Weekly 18 Seve Back and Forward

By Jason SobelMay 9, 2011, 4:55 pm

New home. Same ol’ Weekly 18.

As you’ve no doubt already noticed, the W18 is now available right here on GolfChannel.com, but the mission remains the same, taking you through this week’s most important issues in the world of golf.

Obviously, that means some somber news this time around, as Seve Ballesteros’ death continues to reverberate around the globe. How could it affect one current top player? The W18 begins with the notion that Seve’s passing could serve as inspiration for a fellow Spaniard.

1. Motivated by Seve?

Gary Player has a way of seeing things with a more worldly view than most people, which only makes sense for golf’s all-time leader in frequent flyer miles.

And so it shouldn’t come a surprise that in the wake of Seve Ballesteros’ death, with most of his peers speaking about the on-course exploits of the game’s ultimate magician, Player focused instead on the bigger legacy that he left behind.

“Everybody is talking about the golf,” Player told 'Golf Central' on Saturday. “Let’s talk about something a little bit more important, because here was a man who was probably the most well known Spaniard – as well known as a Spaniard ever. Here is a man who traveled the globe continuously, he was an international player. He was handsome, he was like a matador, he was a charismatic man; he was Arnold Palmer of the rest of the world.”

There will never be another Seve, but perhaps such strong words will serve as inspiration for someone else from Spain. Someone like Sergio Garcia.

Once thought to be next in a line of great Spanish players following Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal, it’s no secret that Garcia has lacked for motivation in recent years. Late last season, he took a much-publicized sabbatical from the game, of which he later told me, “It was great. It was awesome. It was one of the best decisions I've ever made.”

On the eve of the third anniversary of his last U.S. victory – an unexpected playoff win at the 2008 Players Championship – it’s within reason to question whether Garcia, 31, will ever become the world-class player he seemed destined to be during his teenage years. He remains stuck on seven career PGA Tour titles and 11 more worldwide (his last also coming in 2008, at the Castello Masters), numbers that would have most pros giddy with pride, but have left him as the poster boy for underachievement.

Garcia is an easy target for satire, from his close calls at major championships to his criticisms of the golf gods to his childish on-course antics. He is hardly without talent and promise, though, as those who write off his chances of becoming a multiple major champion should peruse the results tables this season. Though he has yet to seriously contend, the appropriately nicknamed El Nino has yet to finish outside the top-35 in eight PGA and European tour appearances so far.

If fortunes are ever going to be reversed for Sergio, the time is now. Not only should he own good vibes returning to TPC-Sawgrass, but maybe all of this discussion about Seve’s career as a grand champion and entertainer will spur him to greater heights.

Think about it: How fitting would it be for Garcia to claim his long-awaited first career major title soon after Ballesteros’ death? Throw in a final-hole scramble for par to clinch the victory and we’d easily have the story of the year.

Check that. It would be the story of any year.

Garcia surely has the talent to make it happen. Let’s hope this latest somber news gives him the determination, too.

Three Up… 

Tom Lehman

2. Tom Lehman

If he had enough reps, Lehman would be leading the PGA Tour in greens in regulation. On the Champions Tour, he’s “only” second in that category. In both instances, he’s reaching the putting surface at least 80 percent of the time.

It should come as no surprise then that Lehman continued his ball-striking prowess at this week’s Regions Tradition, finishing second in the field en route to winning the year’s first major.

In fact, he’s striping it so well that I’m willing to go out on a limb.

There have only been a half-dozen winners aged 50 or older in the history of the PGA Tour, the most recent being Fred Funk at the 2007 Mayakoba Golf Classic, but I’ll pick Lehman to become the seventh. He already owns three senior circuit wins. Get him on a tight course against the flatbellies and he can still prevail out there, too.

3. Lucas Glover

The PGA Tour couldn’t have planned it any better. On the week it debuted the new “Strokes Gained – Putting” statistic, Glover smoked the field in this category, dropping putts from everywhere to clinch his first win since the 2009 U.S. Open.

Or maybe we could just rely on the good ol’ putting category standards instead.

For the week, Glover ranked first in putting average and third in putts per round. However you slice it, the guy was a first-class rock-roller at Quail Hollow.

What a difference a hot putter makes.

In his last 18 starts dating back to last May, Glover had missed seven cuts and owned just one top-10 finish. Thanks to a big-time par-saving putt on the final hole of regulation and another par in the first playoff hole, he was able to defeat Jonathan Byrd for a third career victory.

4. Thomas Aiken

Drive for show, putt for dough.

This old axiom always rears its head when a big bomber is outdone by a short-knocker who simply knows how to get the ball in the hole. It doesn’t always hold true, though.

Consider the curious case of Aiken, who two years ago pulled off the obscure double statistical title, leading the European Tour in both putting average and putts per round.

And for his efforts, he owned exactly zero career wins.

More like: Drive for show, putt for … d’oh!

Until Sunday.

Aiken won his first-ever Euro Tour title at the Open de Espana, then dedicated the victory to another short-game wizard, Seve Ballesteros.

'It's been a sad week with Seve passing away,' said Aiken, who also owns six titles in his home country of South Africa. 'I definitely want to dedicate this win to him with it being his home Open and what he gave to his home fans and to golf.'

Not surprisingly, Aiken won this event because of his flatstick. His 28 putts per round was under his average when he led the tour two years ago, and his 1.75 putting average was just below the 2009 number.

The only difference? This time those numbers led to a victory.

Putt for dough, indeed.

Three Down… 

Chris DiMarco

'Get in my belly!'

5. Chris DiMarco

Maybe he was kidding. Let’s hope he was kidding. I mean, really. He had to be kidding… right?

How else to digest this tweet – emphasis on “digest” – from DiMarco following last week’s Zurich Classic?

Good finish in New Orleans. Tough to swing around the gut. Finally talley +14 pounds. That is eating good.

No way. As Ralph Wiggum once famously stated, “That’s unpossible.” Isn’t it?

DiMarco is listed in his PGA Tour bio at 6-foot, 180 pounds. While those numbers are often inflated and deflated, respectively – come on, Tim Herron; the only time you’ve seen 210 recently, it was your 54-hole total – even if it was dead-on accurate for DiMarco, it would mean he ballooned to 194 pounds during his seven days in the Big Easy.

Sounds more like the Big Queasy, doesn’t it?

A little math shows that if these totals are indeed correct, then DiMarco endured a 9.3 percent weight increase during a week in which he finished T-26.

That’s nothing compared with the 80 he added on Thursday at Quail Hollow. No, not 80 pounds – an 80 on the scorecard that included two doubles and six bogeys en route to missing the cut.

Hopefully he’ll get back on track soon. After all, DiMarco has a mouth to feed.

6. Post-round violation inquisitions

The women of Salem, Mass., in the 17th century would feel for today’s professional golfers. Or maybe it’s the other way around.

We had another witch hunt on Sunday, this time with Padraig Harrington, playing partner Phil Mickelson and tournament rules officials comically attempting to pick out the Irishman’s divot from dozens of others on the 13th teebox.

If it sounds ridiculous, well, it was. The reason for it was because a marshal believed he witnessed Harrington tee off from in front of the tee markers, which was proven inconclusive afterward.

'For once,” said Harrington, who was disqualified from the Abu Dhabi Championship when a television viewer phoned in a violation, “I'm not going to be the martyr and take it.'

Good for him.

We all understand the need for players to police themselves, but being open to the suggestions of observers has the left the ripe for folly. There’s no easy solution to this problem – getting it right is always of utmost importance – but leaving players and officials crawling around on the ground, inspecting divots should be the lasting image for exactly what’s wrong with the current process.

7. Elliot Saltman

The best thing we can say about Saltman’s return to the European Tour is that, well, at least no one can accuse him of cheating.

In his first start after a three-month ban, Saltman opened with scores of 72-80 to miss the cut at the Open de Espana. He had previously been suspended for repeatedly giving himself an advantage while marking his ball during last year’s Russian Open.

It may not have been a successful return in golf terms, but Saltman did report that he received a surprising welcome from his fellow competitors.

'A lot of the guys have come up to me and wished me luck and quite a few of them were unexpected,” the Scotsman said. 'I thought it might have been a wee bit difficult, but it's like nothing happened.'

8. Stat of the Week

Jason Day

This week’s statistic isn’t a specific number, but an actual category itself, as the PGA Tour rolled out its brand new “Strokes Gained – Putting” stat prior to the Wells Fargo.

What does it mean? Here’s the Tour’s official explanation: “The number of putts a player takes from a specific distance is measured against a statistical baseline to determine the player's strokes gained or lost on a hole. The sum of the values for all holes played in a round minus the field average strokes gained/lost for the round is the player's strokes gained/lost for that round. The sum of strokes gained for each round are divided by total rounds played.”

In layman’s terms? “It’s, um, a measure of, you know, how well a guy, like, putts from different, er, distances and, uhh…”

I sat with two colleagues recently as we read and reread different material explaining the new stat. Granted, none of us have a Ph. D in advanced mathematics, but we do know golf – and we had little idea of what these numbers meant or how they could be relevant in determining putting prowess.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not averse to change. I understand how statistics can help a player determine what he needs to work on and help the rest of us determine which players are better in certain areas.

That said, the next time we hear a player contend, “I’ve really been working hard on my Strokes Gained – Putting,” it will be the first time. Besides, how effective is it? John Merrick debuted at No. 1 on the list – and 134th on the money list. Meanwhile, Luke Donald would have led this category in each of the last two years – and he’s now having his best season while lower on the list.

For the geeks – and I use that term admiringly – who get revved up over WAR, OPS, VORP and other acronyms in baseball, this new statistic will serve as hours of endless entertainment. The rest of us will simply live in confusion.

9. Video of the Week

If the search terms “Charles Barkley” and “stanky leg” don’t get you to click, then nothing ever will. Enjoy this clip – and keep Hank Haney in your thoughts and prayers.

10. Tweet of the Week

@ IanJamesPoulter Read very closely @McIlroyRory this will definitely help. #TwitPict http://twitpic.com/4tuf6g

You may call it trashtalk. Poulter and McIlroy simply call it banter. Whatever the case, it’s a hilarious inside look into some big-time chop-busting.

11. Quote of the Week

“I had a good chat with Greg Norman the week after when I was in Malaysia, and he sort of just said to me, ‘From now on, don't read golf magazines, don't pick up papers, don't watch the Golf Channel.’”

Blasphemy! Before you listen to Rory – and the Shark – though, know that he followed the above statement with these words: “But it's hard not to.” Whew. Thanks for watching.

12. From the Inbox

Our first Twitter question of the week comes from a familiar name. I just can’t seem to place where I know him from, though…

@garywilliamsGC if seve was in his 'young' prime how would America and American media digest him? Forget best American,who's the best Euro?

Great questions. You should think of interviewing people for a living someday.

I think Seve, who could be bitterly combative and ultra private but was as talented early in his career as any player ever, would have been at once awed and antagonized by the media. When he wanted to, Seve could be a great quote; when he didn’t, though, he could be downright hostile. Either way, he was a polarizing figure – and still would have been if he was in his prime today.

As for best European player, I always have a difficult time with that word. “Best.” If the best plumber in the world has trouble unclogging sinks for a month straight, is he no longer the best plumber in the world? Or is he still the best plumber and just struggling with his game? You can take Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald and maybe even Rory McIlroy, pick any name out of a hat, and you may find the “best.” Westwood has been best for a long time; Kaymer has been best the past two years; McDowell is best under pressure; Donald has been best recently; and McIlroy will be best over the long haul. So there’s your answer.

@jmolesworth1 Now that he's finally won, will Thomas Aiken get a trim, or will he go all the way for a Stewart Cink?

Aiken was growing out his hair until he won, which happened on Sunday. He could – as you suggested – simply get a trim, but that’s not in the spirit of the personal quest. Here’s hoping he shaves it all the way off – and grows it all back until he wins again.

@CoachOtsuji Is parity in golf a good thing for the game in terms of mass public appeal?

I’ve said for years that this is a superstar-driven sport which needs one-named superstars like Tiger and Phil to succeed in order to draw the fringe fans. Then again, it can’t survive on the same players forever. What we’re seeing now is a game that is cultivating more stars, from Charl Schwartzel to Jhonattan Vegas to Gary Woodland. No, they’re not on the same level as Tiger and Phil, but not a day goes by when I don’t hear from fans who are excited about the new breed of players who are winning tournaments these days. That’s a good sign.

I’ll be posting your best questions every week, so find me at @JasonSobelGC to submit ‘em.

Three Wishes

13. I wish Seve Ballesteros’ spirit will live on with today’s generation of players.

The seemingly immortal golfer was mournfully proven mortal on Saturday, reaching his untimely demise due to complications from brain cancer at the age of 54.

His death will be grieved over globally, the golf world dabbing its collective tears as memories of his brilliant career flow effortlessly. Those images will forever endure. His initial major championship victory at the 1979 Open Championship, when he was just 22; his breakthrough Masters title one year later, the first ever by a European; and of course, his fiery demeanor at the Ryder Cup, during which he won 20 career matches.

Equal parts mercurial and magnanimous, competitive and cunning, Ballesteros wasn’t just a golfer. He was an artist, painting abstract masterpieces on the course. A magician, escaping peril from the most disadvantageous situations. A hunter, preying on competitors with the keen eye of a marksman.

He is gone, yes. But he will never be forgotten.

Read my column on Seve here 

14. I wish the European Tour would change its logo to a silhouette of Seve Ballesteros.

Even before Seve’s passing, Padraig Harrington was quick to offer up a way to pay homage to the man who has meant more to the European Tour than any other player.

“I’m not sure who is on our logo for the European Tour, but I’d certainly back putting Seve on it,” he said. “For us, he really is, to be honest with you, there have been a lot of great people who have done the work behind the scenes, but there’s nobody who has as much of a connection to the European Tour as Seve Ballesteros. So maybe I should start a campaign.”

First things first: The current logo silhouette is that of Harry Vardon – certainly a great champion, but not on Seve’s level.

As for the idea? Yes, yes, yes. It’s one that gained traction on Twitter throughout the weekend, with many fans calling for this to happen and many pros echoing those sentiments.

It should be this easy: During a meeting of officials, the European Tour should propose the idea, then – much like at a wedding – ask those who are opposed to stand up and make their feelings known. Tough to imagine there would be any contrarians.

As with anything, there will be red tape and bureaucracy in making such a change. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen.

15. I wish every great idea in golf was implemented as perfectly as Sunday’s moment of silence.

At exactly 3:08 p.m. ET, the PGA, Champions and Nationwide tours each observed a moment of silence for Ballesteros – a touching tribute to the man one day after his death.

Reports from Quail Hollow were that not only the players observed the moment, but seemingly every spectator, too.

Not much else to say, other than it was a classy move by all involved and nice to see it executed to perfection.

16. Punch Shots

In light of the penalty Webb Simpson incurred during the final round of the Zurich Classic, should the U.S. Golf Association change Rule 18-2b?

Read my Punch Shots here

17. Fact or Fiction

Rory Sabbatini

The PGA Tour should change its policy about not announcing suspensions and fines.

More than a week ago, Rory Sabbatini and Sean O’Hair may or may not have gotten into an altercation that may or may not have resulted in a suspension for Sabbatini that may or may not currently be under appeal.

Details are sketchy because neither player is discussing the alleged incident. And they certainly aren’t being encouraged to talk by the PGA Tour, which keeps all disciplinary matters internal.

The result is that rather than action swiftly being taken, made public and dealt with, the story continues to linger long after it took place.

On “Morning Drive” last week, host Gary Williams convinced me that fines should remain a personal matter between players and the Tour. I’ll compromise as long as suspensions can be made public – just as they are in virtually every other sport. There’s a difference between keeping things internal and completely withholding information.

Consider the above statement to be FACT – even if we lose the final two words.

18. Photo of the Week

Enjoy this special edition Top Photos of the Week with Seve Ballesteros ... in photos

Top Photos of the Week

Getty Images

NBC Sports' Coverage of LPGA Tour in 2017 Most-Viewed Season Ever for NBC Sports

By Golf Channel Public RelationsDecember 13, 2017, 8:45 pm

NBC Sports’ LPGA Tour Coverage Ties 2013 for Most-Watched Year Since 2011

NBC and Golf Channel Boast Top-6 Most-Watched Women’s Golf Telecasts in 2017

Beginning with the dramatic playoff finish at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic in January and concluding with Lexi Thompson winning the $1 million Race to the CME Globe, nearly 22 million viewers tuned in to LPGA Tour coverage across Golf Channel and NBC in 2017. This makes 2017 the most-viewed LPGA Tour season across NBC Sports since Golf Channel joined the NBC Sports Group in 2011. Additionally, 2017 tied 2013 as the LPGA Tour’s most-watched year across NBC Sports since 2011. Coverage drew an average of 221,000 viewers per telecast in 2017 (+24% vs. 2016), according to data released by The Nielsen Company.


For the first time ever in televised women’s golf, Sunday’s final round of the RICOH Women’s British Open (Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017, 1.1 million viewers) delivered the most-watched and highest-rated women’s golf telecast of the year. NBC’s Saturday (Day 2) coverage of the Solheim Cup in August placed second with 968,000 viewers, followed by Sunday’s Solheim Cup coverage on NBC with 946,000 viewers. Golf Channel’s live coverage of Sunday’s final day of the Solheim Cup drew 795,000 viewers, the most-watched women’s golf event on cable in eight years.





Avg. Viewers P2+
































  • ANA Inspiration - The LPGA’s first major championship delivered thefifth most-watched LPGA final round in Golf Channel history with 551,000 viewers when So Yeon Ryu defeated Lexi Thompson in a playoff following Thompson being assessed a four-stroke penalty earlier in the final round.
  • KPMG Women’s PGA Championship – The LPGA’s second major was seen by 6.6 million viewers across Golf Channel and NBC, the largest audience for the event on record (2006-17). Sunday’s final round on NBC, which saw Danielle Kang win her first LPGA Tour event over defending champion Brooke Henderson, also was the most-watched telecast in the event’s history with 840,000 average viewers.
  • RICOH Women’s British Open – NBC’s Sunday coverage of the RICOH Women’s British Open delivered the most-watched and highest-rated women’s golf telecast in 2017 (.78 U.S. HH rating, 1.1 million viewers). In total, 7 million unique viewers tuned in to coverage across Golf Channel and NBC, the most-watched RICOH Women’s British Open in the past 10 years and the most-watched among the five women’s major championships in 2017.
  • Solheim Cup – Seen by a total audience of 7.3 million viewers across Golf Channel and NBC, the Solheim Cup posted the largest total audience for women’s golf since the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open on ESPN/NBC. Golf Channel’s live coverage of the final day drew 795,000 average viewers, becoming the most-watched women’s golf telecast on cable in the last eight years, since the final day of the 2009 Solheim Cup.


Golf Channel Digital posted record numbers of LPGA streaming consumption with 11.9 million live minutes streamed across LPGA Tour telecasts in 2017 (+563% vs. 2016).

  • Solheim Cup – Three-day coverage of the Solheim Cup saw 6.3 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports’ Digital platforms, trailing only the 2016 Rio Olympics (9 million) as the most-ever for a women’s golf event airing on Golf Channel / NBC.
  • RICOH Women’s British Open – Four-day coverage of the RICOH Women’s British Open saw 2 million minutes streamed, +773% vs. 2016.

NBC Sports Group combined to air 31 LPGA Tour events in 2017 and a total of 420 hours of coverage, the most in LPGA history. The exclusive cable home to the LPGA Tour, Golf Channel aired coverage of four of five women’s major championships in 2017, with three majors also airing on NBC: the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, RICOH Women’s British Open and The Evian Championship. The biennial Solheim Cup also returned to network television for the first time in 15 years with weekend coverage on NBC.

Source: Nielsen 2017 Live+Same Day DVR vs. prior available data. Persons 2+ avg 000’s and/or Persons 2+ reach w/six-minute qualifier. Digital Metrics from Adobe Reports & Analytics. Details available.

Hensby takes full responsibility for violation

By Rex HoggardDecember 13, 2017, 5:28 pm

The PGA Tour’s Anti-Doping Program manual covers 48 pages of details, from the pressing to the mundane, but for Mark Hensby the key section of the policy could be found on Page 5.

“The collector may allow you to delay reporting to the testing area for unavoidable obligations; however, you will be monitored from the time of notification until completion of the sample collection process,” the policy reads. “A failure to report to the testing area by the required time is the same as a doping violation under the program.”

Hensby, a 46-year-old former Tour winner from Australia, didn’t read that section, or any other part of the manual. In fact, he said he hasn’t received the circuit’s anti-doping manual in years. Not that he uses that as an excuse.

To be clear, Hensby doesn’t blame his anti-doping plight on anyone else.

“At the end of the day it’s my responsibility. I take full responsibility,” he told GolfChannel.com.

Like Doug Barron, Scott Stallings and even Vijay Singh before him, Hensby ran afoul of the Tour’s anti-doping policy because, essentially, of a clerical error. There were no failed tests, no in-depth investigations, no seedy entourages who sent Hensby down a dark road of performance-enhancing drug use.

Just a simple misunderstanding combined with bad timing.

Hensby, who last played a full season on Tour in 2003, had just completed the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship when he was approached by a member of the Tour’s anti-doping testing staff. He was angry about his play and had just used the restroom on the 17th hole and, he admits, was in no mood to wait around to take the urine test.

“Once I said, ‘Can I take it in the morning,’ [the Tour’s anti-doping official] said, ‘We can’t hold you here,’” Hensby recalled. “I just left.”

Not one but two officials called Hensby that night to ask why he’d declined to take the test, and he said he was even advised to return to the Country Club of Jackson (Miss.) to take the test, which is curious because the policy doesn’t allow for such gaps between notification of a test and the actual testing.

According to the policy, a player is considered in violation of the program if he leaves the presence of the doping control officers without providing the required sample.

A Tour official declined to comment on the matter citing the circuit’s policy not to comment on doping violations beyond the initial disclosure.

A week later, Hensby was informed he was in violation of the Tour’s policy and although he submitted a letter to the commissioner explaining the reasons for his failure to take the test he was told he would be suspended from playing in any Tour-sanctioned events (including events on the Web.com Tour) for a year.

“I understand now what the consequences are, but you know I’ve been banned for a performance-enhancing drug violation, and I don’t take performance-enhancing drugs,” Hensby said.

Hensby isn’t challenging his suspension nor did he have any interest in criticizing the Tour’s policy, instead his message two days after the circuit announced the suspension was focused on his fellow Tour members.

“I think the players need to read that manual really, really well. There are things I wasn’t aware of and I think other players weren’t aware of either,” he said. “You have to read the manual.”

It was a similar message Stallings offered following his 90-day suspension in 2015 after he turned himself in for using DHEA, an anabolic agent that is the precursor to testosterone production and banned by the Tour.

“This whole thing was a unique situation that could have been dealt with differently, but I made a mistake and I owned up to it,” Stallings said at the time.

Barron’s 2009 suspension, which was for a year, also could have been avoided after he tested positive for supplemental testosterone and a beta-blocker, both of which were prescribed by a doctor for what were by many accounts legitimate health issues.

And Singh’s case, well that chapter is still pending in the New York Supreme Court, but the essential element of the Fijian’s violation was based on his admitted use of deer-antler spray, which contained a compound called IGF-1. Although IGF-1 is a banned substance, the World Anti-Doping Agency has ruled that the use of deer-antler spray is not a violation if an athlete doesn’t fail a drug test. Singh never failed a test.

The Tour’s anti-doping history is littered with cases that could have been avoided, cases that should have been avoided. Despite the circuit’s best educational efforts, it’s been these relatively innocent violations that have defined the program.

In retrospect, Hensby knows he should have taken the test. He said he had nothing to hide, but anger got the best of him.

“To be honest, it would have been hard, the way I was feeling that day, I know I’m a hothead at times, but I would have probably stayed [had he known the consequences],” he admitted. “You’ve got to understand that if you have too much water you can’t get a test either and then you have to stay even longer.”

Hensby said before his run in with the anti-doping small print he wasn’t sure what his professional future would be, but his suspension has given him perspective and a unique motivation.

“I was talking to my wife last night, I have a little boy, it’s been a long month,” said Hensby after dropping his son, Caden, off at school. “I think I have a little more drive now and when I come back. I wasn’t going to play anymore, but when I do come back I am going to be motivated.”

He’s also going to be informed when it comes to the Tour’s anti-doping policy, and he hopes his follow professionals take a similar interest.

Getty Images

Lesson with Woods fetches $210K for Harvey relief

By Will GrayDecember 13, 2017, 2:51 pm

A charity event featuring more than two dozen pro golfers raised more than $1 million for Hurricane Harvey relief, thanks in large part to a hefty price paid for a private lesson with Tiger Woods.

The pro-am fundraiser was organized by Chris Stroud, winner of the Barracuda Championship this summer, and fellow pro and Houston resident Bobby Gates. It was held at Bluejack National in Montgomery, Texas, about an hour outside Houston and the first Woods-designed course to open in the U.S.

The big-ticket item on the auction block was a private, two-person lesson with Woods at Bluejack National that sold for a whopping $210,000.

Other participants included local residents like Stacy Lewis, Patrick Reed and Steve Elkington as well as local celebrities like NBA All-Star Clyde Drexler, Houston Texans quarterback T.J. Yates and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.

Stroud was vocal in his efforts to help Houston rebuild in the immediate aftermath of the storm that ravaged the city in August, and he told the Houston Chronicle that he plans to continue fundraising efforts even after eclipsing the event's $1 million goal.

"This is the best event I have ever been a part of, and this is just a start," Stroud said. "We have a long way to go for recovery to this city, and we want to keep going with this and raise as much as we can and help as many victims as we can."

Getty Images

LPGA schedule features 34 events, record purse

By Randall MellDecember 13, 2017, 2:02 pm

The LPGA schedule will once again feature 34 events next year with a record $68.75 million in total purses, the tour announced on Wednesday.

While three events are gone from the 2018 schedule, three new events have been added, with two of those on the West Coast and one in mainland China.

The season will again start with the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic on Paradise Island (Jan. 25-28) and end with the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., (Nov. 15-18).

The LPGA played for $65 million in total prize money in 2017.

An expanded West Coast swing in the front half of the schedule will now include the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in the Los Angeles area April 19-22. The site will be announced at a later date.

The tour will then make a return to San Francisco’s Lake Merced Golf Club the following week, in a new event sponsored by L&P Cosmetics, a Korean skincare company. Both new West Coast tournaments will be full-field events.

The tour’s third new event will be played in Shanghai Oct. 18-21 as part of the fall Asian swing. The title sponsor and golf course will be announced at a later date.

“Perhaps the most important aspect of our schedule is the consistency — continuing to deliver strong playing opportunities both in North America and around the world, while growing overall purse levels every year,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “There is simply no better [women’s] tour opportunity in the world, when it comes to purses, global TV coverage or strength of field. It’s an exciting time in women’s golf, with the best players from every corner of the globe competing against each other in virtually every event.”

While the Evian Championship will again be played in September next year, the tour confirmed its plans to move its fifth major to the summer in 2019, to be part of a European swing, with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

The Manulife LPGA Classic and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational are not returning to the schedule next year. Also, the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open will not be played next year as it prepares to move to the front of the 2019 schedule, to be paired with the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

The U.S. Women’s Open will make its new place earlier in the summer, a permanent move in the tour’s scheduling. It will be played May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek Golf Club outside Birmingham, Ala. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (June 28-July 1) will be played at Kemper Lakes Golf Club on the north side of Chicago and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (Aug. 2-5) will be played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.

For the first time since its inception in 2014, the UL International Crown team event is going overseas, with the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, scheduled to host the event Oct. 4-7. The KEB Hana Bank Championship will be played in South Korean the following week.

Here is the LPGA's schedule for 2018:

Jan. 25-28: Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic; Paradise Island, Bahamas; Purse: $1.4 million

Feb. 15-18: ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open; Adelaide, Australia; Purse: $1.3 million

Feb. 21-24: Honda LPGA Thailand; Chonburi, Thailand; Purse: $1.6 million

March 1-4: HSBC Women's World Championship; Singapore; Purse: $1.5 million

March 15-18: Bank of Hope Founders Cup; Phoenix, Arizona; Purse: $1.5 million

March 22-25: Kia Classic; Carlsbad, California; Purse: $1.8 million

March 29 - April 1: ANA Inspiration; Rancho Mirage, California; Purse: $2.8 million

April 11-14: LOTTE Championship; Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii; Purse: $2 million

April 19-22: HUGEL-JTBC Championship; Greater Los Angeles, California; Purse: $1.5 million

April 26-29: Name to be Announced; San Francisco, California; Purse: $1.5 million

May 3-6: Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic; The Colony, Texas; Purse: $1.3 million

May 17-20: Kingsmill Championship; Williamsburg, Virginia; Purse: $1.3 million

May 24-27: LPGA Volvik Championship; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Purse: $1.3 million

May 31 - June 3: U.S. Women's Open Championship; Shoal Creek, Alabama; Purse: $5 million

June 8-10: ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer; Galloway, New Jersey; Purse: $1.75 million

June 14-17: Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Purse: $2 million

June 22-24: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G; Rogers, Arkansas; Purse: $2 million

June 28 - July 1: KPMG Women's PGA Championship; Kildeer, Illinois; Purse: $3.65 million

July 5-8: Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic; Oneida, Wisconsin; Purse: $2 million

July 12-15: Marathon Classic presented by Owens-Corning and O-I; Sylvania, Ohio; Purse: $1.6 million

July 26-29: Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open; East Lothian, Scotland; Purse: $1.5 million

Aug. 2-5: Ricoh Women's British Open; Lancashire, England; Purse: $3.25 million

Aug. 16-19: Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim; Indianapolis, Indiana; Purse: $2 million

Aug. 23-26: CP Women's Open; Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Purse: $2.25 million

Aug. 30 - Sept. 2: Cambia Portland Classic; Portland, Oregon; Purse: $1.3 million

Sept. 13-16: The Evian Championship; Evian-les-Bains, France; Purse: $3.85 million

Sept. 27-30: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Purse: $1.8 million

Oct. 4-7: UL International Crown; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $1.6 million

Oct. 11-14: LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $2 million

Oct. 18-21: Name to be Announced; Shanghai, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Oct. 25-28: Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship; New Taipei City, Chinese Taipei; Purse: $2.2 million

Nov. 2-4: TOTO Japan Classic; Shiga, Japan; Purse: $1.5 million

Nov. 7-10: Blue Bay LPGA; Hainan Island, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Nov. 15-18: CME Group Tour Championship; Naples, Florida; Purse: $2.5 million