One man's idea for a PGA Tour/LPGA joint event

By Randall MellMarch 11, 2016, 2:45 pm

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem issued a rare challenge to media Sunday at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

He looked into the gathering of reporters in the media ballroom at Trump Doral and asked for help in creating the best possible PGA Tour/LPGA joint event.

“You all, everybody here should think about this,” Finchem said. “If we did have an opportunity to do something together, what would be the coolest format we could use? Because if the opportunity came up, we would want to take full advantage of it.”

As part of its new strategic alliance with the LPGA, the PGA Tour is serious about creating a format to bring the men and women together in an event. Finchem showed just how serious he is with his challenge.

So my hand’s up, commissioner Finchem. Here’s one man’s idea trying to help.

But before laying out this plan for a new international mixed team event, let’s set it up. Let’s lay out why this idea will benefit Finchem’s tour as much as it will benefit the women’s tour.

In the commissioner’s explanation of why the PGA Tour is partnering with the women’s tour, he made a point to praise the LPGA for its “smart” approach to cultivating international markets. He said the PGA Tour wanted to collaborate with the LPGA in “tapping the global marketplace.” You could hear his desire to better capitalize on overseas opportunities, where Asia has to be a priority.

“The LPGA is already positioned as a global tour,” Finchem said. “An increasing percentage of our customers, whether they be title sponsors, official marketing sponsors or just involved in the tournament at some level, are international companies.

“I think I’d have to applaud the LPGA for making the tough decision to say, 'OK, we’re going to be a global tour, and, as a consequence, we’re not going to have as much presence in the United States, but we are going to take advantage of parts of the globe where we are more popular than the men.' That was a very smart way to go about it.”

So here’s how the PGA Tour can collaborate with the women in tapping into a global opportunity:

Create a USA vs. Asia international mixed team event for late fall and play it every other year in Asia with a Ryder Cup style format.

Yes, at first, the men might balk at the idea of playing another international team event, but this wouldn’t have the grueling, pressure-packed edge the Ryder Cup has. The unique mixed team nature of it will make it a more playful, less edgy affair, and yet it would ignite corporate and fan interest in Asian countries, where South Korean and Japanese women are rock stars in golf. You put them in an event with PGA Tour pros, and it promises to be off-the-charts popular in Asia. You don’t necessarily need all the top American male stars to make this work but you need a couple and you need recognizable PGA Tour names.

You schedule this new event for the second week of November, because that works for the men and women. The PGA Tour’s HSBC Champions is played the first week of November, the same week the LPGA concludes its fall Asian swing in Japan. You rotate it from South Korea, Japan and China and you keep it in Asia.

This can have all the feel of a goodwill tour with a huge financial windfall because of the intensity of interest that will come playing an event that features PGA Tour pros and Asian women who are more popular than their male counterparts over there. Imagine a K.J. Choi/Inbee Park pairing in South Korea, a Ryo Ishikawa/Ai Miyazato pairing in Japan, a Tiger Woods/Cheyenne Woods pairing anywhere.

Again, the USA vs. Asia appeal of this is marketed as low key, not-so-silly-season fun because the men don’t need another win or you’re-a-bunch-of-losers event on their schedule. This is a giving-back effort. It’s a grow-the-game effort.

You team six American men with six American women for Team USA. You take two South Korean women, two Japanese women, one Chinese woman and the highest ranked Asian woman not from those countries. And you team those Asian women with men from their own countries. And then you play USA vs. Asia in alternate-shot, foursomes and singles over three days with just 18-hole matches per day. Hey, it’s low key, right?

The PGA Tour wins collaborating with the women to tap global markets. The LPGA wins just playing alongside PGA Tour pros with the new audience the men will bring to the LPGA’s Asian swing.

So where did the PGA Tour commissioner put that idea basket anyway?

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.