Notes World rankings tweaked Greg Normans business empire

By Doug FergusonJuly 15, 2009, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship TURNBERRY, Scotland ' Vijay Singh can now play as much as he wants without overly affecting his world ranking.
 
The Official World Golf Ranking board announced Wednesday that it will gradually change its formula starting next year, adding a maximum divisor of 52 tournaments so that players who prefer a full schedule will not be punished.
 
For most of the decade, Singh was the example most players cited when it came to the world ranking.
 
The formula is based on ranking points earned at each tournament, divided by the number of tournaments played. The value of points are gradually reduced every 13 weeks over a two-year period, with a minimum divisor of 40 tournaments.
 
That helped Tiger Woods, who doesnt play 40 times over a two-year period. It hurt players like Singh, who was playing as many as 60 tournaments during that period. Despite winning nine times in 2004, he didnt overtake Woods at No. 1 until late in the season.
 
The change is relatively simple.
 
The maximum divisor will be a players most recent 52 tournaments ' no matter how many he has played in the two-year period. The board decided on that number because it is the average number of tournaments played by the top 200 players in the world.
 
The board also was concerned that players were skipping tournaments at key times in the year because a lower divisor might help their ranking when trying to qualify for World Golf Championships and some of the majors.
 
The board believes this measure will encourage players to play more often, said Sir Michael Bonallack, chairman of the ranking board.
 
The formula will be changed gradually to avoid any massive shifts at one time. The maximum divisor will be 60 in January, then drop two tournaments ever six months until it is down to 52 tournaments in January 2012.
 

 
TURNBERRY TROUBLE: The British Open isnt held often at Turnberry, and when it is the Royal & Ancient takes a hit on ticket sales because the seaside links is a hard place for fans to get to.
 
Add in the global recession and things are doubly tough this year. Though Open officials say they expect more than the 114,000 who attended the Open when it was last held in Turnberry in 1994, the crowds wont be nearly as big as they have been in other locations in recent years.
 
The walk-up sales will be key, and for that officials are hoping for a leaderboard that includes Tiger Woods and a British player or two as well as some good weather on the weekend.
 
Given fair weather and a good leaderboard, I think well be well over 120,000 at the end of the week, which is pretty good given the current economic climate, said David Hill, chairman of the R&As championship committee.
 
Tickets can be had for the weekend for less than $100, and children under 16 are free. The R&A has been pushing sales in a marketing campaign the last few weeks, but Hill made it clear Wednesday that tickets will still be readily available.
 

 
BIG BUSINESS: Greg Norman is at the British Open trying to recreate the magic from last year, when he led entering the final round. Thats not stopping him, though, from thinking about the pressures facing his business empire.
 
Norman, who has built a fortune on interests in everything from wine to course design, said Wednesday that the global recession has forced cutbacks in his businesses that included cuts in employees.
 
Ive had to make changes. Ive unfortunately had to lay off people, which is not a good feeling, Norman said. Its the first time in my entire life, in my short business life of nearly 20 years, that Ive had to do that.
 
Norman said the recession has hit hardest in his golf course design business, particularly in the United States, where work has dried up. Hes been busy trying to drum up business elsewhere, taking a trip to China earlier this month to tap into a market he thinks holds a lot more promise.
 
I think Ive got a lot of belief in China, like a lot of what the rest of the world does, not just in resources, but in development, Norman said.
 
Norman said he doesnt believe course design business will come back in the near future in the United States, but that work in China and countries like Vietnam, where he has three courses in development, will help make up for it.
 
Well all work our way through it, he said. Ive been through three of them (recessions) but nothing to this magnitude.
 

 
NOT SO BLIND DRAW: Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson made it clear Wednesday that the groupings for the first two rounds of the British Open are not random.
 
For starters, the R&A tries to group one player from North America, one from Europe and one from other parts of the world. There are 44 Americans in the 156-man field, along with Canadian citizens Mike Weir and Stephen Ames.
 
That would explain why David Toms and Tom Lehman are the only Americans in the same group at Turnberry.
 
Other factors include TV interests; gallery movement; who plays fast (Mark Calcavecchia is in the first group); and when the gallery which arrive and leave, which helps with traffic.
 
The most notable group this year is Tiger Woods and Ryo Ishikawa of Japan, both of whom attract an enormous amount of photographers. The third player in that group is Lee Westwood.
 
I was obviously cognizant of the amount of media interest there is in that group, Dawson said. I have since spoken to Tiger and to Lee Westwood. Theyre entirely happy about the grouping. And were happy that we have good controls in place on the media following that group. There will be a lot of interest in it, thats for sure.
 

 
LOVE WITHOUT LANGUAGE: Tom Watson has an affection for Scottish fans, and the feeling is mutual. Of the five British Open titles he has won, four of them were in Scotland ' Carnoustie, Turnberry, Muirfield and Royal Troon.
 
He recalled the final round Saturday in 1975 at Carnoustie, when a young girl who lived next to the house Watson rented gave him aluminum foil with heather, telling him it was for good luck. Watson wound up winning in a playoff. The neighbors knocked on the door after he captured the Claret Jug, simply wanting to say hello and tell him how happy they were for him.
 
Thats the way it started, Watson said. And thats the way its always been.
 
Still, a language barrier remains, especially if the brogue is particularly thick.
 
Thats how it was Wednesday, when someone at Turnberry said something to Watson. He didnt catch it, so he asked the man to repeat himself ' twice.
 
I couldnt understand a word, Watson said.
 
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    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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    Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

    By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

    Memo to the golf gods:

    If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

    Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

    It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

    With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

    It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

    We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

    We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

    We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

    In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

    While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

    Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

    Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

    Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

    While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

    Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

    So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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    McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

    By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

    With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

    The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

    Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

    "I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

    McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

    But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

    "I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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    What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

    Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

    Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

    Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

    Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

    Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x