Futures Golf Tour Announces 2003 Tournament Schedule

By Futures Tour MediaJanuary 15, 2003, 5:00 pm
Futures TourLAKELAND, Fla. -- The FUTURES Golf Tour, the official developmental tour of the LPGA, has released its 2003 tournament schedule. Known as the largest international developmental tour and second largest womens professional golf tour in the world, the FUTURES Tour continues each year to showcase the LPGA stars of tomorrow. The Tour boasts of recent graduates and current LPGA stars such as Grace Park, Career Grand Slam Winner Karrie Webb, and 2002 LPGA Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Beth Bauer.
The Tour season will begin in mid-March in Florida and end in mid-August in York, Pa. Fourteen events from the 2002 schedule will be returning for the upcoming season including the longest running FUTURES Tour tournament, the 19th annual Michelob Light FUTURES Charity Golf Classic in Decatur, Ill., and the 17th annual season-ending York Newspaper Company FUTURES Golf Classic in York, Pa.
'The overwhelming support from our local tournament organizers, the communities we play in, and our charities has allowed the Tour to offer a consistent and solid schedule to our players,' stated Zayra F. Calderon, president and chief executive officer of the FUTURES Tour. 'In spite of a downturn in the economy, our tournaments have managed to increase purses and continue to provide our talented players with the opportunity to compete in challenging venues across the countries.'
Specifically, the Isleta Casino & Resort FUTURES Golf Classic held at Isleta Eagle Golf Course in Albuquerque, N.M., increased its purse $25,000 to $95,000 up from $70,000 in its inaugural year last year. This is the largest purse increase for the 2003 season and the second largest purse in Tour history, $5,000 less than the 1998 SunTrust FUTURES Classic in Muscle Shoals, Ala.
Jill Trujillio, tournament organizer and head golf professional at Isleta Eagle Golf Course said, 'We had such a wonderful experience with the FUTURES Tour in 2002. The cooperation of the staff and the appreciation of the players definitely impressed the committee and sponsors of the tournament.
'An increase in the purse for 2003 and 2004 is a direct result of the success of our event and the confidence we have in the FUTURES Tour. We look forward to the next two years of Tour excitement, raising money for the charity, and promoting the game of golf.'
Due to the large number of FUTURES Tour players who continue to qualify each year for the U.S. Womens Open Championship, the FUTURES Tour will not stage a tournament the same weekend as this prestigious event, July 3-6. A total of 17 FUTURES Tour players competed in last years LPGA major in Hutchinson, Kan.
Calderon stated, 'Seventeen of our players last year rightfully earned a spot in the 150-player field and as each year passes this number continues to grow. The success of our players is reflected in the large number of FUTURES Tour alumnae on the LPGA numbering 180 plus representing 244 LPGA victories including 27 major championships.'
Key Highlights for the 2003 season:
  • The average purse for the 2003 season is over $66,000. This number is up an average of $1,500 per event. Since 1984, the average tournament purse has grown from $10,000 to its current average today.
  • The Aurora Health Care FUTURES Charity Golf Classic in Sussex, Wis., increased its purse from $60,000 to $70,000 for the 2003 season.
  • The 2003 season features the addition of three new title sponsors: Frye Chevrolet, sponsor of the $70,000 Frye Chevrolet Classic in Wichita, Kan., Bank of Ann Arbor, sponsor of $60,000 Bank of Ann Arbor FUTURES Classic in Ann Arbor, Mich., and General Electric, sponsor of the $60,000 GE FUTURES Professional Golf Classic, in Altamont, N.Y.
  • This season, FUTURES Tour players can take advantage of the recently modified criteria for the 58th U.S. Womens Open Championship. According to the United States Golf Association (USGA), previous FUTURES Tour winners (2002 season and 2003 winners through May 1), and the top-five money winners from the 2002 FUTURES Tour Money List will bypass the Local Qualifying round, advancing automatically to the Sectional Qualifying round.
  • The Southwestern Illinois FUTURES Golf Classic in Waterloo, Ill., a suburb of St. Louis, originally scheduled for May 16-18, 2003, will have its inaugural FUTURES Tour tournament in 2004 at the prestigious Annbriar Golf Course and will follow with tournaments through the 2006 season.
  • The FUTURES Tour remains dedicated to creating a fund-raising opportunity for local non-profit organizations. Since 1985, more than $2.65 million has been raised for charities such as Girls, Inc., Chip In For A Cure, and the YWCA of York.
    'We are extremely pleased with our schedule and anticipate announcing additional tournaments in the upcoming weeks,' Calderon said. 'We expect the season to be filled with an extremely talented roster from players spanning the globe and we are sure that the competition for the top-three spots will be fierce and thrilling for everyone.'
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    DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

    By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

    The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

    ''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

    In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

    ''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

    The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

    ''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

    The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

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    Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

    Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

    Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

    As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

    Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.

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    Hot Seat: Rory jumps into the fire early

    By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 2:11 pm

    The world’s top tours head to desert regions this week, perfect locales for The Hot Seat, the gauge upon which we measure the level of heat the game’s top personalities are facing ...

    Sahara sizzle: Rory McIlroy

    McIlroy won’t have to look far to see how his form measures up to world No. 1 Dustin Johnson at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    McIlroy will make his 2018 debut with Johnson in his face, literally.

    McIlroy will be grouped with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood in the first two rounds.

    Players like to downplay pairings early in a tournament, but it’s hard to believe McIlroy and Johnson won’t be trying to send each other messages in this European Tour event in the United Arab Emirates. That’s the alpha-dog nature of world-class players looking to protect their turf, or in the case of McIlroy, take back his turf.

    “When you are at the elite level, you are always trying to send a message,” Trevor Immelman said about pairings during Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge last month.

    And that was an offseason event.

    “They want to show this guy, ‘This is what I got,’” Immelman said.

    As early season matchups go, Abu Dhabi is a heavyweight pairing that ought to be fun.

    So there will be no easing into the new year for McIlroy after taking off the last three months to regroup from the stubborn rib injury that plagued him last season. He is coming off a winless year, and he will be doing so alongside a guy who just won the first PGA Tour event of 2018 in an eight-shot rout. Johnson’s victory in Hawaii two weeks ago was his fifth since McIlroy last won.

    “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place, and that was because of where I was physically,” McIlroy said of 2017. “I feel prepared now. I feel ready, and I feel ready to challenge. I feel really good about where I’m at with my health. I’ve put all that behind me, which has been great.”

    Sonoran Smolder: Phil Mickelson

    Mickelson will turn 48 this summer.

    His world ranking is sliding, down to No. 43 now, which is the lowest he has ranked in 24 years.

    It’s been more than four years since he last won, making him 0 for his last 92 starts.

    There’s motivation in all of that for Mickelson. He makes his 2018 debut at the CareerBuilder Challenge in the Palm Springs area this week talking like a man on a renewed mission.

    There’s a Ryder Cup team to make this season, which would be his 12th straight, and there’s a career Grand Slam to claim, with the U.S. Open returning to Shinnecock Hills, where Mickelson finished second in ’04.

    While Mickelson may not feel old, there are so many young stars standing in his way that it’s hard not to be constantly reminded that time isn’t on his side in these events anymore.

    There has only been one player in the history of the game to win a major championship who was older than Mickelson is right now. Julius Boros won the PGA Championship when he was 48 back in 1968.

    Campaign fever: Jordan Spieth

    Spieth’s respect in the game’s ranks extends outside the ropes.

    He was just selected to run for the PGA Tour Player Advisory Council’s chairman position. He is facing Billy Hurley III in an election to see who will succeed Davis Love III on the Tour’s Policy Board next year.

    Spieth, just 24, has already made Time Magazine’s list of the “100 Most Influential People.” He made that back in 2016, with the magazine writing that “he exemplifies everything that’s great about sports.” Sounds like a campaign slogan.

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    CareerBuilder Challenge: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 1:10 pm

    The PGA Tour shifts from Hawaii to Southern California for the second full-field event of the year. Here are the key stats and information for the CareerBuilder Challenge. Click here for full-field tee times.

    How to watch (all rounds on Golf Channel):

    Thursday, Rd. 1: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Friday, Rd. 2: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Saturday, Rd. 3: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Sunday, Rd. 4: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Purse: $5.9 million ($1,062,000 to winner)

    Courses: PGA West, Stadium Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,113); PGA West, Nicklaus Tournament Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,159); La Quinta Country Club, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,060) NOTE: All three courses will be used for the first three rounds but only the Stadium Course will be used for the final round.

    Defending champion: Hudson Swafford (-20) - defeated Adam Hadwin by one stroke to earn his first PGA Tour win.

    Notables in the field

    Phil Mickelson

    * This is his first start of 2018. It's the fourth consecutive year he has made this event the first one on his yearly calendar.

    * For the second year in a row he will serve as the tournament's official ambassador.

    * He has won this event twice - in 2002 and 2004.

    * This will be his 97th worldwide start since his most recent win, The Open in 2013.

    Jon Rahm

    * Ranked No. 3 in the world, he finished runner-up in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

    * In 37 worldwide starts as a pro, he has 14 top-5 finishes.

    * Last year he finished T-34 in this event.

    Adam Hadwin

    * Last year in the third round, he shot 59 at La Quinta Country Club. It was the ninth - and still most recent - sub-60 round on Tour.

    * In his only start of 2018, the Canadian finished 32nd in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

    Brian Harman

    * Only player on the PGA Tour with five top-10 finishes this season.

    * Ranks fifth in greens in regulation this season.

    * Finished third in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T-4 in the Sony Open in Hawaii.

    Brandt Snedeker

    * Making only his third worldwide start since last June at the Travelers Championship. He has been recovering from a chest injury.

    * This is his first start since he withdrew from the Indonesian Masters in December because of heat exhaustion.

    * Hasn't played in this event since missing the cut in 2015.

    Patrick Reed

    * Earned his first career victory in this event in 2014, shooting three consecutive rounds of 63.

    * This is his first start of 2018.

    * Last season finished seventh in strokes gained: putting, the best ranking of his career.

    (Stats provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit.)