Punch Shot: What should Monahan do?

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 8, 2016, 8:00 pm

Jay Monahan is set to replace Tim Finchem as PGA Tour commissioner. GolfChannel.com writers weigh in with one big item Monahan should address early in his new role.


As successful as the PGA Tour has been since 1994, when Tim Finchem took over as commissioner, there still are clear areas for improvement.  

The biggest is the Tour’s transparency problem.

Under Finchem, the Tour employed the ol’ bury-your-head-in-the-sand strategy when it came to issues of player misconduct. Once, Finchem rather infamously stated: “We don’t think the fans really want to know about most of the stuff we would be talking about.”

Maybe not, but by taking this stance in regards to player fines and suspensions, the Tour differs from every other major sporting organization. Others have long realized what the Tour has not — that a public reprimand is often the best deterrent.

The Tour would also benefit from a more transparent process with its anti-doping program and slow play, sending a clear message to both players and fans that it takes all of these issues, both large and small, seriously.


When Jay Monahan finally settles into the big office at the PGA Tour, there will be no shortage of issues, both large and small, to be addressed; but the most pressing may be the Tour’s very identity.

For the majority of Finchem’s tenure as commissioner, Tiger Woods was the undisputed top draw, bringing new fans to the game and driving interest and television ratings to all-time highs.

Whether Woods is able to regain something close to that level of competitive relevance remains to be seen following multiple back procedures and more than a year on the disabled list, which means Monahan will likely have to look to a star-by-committee concept going forward.

Much like the NBA when Michael Jordan retired, the Tour will have to make the collective the conversation, a prospect made easier by a group of talented young players – from Jason Day and Rory McIlroy to Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth – that have emerged.

Parity isn’t necessarily a bad thing in sports if presented to the public correctly, which means it’ll be up to Monahan & Co. to frame the narrative properly going forward.


If Jay Monahan is putting up a suggestion box outside his office door, here’s an idea: How about a Major League Baseball type Opening Day for the PGA Tour in the future?

How about trying to get the new year – not the wrap-around season – off to a big bang start, instead of this soft Tournament of Champions start in Hawaii? Too many champions aren’t even showing up there anymore. Outgoing commissioner Tim Finchem did a terrific job creating a lot of big events through the PGA Tour schedule, but the rest of sports barely notices the PGA Tour is up and running again come January.

Yes, of course, there are challenges beginning the new year amid the NFL playoffs, but leading off with the WGC-Match Play Championship would get the PGA Tour some attention, especially if the Tour went back to the event’s old format, where the first- and second-round matchups created such a nice buzz.

Yes, there’s the danger of an anticlimactic weekend, with big names leaving early, but the electricity created in those first two rounds would finally give the PGA Tour an Opening Day feel people would notice.


The new commissioner should walk into his new digs and immediately take a look at the calendar. When he does, there’s a chance he’ll realize that less is more.

This season the Tour will conduct a whopping 47 events across seven different countries. It’s a testament to the accomplishments of Monahan’s predecessor, but it has also created a sense that the competitive schedule extends in perpetuity.

The term “off-season” is thrown around with tongue planted firmly in cheek, often in reference to a stretch of days or weeks instead of months. More importantly, the stretched schedule tends to water down the overall product and creates a scenario where the Tour’s efforts to conjure a climactic close to the season run squarely up against the start of football, when the attention of the TV audience is fragmented.

And while the 2016 schedule was more hectic than most, it’s still a troubling sign when players from Jason Day to Justin Rose have to sideline themselves because the injuries accrued over a busy summer simply haven’t had enough time to properly heal.

Granted, this is a good problem to have, and as long as sponsors are lining up with checks in hand the Tour will – and should – gladly accept their money. But if Monahan hopes to carve out a more distinct identity for his product, he might want to start moving a few pieces around on the calendar in his office.

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil 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 PGA West 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.