Finchem says Masters is the exception to the rule

By Jason SobelMay 9, 2012, 9:18 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Call it PGA Tour logic – even though at times such terminology can be considered the ultimate oxymoron. 

In advance of this week’s Players Championship, commissioner Tim Finchem met with the media on Wednesday, addressing the PGA Tour’s regulation toward sanctioned tournaments on golf courses which feature discriminatory membership policies.

“The position of the PGA Tour hasn't changed,” Finchem explained. “We have a policy that says that when we go out and do a co-sanctioned event, we are going to play it at a club that is as open to women members, open to minority members, etc. – and we follow that policy carefully.”

Terrific explanation. Clear and concise, rational and sensible.

As a non-profit entity that prides itself on charitable endeavors that are quickly reaching $2 billion all-time, this is a sentient practice to eliminate any potential notion of the PGA Tour consenting to such exclusionary policies.

Which is why what Finchem said moments later contradicted his aforementioned viewpoint.

“In the case of the Masters,” he continued, “we have concluded a number of times now – and we have certainly not moved off of this – that we are not going to give up the Masters as a tournament on our Tour. It's too important. And so at the end of the day, the membership of that club have to determine their membership. They are not doing anything illegal.” 

So in layman’s terms, the PGA Tour is completely against sanctioning events at venues where discriminatory membership policies exist – unless that event happens to be one of the four major championships and that venue happens to be Augusta National.

That’s oxymoronic. Hold the oxy.

The issue, in this particular instance, isn’t about the policies of the club itself. We’ve been there, done that already. Augusta’s failure to recognize a single female as a member is a hot-button topic that won’t go away soon.

There are those who believe the club is completely just in its private membership practices; there are those who believe its policy is discriminatory and shouldn’t be considered acceptable. It’s a debate that has been hashed and rehashed for years – and like most compelling arguments in today’s society, everyone has an opinion and few will be swayed from their thoughts.

No, the issue today is the PGA Tour’s contradictory procedure toward the year’s first major championship. There isn’t any doubt that the Masters is important, but where is the line drawn to consider an event, as Finchem stated, “too important”?

This may not be a new subject for debate, but it’s one to which the commissioner responded in such a contrasting manner that its ugly head has reared again. After all, rules are rules. Unless, as Finchem preached, rules can be broken for subjective reasons.

He furthered his explanation by simply categorizing the Masters as being more worthy of special consideration due to its status as one of the game’s most elite tournaments.

“We just elect to continue to recognize them as an official money event on the PGA Tour because we think it's that important to golf, so we don't get to determining whether their policies are right or wrong,” Finchem said. “We don't have to, because we made the conclusion that regardless of those policies. We are going to continue to play and recognize them as part of the PGA Tour.”

This is akin to a teacher giving an A+ grade on a failing homework assignment, simply because the student excels in all other aspects of school.

The truth is, the PGA Tour’s policy on discriminatory policies is a discriminatory policy in itself. By choosing to make all host courses follow protocol, but allowing one co-sanctioned event off the hook, Finchem and those in Ponte Vedra Beach headquarters have implemented a procedure which bends their own bylaws and reeks of favoritism.

Perhaps the most enlightened words of Finchem’s contradictory rant came at the end, when he seemed to acquiesce that it may not be the most prudent decision.

“I know some people don't like that position, and I appreciate that and I understand their reasoning,” he explained, “but that's the decision we've made.”

Golf is a game of rules. Competitors can’t “sort of” take a drop or “kind of” hit a ball out of bounds. And the penalties can’t be enforced based on the specific competitor. 

Apparently some rules, though, have been made to be broken.

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Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.