Whan explains stance on LPGA age restriction

By Randall MellAugust 20, 2015, 2:52 am

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan might have faced as much heat over his denial of Brooke Henderson’s petition for a waiver of the tour’s 18-year-old age restriction last year as he did over his declaring the Evian Championship the fifth major in women’s golf.

The National Post of Canada called Henderson’s victory Sunday at the Cambia Portland Classic a “convincing indictment” of the LPGA system that initially “rebuffed” her bid for membership. Whan granted Henderson’s petition for a waiver Tuesday, allowing her to take up LPGA membership before the start of this week’s Canadian Pacific Women’s Open. She will turn 18 on Sept. 10.

Whan gets dozens of petitions for waivers every year, but he has firmly stood by his stance that an underage player needs to win an LPGA event before he’ll consider granting tour membership. He said Lydia Ko and Lexi Thompson were the standard Henderson needed to meet. Now, for future teens petitioning, he has Henderson’s name to add to theirs.

Canadian media asked Whan Wednesday to explain the philosophy behind that stance.

Whan said part of his stance involves player responsibilities that go beyond putting up a score, that require a level of maturity in interacting with adults in pro-ams and in other important LPGA responsibilities that take them outside golf courses. He said it’s also about the rigors of international travel so built into the LPGA game.

“I always tell players, today you have to be a host,” Whan said. “If you're a good host, then you can play for big money on Thursday. But part of being an LPGA member is what you're doing outside of Thursday to Sunday, and every LPGA player knows that. There is a pretty significant demand on your time. So, in general, we would say we would rather not have to have people face that too early.”

Whan said there is more, too.

“The other thing I'm trying to avoid is I don't want people's greatest golf experience to be between the ages of 12 and 16 and totally burn out,” he said. “So I want to make sure they're playing at age-specific and quality-specific ranks. So like I said, there are a lot of people all over the world that said they're ready for the LPGA right now. I'm not saying I'm a hundred percent right in all my yesses and nos, but I have to look at the resume, the maturity, the team that's built around them and say, `One, are they ready?’ and two, `Is this the only place they could really go to continue to build their playing skills and resume?’”

Speaking specifically about his denial of Henderson’s waiver to go to Q-School last year, he said: “When I said no the last time, I looked at her record, especially playing LPGA events, and I know she had a T-10 in the U.S. Women's Open, but other than that, it was really 24th or higher. It didn't seem like a player who wasn't going to be able to find quality competition outside of us. I usually look and say `Is the only way for this player at this age to get competition at our level?’ I didn't feel that then. And I would tell you that her resume today versus her resume a year ago is a hundred percent different.

“As I told her on the phone . . . She went out and earned it the old fashioned way and proved that she belonged.”

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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.

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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

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.