The Infamous Move to May

By John FeinsteinMay 10, 2011, 4:23 pm

The Players ChampionshipIt sounded like a good idea at the time: Move The Players Championship from late March to mid-May so it wouldn’t have to compete with the NCAA basketball tournament for TV ratings or media attention. Those in Ponte Vedra wanted to create a ‘once a month’ mentality when it came to important golf events starting with the Masters in April by slipping The Players into May, prior to the U.S. Open in June, the British Open in July and the PGA Championship in August.

It was a good idea on paper, the same way the Chicago Cubs so often look good on paper in February.

In reality, it was a bad idea. It was another attempt by the PGA Tour to create major championship aura around what is its premiere (or at least most lucrative) event. Well, that just isn’t going to happen. Not now, not ever.

The fact that The Players is not a major has been a thorn in the side of some who work in the offices down the road from the fancy new TPC Sawgrass clubhouse since Deane Beman first took up residence there more than 30 years ago. Beman was a brilliant commissioner and he understood from Day 1 that he had a serious problem when it came to negotiating TV rights and convincing people that the organization he was running was important: He didn’t control one of golf’s major events.

The Masters is run by the membership of Augusta National Golf Club, the U.S. Open is run by the U.S. Golf Association, the British Open is run by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club and the PGA Championship is run by the PGA of America. Even the Ryder Cup, which became an important event while Beman was commissioner, is run by the PGA of America.

All five events needed Beman’s players. Sadly for Beman, his players needed the four majors – and later the Ryder Cup – more than the tournaments needed the players. And so he was left to negotiate TV deals that highlighted Pebble Beach, Bob Hope, Houston, Hartford and Hawaii. All were fine golf tournaments at nice places with good people in charge, but no one ever made history winning at Doral or in Denver.

And so Beman decided that his tournament would be the crown jewel, the one that would be different than all other tournaments. Pete Dye built a golf course that was unique and the event became known as The Players. The prize money was huge and the TV partners were instructed to never call it a tournament, but rather a championship.

For a good long while the Tour pushed the notion that The Players was the fifth major. No one bought it. If there is a fifth major in golf it is either the Ryder Cup or Q-School. It is not The Players.

“There’s a reason why the Grand Slam breakfast at Denny’s has four items and not five,” Jeff Sluman, the 1988 PGA champion said year’s ago. “A Grand Slam is four. There’s no such thing as a five-run homer either.”

Nowadays, comissioner Tim Finchem and his staff are careful not to publicly push the fifth major idea. They do it in more subtle ways. If you open up a PGA Tour media guide, in each player’s bio is a “top tournament” summary. A “top tournament,” according to the Tour includes the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, PGA Championship, The Players and then all WGC events and playoff events.

This is, of course, ludicrous. Does anyone put The Barclays or the Deutsche Bank Championship in the same sentence, paragraph or book as a major? The PGA Tour does.

The last straw for the Tour with the March date may have come several years ago when Greg Norman, who still holds the course record at the TPC Sawgrass for 72 holes, was forced to withdraw. In his statement announcing that his client couldn’t tee it up, Norman’s agent Bart Collins said: “Greg truly regrets not being able to play. He has always looked forward to The Players as a great warm-up for the Masters.”

One can almost see Finchem throwing the press release across the room: “Warm-up! Warm-up! He called The Players a warm-up! Get thee to May!”

Okay, here’s why May is a bad idea. First, the weather is almost always hot and humid in north Florida in May and that’s the weather report for this week. The crowds last year looked sparse compared with the old days in March when snowbirds were still around and others came down to combine spring training trips with a couple days of watching golf.

Sure, Phil Mickelson won in 2007, the first year the tournament was played in May. Since then? Sergio Garcia won in 2008 and hasn’t won on Tour since. Henrik Stenson won in 2009 and hasn’t broken an egg since then. Tim Clark got his breakthrough win a year ago and nothing since then. At this rate The Players is going to become to the Tour what the Masters Par-3 Tournament is to the Masters. Guys will be three-putting 18 on purpose to try to finish second.

Hyperbole? Of course. But the March date was better. Sure, it rained sometimes, but overall it was cooler and more comfortable for everyone. It fit right in at the end of the Florida Swing on Tour. Maybe it was a warm-up for the Masters but now, well, it’s an early warm-up for the U.S. Open. The always politically correct Phil Mickelson slipped for a second Sunday afternoon on TV when he said he was trying to make progress, “going forward towards the Open,” before catching himself and saying, “and of course The Players next week.”

More and more of the NCAA basketball tournament is played at night these days so there is less TV competition from basketball and in May there are still the NBA playoffs to deal with; baseball in full swing and good weather in most of the country that has people outdoors on the weekend.

The Players should move back to March. It still won’t be a major but it will be a better golf tournament. That should matter.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Getty Images

Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

Getty Images

Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


Playing with the pros

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Rory faces criticism

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President at the Presidents Cup


Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

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Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73


Cart on the green


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Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open


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Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open


Trump golf properties

Vandalism

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Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses

Finances


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers


Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover


Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

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Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up


Pros comment on the president

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