PGA turns to Tour to deliver scoring system

By Doug FergusonAugust 18, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 PGA ChampionshipCHASKA, Minn. ' The PGA Tour set the standard for scoring systems in golf when it developed Shotlink, which uses lasers to chart every shot by every player in every round of every tournament. Such data is not available at the four majors, because those are run by different organizations.
 
The PGA Championship is debating whether to be the first.
 
The PGA of America had to scramble for a scoring replacement when Unisys ended its partnership. With only four months before the final major of the year, officials opted for a bare-bones version of the tours program.
 
Birdies and bogeys. Driving accuracy and greens in regulation. Just no lasers.
 
So why the bells and no whistles? Kerry Haigh, who runs the PGA of Americas championship, cited a $250,000 cost, short notice and concerns over spectator viewing.
 
We already have an awful lot of towers built on the greens, and there were challenges in that regard for spectator enjoyment, Haigh said Tuesday.
 
Still, he said the PGA of America will consider upgrading to the full package for next year at Whistling Straits.
 
Going forward, our hope is to offset some of those costs and work out a way to do it without the towers, Haigh said. The information is what we would like to get, but doing it in a way that it doesnt affect the feel and look of a major. Wed love to be able to provide that.
 
The PGA Tour typically shares the cost with each tournament it runs. The PGA Championship would have to be a different arrangement because the tour has no stake in the television revenue. One way for the PGA Championship to cover the cost would be to find a sponsor when promoting data during the telecast.
 
When we made the presentation, we showed them everything we can do, said Steve Evans, the tours senior vice president of information systems. I truly believe they were impressed with it. I think from their perspective, everything is brand new and they had been with Unisys for so long. I think they needed a couple of events under their belt.
 
CAPTAIN COUPLES: is playing the next two weeks, and not just so he can scout possible captains picks for the Presidents Cup. Couples had two brushes with winning this year and is 90th in the FedEx Cup standings.
 
Trouble is, he has only played 12 events and needs 15 to keep up his membership.
 
He will at least qualify for The Barclays, the opening playoff event. If he doesnt make it to the second round, Couples would have to add a tournament during the Fall Series.
 
That led to a question that sent PGA Tour officials searching through board documents.
 
The Presidents Cup counts as a tournament entered for the players. Why not the captain? After all, Couples is an active player who will be spending just as much time at Harding Park as anyone else, probably more.
 
Andy Pazder, the senior vice president of tour administration, went back to the 1994 policy board resolution to study the language, and found no doubt about the way it was written that it doesnt apply to captains.
 
Bad news for Couples, good news for the tournaments he plays.
 
STARTING FROM SCRATCH: The golf ball war between Titleist and Callaway is headed back to the first tee.
 
In a big victory for the parent company of Titleist, a federal appeals court last week ordered a new trial in its contentious golf ball patent dispute with Callaway. Acushnet Co. said the three-judge panel found inconsistencies in the jurys verdict, and that the trial court erred by not allowing a defense and the evidence to support it.
 
The decision also means Titleist can sell golf balls that were at issue in the lawsuit.
 
Callaway sued in June 2007, claiming that Titleists popular Pro V1 line of balls infringed on several of its patents. Since then both companies have filed patent infringement lawsuits against each other.
 
This very positive Court of Appeals ruling affirms our contention that we were not allowed to argue our full case before the jury, and that the resulting verdict was inconsistent and not sustainable, said Joe Nauman, the executive vice president in charge of legal and corporate matters at Acushnet.
 
FASHION STATEMENT: Tim Herron, the only PGA Tour player who lives in Minnesota, had to wait around the parking lot at Hazeltine for eight hours Thursday as the first alternate into the PGA Championship.
 
Former PGA champion John Daly walked by on his way to the tee, and Lumpy knew his hopes were gone. Making it tougher was learning that Daly, claiming an old rib injury, swatted at putts in making double bogey on the last two holes and withdrew after a 78.
 
Chances are, Herron would have treated that spot a little differently.
 
Lumpy showed up at his home course, Wayzata Country Club, on Saturday morning for a casual round. He was wearing blue-and-white checkered shorts made by Loudmouth Golf, the same shorts Daly wore this year at U.S. Open qualifying.
 
Coincidence? Think again.
 
I would have loved to play, Herron said. Hey, Johns a friend of mine. I cant blame him.
 
MAJOR CUTS: Kevin Sutherland didnt think much of it until he walked out of the scoring trailer Friday afternoon after signing his card. He was among a dozen players to make the cut in all four majors.
 
The list does not include Tiger Woods, who missed the cut at Turnberry; Phil Mickelson, who did not play at Turnberry; and Sergio Garcia, who made double bogey on the last hole at Hazeltine to miss by one. Kenny Perry, Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood were the only players in the top 10 to make the cut in all four majors.
 
The others were Angel Cabrera, Sean OHair, Jim Furyk, Camilo Villegas, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy, Ross Fisher and Vijay Singh.
 
On the flip side were the four players who competed in every major without making a single cut'Briny Baird, Brandt Snedeker and Michael Campbell.
 
DIVOTS: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson each have been runner-up six times in the majors. Juli Inkster has received an exemption to play in the Samsung World Championship on Sept. 17-20 at Torrey Pines. She is a three-time winner of the event. The FBR Open outside Phoenix, which is looking for a new title sponsor after 2010, raised nearly $4.3 million for local charities through The Thunderbirds, the civic organization that runs the tournament.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK: Six players won multiple majors this decade, the fewest since four players with multiple majors in the 1960s.
 
FINAL WORD: If I tried to lift a golf bag, all my clubs would fall out the other side. ' Michelle Wie, on Y.E. Yang celebrating his PGA Championship victory by hoisting his golf bag over his head.
 
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    Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

    By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

    Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

    The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

    They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

    It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

    “I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

    The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

    The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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    LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

    By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

    The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

    The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

    The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

    The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

    The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.

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    Beef's beer goggles: Less drinks = more wins

    By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 6:07 pm

    An offseason spent soul searching is apparently paying quick dividends for Andrew “Beef” Johnston, who is in contention to win Sunday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Johnston acknowledged he was “burning the candle at both ends” last year, playing both the PGA Tour and the European Tour, but he told reporters Saturday that it wasn’t too much golf that hindered his efforts.

    It was too much “socializing.”

    “I'm a social person,” Johnston said. “If you go out with friends, or you get invited to something, I'll have a beer, please. But I probably had a few too many beers, I would say, to be honest. And it reflected in my golf, and I was disappointed looking back at it. I want to turn that around and have a good season.”

    Johnston posted a 6-under-par 66 Saturday, moving into a tie for sixth, three shots off the lead. He said he arrived in Abu Dhabi a week early to prepare for his first start of the new year. It’s paying off with a Sunday chance to win his second European Tour title.

    “Last year was crazy, and like getting distracted, and things like that,” Johnston said. “You don't know it's happened until you've finished the season. You’re off doing things and you're burning the candle at both ends. When I got back from last season, sort of had time to reflect on it, I sort of said to myself, 'You've got to keep quiet and keep disciplined and get on with your work.’”


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Johnston finished 189th last year in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings. He was 116th in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.

    Johnston’s fun-loving personality, his scruffy beard and his big-bodied shape quickly made him one of the most popular and entertaining players in the game when he earned his PGA Tour card before the 2016-17 season. Golf Digest called him a “quirky outlier,” and while he has had fun with that persona, Johnston is also intent on continuing to prove he belongs among the game’s best players.

    His plan for doing that?

    “Just put the work in,” he said. “I didn’t put enough work in last year. It’s simple. It showed. So, just get down, knuckle down and practice hard.”

    Rory McIlroy at the 2018 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Getty Images

    McIlroy making big statement in first start of 2018

    By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 3:40 pm

    Rory McIlroy marched the fairways of Abu Dhabi Golf Club Saturday with that fighter pilot stride of his, with that confident little bob in his step that you see when he is in command of his full arsenal of shots.

    So much for easing into the new year.

    So much for working off rust and treating these first few months of 2018 as a warmup for the Masters and his bid to complete the career Grand Slam.

    McIlroy, 28, is poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion Sunday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    With back-to-back birdies to close his round, McIlroy put up a 7-under-par 65, leaving him just one shot off the lead going into the final round.

    “It’s good,” McIlroy said. “I probably scored a bit better today, short game was needed as well, but I hit the ball very well, so all in all it was another great round and confidence builder, not just for this week but obviously for the rest of the season as well.”

    McIlroy can make a strong statement with a win Sunday.

    If he claims the title in his first start of the year, he sends a message about leaving all the woes of 2017 behind him. He sends a message about his fitness after a nagging rib injury plagued him all of last year. He sends a message about his readiness to reassert himself as the game’s best player in a world suddenly teeming with towering young talent.

    After his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro, McIlroy is eager to show himself, as well as everyone else, that he is ready to challenge for major championships and the world No. 1 title again.

    “It feels like awhile since I’ve won,” McIlroy said. “I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    A victory would be all the more meaningful because the week started with McIlroy paired with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and reigning European Tour Player of the Year Tommy Fleetwood.

    McIlroy acknowledged the meaning of that going into Saturday’s round.

    “That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent healthy,” he said. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and one of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

    It’s worth repeating what 2008 Masters champ Trevor Immelman said last month about pairings and the alpha-dog nature of the world’s best players. He was talking about Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge, when Immelman said pairings matter, even in off season events.

    “When you are the elite level, you are always trying to send a message,” Immelman said. “They want to show this guy, `This is what I got.’”

    A victory with Johnson in the field just two weeks after Johnson won the Sentry Tournament of Champions in an eight-shot rout will get the attention of all the elite players.

    A victory also sets this up as a January for the ages, making it the kind of big-bang start the game has struggled to create in the shadow of the NFL playoffs.

    Johnson put on a tour-de-force performance winning in Hawaii and the confident young Spaniard Jon Rahm is just a shot off the lead this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour. Sergio Garcia is just two off the lead going into the final round of the Singapore Open. Tiger Woods makes his return to the PGA Tour at Torrey Pines next week.

    To be sure, McIlroy has a lot of work to do Sunday.

    Yet another rising young talent, Thomas Pieters, shares the lead with Ross Fisher. Fleetwood is just two shots back and Johnson five back.

    McIlroy has such a good history at Abu Dhabi. Over the last seven years, he has finished second four times and third twice. Still, even a strong finish that falls short of winning bodes well for McIlroy in his first start of the year.

    “I have never won my first start back out,” McIlroy said.

    A strong start, whether he wins or not, sets McIlroy up well for the ambitious schedule he plans for 2018. He’s also scheduled to play the Dubai Desert Classic next with the possibility he’ll play 30 times this year, two more events than he’s ever played in a year.

    “I’m just really getting my golf head back on,” McIlroy said. “I’ve been really pleased with that.”

    A victory Sunday will make all our heads spin a little b it with the exciting possibilities the game offers this year.