LPGA on Mozo incident: Player safety 'paramount'

By Randall MellOctober 2, 2017, 2:48 pm

LPGA chief of tour operations Heather Daly-Donofrio said the weather that blew through the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open during Sunday’s play turned more serious than expected and that the tour never intended to put players in danger.

“It was clearly a serious situation,” Daly-Donofrio said Monday on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive. “We had an unexpected squall come through, and that happens. Wind patterns are very difficult to predict.”

Belen Mozo was leading the tournament through 54 holes at Windross Farm Golf Club in Auckland. She was caught in the hard gusts that roared through Sunday’s final round, wind that ripped loose large signs that tumbled toward her while she putted. It was caught on television. Play was suspended after that, with Brooke Henderson winning when the final round was concluded on Monday.

Mozo was upset that players were put in harm’s way.

“This tour, we are like sheep,” Mozo can be heard saying on a TV clip shortly after the signs tumbled past her.

Mozo later backed up her complaint with tweets:





Daly-Donofrio addressed those complaints on Morning Drive.

“Clearly, we did not want to put players in danger,” Daly-Donofrio said. “We typically will get calls about balls moving on the green before we will see signage fall, and we had one call for a ball moving on the green prior to that. As soon as the squall hit, we suspended play and got players off the course as quickly as possible.”

Daly-Donofrio said she has already reached out to Mozo about her concerns.

“We welcome the input of our players,” Daly-Donofrio said. “We solicit the input of our players. I shot her a note again last night saying,`When you get back home, let’s talk. I want your feedback as we move forward.’

“We don’t always make the right decision. It’s a difficult job on the field of play, when to call suspensions, when to send players out, and sometimes Mother Nature just has a mind of her own and things happens, but, certainly, safety is paramount for our players.”

Two weeks ago, the LPGA also received criticism for how it reacted to bad weather at the Evian Championship, a major championship. The event was shortened to 54 holes before the first round was completed, with the Sunday conclusion coming in bad weather that included hail.

Daly-Donofrio was asked if finances are a factor in deciding to shorten events.

“Our goal is always to finish 72 holes, but there are a lot of factors that go into that decision, primarily course conditions and weather,” Daly-Donofrio said. “So, we were in a situation [at the New Zealand Women’s Open] where we felt like we had a good weather day on Monday. It was the last tournament for a lot of players for their 2018 status . . . If we had a nice, clear day for Monday, we felt like going to 72 holes was the right decision for the competition.”

About Evian . . .

“I think what a lot of people don’t see at home, if they were not at a championship like that, they don’t have a full grasp of the circumstances. I did an interview with a journalist a couple days after that, and I told them, it’s one of those situations if you were not there in the middle of it, you couldn’t fully appreciate how bad it was. At the time, we had rain in the forecast through the weekend and through Monday and through Tuesday. It felt like we had to give players a plan of attack for a major championship, and, honestly, at that point, we felt like we needed Monday to finish 54 holes.”

Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

"I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

"I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.

Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.

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With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."