Tiger Sees TOURs $$ Go Elsewhere

By George WhiteOctober 31, 2006, 5:00 pm
What in the name of Nike is going on here? Last week Tiger Woods informs us that he is going to bypass the TOUR Championship this week. That makes two of the top money-winners who have decided to pass on the tournament ' Phil Mickelson, of course, being the other.
Those two, of course, are American players. Uh, the TOUR Championship is played in America ' in Atlanta, to be exact. Atlanta is ' oh, about an hours plane ride from Woods crib in Orlando. Its about 4-5 hours away from Mickelsons near San Diego, but good grief ' theyre offering more than a million dollars to the winner, over $100,000 just for showing up, exchanging pleasantries and finishing last. That should easily cover the fuel for Mickelsons private jet, plus put a little grocery money in his shirt.
I suppose I should be upset about this. But Im really not. And heres why ' its one more example of the PGA TOUR trying to stuff eye-boggling amounts of money in a few players pockets. And for once it doesnt work. Kind of reminds me of Jabba the Hut belching loudly as finishes knocking back another of his sumptuous meals ' you know, a million bucks just doesnt mean much to these guys anymore.
Mickelson, of course, didnt participate in this tournament last year ' hes already slammed the books shut on the 2006 season and is deep into childrens projects for his three kids. And Woods has to skip this event to rest up ' he still plans to play in China, in Japan, at the PGA Grand Slam in Hawaii, and in his own tournament in California before the year ends. Something, he felt, just had to give, and that something was the tours season-ending big enchilada.
My bigger beef with the TOUR Championship is that this payout constitutes official money. The rich bone up all year with half a million here, a quarter of a million there, a million here. They scoop up the shekels, then 30 of them play for all the pennies. Oops ' did I say 30? Not this year ' I should have said 27 (Stephen Ames is also out with a back injury). But those 27 enjoy the total purse of $6.5 million, and everyone else on the tours top 125 is left sitting out of the street.
Woods, by the way, will be skipping the event for the first time in his career. I can understand why he just doesnt want to participate this year. He just recently played in seven of nine weeks. Hes won well over $9 million already this year, approximately 10 times that much when you include endorsement money. When another $1.1 million payday means absolutely nothing to you ' and I can certainly understand why since he makes upwards of $90 million a year ' why bother?
Tiger missed two months this season due to the death of his father. He barely got in his 15-tournament limit, neglecting to play in the Funai Classic 15 minutes from his home two weeks ago ' a tournament which would have made him eligible for the Vardon Trophy (which he would have won). But his trophy room is overflowing with Vardons ' six already.
This sermon, incidentally, doesnt mean to suggest that Woods, Mickelson or any professional golfer is overpaid. They certainly arent when you consider that many actors or actresses are paid sums that make pro golfers look like Joe or Jane Doe, when a singer with acute adenoid problems can easily make what they do with one mindless ditty, when several CEOs routinely get paid a kings ransom while their stocks are spiraling down-down-down the toilet. Hey, at least the golfers actually work for their money ' some of it, anyway.
Youve got to blame the tour for making these guys financially comfortable with just 15-20 tournaments a year. Is it really necessary to frantically beat your brains out for 30 events a season? Of course not, not when youve already made two or three million in less than a year of tournaments.
No, I dont begrudge Tiger for deciding to stay home while 27 of his fellow tour pros are enjoying the PGA TOUR's largesse. Hey, Tiger plays for major championship victories, and for a page in the history books. He plays for the PGA TOURs real grand prize, the PLAYERS Championship. He doesnt play for one week when an intramural tournament is supposed to give the boys even more riches. Woods knows that the tournament this week is a cozy little closed shop invented solely to give the participants yet more money.
The payout potential? Well, a million bucks just doesnt go very far anymore.
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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.