Americans Choosing To Stay At Home
Were they right? Were they wrong? Well, what would you have done if you already had several million dollars in the bank? You have enough money that you couldn't spend it all if you wanted to. Be honest now, could you really see the necessity of traveling that distance when the results mean absolutely nothing except to first-place Tiger Woods, who is trying to become a $10 million winner?
Phil Mickelson, David Duval, Davis Love III, Tom Lehman, Jim Furyk, Hal Sutton, Stewart Cink, John Huston, Paul Azinger, Notah Begay, Loren Roberts and Fred Couples opted out. So did Greg Norman. The field will be similarly reduced at other WGC events that aren't held in the United States.
Are the Americans wrong? Should they have saddled up regardless of where it is played?
Of course not. All of them have wives and children, with the exception of Duval, who has a sweetheart. The season is over now in the U.S. (as well as Europe.) The money is made, the money-ranking positions set, next year's tour cards are made many times over. A year's worth of play has been wrapped up, all obligations have been met and discharged, and those who don't want to travel shouldn't feel obligated.
If you are looking for someone to blame, don't get upset at Mickelson, Duval et al. Get upset at the PGA Tour commissioner, Tim Finchem, first of all. Throw in Tiger Woods if you would like, since purses have grown so astronomically. Blame a long season. Blame biology, since that's how children come into being. But don't blame the players.
This tournament pays $1 million to the winner. Now, first of all, forget what $1 million means to you and me. We're not professional athletes. Again, when you are worth $20 million and will make $2-3 million each year for the next 10-15 years, imagine how insignificant another million would be - that is, if you were fortunate enough to win. Last place is $25,000.
It would be different if there were only one of these a year. But there are three, for crying out loud. On top of that, there's the Ryder Cup or the Presidents Cup every other year. There's the British Open, and you haven't even heard the half of the yelping if you are an American and miss that one.
Incidentally, most of the criticism comes from the European Tour. What do you think is happening at the World Cup? Hint: the World Cup, which is played for the honor of your country, is being held in South America. If you guessed that many of the European stars aren't attending, give yourself 100 points and go to the head of the class.
Last month the Americans were roundly criticized for the team it sent to the Alfred Dunhill Cup in Scotland - Tom Lehman, Larry Mize and John Daly. The following week was another round of criticism for the Yanks when only Bob May showed up for the Cisco World Match Play. Every month it seems to be something different when top Americans don't play.
Of course, Finchem has forced tournaments to increase their purses so much that a person can play all his golf at home and make a very nice living. At the same time, Finchem has designed these World Golf Championship events and it's the turn of other countries to host. I'm sorry, but the cookie jar is full of money already. Some Americans are going to play, some aren't.
And the WGC events are played in the holiday seasons when everyone likes to be home. What's wrong with that? What's wrong with Mickelson winning $900,000 at the Tour Championship and then deciding to stay at home while the World Golf Championship event is being played in Valderrama this week? He has a wife and little one and he would like to be close to his own fireplace, thank you.
Now - if they are told they HAVE to be there, that is a different story. Each man must decide if this is the business he wants to be in, and then either follow the dictates of that business or change jobs. But as long as they have the option, as long as the Tour considers them independent contractors free to pick and choose where they want to work, then they certainly will do that.
Finchem figured all the stars would play the regular Tour schedule, then play the overseas events if he piled on enough money. He found out what a lot of tournament directors here in the U.S. have found out - money is only one of the factors which go into deciding where a player is going to play. It's not THE factor. Neither is the strength of field. Americans can play against the best in the world five times a year - the four majors plus the Players Championship. Most play in whatever WGC events are held here - usually one or two, which brings the number up to six or seven. Throw in a couple of trips to Europe for appearance fees and they have had plenty of top competition. And that's not even counting the Bay Hills and Memorials and Colonials.
So, it's not surprising that the top Americans have gotten their respective cans full. The WCG event in Spain will go on, and we presume there is going to be a very good winner. But please, these guys are people first. They have homes and they have families, and they want to join them when it gets cold outside.
Can you blame them?
Should the big-name players feel any sort of obligation to travel halfway around the world to play in WCG events?
South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team
South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.
Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.
Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.
Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.
So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.
Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.
The fourball results:
LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.
LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def. Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.
LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.
KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.
LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee
LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.
NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.
Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer
In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.
The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.
Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.
“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”
Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.
Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.
This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.
Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.
Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.
The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.
Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”
Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”
The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.
First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.
“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”
A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.
“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.
For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.
Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.
“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”
Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?
“Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”
Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.
Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.
Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.
Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.
“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”
Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.
While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.
Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump
Updated at 9:50 p.m. ET
Images and footage from Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson's round Friday at Trump National in Jupiter, Fla., alongside President Donald Trump:
Trump Jupiter Tiger, Johnson, Faxon,Trumps staff &team treats everyone the best, members and media guests alike, FACT pic.twitter.com/TB61q7Qe3y— Dr. Eric Kaplan (@drekaplan) November 24, 2017
Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.
President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.
After Turkey call I will be heading over to Trump National Golf Club, Jupiter, to play golf (quickly) with Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson. Then back to Mar-a-Lago for talks on bringing even more jobs and companies back to the USA!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 24, 2017
Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.
Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong
HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.
Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.
''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''
Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.
Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.
''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''
Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.
Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).
''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''