Ryder Cup throws a wrench in 10 playoff schedule

By Doug FergusonSeptember 30, 2009, 12:28 am

Tiger Woods played so much golf during the FedEx Cup playoffs that he is laying off cardio work this week with hopes of putting on some weight he lost over the last month.

Just wait until next year, with a trip to Wales for the Ryder Cup right after the Tour Championship.

PGA Tour officials spent the last couple of weeks gathering input from players on the playoff schedule for next year, and it looks at though it has come down to two options:

— Keep the schedule the way it was this year. That would mean three playoff events (New York, Boston, Chicago), followed by a week off, then the Tour Championship and Ryder Cup.

— Take a week off after the Labor Day finish at Boston, then go three straight weeks concluding with the Ryder Cup.

“If television is accommodating, we could go either way,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said.

A small sample of potential Ryder Cup players showed mixed opinions. Hunter Mahan would like to see the break after Boston, noting that the Ryder Cup doesn’t start until Friday, anyway. Luke Donald of England said he was so wiped out after a third straight week of golf in Chicago that he put the clubs away for longer than usual.

“Any way you slice it, it’s a difficult stretch,” Steve Stricker said. “It’s a long stretch, and you’ve got to be physically and mentally ready for it.”

Woods said he was inclined to leave it the way it is for 2010, especially because of the overnight flight required to get to Wales. He believes the American team would not be fresh for the high level of intensity that accompanies the Ryder Cup.

“Granted, we could have the Europeans play in this thing and wear them out, too,” he said.

Donald and Padraig Harrington were the only Europeans who reached the 30-man field at the Tour Championship this year, and both recommended a week off before the Tour Championship in Ryder Cup years, and a week off after the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston in other years.

The other component is television. NBC Sports televises the last three FedEx Cup events, and it also has Notre Dame home football games. The Irish are home against Michigan next year on Sept. 11, which would be the Saturday of the BMW Championship. The Irish are on the road the following week, when the Tour typically takes its break.


REST OF THE SCHEDULE: Commissioner Finchem doesn’t expect too many changes to the regular season schedule next year, except for some musical chairs during the West Coast Swing, in part because of NBC Sports televising the Winter Olympics.

According to individual tournament Web sites, the season starts Jan. 7 with the SBS Championship at Kapalua, then goes to Honolulu, the Bob Hope Classic and San Diego. The Northern Trust Open at Riviera will be the same weekend as the Super Bowl, followed by Pebble Beach, the Match Play Championship and the FBR Open outside Phoenix wrapping up the West Coast.

Until it finds a sponsor, what was the Buick Invitational now is called the Century Club of San Diego Invitational.

The only tournament without a published date is Memphis, Tenn., which lost title sponsor Stanford Financial this year. Finchem said he expected the St. Jude Classic to be played in the same spot, one week before the U.S. Open.

“We’re in reasonably good shape,” he said. “We’re still building the local coalition and related sponsorships, but indications are we’re going to be fine in ’10. That would be the plan.”


TIGER’S FIELD: Tiger Woods is pleased with his field for the Chevron World Challenge, which he attributes to being moved to the first week of December (away from Christmas) and the tournament receiving official world ranking points for the first time.

Among those who have committed to play are 15 of the top 20 in the world, including Steve Stricker, Paul Casey, Kenny Perry, Padraig Harrington, Jim Furyk, Vijay Singh and Sean O’Hair. He has all the major champions except for Angel Cabrera, who has contracts in South Africa and is schedule to play the Nedbank Challenge.

By getting world ranking points, the tournament was forced to use its sponsor exemptions on players in the top 50. The exemptions went to Anthony Kim and Mike Weir.

The tournament will be held Dec. 3-6 and returns to Sherwood Country Club, where the bunkers have been refurbished.


LONG WAY TO THE BAY: Ernie Els is taking the long way from Atlanta to San Francisco for the Presidents Cup. He is playing this week at the Dunhill Championship in Scotland, the European Tour’s version of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. It is played over three courses (St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Kingsbarns). And it’s a long way from California.

Els wouldn’t think of missing it. He will play again this year with his father, Nils.

“That tournament has been so dear to myself and my dad,” he said. “Except for last year, we made the cut until the fourth day every time. So it’s a great time for me and my dad to be together at the home of golf.”

Els turns 40 the weekend after the Presidents Cup, and says he has a harder time recovering from long flights. But travel has changed, and he has a plan.

“I’ll give the Heinekens a week off,” he said. “I’ve got a G-5. It flies straight in. I’ll do a lot of sleeping, a lot of resting. It’s just the time change, that’s all.”


DIVOTS: Jim Hyler has been nominated for a one-year term as USGA president. The election of officers and the USGA executive committee, typically a formality, will be Feb. 6 at the annual meeting in Pinehurst, N.C. … Judy Rankin has been selected to receive the 2010 Old Tom Morris Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. The award is for someone whose lifetime commitment to golf has helped shape the welfare of the game. She will receive the award Feb. 9 in San Diego. … Fred Funk, Nick Price and Jay Haas will represent the Champions Tour in the Wendy’s 3-Tour Challenge to be played Nov. 10 at Rio Secco in Las Vegas. … The Asian Amateur Championship will be televised by ESPN2 in the United States, with Peter Oosterhuis as the host. It will be held Oct. 29 through Nov. 1 at Mission Hills in China. The winner gets an exemption to the Masters.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Tiger Woods has been runner-up to Phil Mickelson five times, more than any other player.


FINAL WORD: “I won’t say I’m sorry because the alternative is not that good.”—Arnold Palmer on turning 80 two weeks ago.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."