Finchem Addresses Change Doesnt Alter Augusta Stance

By Mercer BaggsOctober 30, 2002, 5:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)ATLANTA ' PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem announced several changes in his annual State of the Tour address Wednesday at East Lake Golf Club, site of this week's Tour Championship, but one thing that didnt change was his stance on the Augusta National debate.
Theres going to be a tournament at Augusta, The Masters, and its going to be on CBS television, and our players are going to go play, Finchem said. What else happens, Im not going to speculate on that.
Martha Burk, National Council of Womens Organizations chairperson, has urged the commissioner to stop recognizing the Masters Tournament as a major championship, as well as the prize money earned, until the club accepts a female member.
While we appreciated and respected her position, and we do, thats just something for all factors considered that we were not prepared to do. So we have been very clear on that, Finchem said.
In his statement, issued Aug. 20 to Burk, Finchem said: Since the PGA Tour does not cosponsor the Masters Tournament and does not have a contractual relationship with the Masters as it has with its cosponsored events, we are unable to require Augusta National to implement our host club policy with respect to the Masters.
After having considered this matter, we have concluded that we must continue to recognize the Masters Tournament as one of professional golfs major championships.
Despite numerous prompts, Finchem didnt want to further discuss the Augusta matter Wednesday. He did, however, address several other items in his press conference, including major alterations in the Senior and Buy.Com Tours.

Nationwide TourNationwide Insurance will sponsor the developmental tour for the next five years, starting in 2003. What started out as the Hogan Tour, and has been sponsored by Nike and Buy.Com, will now be known as the Nationwide Tour.
The Senior Tour will also have a new name next season. It will be called the Champions Tour.

Champions TourI think there is a realization by more and more companies, and I suppose by all of us, that unlike perhaps in the past, nobody considers themseleves a senior anymore, said Finchem, who added the change was made primarily to extend the PGA Tour brand.
The best way to do that, and how we want to characterize the broader scope of people on this tour, we felt champions resonated better than seniors.
Both tours will have their new names in their logos while incorporating the traditional PGA Tour swinging logo.
In addition to the name changes, Finchem said the average minimum purse for Nationwide events will be upped just shy of the $500,000 range. He also said that there would be further discussions on the issues of cart usage and age requirements for the Champions Tour at a later date.
He did say that there would be changes in 2003 to allow more past PGA Tour winners on the elder circuit, and that the tournament schedule would be reduced to 30-32 events next year.
We dont want to play up against the major championships and the World Golf Championships if we can avoid it, he said.
As for the primary circuit, Finchem said the PGA Tour would be fully sponsored in 2003, and the number of tournaments would basically stay the same. There were 49 events on the 2002 calendar, and Finchem expects 48 next year, with no event held opposite the American Express Championship.
The tour will release next seasons schedule in a couple of weeks. Finchem wouldnt go into detail as to which tournaments were saved by new sponsors and which ones were sacrificed, but did say Disney was safe and the future of the Greater Hartford Open was still up for debate.
On the business front, we are obviously in an extremely difficult environment, he said. It is the most difficult environment we have been in since the 1990-91 recession.'
Still, Finchem said the tour would continue to grow financially, thanks in part to the addition of major corporate sponsors like Coca-Cola, Ford Motor Company, Bank of America, Wachovia and Kinkos.
I think our official money is $199 million this year, give or take a few dollars, and it will be about $225 next year, and it will grow on the following three years to about $360 to $380, in that range, he said.
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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

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.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.