Woods wins award over U.S. Open champion

By Doug FergusonJuly 3, 2012, 10:18 pm

BETHESDA, Md. – Back when the PGA Tour season ended the first week of November at the Tour Championship, there was growing support for a shorter season. Turns out that shorter season is not to take a break from golf but to chase more money.

There was the Kiwi Challenge that Hunter Mahan won in 2008. The Shanghai Masters was created last year. Tiger Woods went to Australia in 2009 and 2010, though he has a history of international travel from when he was a rookie. Phil Mickelson has a burgeoning golf course design business in Asia, and he is a two-time winner of the HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

According to two British newspapers, the latest edition is the Turkish Airways World Golf Finals in October with a $5.3 million pursue and the best players in the world. The Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph report the field is to include Woods, Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, Charl Schwartzel, Webb Simpson and Mahan.

The winner would receive $1.5 million, with $1 million going to the runner-up.

The tournament is to be played Oct. 9-12, ending on a Friday so that it won't steal attention away from the weekend of the Portugal Masters on the European Tour and the Frys.com Open on the PGA Tour, the second event in the Fall Series.

One newspaper said Woods is working toward a deal with the Turkish airline. GolfChannel.com senior writer Jason Sobel talked with Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, and confirmed that talks were in process regarding the event and sponsorship, but nothing was finalized.

None of the PGA Tour players involved were likely to be at the Frys.com Open or in Las Vegas the week before. Woods made his Fall Series debut at the Frys.com Open last year, though he was still in conversation about a corporate deal at the time. Simpson lost in a playoff last year at the McGladrey Classic, which follows the Turkey event, though he was trying to win the money title.

For the Tour, the shorter regular season was created by the FedEx Cup, which offers $35 million in prize money. And the structure allowed it to then have a wraparound season starting in 2013, with the Fall Series being treated the same as regular Tour events.

One thing hasn't changed. About the only break from golf is the week of Christmas.


FAN VOTING: The Tour signed up Avis as a sponsor of its Player of the Month award and decided this year to let the fans vote.

They have spoken for the month of June. Tiger Woods, who won the Memorial, received 51 percent of the vote to edge Webb Simpson, who won the U.S. Open. Also on the ballot was Memphis winner Dustin Johnson and Hartford winner Marc Leishman.

There have been cases when a major champion didn't win the award. Vijay Singh won in August 2008 over PGA champion Padraig Harrington, though the Fijian won a World Golf Championship and FedEx Cup playoff event that month.

Then again, it's not just the fans.

Players voted Rickie Fowler the Tour Rookie of the Year in 2010 even though he didn't win a tournament and failed to reach the Tour Championship. He won over Rory McIlroy, who shot a 62 to win at Quail Hollow and tied for third in two majors, tying a record with a 63 at St. Andrews.

Under the marketing deal, Avis made a $50,000 contribution to the Tiger Woods Foundation. This comes two days after Woods donated his $1.17 million check to the foundation from winning the AT&T National.


OGILVIE OUT: A sore back turned into a short year for Joe Ogilvie.

Ogilvie was reaching down to pick up a head cover more than two months ago when he experienced a kind of pain he had never felt before. He treated it with massage, though it never went away entirely, and it reached a point where Ogilvie said he had issues with either his back, shoulder or neck three out of seven days.

''Finally at Hartford, I woke up and couldn't move,'' Ogilvie said.

An MRI revealed a herniated disk in his L-5 and S-1, meaning he is out for the year to let it properly heal. Ogilvie said doctors have said he should rest for four to six weeks and then start an intense rehabilitation. He could be ready by October if all goes well, but Ogilvie figures he is better off applying for a major medical exemption in 2013 instead of trying to make up ground in October.

''If I was a 15-handicap, I could play golf,'' he said. ''It's just really tough to beat Hunter Mahan this way.''

The biggest pain now might be figuring out what to do with his time. He already is tired of reading everything on the internet. Television doesn't hold his interest for long. To kill time, the guy with an economics degree from Duke said he would study and take his Series 7 exam - formally known as the General Securities Representation Exam - required by all brokers and money managers.

Of course.


RATING RACES: Tiger Woods again showed his television power last week when CBS Sports reported a 4.6 overnight rating with a 10 share for the final round Sunday, when Woods won the AT&T National for his third win of the year. It was up 188 percent over last year, though the rating did not measure the same metered markets because of widespread power outages in Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore and Columbus, Ohio.

Next up for Woods is The Greenbrier Classic, his first trip to West Virginia.

The Tour event will be up against NBC Sports and the U.S. Women's Open, the biggest event on the LPGA schedule. This will be the first time since 2003 that Woods has played the same week as the U.S. Women's Open.


DIVOTS: Bo Van Pelt became the 71st player on Tour to be a runner-up to Tiger Woods. ... The Tour will take over all aspects of its digital business starting next year. It had relied on Turner Sports to help produce its website and the Tour's digital products. ... John Peterson has been given a sponsor's exemption for the Frys.com Open, which has a history of giving spots to players just out of college. Peterson, who won an NCAA title last year at LSU, already is assured of playing in the Masters and U.S. Open next year because he tied for fourth at the U.S. Open. ... Tiger Woods now is 54-7 when playing in the final group and trailing by no more than one shot.


STAT OF THE WEEK: At The Greenbrier Classic, Tiger Woods will be trying to record back-to-back top 10s for the first time since September 2009.


FINAL WORD: ''I should say I've watched a lot of women's golf, but I really haven't. I've watched a lot of men's golf just because, I don't know, just seems to be on.'' – Juli Inkster, who missed six months this year recovering from elbow surgery.

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.