PGA Tour widening gap in world ranking points

By Doug FergusonDecember 29, 2015, 7:35 pm

European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley laid out ambitious plans with hopes of becoming a ''viable alternative'' to the PGA Tour.

That starts with an increase in prize money, and he went so far as to say that it would make more sense for the European Tour's flagship event to be the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai ($8 million purse) instead of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth ($5 million purse) because of the money.

Another measure of the mountain he has to climb is the world ranking.

The gap continues to widen in the average ranking points for PGA Tour events compared with Europe - up an average of one point this year, two points from 2012.

Including the four majors and the four World Golf Championships, the PGA Tour averaged 56.4 points for the winner compared with 42.2 points for the European Tour. That's a difference of 14.2 points, up from 13.3 points a year ago.

Throw out the majors (each worth 100 points) and the WGCs, and the PGA Tour offered an average of 49.5 points compared with 32.9 points for the European Tour.

The European Tour had six regular events that offered 50 points or more, including the BMW PGA Championship, which is guaranteed 64 points as the flagship event. The PGA Tour had seven events that offered 60 points or more, including The Players Championship, which is guaranteed 80 points (The Players actually has a stronger field by raw numbers than three of the majors).

The four events in The Finals Series for the Race to Dubai offered an average of 53 points to the winner. The four FedEx Cup playoff events on the PGA Tour awarded an average of 68.5 points to the winner.

Pelley is aware he needs time to become a viable option, and his target is the next generation of players.

''That's not going to happen necessarily in 2016,'' Pelley said last month in Dubai. ''You'll start to see it happen in 2017. You'll start to see it come to fruition in 2018. We definitely in three to five years will have a viable alternative, so that 17-, 18-, 19-year-old doesn't necessarily need to go to America to be able to make as much money as they possibly can.''


SETTING THE BAR HIGH: Jordan Spieth and caddie Michael Greller have made a bet each of their three years. Greller sets a number of times Spieth must hole out from off the green, and if he surpasses the number, Greller has to take him for dinner. Of course, Spieth gets to invite anyone he wants, and last year in San Diego there were about 20 guests on Greller's tab.

Based on what he did last year, the new number for Spieth to beat is 20. Only it doesn't start next week at Kapalua.

''He talked me into starting in Australia,'' Greller said, shaking his head.

Spieth holed out with an 8-iron on the 17th hole at the Australian Open. A week later, Spieth made a hole-in-one at Albany Golf Club on his second hole of the Hero World Challenge.

Alas, there was one sliver of good news.

''He wanted anything over 100 yards to count as double,'' Greller said in the Bahamas. ''So it would be four if I had gone for that.''

Holing out in the majors, however, still counts double.


HORSCHEL'S OUTLOOK: Billy Horschel wanted to be the first player to win the FedEx Cup in consecutive years. Not only did he fail to make it to the Tour Championship, he didn't make it back to Kapalua for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

Horschel is known as a streaky player. He had a big run in the spring of 2013 when he won in New Orleans, and then had only four top 10s in his next 39 events. He had a great run in September 2014 when he won the BMW Championship and Tour Championship to capture the FedEx Cup, and he has had only three top 10s in 30 tournaments worldwide since then.

He thinks he knows the fix.

''We played a lot with Jordan (Spieth), a lot with Zach (Johnson). We see them hit it 10 to 15 feet on average, and I'm hitting it 20 to 30,'' Horschel said. ''For me to be a more consistent player and have those runs last longer than a four- to five-week stretch, my short game and wedge play need to be more consistent.''

Horschel said he has worked so hard on his short game the last few months that ''I'm sick of hitting wedges.''

''If we look back at 2016, the reason I'll have had a great year is because I put in all the time on my wedge play, and it's a result of it,'' he said.


IT'S ALL ABOUT TIMING: Imagine if Rickie Fowler could blend his last two seasons.

Last year was all about the majors. Fowler in 2014 joined Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to finish in the top five at all four majors (Jordan Spieth did it this year). The only problem was Fowler didn't win any of them. In fact, he didn't win at all.

This year, he won a career-high three times - The Players Championship, Scottish Open and a FedEx Cup playoff event at the Deutsche Bank Championship. But the majors were somewhat of a bust. He shot 81-73 to miss the cut in the U.S. Open, and he finished a combined 37 shots behind in the other three majors.

So how do you have a year of big wins and big chances in majors?

''No clue,'' Fowler said with a smile. ''I've been trying to figure that out. I don't think there's a justifiable answer. It's just timing, when you get hot. You can only prepare so much and be ready to play. But actually getting it to happen at the right time?''

So which year would he rather have? He was plenty happy with this one.

''Holding trophies feels a lot better,'' Fowler said.


BACK TO TORREY? Adam Scott wants to play two times during the West Coast swing. One will be the Sony Open because Honolulu is on his way back from Australia. He loves Riviera, where he won in 2005 when it was reduced to 36 holes because of rain. Then again, Torrey Pines makes more sense because of the schedule. He could hang out in Hawaii an extra week and then tee it up the next week in San Diego.

Scott hasn't been to Torrey Pines since the 2008 U.S. Open. And he hasn't seen the North Course since he was a teenager.

He played the 1994 Junior World Championship and tied for 20th. Trevor Immelman was the runner-up that year, losing in a playoff to a kid named Ben Flam.

Also in the field that week: Jose Luis Campra, who now caddies for Emiliano Grillo, and Joe Skovron, the caddie for Rickie Fowler.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Of the 14 players who have won the Masters and British Open, two are not yet in the World Golf Hall of Fame - Tiger Woods and Zach Johnson.


FINAL WORD: ''They weren't like Jordan and Rory, winning multiple majors in their early 20s. There was really only Tiger doing that at the time.'' - Adam Scott, comparing young players today with his generation.

Watch: Pros try to hit 2-yard wide fairway in Dubai

By Grill Room TeamNovember 18, 2017, 5:20 pm

While in Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour prestented a little challenge to Ross Fisher, Richie Ramsay, Nicolas Colsaerts and Soren Kjeldsen. On a stretch of road outside of town, the four players had to try and hit a 2-yard wide fairway. Check out the results.

Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the season-ending Tour Championship as he attempts to win a third straight title on the European Tour and a second career Race to Dubai crown.

The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for a 7-under 65 Saturday and overall 15-under 201.

The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.

Rose is looking to be Europe's season-ending No. 1 for the second time. His leading rival for the Race to Dubai title, Tommy Fleetwood, is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.

''So, last day of the season and I've got a chance to win the Race to Dubai,'' Fleetwood said. ''It's cool.''


DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship


Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Race to Dubai title, is tied for 13th on 10 under after a 67.

Fleetwood had a lead of 256,737 points going into the final tournament and needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey.

Rose, who made some long putts for birdies apart from chipping in on the 13th hole, looked to be throwing away his advantage on the par-5 18th, when his second shot fell agonizingly short of the green and into the water hazard. But with his short game in superb condition, the reigning Olympic champion made a difficult up-and-down shot to stay ahead.

''That putt at the last is a big confidence-builder. That broke about 18 inches right-to-left downhill. That's the kind of putt I've been hoping to make. That was a really committed stroke. Hopefully I can build on that tomorrow,'' said Rose. ''I know what I need to do to stay at the top of the leaderboard. If I slip up tomorrow, he's (Fleetwood) right there. He's done everything he needs to do on his end, so it's a lot of fun.''

The last player to win three tournaments in a row on the European Tour was Rory McIlroy, when he won the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in 2014.

Fleetwood was 1 over after seven holes but turned it on with a hat trick of birdies from the eighth, and then four in a row from No. 13.

''I wanted to keep going. Let's bring the tee times forward for tomorrow,'' quipped Fleetwood after closing with a birdie on the 18th. ''Just one of them strange days where nothing was going at all. A couple sloppy pars on the par 5s, and a bad tee shot on fifth and I was 1-over through seven on a day where scoring has been really good ... Ninth and 10th, felt like we had something going ... it was a really good last 11 holes.''

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon: