Notes Sendens Angst Caddie Mocks Poulter

By Pga Tour MediaMarch 11, 2008, 4:00 pm
2007 Arnold Palmer InvitationalORLANDO, Fla. -- Stewart Cink already had in effect lost the tournament when he rolled in a 50-foot birdie putt that allowed him to join six players at second place, which was worth about $130,000 and extra FedExCup points.
 
But that putt was plenty significant to John Senden.
 
The lanky Australian was on the cusp of moving into the top 50 in the world rankings, and a five-way tie for second would have made him eligible for the World Golf Championship at Doral next week, an event Senden has never played.
 
With a six-way tie at Innisbrook, Senden moved up only to No. 51, missing out by one-hundredth of a point. He still has one more chance at Bay Hill to crack the top 50.
 
Same scenario as last year, he said Tuesday. Ive got to play well.
 
At least this year, Senden appears to have a fighting chance.
 
He was at No. 52 last year when he arrived at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, desperate to get into the top 50 for two reasons. It would make him eligible for Doral, and give him one more week to qualify for the Masters. But he started feeling sick early in the week, and was so ill Thursday morning that he couldnt make it to the first tee.
 
Ive always been just on the outside, Senden said. It would be exciting to get Doral with lots of world points. My goal is to play all four majors this year. Im in two right now.
 
One of those is the Masters. He qualified by tying for fourth in the PGA Championship last year.
 
DOUBLE DIPPING
The PGA TOUR scored a small victory last month when the USGA recognized the FedExCup while handing out exemptions to the U.S. Open. Along with giving a free pass to the top 30 on the PGA TOUR money list, those in the top 30 in the final FedEx Cup standings dont have to qualify, either.
 
It was thought the USGA would pick one or the other, but officials recognized it would only affect a couple of players. By also taking the field from the Tour Championship, Jonathan Byrd and Camilo Villegas are exempt for Torrey Pines.
 
Doing the numbers, I am very confident that the majority of the U.S. Open field will still come via qualifying, USGA executive director David Fay said Tuesday. Adding the TOUR Championship field will not tilt that.
 
And that was important to the USGA, since 54 percent of the field last year came from qualifying.
 
Not to bring politics into this in an election year, but we like to think the U.S. Open is the most democratic golf championship, Fay said.
 
EASY DOES IT
Ernie Els has had some peculiar travel habits this year. He flew 10 hours from London to Arizona to play in the Accenture Match Play Championship after saying he would not compete, then he decided against a 15-minute drive down Apopka-Vineland Road to play in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
 
Els withdrew from Bay Hill on Monday, and word was the tournament host was not pleased.
 
As far as Im concerned, Arnold Palmer is the King and I will always be appreciative of the start that he gave me in America when I first played here in 1993, said Els, who won 10 years ago at Bay Hill. I will personally be speaking to Arnie to explain why I have taken the difficult decision to pull out after supporting his tournament for the last 15 years.
 
So why did he take this week off?
 
'The bottom line is that I have to ensure that my body and game are in perfect shape in the run-up to the Masters, Els said in a statement. There are things I need to take care of this week, which means that Bay Hill does not fit into my new schedule as I would have liked it to.
 
CUT POLICY
Controversy seems to follow the PGA TOUR cut policy no matter what it is.
 
The most recent change allowed for a secondary cut after the third round if more than 78 players made the cut. Seventy-nine players made the cut last week at Innisbrook, and the 54-hole cut to top 70 and ties eliminated eight players.
 
So it worked'except for one thing.
 
The second cut was not made until Sunday morning because of weather delays, so the final round features threesomes on both tees. If the TOUR had stuck with the original change'closest number to 70 play the final two rounds'then 64 players would have advanced to the third round, and there would have been enough daylight to finish.
 
I find that ironic, said Paul Goydos, no fan of either change. I find that hilarious.
 
TOO LITTLE, WAY TOO LATE
Dottie Pepper joined some of the NBC Sports staff for a round on the Island course at Innisbrook early in the week at the PODS Championship. She looked as if she had seen a ghost when she pulled up to the practice green.
 
The 18th green brought back some bad memories, she said.
 
She had not been on the Island Course since 1984, when she was a freshman at Furman and had a chance to win the NCAA title until a three-putt on the last hole.
 
A day later, Pepper returned to the Island course. Playing the 18th, she holed out from the fairway for eagle with a 7-iron.
 
POULTER POTENTIAL
Ian Poulter says his comments were taken out of context by a British golf magazine, but that hasnt let him off the hook with his peers ' not only players, but caddies.
 
Some quick background, if needed.
 
Poulter told U.K.-based Golf World that while he respects every golfer, I know I havent played to my full potential and when that happens, it will be just me and Tiger.
 
John Wood, the looper for Hunter Mahan, arrived at Riviera early Sunday with his game face on.
 
I think this is the day that I reach my full potential as a caddie, Wood said. And when I do, it will be just me and Stevie.
 
That would be Steve Williams, caddie for Tiger Woods.
 
DIVOTS
The PODS Championship had a stronger field than the Honda Classic, based on the world rankings. David Toms is not eligible for the CA Championship, the first time he has missed a World Golf Championship since Firestone in 2000. Tiger Woods again will play the Tavistock Cup, matches between touring pros from Isleworth and Lake Nona in the Orlando area. Newcomers to the Isleworth team include J.B. Holmes, Daniel Chopra and Paula Creamer.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Justin Leonard is No. 32 in the world. He was at No. 210 a year ago.
 
FINAL WORD
My first practice round was Tuesday, and I played with Tiger and Mark OMeara. I needed a diaper. It was pretty overwhelming.'Sean OHair, on his first trip to the Masters.
 
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    Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

    Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

    Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

    “While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

    It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

    “What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

    The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

    “I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

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    Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

    Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:







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    Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

    By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

    The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

    Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.

    Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

    1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

    2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

    3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

    4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

    5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

    6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

    7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

    8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

    9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

    10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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    Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

    By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

    It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

    Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

    "The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

    Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

    That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

    "You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

    "But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."