGA; Hainan Island, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Nov. 15-18: CME Group Tour Championship; Naples, Florida; Purse: $2.5 million

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 4, Jordan Spieth

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 1:00 pm

Dismissed because he’s supposedly too short off the tee, or not accurate enough with his irons, or just a streaky putter, Jordan Spieth is almost never the answer to the question of which top player, when he’s at his best, would win in a head-to-head match.

And yet here he is, at the age of 24, with 11 career wins and three majors, on a pace that compares favorably with the giants of the game. He might not possess the firepower of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, but since he burst onto the PGA Tour in 2013 he has all that matters – a better résumé.

Spieth took the next step in his development this year by becoming the Tour’s best iron player – and its most mentally tough.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Just a great putter? Oh, puhleeze: He won three times despite putting statistics (42nd) that were his worst since his rookie year. Instead, he led the Tour in strokes gained-approach the green and this summer showed the discipline, golf IQ and bounce-back ability that makes him such a unique talent. 

Even with his putter misbehaving, Spieth closed out the Travelers Championship by holing a bunker shot in the playoff, then, in perhaps an even bigger surprise, perfectly executed the player-caddie celebration, chest-bumping caddie Michael Greller. A few weeks later, sublime iron play carried him into the lead at Royal Birkdale, his first in a major since his epic collapse at the 2016 Masters.

Once again his trusty putter betrayed him, and by the time he arrived on the 13th tee, he was tied with Matt Kuchar. What happened next was the stuff of legend – a lengthy ruling, gutsy up-and-down, stuffed tee shot and go-get-that putt – that lifted Spieth to his third major title.

Though he couldn’t complete the career Grand Slam at the PGA, he’ll likely have, oh, another two decades to join golf’s most exclusive club.

In the barroom debate of best vs. best, you can take the guys with the flair, with the booming tee shots and the sky-high irons. Spieth will just take the trophies.

THE MAJORS

Masters Tournament: Return to the 12th; faltering on Sunday (T-11)

Spieth pars 12, but makes quad on 15

Spieth takes another gut punch, but still standing

Article: Spieth splashes to worst Masters finish

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U.S. Open: 1 over usually good ... not at Erin Hills (T-35)

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The Open: Unforgettable finish leads to major win No. 3 (1st)

Spieth survives confusing ordeal on 13

Photos: Spieth's incredible journey on 13

Take it, it's yours: Spieth gets claret jug

Chamblee: Spieth doesn't have 'it' - 'he has it all'

Article: Spieth silences his doubters - even himself

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PGA Championship: Career Grand Slam bid comes up well short (T-28)

Article: Spieth accepts that Grand Slam is off the table


TWO REGULAR TOUR WINS

AT&T Pebble Beach

Article: Spieth rising from 'valley' after Pebble Beach win

Travelers Championship

Spieith wins dramatic Travelers in playoff

Watch: Spieth holes bunker shot, goes nuts


FUN OUTSIDE OF TOUR LIFE


PHOTO GALLERIES

Photos: Jordan Spieth and Annie Verret

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Photos: Jordan Spieth through the years

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 12:30 pm