Ready for dessert?

By Randall MellOctober 25, 2011, 8:26 pm

With the PGA Tour season unofficially over, the calendar turns to silly season and lucrative international events.

While there are some hit-and-giggle events scheduled over the final 10 weeks of the year, there’s more than funny money to be won.

Tiger Woods will be looking to win back some confidence. He’s scheduled to tee it up three more times. Despite a hectic late summer and fall, world No. 1 Luke Donald might make four more appearances before New Year’s Eve arrives. The world’s No. 1-2-3 players are all scheduled to play the Dubai World Championship. And with the Presidents Cup being staged in Australia, the Australian Open is reaping a large reward with its field. And, of course, there’s the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament, the biggest event of all for hopefuls looking to make it to the game’s grandest stages.

Here’s a look at the best of the rest of the 2011 season:

Shanghai Masters, Oct. 27-30

The largest winner’s check in golf is up for grabs in this inaugural event.

There will be no world ranking points in this unsanctioned exhibition, but there’s a $2 million first-place check at stake. That’s enough to attract Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Charl Schwartzel, Keegan Bradley, Padraig Harrington, Retief Goosen, K.J. Choi and Colin Montgomerie to Lake Malaren Golf Club in Shanghai.

WGC-HSBC Champions, Nov. 3-6

Don’t put it past an aggravated Luke Donald to show up and put an exclamation point on his bid to win PGA Tour Player of the Year.

Frustrated after hearing the PGA Tour won’t be sending out ballots for POY voting as scheduled this week, Donald isn’t ruling out playing the HSBC Champions. Donald says if his wife, Diane, gives birth to their second child this week, he might make the trip and play in Shanghai.

The PGA Tour was originally scheduled to mail out Player of the Year ballots on Tuesday, but Tour officials, realizing late that the HSBC Champions counts as an official victory, decided to hold off on mailing the ballots until after the Shanghai event concludes. Ballots are due Dec. 9.

“I feel like if I even went to HSBC and won, they’d find another event to add,” a frustrated Donald said.

All four major championship winners (Charl Schwartzel, Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Keegan Bradley) are announced as playing. Though commitments aren’t solidified until Friday, Martin Kaymer, Webb Simpson, Nick Watney and Adam Scott are among players tournament officials have listed as playing. It’s the only World Golf Championship event played outside the United States. While winnings don’t count as official, whoever wins will get credit for an official PGA Tour victory. The odd arrangement makes it feel like an unofficially official event.

Emirates Australian Open, Nov. 10-13

With the Presidents Cup being played Down Under the week after the Australian Open, Woods is among the American contingent using the event at the Lakes Golf Club in Sydney to sharpen their games. It will be Woods’ first appearance since tying for 30th at the Open three weeks ago. Presidents Cup Internationals captain Greg Norman and American captain Fred Couples are also in the field along with Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Bill Haas, Adam Scott and defending champ Geoff Ogilvy.

Barclays Singapore Open, Nov. 10-13

Instead of heading Down Under early to play the Australian Open, Phil Mickelson is bound for the European Tour event at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore to warm up for the Presidents Cup. Graeme McDowell, Harrington, Y.E. Yang and Anthony Kim are also scheduled to play with a $6 million purse up for grabs.

The Presidents Cup, Nov. 17-20

Woods will be center stage, as usual, with so much attention focused on whether he deserves to be on the American team headed to Royal Melbourne Golf Club.

This international team event has lacked the grudge-match feel of the Ryder Cup, but the intensity has been ratcheted up with controversy over Woods as a captain’s pick.

After Couples announced early he was picking Woods, criticism rained. Even Norman, the Internationals captain, weighed in, saying he wouldn’t have selected Woods. Ogilvy also questioned the pick. A key factor in how this plays out is whether Steve Stricker, whom Woods has teamed so successfully with, will be sufficiently recovered from a herniated disk in his neck to compete.

Australian PGA Championship, Nov. 24-27

Australian stars Ogilvy, Scott and Day will get some international competition with Americans Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler in the field. Norman’s also planning to play what could be a love fest if his Internationals are coming off a Presidents Cup triumph.

Omega Mission Hills World Cup, Nov. 24-27

The two-man team competition will feature some stellar duos in the foursomes and four-ball format in what’s been changed to a biennial event.

The Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy/Graeme McDowell and South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel/Louis Oosthuizen lead the way as major championship winning combos. The United States’ Matt Kuchar/Gary Woodland, Germany’s Martin Kaymer/Alex Cjeka and England’s Ian Poulter/Justin Rose also are scheduled to play. Italy’s Molinari brothers, Edoardo and Francesco, will be back as defending champs.

Chevron World Challenge, Dec. 1-4

World No. 1 Donald won’t be playing Tiger’s event. Neither will the defending champ, McDowell.

Woods needed a sponsor’s exemption to make it into his own event for his final appearance of the year.

With the Nedbank Challenge going on the same week, Donald and McDowell will be among the lucky dozen competing for riches in South Africa. But you can count Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Matt Kuchar, Nick Watney, Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley and Bill Haas among the headliners in the 18-player field at Sherwood Country Club.

Nedbank Challenge, Dec. 1-4

Twelve players compete for $5 million in prize money at Gary Player Country Club in Sun City.

Donald, Lee Westwood, Kaymer, Schwartzel and McDowell are among the lucky dozen that will be going for the $1.25 million first-place prize. Last place will take home at least $250,000.

PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament, Nov. 30-Dec. 5

Six days of hell.

That pretty much sums up the angst more than 150 players will be feeling in the final stage of Q-School at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif. The top 25 and ties earn fully exempt status with the next 55 and ties earning Nationwide Tour status and the rest earning conditional Nationwide Tour status.

Dubai World Championship, Dec. 8-11

World No. 1 Donald, No. 2 Westwood and No. 3 McIlroy make this a stellar finish to the European Tour’s Race to Dubai competition at Jumeirah Golf Estates in the United Arab Emirates. With No. 6 Kaymer in the field, four of the top six players in the world will compete for $7.5 million in bonus money in the season-long competition, as well as a $7.5 million tournament purse. Donald holds a commanding lead in the season-long money race, making him a virtual lock to win the Harry Vardon Trophy and the $1.5 million bonus jackpot that goes with it.

Franklin Templeton Shootout, Dec. 9-11

Defending champs Dustin Johnson and Ian Poulter won’t be back, but Stricker, Bradley, Simpson, Fowler and Norman will be featured in the two-man team event at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples.

JBWere Masters, Dec. 15-18

The tireless world No. 1 is scheduled to make his final appearance in a breakthrough year at Victoria Golf Course in Melbourne. Donald is scheduled to play for a third consecutive week following the Nedbank Challenge and Dubai World Championship.

Thailand Golf Championship, Dec. 15-18

The season-ending Asian Tour event boasts an impressive field with McIlroy, Westwood, Ryo Ishikawa and Darren Clarke. There’s a $1 million purse but obviously some appearance fees making this worth the trip to Chonburi.

Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

How does she feel?

“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”

You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:17 am

NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:

Race to the CME Globe

Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.

Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.

The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.

Ariya Jutanugarn is tied for the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.

Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.

So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Brooke Henderson are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.

Rolex Player of the Year

The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.

Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.

Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.

Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.

It’s simple math.

The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.

1st - 30 points

2nd – 12 points

3rd – 9 points

4th – 7 points

5th – 6 points

6th – 5 points

7rd – 4 points

8th – 3 points

9th – 2 points

10th – 1 point

Vare Trophy

Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.

Money-winning title

Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.

Rolex world No. 1 ranking

World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.

Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.

At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.

Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island

By Associated PressNovember 19, 2017, 12:28 am

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.

Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.

''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''

Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.

''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''

Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.

''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.

''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Tour.

''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''

He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.

''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''

Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.

''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''