Tims Tournament and the Players

By Kraig KannMarch 24, 2006, 5:00 pm
Tim Finchem's run as PGA TOUR commissioner has not yet run its course. He just signed on for another six years. And the present hes giving the men he leads is a brand new golf course and a new date for the tournament they call their own.
Next year the tournament will be contested in May. Next year the tournament will carry a new name ' The Players. And next year, the tournament will be contested on a new-look TPC at Sawgrass.
Finchem and his crew at the PGA TOUR didnt just want this event to go along without the prestige that has made it what it is. No, no. The PGA TOUR needs its crown jewel to be as big as it possibly can. It needs its course to have all the bells and whistles and it needs its players to believe that the new-look TPC at Sawgrass is as good as it gets.
Some five days after a champion is crowned at this weeks Players Championship, down comes the clubhouse and out come the bulldozers.
Consistency is the answer. On average during a wet week, the winning score at the Players Championship yields a winning score of 13.6 under par. During a dry week the winning score is 8.5 under par.
While it might seem that either provides a winner who can go low, the five shot gap shows the PGA TOUR an inconsistency that they cant live with.
So what to do? Dig it up so the course can withstand every element Mother Nature throws its way and move the date to May when the rain doesnt flood Florida in the first place.
In all, six inches or 24,000 tons of organic material will be removed and replaced by 24,000 tons of sand carried by dump trucks that would span a stretch of seven miles. To put it differently, twenty acres of sod will be removed and replaced in favor of a fairway system that drains like nothing created anywhere.
If you think this isnt an exact science ' think again. Contours of the greens alone at the TPC will not change by more than one-quarter of an inch in total. And a sub-air system will be installed under the 18 greens to make sure the only moisture allowed on the greens is moisture the PGA TOUR deems okay.
In addition, the PGA TOUR is looking after you. Fan experience will be taken to the next level. Mounding at holes 16, 17, and 18 will be taken down nearly six feet or the equivalent of 65,000 tons of soil. The goal is to create more friendly slopes for spectators to watch play.
And for those of you who spend time and money to visit the resort, the practice facility - which was recently voted number one among resorts ' will be changed because it can be better.
The clubhouse gets knocked down too and rebuilt from scratch to create a grand Mediterranean architectural structure with an interior fell that carries a theme reliving great moments in Players Championship history.
The total cost estimate is sixteen to eighteen million dollars alone to do the clubhouse and another six to eight million to handle the golf course facelift.
So why? Its simple really. Major championships gain the attention. And major championship players need a canvas on which to live out their stardom.
In May, Commissioner Finchem wont need so many horn blowers on stand-by for weather delays, hell have a golf course that he can control, a winning score he can manage with consistency and a tournament that will really feel like a major.
Give Finchem credit. He consulted past champions of his event. He consulted Pete Dye. He talked with players who live on site in Ponte Vedra Beach. And he talked with other players he felt might have a proper feel for what works and what doesnt.
Hesitant to make change for the sake of change, Finchem wanted to keep the course fundamentally the same. He believes fans who watch like what they see and he likes the fact that recent history tells him that every type of player has a chance to win.
In short, The PGA TOUR and its commissioner Tim Finchem are setting a standard. And perhaps other governing bodies responsible for golfs designated majors should take note.
Tim wants consistency. Tim wants competition. And Tim wants the fan to feel comfortable.
Ive always felt that the Players Championship felt like a major championship. Come next May, Im certain it will. And Finchem might have set the standard by which all major championships should follow.
Is it a major? I dont really care. But I like the fact that hes keeping his course the same while giving it the proper facelift that will take it to the next level ' whether it needed it or not.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.