Senior Majors are Still Majors

By Golf Channel NewsroomJuly 10, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 Ford Senior Players ChampionshipA major is a major is a major, say the gentlemen who play the Champions Tour. It may not be the Masters, the British Open, the U.S. Open or the PGA Championship. But the Ford Senior Players Championship, which is being held this week near Detroit, is just as important to the men who will be playing it as the four majors are to the younger set.
 
This is the tour that I play, said Loren Roberts. This is a major to me.
 
Loren Roberts
Loren Roberts is seeking his first major on either the PGA or Champions tour.
Obviously, we realize that the majors on the PGA TOUR are how you want to classify them. They're bigger majors. I mean, there's no question about that. But this is where we play now. I look at it for myself, this is where I play now and I still want to win majors.
 
Some say Fred Funk should be the favorite, others say Roberts or Jay Haas should be. All say the men who are 50, 51, 52 should probably be favored the most. But Roberts says a lot of the older players are giving a winning effort, also.
 
I think obviously if you look at Hale Irwin, he's the exception to the rule, said Roberts. I mean, he's kept himself physically fit. I don't know a guy that's more competitive that I've ever met than Hale Irwin. If I just look at him and I look at the golf course, it's pretty good chance there. I think that he could be one of the favorites. I really do.
 
And still, it cant be argued that there is perhaps a five-year window, from age 50 to perhaps age 55, when a player will typically win the most.
 
Yeah, I look at it like I got five years to play, I guess, said Roberts, who himself is now 51.
 
I feel like I've been pretty doggone fortunate for me in my career because I feel like I came along and played at a time when golf really got good. (I was) able to take advantage of a lot of the things that Tiger Woods and Phil (Mickelson) have probably done about bringing money into the game, was able to take advantage of a lot of the increased purses and still stay competitive until I was 50.
 
And then this tour is here, which I think is going to get nothing but better with guys coming out like Nick Price. I wish we could get Greg Norman to play a little bit more. I just think this is - I couldn't be more thrilled to death with what's happening out here, regardless of how long I can stay competitive out here.
 
People seem to forget that these gents are getting older, says Allen Doyle ' who is now 57. Yet we are, he says.
 
So it's good to have Fred (Funk) and Scott Hoch and Greg Norman, and all these guys and the only thing that I wish that they play more. Because it would be a huge plus for our tour. And I do it for selfish and unselfish reasons.
 
I mean it's selfish - the more they play, the probably higher our purses would be. So that's a good thing. And the unselfish is that it's probably more impressive for a Greg Norman to tout how well we play out here, versus me. So it does get me fired up and motivated to play and show that we - that the years that we had, good years that we had was not because there was no competition out here - it was because we were good players.
 
It may be the surprises who are most representative of what the Champions Tour is about, though ' the Dana Quigleys, the Doyles. These are the guys who played little or no golf on the PGA TOUR. And when they got their Champions Tour cards, they were eager to show the world that they could play with the big names.
 
Oh, that's a (motivation), for sure, said Doyle. And I think those guys (the big-name players) have come to respect the others out here - and I would put myself in the others category. Everybody expects them to dominate and when they don't...
 
I mean, how are you going to beat Dana Quigley when he shoots 18 under and shoots 63 on Sunday (at the Greater Kansas City Classic two weeks ago)? You almost can't do it. That doesn't mean we do that every week and every Sunday, no. But they don't either.
 
And when they have been asked, Why haven't you done better, they say, These guys can play. And that's a good thing maybe for us when you get into your late 50s.
 
And the same sentiment goes for Quigley.
 
I think it juices us up to know that there's more great players here, he says. And it's a feather in the cap of mine and Allen Doyle's when we can beat a field full of those guys.
 
'I mean, I welcome them to be here, because I'm still going to try to shoot the score that I need to get to regardless of who it is. But when they happen to be the names underneath you, it certainly does (feel good) at the end of the day. When we're home in our hotel room, it certainly gives us a lot of pride knowing that these guys were in this field.
 
I've been out here - I think it's going to be my 10th year. The fields, the competition has gotten - I wouldn't know how to put it in numbers, but I would say it's at least three times as hard competitive-wise as 10 years ago. That's how much it's changed.
 
Thats true of Roberts, who was a solid member of the PGA TOUR for 25 years.
 
If you talk about Champions Tour golf, this is the greatest mulligan in life of any sport that I know, he said. And I enjoy playing golf. I can't speak for a lot of these other guys, but I know I enjoy playing golf, competing and being out there playing. And I think a lot of guys who play out here are probably not as anal as they used to be on the golf course, just because this is a second time around. You've been there, done that. It's time to have fun playing golf.
 
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    McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

    By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

    Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

    McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

    Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

    McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, four shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

    Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

    “That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation.