LPGA Proclaims Less is More
Even though the total number of events has decreased, compared to the 2001 schedule, LPGA Tour Commissioner Ty Votaw insists that it is a positive move for the non-profit organization.
Click Here for the Full 2002 LPGA Tour Schedule
2002 is going to be a very good year for the LPGA Tour, Votaw said. The process of streamlining, refining and realigning the schedule, addressing such issues as the number of events, and geographic flow and the quality of the events, is an ongoing process. The number of events on next years schedule is due, in part, to the economy, natural attrition and our strategic planning.
One of the most glaring losses on next years schedule is the absence of a Florida Swing. The 2002 season will mark the first time in the LPGAs 51-year history without an event in Florida at the beginning of the season.
The decision to take the month of January off, as I said, was part strategic and part the realities that we face at each of the individual tournaments, Votaw said. With respect to whether or not we will go back to any kind of January Florida Swing, were going to look at that as an ongoing process of our schedule.
The lack of January events left the LPGA looking at a late start - mid-February - to the 2002 season. Then when the season-opening Hawaiian event failed to materialize, the off-season was extended to February 28th.
That situation is one where I can directly point to the September 11th situation, Votaw explained. The tourism business in Hawaii has been hit disproportionately harder than perhaps other places.
Not everyone will benefit from the increased competition. For those who struggle through 20, even 30 events a year and barely hold onto their cards, this is a decision that will further hurt their chances to continue playing professional golf at the highest level.
I think this is a performance based Tour, Votaw said. I think all of our players know that and realize that. While they would like to have perhaps more opportunities rather than fewer, we also have to deal with that in the context of fulfilling what our brand promise is, which is, again, to showcase the very best of womens professional golf week-in and week-out.
Events on next years schedule boast an average purse of $1.19 million, which represents a 10% increase over last year. The First Union Betsy King Classic had the largest single increase of $400,000, which raised their 2002 purse to $1.2 million in prize money next year.
The fact that the LPGA Tour has been able to increase purses - and overall prize money - while decreasing the number of events speaks volumes in itself, and Commissioner Votaw is especially proud of this fact.
Our players are competing for more money each week than ever before, and this should increase even more because we expect several additional tournaments to announce purse increases for 2002. We are happy with our schedule as released.
Events on the 2002 schedule have title sponsors comprised of five grocery store chains, three fast-food companies and two food companies which Votaw feels properly aligns the LPGA in the current economy.
The fact that we are sponsored by food companies which traditionally do better in times of recession than perhaps other industries, does provide me some level of comfort as to the short-term, having to eat short-term situations that were faced with.
'The commitment of our tournament sponsors to the growth of the LPGA Tour continues to be phenomenal. Our focus in the coming years will be on quality, not only in the competitive environment, but also in the area of economic opportunity for our players.
Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker
John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.
The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.
That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.
He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.
Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters
Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.
Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.
In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.
Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.
“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”
Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking.
Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup
In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.
Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.
Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.
“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”
McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.
“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
September can’t get here quick enough.
Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.
There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.
In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.
“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “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.”
The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”
Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.
Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.
The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.
The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.
“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.
Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.
After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.
It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.
Tweet of the week:
Welp I didn’t get hit by a ballistic missile today so that’s a plus! #imalive— John Peterson (@JohnPetersonFW) January 14, 2018
It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”
The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.
Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake
Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.
While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.
“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.
Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.