2013 schedule changes bring harsh realities

By Rex HoggardOctober 18, 2012, 9:18 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Take a stroll across the grounds of Sea Island Resort, site of this week’s McGladrey Classic, and the thought occurs, 1960 called and they want their tournament back.

Relaxed would be an understatement. Quaint doesn’t exactly do this place justice.

Volunteers greet fans with a toothy, “Hi y’all.” Normal tournament staples of hot dogs and hamburgers are supplanted with fried chicken and the smoky perfection of island icon “Southern Soul” BBQ. Even the press is housed in the cozy “corn barn,” a throwback structure to a more genteel generation.

In two short years the Sea Island stop has taken southern hospitality to an extreme, but starting next season the McGladrey, and the rest of the fall lineup, make the move to the big leagues.

In 2013 the PGA Tour will go to a split-calendar schedule with what were Fall Series events, which always awarded official money but were not part of the FedEx Cup, kicking off the 2013-’14 season.

In theory this is a boost for all, with full FedEx Cup points, and possibly a Masters invitation, giving the historically sleepy fields a boost, but that’s not to say the transition will be painless.

According to one source who has seen the tentative 2013-’14 schedule, the Disney World event, a Tour stop since 1971, will not be played. The event’s sponsorship deal with the Children’s Miracle Network is over after this year and the economics of the new schedule, combined with Disney’s move out of its normal anchor position on the Tour calendar, appears to have sent the tournament into extinction.

“We’ve decided the best thing is to put all of our focus on the 2012 event, and after that we will look to the future,” Disney tournament director Kevin Weickel said this week.

But if the status quo remains unchanged the future does not appear to include a trip to Disney.

Instead, the 2013 season will end at the Tour Championship followed by an “off” week and then the Presidents Cup Oct. 3-6. The 2013-’14 slate will begin at the Frys.com Open followed by Las Vegas, the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic, WGC-HSBC Champions (both official events beginning with the 2013-’14 schedule), The McGladrey Classic and the Mayakoba Golf Classic, which has been played in February opposite the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in the past.

The fall fields are expected to see an improvement next year as players try to pad their FedEx Cup points before heading to the West Coast to begin the calendar year, but no one is sure exactly how much.

“It could have a possible impact on our field, but I don’t know how much,” said Mark Love, the executive director of the Davis Love Foundation which runs the McGladrey Classic. “Our field is already pretty darn strong, but what are guys going to do, go to Asia? Or are they going to stay here and play?”

According to various sources a handful of top Tour players, including Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, agreed to play the Frys.com Open at least once over the next three years in exchange for a competing-event release from the Tour to play last week’s Turkish Airlines World Golf Finals, but that quid pro quo hardly guarantees long-term success.

Yet how the new schedule may theoretically impact fall fields is less of a concern than the inflated reality of FedEx Cup economics. Seems there is a price for parity.

This year’s McGladrey features a $4 million purse and the Mayakoba event has a $3.7 million payout, but there is a mandate that fall purses will have to be increased to $6 million in the future to dovetail with other FedEx Cup events.

According to reports both the Frys.com Open and Las Vegas will bump their purses to $6 million starting next year and Sea Island’s current contract with McGladrey runs through 2015, which will give the event a reprieve to bolster its purse but that will only delay the cash crunch.

“It’s certainly a hurdle,” Mark Love said. “We have such a tough market to get hospitality in. We don’t get the opportunity to do big corporate packages so it will be a challenge.”

An increasingly crowded global schedule could also impact the newest members of the FedEx Cup fraternity.

The CIMB and HSBC stops promise to draw many of the game’s top names – Woods is playing this year’s CIMB event and McIlroy is in the field at the HSBC – while a new playoff-like run-up to the European Tour finale in Dubai may also cause conflict. Even the Grand Slam, a four-man unofficial event featuring the year’s major championship winners, could shoestring fall tournaments in search of players and sponsors.

“As an organizer of this tournament the Grand Slam concerns me more than the stuff overseas,” said Davis Love III, who completed his fourth stint as a player director on the Tour’s Policy Board this week and hosts the McGladrey. “There’s Bubba (Watson) and Webb (Simpson) and guys that would probably want to play here. For the benefit of the start of the ’13 season it would be nice if we could get the Grand Slam to go back to the Thanksgiving date.”

It is an odd position for Love & Co. to find themselves. An event that has made its mark as one of the coziest stops in golf now finds itself in the cutthroat world of the FedEx Cup. They have southern hospitality down to a science, but now it seems it’s time to sharpen their teeth.

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Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

"I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.