Els Goosen Skip Europes Goodie Event
Everyone, that is, except Ernie Els, who is the European Tours top money winner. And Retief Goosen, who is No. 2.
Those two wont be around when they call the players to the No. 1 tee at Valderrama. The entire European Ryder Cup team will participate. But No. 1 and 2? They will tee it up in America when they play next.
At one time, this would have been absolute heresy. You mean, the first and second-place players arent playing the final event in Europe? Great shades of Old Tom Morris!
Actually, though, neither Els nor Goosen are from Europe. Both are from South Africa. Both have homes near London, as well as their South African and Orlando residences. Because they are not European, they dont feel a particular affinity for Europe, other than in a professional sense. Both are extremely grateful to the continent for making them feel welcome. But they dont feel overwhelmed with responsibility for ending the year on the European Tour. Imagine saying that about Colin Montgomerie, for goodness sakes!
Goosen is playing this week at the Chrysler Championship in Florida, where he is the defending champion. Els had entered the Chrysler, but a finger injury caused him to drop out. Both will play next week in the PGA Tours Tour Championship in Atlanta.
In reality, there are six players who were eligible for the European event who aren't playing. And included in that number is Swede Fredrik Jacobsen, who won the tournament last year. Oh - he is playing in Florida also.
Perhaps its a sign of the times. Despite the fact that the Volvo Masters Andalucia is a real biggie on the European Tour, still its payout is less than the Florida event, which is just a regular U.S. tournament. The Chrysler winner gets $900,000. The Volvo has a first-place payout of 625,000 euros, which is about $800,000.
It's been awhile since a European won Europe's golf title. Els won in 2003, Goosen won in 2001 and 2002. You have to go back to 2000 when Englishman Lee Westwood won the money title. That was the last time the European Order of Merit (the official name) really meant something.
The European money ranking has become a little skewered by the inclusion of the three majors that are played in the U.S. and the two World Golf Championship events that are played in America. This year that meant five tournaments that were played in the U.S. counted toward European Tour money. And both Els and Goosen did pretty well in those events.
Els didnt play the WGC Accenture Match Play in California, but in the Masters, U.S. Open, PGA and WGC-NEC, he won $1,145,532. That was a pretty big chunk of the $5,186,239 he won to lead the European Tour this year (4,061,904 euros).
And Goosen, the U.S. Open champion, won an even bigger percentage in America - $1,284,642 of his European total of $2,962,074 (2,325,202 euros). Thats better than one-third of his European Tour money that came in the U.S. Els won approximately one-fifth of his Euro money in the U.S.
You can see you dont have to do a whole lot on the European Tour to be credited with a nice Euro bank. Play the U.S. tournaments (three majors and two WCG events) well, and you have a sizeable leg up on the field.
To someone who isnt European, chasing the dollars and coming to the States at the end if the year isnt such a bad idea ' regardless of the fact that you are No. 1 or No. 2 on the European money list. You just cant find fault with that. Goosen won in Florida last year ' though he didnt play the Volvo tournament then, either. Els has made no secret of the fact that he considers himself a world player, not just a European player.
Montgomerie made the point this week that it is all the more obvious that this is a world tour ranking we're talking about, not just a European Tour ranking. The U.S. tour and the European Tour have made it so by recognizing so many mutual events, blurring the lines between the tours. Players routinely jump between tours, as well as own membership in both. Next week, expect European Tour regulars Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia and Darren Clarke to join Els and Goosen in the U.S. for the Tour Championship.
'The situation we find ourselves in is that it is a world tour and the European Order of Merit is not a European Order of Merit anymore,' Montgomerie told a European newspaper.
'It's less European in flavor and I'm not taking away from Ernie Els' achievements this year or Retief's over the last few years. But it's less European in its feeling now.'
Who can blame Els and Goosen? To forego the Florida event could mean a difference of $100,000 to Goosen - the difference in first-place money between the U.S. event and the European event. And next weeks tournament has a first-place check of just over $1 million ' money that might be jeopardized by trying to play through the jet lag of coming directly from Spain.
Except for the little thing of being Europes 1 and 2. That does seem a little cold. But neither feels a particular affinity to the U.S., either. If the shoe were on the other foot and the most money were in Europe, they would be spending the week in Spain. Its the sound of the dollar, and dont think this is a criticism. Its merely the facts ' the cold-blooded facts.
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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.
It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.
Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.
Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.
“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”
The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.
“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”
Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.
Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder
LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.
Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.
''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''
It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.
''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''
Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.
''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''
After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.
''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''
He's making his first start in the event.
''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.
Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.
''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''
Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.
''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.
The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.
''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''
Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.
''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.
Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.
Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.
Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.
John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.
Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years
Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.
He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.
How rare is his missing the cut there?
The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.
The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.
The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.
Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.
Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.