Money title not what it used to be

By Randall MellOctober 13, 2011, 9:20 pm

Webb Simpson must be a throwback.

That’s what the pioneers who helped build the PGA Tour suspect after hearing how determined he is to win the money title.

“The money title used to be a really big deal,” says Bob Goalby, the Masters champion in 1968. “It was an important stripe in your rank, so to speak. It was almost right there with a major championship when a player’s accomplishments were read off.”

The fact that there wasn’t a whole lot of money to win back when Goalby got his start in 1956 made the money title that much more meaningful. Goalby made $20 tying for 30th with four other players in his rookie debut in Sanford, Fla.

“Back then, we had 1,500 players trying to Monday qualify for the Los Angeles Open, into a field of 150 players, with only the top 30 spots getting paid,” Goalby said. “We were driving three to a car from tournament to tournament. We bunked together to share the cost of a $10.95 hotel room.”

With Tiger Woods running away with so many money titles, with the FedEx Cup’s development and the growing importance of the world rankings, the money title has lost some of its luster as an award.

Not to Simpson, though. He wants the Arnold Palmer Trophy and five-year exemption that goes with the money title.

“It would be a pretty prestigious list to be a part of,” Simpson said.

Simpson’s fast start Thursday at the McGladrey Classic sharpens focus on the tightest money battle in two decades. Simpson is teeing it up this week in a bid to overtake Luke Donald atop the money list.

Trailing Donald by $68,971, Simpson needs a finish of 15th or better to have a chance to overtake him. It gets complicated. While a two-way tie for 15th will do it for Simpson, an eight-way tie for 14th won’t, but you get the ballpark idea.

With an opening 63 at Sea Island, Ga., Simpson is aiming for his third victory in six starts. How the money title potentially factors in PGA Tour Player of the Year voting is adding to the emphasis on the money title. So is the fact that the money race is so tightly contested that we could see somebody seize the money title in the season-ending event for the first time since 1996. That was the year Tom Lehman won The Tour Championship to overtake Phil Mickelson as the money leader.

It’s possible Simpson and Donald will square off together at the season-ending Children’s Miracle Network Classic at Disney World next week. Donald wants to become the first player to win the PGA Tour and European Tour money titles in the same season and is considering playing Disney.

Donald leads the PGA Tour with $5,837,214 in earnings.

For players from Goalby’s era, the money makes it such a different game today.

“When we get the former champs together, we don’t bitch about all the money players are making now,” Goalby said. “We’re happy for them, but if they only knew the way it used to be . . . .”

Arnold Palmer totaled $1.8 million in official PGA Tour career money winnings.

Tiger Woods has made more than $94 million.

“It’s mind-boggling to think you can make that much money hitting a golf ball,” said Doug Ford, who won 19 times between 1951-63 but never won more than $46,000 in a season. “The caddies today make more money in a month than we did in a year.”

PGA Tour pros are playing for more than $280 million in prize money this season.

Ninety PGA Tour pros made $1 million or more in prize money last year.

Curtis Strange was the first player to make $1 million or more in a single season back in 1988.

Bob Toski won the PGA Tour money title in 1954, but he didn’t get a lucrative start. As a young player, he felt fortunate he got to travel in Ted Kroll’s luxurious Studebaker in a player caravan between events. This, however, was only after Kroll came through with his back to the wall.

Nearly broke, Kroll told his friends before one tournament that he was either going to win and buy a new car, or he was going to take the next year off. Toski was his biggest cheerleader. Toski put the car together with each birdie Kroll made. “You've got the hood,” Toski said after one birdie. “You've got the fenders,” after another.

Kroll won that week, and he bought a Studebaker.

“I traveled in the back seat, behind the clothes rack, and you couldn't even see me,” said Toski, who was 5 feet 7 and 118 pounds in his prime. “We stayed three to a hotel room, and I got to sleep on a cot. With the snoring, the farting and the belching, you did your best [to sleep]. And Ted used to grind his teeth in his sleep.

“You hope the young players appreciate what was done before them, the things that allow them to get paid just for wearing a cap. If they do, they aren’t spoiled. If they don’t . . .”

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.