Elders Change Tours at Hope

By George WhiteJanuary 27, 2005, 5:00 pm
Well, maybe this is the way the field should be at a golf tournament in Palm Springs. In what has become a retirement capital of the U.S., the desert is loaded with the names of over-50 golfers this week.
Of course, theres Jay Haas, but then the 51-year-old is playing a full regular-tour schedule again this year. He never did make the transition to the Champions Tour last year, save for four tournaments. Ditto Peter Jacobsen, who went half-and-half last year.
But for the remainder of the Champions regulars, this is a little unusual. Oh, Tom Kite at 55 says he is going to try the PGA Tour again as a regular member. But all are playing hookey from the elder tour, which plays this week in Hawaii at the Turtle Bay Championship. There are only 128 pros in the field at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic as the amateurs fan out on the four courses. But six elders are 50 or over, meaning there are only 122 others in this regular-tour tournament.
Craig Stadler at 51 is teeing it up again, but that is primarily so he can play once again with son Kevin. Mark McCumber, 53, is entered based on a requirement that states anyone who won a Tournament Players Championship can play ' McCumber won in 1988. Lanny Wadkins, 51, won the Hope in 1985 and was invited to play. Jacobsen won in 1990. Stadler won here way back 25 years ago, in 1980. Kite won it in 93.
Jacobsen, Stadler and Kite all played in the Sony Open in Hawaii, and all three made the cut, incidentally. Stadler shocked quite a few when he finished way up, tying for ninth place and earning $124,000 on the strength of two closing 67s. Jacobsen, who dipped into the regular-tour cookie jar for $232,852 last year in 10 outings, came away with $32,640 by tying for 28th. And Kite was sailing along quite nicely until he shot 75 in the final round and finished tied for 72nd, earning $9,264.
How much of an improvement was this over similar payoffs on their own tour? Well, Stadler could expect to earn about $48,000 on the Champions Tour for placing T9 ' a difference of approximately $76 thou. Jacobsen would have earned somewhere around $12,000, which is a difference of around $20,000. And Kite would have earned only a little over $1,000 - approximately $8,000 less than he did at the Sony.
Expect the old-timers to do well at the Hope, too. They can easily reach the greens with short irons ' the Hope has some of the shortest courses on tour. And the fact that the holes must be pretty accessible to get all the amateurs around is another plus for the Champions members. In short, length doesnt mean much here. A Stadler or a Kite or a Jacobsen, for example, could finish high up again.
Stadler thought he was all finished with playing the regular tour, outside of the Masters. But that was before son Kevin earned his card for 2005. Now, Craig has had to rethink his decision, and he has had some eye-opening results.
I think that, to go out when you are 48 or 49 and still prove to these young guys that you can still play with them ' its a lot less pressure (on the Champions Tour), its a lot easier in that regard, he had said last year. Add two and two together and you get a lot more enjoyable time.
The lure of these father-son reunions has changed things, however.
And Kite? He decided he could still play with the juniors when he qualified for the U.S. Open last year over 36 heat-baked holes outside Houston. He went to Shinnecock and had an absolute ball, he said, while easily making the cut with the kids. And since he still was among the top 50 in career money on the regular tour, he decided to give it a try this season.
No question, you miss it, Kite said. I mean, if you've ever played in the big leagues, that's where you want to play. Hey, you may not be capable of it and I don't know that I'm capable of it - we're going to find out over the next couple of months whether I am - but this is the tour everybody wants to play on.
Jacobsens win in 2003 at Hartford means he is exempt for one more year on the PGA Tour. And he has been wavering ever since about going to the Champions. Last year he played 10 events on the regular tour, nine on the Champions.
It's really hard to turn your - to let go of a career that you fought to have for so many years, he said. I feel like I've got the best of both worlds.
The success of Haas has spurred on several of the over-50s to liberally sprinkle their schedule with regular-tour events. Larry Nelson said in the off-season he would like to try switching tours more often. Haas, Jacobsen and Kite plan on playing regularly with the kids.
Gosh, it looks like these elders just wont act their age. And that will be even more so if one of them jumps and gets another top 10 at the Hope this week.
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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.