Ochoa event's future uncertain, no TV coverage

By Randall MellNovember 14, 2013, 3:41 pm

The Lorena Ochoa Invitational’s future after this year’s event is uncertain.

While tournament organizers are committed to building on the six-year-old event, it appears as if this will be the last played in Guadalajara, the Mexican city where Ochoa was born and raised. Guadalajara Country Club, home to the event since its inception, is where Ochoa learned to play. Today, she lives in Mexico City, where she is married to Andres Conesa Labastida, president of Aeromexico. Just last week, Ochoa gave birth to their second child together, a daughter, Julia.

Ochoa’s tournament faces challenges after its government funding was unexpectedly pulled a few months ago. The loss of $1 million in funding caused the tournament to scrap its television plans this year.

LPGA officials told GolfChannel.com Thursday morning that the Lorena Ochoa Invitational will be on next year's schedule as the tournament works to secure a site, and that Ochoa will continue to host the event. The LPGA is working with Ochoa's group to secure the future of the event beyond next year. 

Ochoa was disappointed in that development.

“I’ve done so many things [for the government],” Ochoa told Golfweek. “What the tournament gives to them is so many positive things that the country needs in this moment. It’s a great, familiar event, very positive. It’s just very silly for them to say no.”



The LPGA addressed the lack of television coverage this week on its website:

“Unfortunately, the tournament was caught off-guard when the local government withdrew its financial support of the 2013 event – this was the support that financed the international television production.  Based on this, the LPGA released the tournament organizers from their TV commitment, as we want all of our tournaments to be successful, and to be able to succeed long term.  The tournament organizers have worked-out a local/Mexico TV package, and a highlights/update package with the U.S. Golf  Channel, so our US fans/viewers can at least get regular updates in Golf Central, etc.

“Neither the tournament organizers nor the LPGA is happy with the fact that this great event will not be televised to our worldwide audience – but it is better to work through these issues with our tournament partners, than to be heavy-handed and require our partners to face financial crisis in delivering contractual agreements. We are working with the LOI team to address this problem and deliver great TV in the future.”

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Players winner to get 3-year exemption into PGA

By Rex HoggardFebruary 21, 2018, 8:01 pm

Although The Players isn’t golf’s fifth major, it received a boost in that direction this week.

The PGA of America has adjusted its criteria for eligibility into the PGA Championship, extending an exemption for the winner of The Players to three years.

According to an official with the PGA of America, the association felt the winner of The Players deserved more than a single-year exemption, which had been the case, and the move is consistent with how the PGA Tour’s annual flagship event is treated by the other majors.

Winners of The Players were already exempt for three years into the Masters, U.S. Open and The Open Championship.

The change will begin with this year’s PGA Championship.

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Thomas: Playing in front of Tiger even more chaotic

By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:52 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Justin Thomas may be going from the frying pan to the fire of Tiger Woods’ pairings.

Translation: He’s going from being grouped with Woods last week in the first two rounds at the Genesis Open to being grouped directly in front of Woods this week at the Honda Classic.

“Which might be even worse than playing with him,” Thomas said Wednesday.

Typically, the pairing in front of Woods deals with a lot of gallery movement, with fans racing ahead to get in position to see Woods’ next shot.

Thomas was quoted after two rounds with Tiger at Riviera saying fans “got a little out of hand,” and saying it’s disappointing some golf fans today think it’s “so amusing to yell and all that stuff while we’re trying to hit shots.”

With 200,000 fans expected this week at the Honda Classic, and with the Goslings Bear Trap pavilion setting a party mood at the 16th green and 17th tee, that portion of the course figures to be quite lively at PGA National.


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Thomas was asked about that.

“I touched on this a little bit last week,” Thomas said. “I think it got blown out of proportion, was just taken out of context, and worded differently than how I said it or meant it.

“I love the fans. The fans are what I hope to have a lot of, what all of us hope to have a lot of. We want them cheering us on. But it's those certain fans that are choosing to yell at the wrong times, or just saying stuff that's completely inappropriate.”

Thomas said it’s more than ill-timed shouts. It’s the nature of some things being said.

“It's one thing if it's just you and I talking, but when you're around kids, when you're around women, when you're around families, or just around people in general, some of the stuff they are saying to us is just extremely inappropriate,” he said. “There’s really no place for it anywhere, especially on a golf course.

“I feel like golf is pretty well known as a classy sport, not that other sports aren't, but it has that reputation.”

Thomas said the nature of the 17th hole at PGA National’s Champion Course makes it a more difficult tee shot than the raucous 16th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Typically, players like to hear fans get into the action before or after they hit shots. Ill-timed bluster, however, makes a shot like the one at Honda’s 17th even tougher.

“That hole is hard enough,” Thomas said. “I don't need someone yelling in my ear on my backswing that I'm going to hit it in the water, to make it any harder. I hope it gets better, just for the sake of the game. That's not helping anything. That's not helping grow the game.”

Those who follow golf know an ill-timed shout in a player’s backswing is different than anything a fan says at a football, basketball or baseball game. An ill-timed comment in a backswing has a greater effect on the outcome of a competition.

“Just in terms of how much money we're playing for, how many points we're playing for ... this is our jobs out here, and you hate to somehow see something that a fan does, or something that they yell, influence something that affects [a player’s] job,” Thomas said.

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Rory: Phil said RC task force just copied Europe

By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:21 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Playing the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am two weeks ago, Rory McIlroy quizzed Phil Mickelson about what the Americans got out of the U.S. Ryder Cup task force’s overhaul.

McIlroy and Mickelson were paired together at Pebble Beach.

“Basically, all they are doing is copying what the Europeans have done,” McIlroy said.  “That's what he said.”

The Europeans claimed their sixth of seven Ryder Cups with their victory at Gleneagles in 2014. That brought about a sea change in the way the United States approached the Ryder Cup. Mickelson called out the tactics in Gleneagles of captain Tom Watson, who was outmaneuvered by European captain Paul McGinley.


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The Americans defeated Europe at Hazeltine two years ago with that new European model.

“He said the first thing they did in that task force was Phil played a video, a 12-minute video of Paul McGinley to all of them,” McIlroy said. “So, they are copying what we do, and it's working for them. It's more cohesive, and the team and the core of that team are more in control of what they are doing, instead of the PGA of America recruiting and someone telling them what to do.”

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 21, 2018, 7:00 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.