Isnt 15 Enough

By George WhiteMarch 6, 2005, 5:00 pm
I read Kraig Kanns column in this space Friday, and it got me to wondering: how often did the Big Four play in the same tournament last year? And would they play more often together if the PGA Tour season were shortened, as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson suggested this week at the Ford Championship at Doral?
The Big Four is composed of Woods, Mickelson, Vijay Singh and Ernie Els. I counted 15 times last year when at least three of them played together in a tournament. That isnt counting any of the postseason goobledygook ' remember, Tiger and Phil want to lop the schedule already.
I found that, every month between January (the Mercedes) and August for the WGC-NEC, the boys get together to do battle. They come together at the Tour Championship the first week in November. Thats at least once a month for nine months when three of the four are playing together. Fifteen times over nine months.
Is that enough? And would they play more together if the season were shortened?
I think not. Mickelson has three children and you arent going to get him away from home for more than the 15. Woods is a corporate conglomerate with plenty of outside business to look after, and hes hidden behind the giant stone walls of Isleworth the rest of the time. Els is busy flying the world ' he doesnt even live here. Singh already plays nearly 30 times a year ' he certainly isnt complaining about the season being too long.
Here is a look at the events when at least three of the four played last year:
January - The Mercedes;
February - Buick Invitational, WGC-Accenture Match Play;
March ' Bay Hill, the Players Championship;
April ' The Masters;
May ' Wachovia, EDS Byron Nelson;
June ' Memorial, Buick Classic, U.S. Open;
July ' British Open;
August ' PGA, WCG-NEC;
November ' Tour Championship.
Everyone played eight times ' the four majors, The Players, the EDS Byron Nelson, WGC-NEC and the Tour Championship. And, they have added a 16th tournament where three of the four will appear ' Doral this week, which brought them all together with the exception of Els.
The Buick Invitational, the Match Play and Wachovia had to carry on without Els, who was otherwise engaged on one side of the ocean or another. Mickelson wasnt around for Bay Hill or the Memorial ' he has to play Ford at Doral now and thats too much when you consider that Bay Hill is only two weeks after Doral. He used to make Bay Hill an annual stop, even won it once. And he plays all four tournaments in May, so when June rolls around, the odd one out is the Memorial.
Woods didnt play the Buick Classic, even though Buick is a sponsor of his. The Classic was the week before the U.S. Open, and everyone knows Tiger isnt going to play that weekend.
Singh, of course, played them all.
There are several reasons advanced for shortening the schedule, but Ive never heard of a reason being so the Big Four will play together more often. Woods and Mickelson, as Kann said, are not going to play more than 18-20 events. Els is still going to fly around the world. Singh is still going to play every one ' plus eight or 10 others.
Or have I missed something?
The only way you are going to get Woods or Mickelson to play more is to cut the total purse down to about one-tenth of what it is now ' fat chance of that happening. And you arent going to get Els to dedicate more time to the U.S., not when it isnt even his home.
In short, youll have to come up with a better reason for shortening the season. Otherwise, Im in favor of leaving it as it is.
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Mickelson misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

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.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

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 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.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.

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Beef's beer goggles: Less drinks = more wins

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 6:07 pm

An offseason spent soul searching is apparently paying quick dividends for Andrew “Beef” Johnston, who is in contention to win Sunday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Johnston acknowledged he was “burning the candle at both ends” last year, playing both the PGA Tour and the European Tour, but he told reporters Saturday that it wasn’t too much golf that hindered his efforts.

It was too much “socializing.”

“I'm a social person,” Johnston said. “If you go out with friends, or you get invited to something, I'll have a beer, please. But I probably had a few too many beers, I would say, to be honest. And it reflected in my golf, and I was disappointed looking back at it. I want to turn that around and have a good season.”

Johnston posted a 6-under-par 66 Saturday, moving into a tie for sixth, three shots off the lead. He said he arrived in Abu Dhabi a week early to prepare for his first start of the new year. It’s paying off with a Sunday chance to win his second European Tour title.

“Last year was crazy, and like getting distracted, and things like that,” Johnston said. “You don't know it's happened until you've finished the season. You’re off doing things and you're burning the candle at both ends. When I got back from last season, sort of had time to reflect on it, I sort of said to myself, 'You've got to keep quiet and keep disciplined and get on with your work.’”

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Johnston finished 189th last year in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings. He was 116th in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.

Johnston’s fun-loving personality, his scruffy beard and his big-bodied shape quickly made him one of the most popular and entertaining players in the game when he earned his PGA Tour card before the 2016-17 season. Golf Digest called him a “quirky outlier,” and while he has had fun with that persona, Johnston is also intent on continuing to prove he belongs among the game’s best players.

His plan for doing that?

“Just put the work in,” he said. “I didn’t put enough work in last year. It’s simple. It showed. So, just get down, knuckle down and practice hard.”