Opportunities await Tour Championship qualifiers

By Will GraySeptember 5, 2012, 10:18 pm

This week, many players are focused on outlasting the 70-man field at the BMW Championship; others are looking to improve their playoff positioning for a better shot at the $10 million payday awaiting the winner of the FedEx Cup playoffs. For a handful of players, however, the focus is on a different number entirely: 30, as in becoming one of 30 players to advance to the season-ending Tour Championship.

Kevin Stadler, William McGirt and Jimmy Walker each enter this week’s BMW Championship outside the top 100 in the world ranking. None of the three men have ever won a PGA Tour event; none have played in a WGC event in the past five years, either. The trio have combined to make only five major championship appearances since 2008. This week, though, Stadler (32nd in FedEx Cup points), McGirt (39th) and Walker (46th) all are in position to potentially make the Tour Championship field. For these three, the BMW Championship represents an opportunity to gain access to a tournament system in which, oftentimes, the rich simply get richer.

Under the current setup, golf’s biggest events and the OWGR system create a somewhat vicious cycle. Players gain access to the game’s upper-tier tournaments thanks to a high world ranking; they attain a high ranking largely from playing in those same upper-tier tournaments, many of which carry increased OWGR point values, no 36-hole cut, or both. Outside of winning a Tour event, players can often have a tough time breaking the cycle and gaining access to some of golf’s more prestigious events.

Making the Tour Championship field, though, offers a loophole to players otherwise left on the outside looking in.

Aside from a healthy paycheck – Jonathan Byrd took home $128,000 in 2011 for finishing last – qualifying for the Tour Championship brings with it added benefits. Each of the 30 players at East Lake later this month are automatically qualified for the 2013 Masters, U.S. Open and British Open. They will also receive a spot in the WGC-Cadillac Championship next March.

For some of the game’s top players, these qualifications serve merely as an afterthought. For others, though, a week of good play at Crooked Stick has the potential to remake their schedule for next year. Such was the case last year for John Senden, who entered the playoffs ranked 94th in the world and 50th on the FedEx Cup points list. Spurred largely by a runner-up finish at the BMW Championship, Senden made the field at East Lake and ended the season 13th on the FedEx Cup points list. This year, he played in all three WGC tournaments for the first time in his career, appeared in all four majors, and had the flexibility to craft his schedule around the season’s biggest events.

Stadler, McGirt and Walker are among those in the field this week looking to follow in Senden’s footsteps. The three have combined for 425 career starts on Tour – none of which have been at The Masters. With four good rounds, each could leave Indianapolis this weekend with the knowledge that, in addition to transforming his 2013 schedule, he’ll be driving up Magnolia Lane next spring. So for the next four days, while winning always remains the goal, 30 will become the magic number.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: