Easy on the hype

By John FeinsteinSeptember 13, 2011, 4:09 pm

There’s an old saying in sports: 'Sometime the key to success is learning how to try easier.'

The folks who run the PGA Tour may want to give that notion some consideration. They’re just trying too damn hard a lot of the time.

The Players Championship is a fine tournament played on a good golf course. It always has a strong field even when two of the top players in the world – Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy this year – take a pass. It is high on the list of second-tier events that fall just below the majors in importance.

It is also not the fifth major. The Tour often insists it hasn’t tried to claim it is the fifth major but there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary. The move to May was made so that it could have its own month when nothing like the NCAA basketball tournament was also taking place. It was an attempt to imply that there was now an important tournament in five straight months.

When a player wins a major championship he is granted a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour. When a player wins The Players he is granted a five-year exemption as well. If you pick up a PGA Tour media guide there is a separate listing for each player’s record in “top tournaments.” Included are the majors and The Players, not to mention World Golf Championship events and playoff events.

That brings us to the playoffs. There is much to like about them. Even though they exist in large part because PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem had to find a way to get Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson to show up for the Tour Championship, they have got most of the top players to show up for four straight events after the majors are over.

This never happened before the playoffs. Throw in the fact that several top guys added Greensboro to their schedule this year to get into the playoffs and there’s no doubt this has been a good thing for golf.

But please – PLEASE – can everyone stop screaming about the drama? Can we get the TV guys to stop calling the FedEx Cup golf’s “ultimate prize?”

It’s nice to win the FedEx Cup and it is certainly enriching with a $10 million first prize, not to mention the four $8 million tournaments that decide who wins the $10 million. But if you offered a player with any sense of history one major or five FedEx Cups, he’d take the major.

The points system needs to be overhauled and the Tour really should sit down with its “TV partners” and convince them that match play in the Tour Championship would be far more dramatic. TV people will scream that you need a chance to have Tiger and Phil on Sunday. This will be the third year in the last four they haven’t had Tiger so let’s get over that. And the ratings wouldn’t get much worse even if it was Paul Goydos vs. Kevin Sutherland in the championship match. (Sutherland is Goydos’s best friend and once won the WGC-Match Play title).

I’d watch that match. So would most golf geeks. And they’re about 95 percent of the people watching September golf regardless of who’s playing.

And finally, there is the Presidents Cup. This event exists because the Tour didn’t want to let IMG jump on the back of the Ryder Cup’s success in 1993 and create a similar event involving non-European stars like Greg Norman and Nick Price, who were the top two players in the world.

In 1994, American players were so eager to compete in the first Presidents Cup that Finchem, the new commissioner, had to fly into Tulsa the week of the PGA Championship to convince several of them to play. The best description of the Presidents Cup came years ago from Lanny Wadkins: “Why are we flying to Australia to play against a bunch of guys who live in Orlando?” he asked.

Good question. Is anyone going to get seriously excited about beating the rest of the world?

The European Tour and the PGA Tour have a healthy rivalry that helps fuel the Ryder Cup going back to 1927. Even at that it took Seve Ballesteros, a change in the rules allowing all of Europe to play and the Euros winning regularly to make the Ryder Cup important.

The Presidents Cup is never going to matter as much as the Ryder Cup. It doesn’t have the tradition; the U.S. has only lost it once and most of the guys on the evil Rest-of-the-World team play on the PGA Tour.

Still, there’s nothing wrong with the Presidents Cup. Some players would still rather not play it – it was rumored that one star player considered faking an injury a few years ago but was talked out of it – but the younger ones especially do like it. And it is good experience in team play for those who will play Ryder Cup in the future.

So here’s to the PGA Tour for holding a fine golf tournament in May, for creating the playoffs which gives us very good golf in September and for adding the Presidents Cup to the calendar so Fred Couples could have an excuse to hang out with Michael Jordan.

It’s all good. We just don’t need to be told over and over again that it is great.

The key is to try easier.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."