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Whan looking to move Evian back to summer

By Randall MellNovember 7, 2017, 5:33 pm

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan talked about his continuing interest in pursuing ownership of the Ladies European Tour, about next year’s LPGA schedule and a possible extension of the tour’s Race to the CME Globe and about future plans to improve the Evian Championship during his visit Tuesday to Golf Channel studios.

Whan on the LET ...

Whan said his proposal to take over ownership of the Ladies European Tour in partnership with the European Tour and R&A isn’t dead yet. He’s hoping to revisit the possibility in the spring.

Whan told GolfChannel.com that the LET is committed to continue governing itself, but that he hopes to renew discussions in April or May.

Whan teamed with the European Tour and R&A in September to make a formal pitch for taking over the struggling LET.

“The LPGA, the European Tour and the R&A came together with a plan where the three of us would fund the LET over a three-year period,” Whan said.

Whan said the proposal would require the LET to give up ownership of its tour and move under the LPGA’s umbrella in a partnership with the European Tour and the R&A.

It’s a big call for the LET.

“We told the LET if they wanted us to come in and invest this kind of money and make this kind of difference over the next few years, then it’s going to have to be a property we are going to own and run,” Whan said.

Whan said the timing of the proposal late in the year added pressure to the discussions with the 2018 season nearing.

“We agreed to reconvene in the late spring,” Whan said. “We will see where things stand then.”

Whan said with just three months left before the new year, the LPGA and its partners would have required a quick decision to be able to launch a rebuild for the 2018 season.

“I felt like I was adding pressure instead of relieving it,” Whan said. “I told them if the timing was bad, I can step away from the table at this time.”

On the Race to the CME Globe and 2018 LPGA schedule ...

With the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., next week, Whan strongly hinted the Race to the CME Globe’s season-long point series may be securing a long-term future.

“Next week, we will have some news about the CME Globe,” Whan told Morning Drive. “We will be racing for the Globe for a lot of years in the future.”

Whan will unveil the LPGA’s 2018 schedule during next week’s CME Group Tour Championship. He said it will feature 35 events, as it did when he released the schedule last year, though there will be significant changes.

“We will lose a couple events and add a couple,” Whan said.

The Manulife LPGA Classic in Canada lost its sponsorship and won’t be on next year’s schedule. Whan said the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open, played at the start of the fall Asian swing, also will not be on next year’s schedule, but only because it is moving up into an early slot on the 2019 schedule.

Whan hinted the two new events in ‘18 may include a second tournament in Hawaii, to add to the Lotte Championship, or at least be a location to easily twin with Hawaii and help travel plans for players making that long trip west.

“We are going to add another opportunity to stay out there a week longer,” Whan told Morning Drive.

On the Evian Championship ...

With bad weather plaguing the Evian Championship again in September, Whan faced criticism over his decision to scrub scores from the first round in France and then to shorten the major championship to 54 holes.

Whan said he’s going to make a significant schedule change in hopes of improving tournament conditions.

“We will get Evian back to a summer date,” Whan pledged. “It may not be in ’18, but certainly by ’19.”

Whan said he believes in Evian as an LPGA major, but he regrets his decision to move the event to September, with its rainy season and its shorter days.

“The challenges we’ve faced are man-made,” Whan said. “And I’m the man who made them.”

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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 played a six-hole stretch in 6 under and shot an 8-under 64 in breezy conditions Saturday to take the lead at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook began the run at La Quinta Country Club with birdies on Nos. 4-5, eagled the sixth and added birdies on No. 7 and 9 to make the turn in 6-under 30.

After a bogey on the 10th, he birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 15 and saved par on the 18th with a 20-footer to take a 19-under 197 total into the final round on PGA West's Stadium Course. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player is making his first start in the event. He won at Sea Island in November for his first PGA Tour title.

Fellow former Razorbacks star Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were a stroke back. Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 on the Stadium Course. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. They are both winless on the PGA Tour.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Jon Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium Course to reach 17 under. The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3, 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.

Scott Piercy also was two strokes back after a 66 at the Stadium.

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 PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, and Harkins shot 68 on the Stadium Course.

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 Course 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. The Southern California recruit had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over for the week.

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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Mickelson 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.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.