Favorite/least favorite thing on 2013 Tour schedule

By Ryan LavnerOctober 30, 2012, 3:32 pm

The PGA Tour has released its schedule for the 2013 season. Because the Fall Series will now be the start of the following season, next year will feature a shorter schedule than normal. Our writers chime in with their thoughts on what they like and don't like about the condensed schedule.

By RANDALL MELL

There’s a lot to like with the PGA Tour’s evolving schedule, but there is a glaring shortcoming.

While we’re going to continue to see a big-bang finish with the FedEx Cup playoffs, we still lack the big-bang start.

The Hyundai Tournament of Champions is a solid event, but even its Monday finish won't give the PGA Tour that grand-opening feel. It doesn’t have that special feeling that Opening Day gives Major League Baseball, and that’s a shame. The PGA Tour sort of eases into its schedule instead of starting it with a fireworks show.

While next year’s newly configured fall package will make the start of the 2014 season mean more with FedEx Cup points at stake, it still doesn’t create a heightened sense of anticipation for the start of a new season the way Opening Day does in baseball. At least, it doesn’t as it is imagined.

Give me the Accenture Match Play Championship as the season opener. Give me a World Golf Championship event like that one with the top 64 players in the world competing with the win-or-go-home component, and you'll put a jolt of excitement into the new season’s start.


By JASON SOBEL

OK, so let me get this straight: In its infinite wisdom, the PGA Tour years ago understood that its late-season product couldn’t succeed against the machine that is college and professional football, so executives decided to scale back the schedule under the guise of giving its players a true offseason by implementing the FedEx Cup playoffs, then built in more tournaments after the season was “over,” thereby contradicting its own intention for some downtime and starting next year the newest campaign will come directly after the previous one finishes, creating a never-ending cycle of golf that breeds both familiarity and contempt rather than offering both the players and the consumers a fresh, new, interesting product on the course.

That’s pretty much it, right?

The decision to begin the 2014 season just weeks after the 2013 season is completed is akin to a World Series champion heading to Spring Training while still soaked in champagne. For whatever reason, the PGA Tour has chosen to saturate the market, its obvious approach apparently being that quantity beats quality. Someone needs to tell the folks in PVB executive offices that one of the reasons they wanted to get away from football season is that its popularity is largely based on being a five-month-a-year sport. Miss a game and you’ve missed something big. Miss a PGA Tour event and there will always be another one the next week.

Anyway, that’s my least favorite thing about the upcoming schedule, in case you couldn’t tell.

What’s my favorite thing about it? An extra built-in bye week.

Next year the pros will receive a week off after the first two FedEx Cup playoff events and before the last two, splitting the Deutsche Bank Championship and BMW Championship. Then, following the Tour Championship, another bye week before two dozen of the game’s best head to Muirfield Village for the Presidents Cup.

I know. These guys aren’t digging ditches and players who complain about not getting enough breaks come off as whiners. But let’s face it: More players are not only going to play all four events and the Presidents Cup with built-in bye weeks, but play them well. I like that decision. See? Sometimes less can actually be more.


By RYAN LAVNER

The truncated 2013 PGA Tour schedule features few surprises, which is to be expected, with the most radical changes in Tour history – a new qualifying format, split-calendar season, maybe even an anchoring ban – looming in 12 months.

If there is a nit to pick, however, it is this: The Shell Houston Open, which has served as the unofficial tune-up for the Masters since 2007, will now have a new date that figures to hurt the event.

Tournament officials have embraced the week-before-the-Masters slot, turning Redstone Golf Club into Augusta National-lite, with shaved mounds around the greens, slick putting surfaces and mowing patterns from green to tee box. Phil Mickelson has played the lead-in event each year since 2008, and Ernie Els, Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy and Charl Schwartzel are among the players who have turned up in Humble, Texas, for one final test before the year’s first major.

Unfortunately, with the March 28-31 date, two weeks before Augusta, the SHO likely won’t attract the same caliber of field. Instead, it’ll be up to the folks at the Valero Texas Open to simulate the Augusta experience.


By REX HOGGARD

Let’s call them faux PGA Tour cards, at least that will be the reality if not the official company line from Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

To be fair, the transition to a split-calendar Tour schedule will be a “one off” anomaly, rectified with the beginning of the 2013-14 season in October. In the short term, however, there will be the loss of four Fall Series events and the Mayakoba Golf Classic, which will move from the spring when it was played opposite the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship to the fall and the start of the new season.

In practical terms it means a loss of over 600 playing opportunities in 2013, or about five events per player according to one Tour official. For some that will mean the difference between keeping a Tour card or heading back to the circuit’s redesigned qualification process.

Eight events will increase their field sizes in 2013 and the Tour will limit the number of unrestricted sponsor exemptions tournaments can dole out in an attempt to mitigate the loss, but it will be the equivalent of bringing a spork to a knife fight.

The condensed schedule could also be aggravated by a larger-than-normal Q-School class and an onslaught of player utilizing a major medical exemption. The end result will be one of the most demanding schedules in recent memory, particularly for those playing out of the Web.com Tour/Q-School category.

The Tour will not call it a “Tour card Light,” but it should.

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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.

@tommyfleetwood_1

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.