Tour releases Olympics-jumbled 2015-16 schedule

By Rex HoggardJuly 30, 2015, 3:30 pm

GAINESVILLE, Va. – The PGA Tour released its 2015-16 schedule on Thursday and, as previously reported, it is a crowded and condensed lineup thanks to golf’s return to the Olympic Games next August.

The 47-event schedule is largely unchanged through the U.S. Open, with the WGC-Dell Match Play's move to late March just two weeks before the Masters as the most notable exception.

The major shakeup will come late in the season as officials were forced to dramatically rework the schedule to make room for the Olympics, which will be played in Brazil the second week of August.

“It’s important from a worldwide standpoint, and I think it’s important to the game of golf that we work around the Olympics because it’s only once every four years,” said Jason Bohn, one of four player directors on the policy board which met on Monday at the Quicken Loans National.

The Open Championship will be played July 14-17 at Royal Troon followed two weeks later by the PGA Championship, July 28-31.

The Quicken Loans National will move to the week after the U.S. Open in late June, followed by the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, which is normally played the week before the PGA.

The Travelers Championship and John Deere Classic will undergo the biggest moves, shifting to the first two weeks of August.

“When we started talking about this to the Tour, everybody bought in that the Olympics were going to grow the game and everybody was on the same page,” Travelers Championship tournament director Nathan Grube said.

The move actually worked in Grube’s favor, as TPC River Highlands implements a series of “major enhancements” starting this fall. The new date will allow officials time to assure the enhancements are completed for next season’s event.

“We thought for one year this could be an OK thing to make sure the course was done and everybody was fine with it,” said Grube, who anticipates moving back to the tournament’s traditional date, the third week in June, after 2016. “I think the Tour will learn a lot about the schedule.”

The transition for the John Deere Classic will not be as seamless, with the event moving from the week before the Open Championship to the same week as the men’s tournament in Rio (Aug. 11-14).

“We feel like we’ve had challenging dates over the 45-year history of our event, but the community has always supported it and we stand proud behind our product,” said tournament director Clair Peterson.

The Olympic field will include 60 players but will likely be top-heavy with star players. Current projections indicate that nearly half of the field will be made up of players ranked outside the top 100 in the World Golf Ranking.

“With only four of our American players playing and, to be honest, I don’t know how many Tour players will be in the [Olympic] field, I don’t know how much that will deter a field," Bohn said. "That would be the ultimate concern if I was the tournament director, but I don’t think it will diminish anything.”

The biggest exception to that will likely be Jordan Spieth, who won this year’s John Deere Classic but appears to be a lock to play for the United States in Rio.

“We expect him to be at the Olympics in 2016, and we are excited for him, and the chance to win a gold medal for your country is something you don’t [often] get a chance to do,” Peterson said.

The FedEx Cup playoffs will follow a similar schedule but the Tour did move the normal open date to the week after the BMW Championship. This year’s open date falls the week after the Deutsche Bank Championship.

The Tour Championship and Ryder Cup, which will be held at Hazeltine National in Minnesota, will be played in consecutive weeks in late September.

The full schedule appears below:

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1174121","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"852","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"600"}}]]

Getty Images

Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

Getty Images

Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials phoned Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial. 

Getty Images

Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

Getty Images

Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm