US Tour Not Just for Americans
That is gratifying to Freddy Couples. Couples is 45 now, but he can recall the days 15 years ago when there was a decided undercurrent of resentment amongst the U.S. players against anyone who was an international. Greg Norman, for example, battled this resentment forever. The lower-echelon players did not take kindly to a foreigner coming here and taking up their spots on the PGA Tour ranking.
Those days, thank goodness, have just about ended. Everyone is welcome now. And what has evolved has been the world tour where the best players play, regardless of nationality. Couples couldnt be more pleased.
Our tour is the strongest tour. It has the best golfers, he says simply. There are almost as many foreign players as there are American players in the top 125.
Singh is No. 1 in money earned, but Americans hold down the next seven slots. From No. 8 to No. 18, though, there is a very wide latitude of players from around the world.
Number 9 is Irelands Padraig Harrington and No. 10 is Spains Sergio Garcia. No. 12 is an Australian, Adam Scott, and an Englishman ' Luke Donald ' sits at No. 13, while a South African, Retief Goosen, is 14th.
Thats six different countries represented in the top 14 ' I forgot, counting the U.S., thats seven. Another Australian, Peter Lonard, is No. 16, and another South African, Ernie Els, is No. 18. Combined, thats eight international players in the U.S. tours top 18.
And, the U.S. Open was recently won by New Zealands Michael Campbell.
The U.S. Open brings the best out of players, Couples explained. Michael Campbell is a very, very solid player with a good swing. He had a great week. He won. I don't think it is a shock to most of the players, but I think it is a nice thing to see. I think he's well-liked.
He came over here a few years ago and didn't play well at all and I have a lot of respect for the guys that come over here. Some enjoy it, some travel a long way, some buy houses here. So our tour is flourishing on great play.
But the bottom line is Michael Campbell is a golfer and he plays extremely well on the European Tour and he struggled here. People don't know him as well, but he is a top-notch player.
My eyesight isnt as good as it was in younger years, but I believe there are 35 players inside the top 125 who were born in another country than the U.S. Ten years ago, in 1995, there were only 12 international PGA Tour members in the top 125.
If you look at our tour, they're all coming to play, said Freddy. I think it's nice, but I think it's hard for a lot of guys because they're being pushed out from everyone all over the country.
And we have the foreign players who are showing their stuff - Justin Rose and Aaron Baddeley are playing well, Ian Poulter. Those are strong players a lot of people don't know about. I just played with Graeme McDowell, who is a very, very good player. He didn't play that well on Sunday, but he is a good player.
They are going to continue to keep coming if they keep their cards. They are going to love it over here. We play great courses, great tournaments. There is no other better spot to play.
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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.
The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.
McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.
McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.
''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''
Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.
''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''
McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.
''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''
The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.
''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''
The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.
Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational
Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.
The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.
Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.
“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”
Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews
Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.
Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.
Stock Watch: Spieth searching for putting form
Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.
Patton Kizzire (+8%): By today’s accelerated standards, he’s a late bloomer, having reached the Tour at age 29. Well, he seems right at home now, with two wins in his last four starts.
Rory (+7%): Coming off the longest break of his career, McIlroy should have no excuses this year. He’s healthy. Focused. Motivated. It’s go time.
Chris Paisley (+5%): The best part about his breakthrough European Tour title that netted him $192,000? With his wife, Keri, on the bag, he doesn’t have to cut 10 percent to his caddie – she gets the whole thing.
Brooke Henderson (+3%): A seventh-place finish at the Diamond Resorts Invitational doesn’t sound like much for a five-time winner, but this came against the men – on a cold, wet, windy, 6,700-yard track. She might be the most fun player to watch on the LPGA.
New European Ryder Cuppers (+2%): In something of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal, newcomers Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton each went undefeated in leading Europe to a come-from-behind victory at the EurAsia Cup. The competition come September will be, um, a bit stiffer.
Jordan’s putting (-1%): You can sense his frustration in interviews, and why not? In two starts he leads the Tour in greens in regulation … and ranks 201st (!) in putting. Here’s guessing he doesn’t finish the year there.
Brian Harman’s 2018 Sundays (-2%): The diminutive left-hander now has five consecutive top-10s, and he’s rocketing up the Ryder Cup standings, but you can’t help but wonder how much better the start to his year might have been. In the final pairing each of the past two weeks, he’s a combined 1 under in those rounds and wasn’t much of a factor.
Tom Hoge (-3%): Leading by one and on the brink of a life-changing victory – he hadn’t been able to keep his card each of the past three years – Hoge made an absolute mess of the 16th, taking double bogey despite having just 156 yards for his approach. At least now he’s on track to make the playoffs for the first time.
Predicting James Hahn’s form (-4%): OK, we give up: He’d gone 17 events without a top-15 before his win at Riviera; 12 before his win at Quail Hollow; and seven before he lost on the sixth playoff hole at Waialae. The margins between mediocre play and winning apparently are THAT small.
Barnrat (-5%): Coming in hot with four consecutive top-10s, and one of only two team members ranked inside the top 50 in the world, Kiradech Aphibarnrat didn’t show up at the EurAsia Cup, going 0-3 for the week. In hindsight, the Asian team had no chance without his contributions.