Money Matters - But Not to All

By Mercer BaggsOctober 18, 2006, 4:00 pm
Does the name Brian Bateman mean anything to you? Probably not. You may have heard of him ' 33-year-old journeyman pro; Q-school regular; won a Nationwide Tour event back in 98.
 
Odds are, though, that even if you have heard the name, you wouldnt recognize him if he was sitting right in front of you ' which would have been the case had you been in the media center Tuesday at the Funai Classic at Walt Disney World.
 
Brian Bateman
Brian Bateman is 125th on the PGA TOUR money list by $648.
Brian Bateman. Media center. The two dont seem to go hand-in-hand, especially not prior to tournament play. Kind of like John Daly and practice.
 
The press center, leading up to an event, is usually reserved for notable players, local favorites and news makers ' basically, anybody whom a group of reporters would be willing interview.
 
So why would anyone want to Q&A Bateman, let alone more than one person? Well, it could do with the fact that hes currently in the 125th position on the PGA TOUR money list.
 
There are only two full-field events left on the 06 TOUR schedule, this weeks stop outside the Magic Kingdom and next weeks Chrysler Championship outside of Tampa.
 
And until Tiger Woods, who decided it wasnt worth his time to drive the 10 minutes from his home in Isleworth to Disney, returns to try and extend his winning streak at the TOUR Championship, money is not only the bottom line, but the only story line.
 
Money, they say, isn't everything. It is, however, about all there is to talk about right now in men's golf.
 
Tiger is taking off four weeks. Phil Mickelson is taking off four months. And there are no tournaments ' or even personalities ' compelling enough to grab ones viewing attention. Not when college football is in mid-season, the NFL is full of steam, and the World Series is near.
 
Golf, at best, has once again been relegated to a tertiary sport.
 
But thats the way it goes this time of year. And thats something that Tim Finchem and company are hoping to change in 2007. With the introduction of the FedEx Cup, the TOUR Championship will conclude Sept. 16, at the infancy of the football season and well before the start of the baseball playoffs.
 
Theres one caveat: the golf season isnt over after the TOUR Championship. There are still seven tournaments to be played as part of a Fall Series. Seven tournaments that most likely wont feature Tiger or Phil. Seven tournaments that will fight it out with football and baseball for the publics enthrallment. Seven tournaments that will miserably lose that fight.
 
Seven tournaments where money and the securing of playing privileges will be the only points of interest.
 
Sound like a familiar scenario?
 
This time of year is for the die-hard fan, the person who simply loves watching the game. Its for the golf addict, the person who actually watches a Golf Channel infomercial ' someone who could probably use an intervention (but, God love you; you help keep me employed).
 
For those of you who are actually interested, there are several money lines worth keeping an eye on over the next few weeks. The top 20 in earnings at seasons end qualify for next years Open Championship. The top 30 get into the U.S. Open. The top 40 make the Masters Tournament field.
 
The top 30 by the end of next weeks Chrysler Championship qualify for the TOUR Championship. The top 125 earn full exempt playing status on TOUR next season. And, perhaps the most important ' and most overlooked ' of them all is that those who finish between 126 and 150 retain partial playing status in 2007.
 
Finishing inside the top 150 is crucial. Last year, Briny Baird was 126th in earnings, about $2,500 shy of Nick Price for the 125th spot. But because he was inside the top 150, he retained partial status and has been able to play in 24 tournaments this year (hes not playing this week because he has already wrapped up his card for next season).
 
Meanwhile, Tom Gillis was 156th on last years money list, and because he lost his status hes been playing full time on the Nationwide Tour this year (hes currently 108th on their money list).
 
You want to be in the top 150, so at least you still have status and you still have the ability to get in tournaments, Bateman said in his press conference. But I want to make sure I keep my card.
 
Bateman is in the field this week trying to do just that, trying to add to his tenuous $648 lead over John Cook, who had to beg tournament officials for a spot in this weeks field. Cook is playing this year on his Past Champion status and is trying to finish inside the top 125 for the first time in four years.
 
Apparently, however, not everyone shares in the veterans urgency.
 
This time of year may be all about money, but, in this time of excess, when 88 players have already pocketed over $1 million in a single year, sometimes not even money can make people care ' even when theyre the beneficiaries.
 
Ernie Els and Tim Clark, Nos. 29 and 30 on the money list, are not in attendance trying to secure their spots in the TOUR Championship field. And Steve Stricker and Tim Herron, Nos. 32 and 33, are likewise MIA.
 
(Stricker has said that he is shutting it down for the season, forgoing any chance at qualifying for East Lake in order to spend some well-deserved time with his family.)
 
Others notably absent this week are Daly and David Duval. Duvals five-year exemption from winning the 2001 Open Championship runs out at the end of this year. Dalys two-year exemption from winning the 2004 Buick Invitational also expires.
 
Both men are currently outside the top 170 in earnings. And both are anywhere but Lake Buena Vista.
 
Duval, who won at Disney in 1997, can rely on a one-time exemption for being inside the top 25 on the TOURs career money list (he can use a one-time exemption for being inside the top 50 on that list next year, if needed).
 
Similarly, Bob Tway and Price, who are also outside the top 170 on the money list (but both in this week's field), can use top 50 exemptions next year, if necessary.
 
Daly doesnt have that option, as he is 76th in career earnings. Of course, Daly can always rely on his Past Champion status and his public appeal (he can receive seven sponsor's exemptions next year) to get into events. It's likely that is what he will have to do, since he hasn't played since withdrawing from last week's Las Vegas event due to a broken finger.
 
John Daly. Las Vegas. A broken appendage. Now there's an intriguing storyline ' even more so if it involves money.
 
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs
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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.