Same Time Next Year

By Jerry FoltzOctober 29, 2002, 5:00 pm
The Buy.Com Tour put the finishing touches on its 2002 season - the final season under the Buy.Com umbrella. Next year it will operate under a new name, but the stories will be largely the same.
Every player will start the year with one goal ' graduation. But in order to graduate from any worthwhile institution, a series of tests must be completed. Of course, the final exam is supposed to be the most thorough of them all.
The Buy.Com Tour Championship is designed to be that last hurdle for undergraduates. Last week, it was more like a protracted bar exam. Weather suspensions, a cancelled final round, and thoroughly difficult playing conditions all combined to test not only the players games, but also their characters. An emotional rollercoaster ride resulted from a start-and-stop final round after playing the third round under suspicion of it being the final round. Ultimately, it was reduced to 54 holes, but there were still 15 graduates who battled an entire season for the right to be presented that nifty little credit card looking thing that reads, PGA Tour Member 2003.
On the veranda of the Robert Trent Jones clubhouse in Prattville, Ala., Tour COO Bill Calfee passed out those coveted cards. Family and friends gathered on the crowded makeshift TV set to watch as each of the 15 players were introduced. At this point, all other players in the field were gone, so there wasnt a long face in the crowd, but tears were plentiful in the eyes of proud parents and supportive wives.
Fifteen starry-eyed professionals stood there getting their pictures taken and answering all kinds of questions. You could sense their collective feeling of accomplishment. For three of them, it will be their second chance - each having played one previous year as a member. For two, Marco Dawson and Doug Barron, its a chance to say that their careers are back on track. But for 10 of them, its the culmination of a lifes work. Its the realization of a life-long goal. And its literally a dream come true.
Most players who chase that little white ball for a living will spend their entire career battling the odds. By sheer numbers, the odds say that they wont make it. But thats the funny thing about dreams, they dont care much about the odds. When a dream is pursued, its pursued from the heart, not the mind. And if the heart says its possible, the oddsmakers are ignored.
Anyone who has ever chased a dream knows full well just how elusive it can be. Fast little devils those dreams are. But thats the beauty of the Buy.Com Tour. Its not about odds, its about opportunity. Its not about entitlement, its about pursuit. And its not about intellect, its about passion.
For those fortunate 15, their pursuit was successful, their opportunity was redeemed, and their passion was validated. They stood there looking to the future; each hoping that 2003 would bring the same reward. All the while, each knows that, odds are, the best they can hope for is about half of them having a successful year. But once again, none of that matters because they have dreamed of this moment the entire year.
That dream they have spent a life time chasing had finally been caught. Starting next January, their dreams will no longer be chased. Theyll be playing the PGA Tour ' and thats where dreams are lived.
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Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

"I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

"I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.

Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.

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Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship

With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."