$10 million would really mean something to these guys

By Jason SobelSeptember 10, 2014, 7:15 pm

ATLANTA - “I apologize for this question in advance, but I think it’s relevant considering your current scenario…”

Chris Kirk had just concluded his Wednesday morning news conference in advance of this week’s Tour Championship, during which he spoke about the pressure of leading the FedEx Cup points list entering the season finale (“I don't really think it brings that much pressure at all”) and what he’s accomplished to this point (“I'm definitely proud of what I've done this year”).

He had also answered all of the predictable questions about the prospect of winning $10 million with all of the predictable answers. No, if he cashes golf’s biggest check this week, he won’t buy a fleet of Maybachs or pick up an Apple Watch for everybody he’s ever met.

Kirk doesn’t seem in awe of the money, which sort of put me in awe of him. Unlike some of the players who have won the FedEx Cup – ahem, Tiger Woods – this would be more than just a little extra pocket change.

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I wondered how he could remain so calm in the face of such a big payday. I wondered why he wasn’t already considering luxury purchases. I wondered if he even had that much money.

So I asked him.

“…um, do you have $10 million?”

To his credit, Kirk neither punched me in the face nor stared daggers through it. He just laughed. And he answered the question – well, at least to the best of his ability.

“No, I don’t think so,” he said. “I have no idea how much I have.”

His career PGA Tour earnings total $9,419,104. Endorsement deals and other corporate sponsorships would easily push him into eight figures, but likely still leaves him short in net worth when we factor in taxes and paying people like agents and caddies.

The point remains the same: This isn’t the type of guy who will take the 10 million smackeroos in large bills and divvy ’em up between his private jet and his yacht.

“It wouldn't change much, to be honest with you,” he insisted. “I just won a million and a half a few weeks ago, and I didn't go buy anything. I'm very comfortable financially and very happy with what I have. My family's very well taken care of. I'm not a very extravagant guy. So I'll make sure I can afford my kids' college, I guess.”

Even if it isn’t life-changing, even if this winning lottery ticket doesn’t alter the way Kirk lives his life, it will be fun to watch players compete for that much money who don’t already have it in the bank.

Right behind Kirk on the points list is Billy Horschel, whose win at last week’s BMW Championship raised his career earnings to $7,895,691. He’s not exactly hurting for a little extra scratch, but he also understands the significance of what’s at stake this week.

“You can get hot and do some special things,” he said, “and have a chance to get here again and win the FedEx Cup and $10 million, which can go a long way.”

Like the guy he’s trailing by a mere nine points, Horschel isn’t dreaming of living a life of opulence, either. He isn’t thinking about some Robin Leach-narrated Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous account of his new toys.

He wants to earn the money so that he can better help the people who helped him get to this position.

“It just means that people that made sacrifices for me to be here and to be playing the game I love to death, I can take care of them a lot more,” he explained. “That's my parents. That's my brothers and some other family members and friends. I can reward them with bringing them out to tournaments and paying for vacations for them whenever they want to go. That's what it is. I'm not going to be going buying a 20,000-square-foot house or a brand new plane or anything. That's not my style.”

The FedEx Cup is often criticized as a manufactured money-grab where the rich get richer. In one fell swoop on Sunday afternoon, somebody will claim nearly the same amount that took Craig Stadler an entire career to amass. While that isn’t an unfair analysis, it takes some coin to get players’ collective attention these days – and for those currently atop the list, at least, $10 million is that number.

That might be a drop in the gold-embossed, extra-large bucket for a guy like Woods, who has cashed more than $109 million in PGA Tour earnings alone, but for the players in the pole position entering the season’s final four days, $10 million means something – which means watching them trying to win it should mean a little more to the rest of us, too.

“It obviously would be nice and it would be a pretty incredible nest egg to have to fall back on for the rest of my life,” Kirk said. “But no, it wouldn't really change me or my lifestyle at all.”

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.