Continental Divide

By Rex HoggardOctober 28, 2010, 1:22 am

Lee Westwood is taking his world-beater game and going home. Ernie Els is done with G4s and globetrotting. European icon Graeme McDowell will ply his trade almost exclusively on this side of the pond, while Martin Kaymer is just not sure.

What is for certain is that the world of global professional golf is going to feel strangely localized in 2011.

As the great communicator Ronald Reagan once instructed middle American, the game’s international core appears set to vote with their feet in the coming year, foregoing the normal jet-setting schedule for a more geographically limited existence free from regular transatlantic hops and culinary experiments.

“You're going to really see a lot different schedule next year,” Els said last week at the PGA Grand Slam of Golf. “I'm going to play a lot more in the States. I'll still do the odd trip over to Europe and so on, but it's not going to be what it used to be. So I'm going to have a lot more time to be on my game and be fresh.”

And the Big Easy will not be alone.

Westwood announced shortly after the Ryder Cup he would not take up PGA Tour membership in 2011, while McDowell, who owns a home in central Florida, plans to focus almost exclusively on the American circuit. The youthful Kaymer said his schedule is still being formalized but he is considering a similarly exclusive docket in the coming year.

“I had my chance in 2006 (to play the PGA Tour) and played injured. I never really got the full experience,” McDowell said. “I just want to see if it’s right for me.”

The migration eschewing competitive migration hasn’t become viral just yet, but if the current insular thinking was popular during Gary Player’s era the South African would be boasting about a measly 4 million miles flown instead of his signature 15 million air miles traveled.

The easiest explanation is a recent increase in the minimum number of events to maintain membership on the European Tour to 13, yet considering the current crossover between each tour’s calendars that excuse rings hollow.

Counting the four majors and four World Golf Championships, a globetrotting pro is left with just five events to make his minimum in European and seven in the United States. That’s 20 weeks, which would have been little more than a good spring for the likes of Player in is prime.

It seems more likely that through trial and error players have discovered that bouncing about the globe is not conducive to success. Red-eyes may have worked for Player, but the potential for seven-figure paydays, to say nothing of appearance fees in Europe, have made it necessary for a player to pick a tour, any tour will do.

“Everybody thinks (playing both tours) is a good idea and when they try it they really don’t like it,” said Rocky Hambric, president of Hambric Sports Management whose list of European clients include Francesco Molinari and Oliver Wilson.

“Those guys who tried it and didn’t like it tell everyone it’s impossible. Then word gets out and no one wants to try it anymore.”

Whichever tour one picks the collective reasoning remains the same. With Tiger Woods as the preeminent example less is more if one wants to play at his best.

“I’m not going to be a guy who will play the minimum on both tours,” McDowell said. “I want to give the FedEx Cup a full schedule.”

In some ways the World Golf Championships, a concept the PGA Tour co-opted from Greg Norman’s world tour concept in the mid-1990s, has been counterintuitive to the notion of an international player.

The foursome of WGCs – a geographically-challenged theme considering that three of the four are played within the confines of the Lower 48 and the fourth, next week’s HSBC Champions, enjoys only quasi-official PGA Tour status – are far to lucrative to bypass but do little to bring the game to the four corners of the globe.

Els, who split time between the two tours for years, may well be the last of an international breed thanks to a system that has been undermined in some ways by its own success.

The European Tour’s Race for Dubai has given the circuit a cash infusion and players like Westwood a reason to stay home, while the FedEx Cup, which features an earlier finish but demands a much more intense commitment in the run-up to the Tour Championship, has become a $10 million carrot that is impossible to ignore.

The only thing that may stem the insular tide is the biennial Ryder Cup, which may prompt some U.S.-based Europeans to mix up their playing schedules or risk running afoul a curious selection process like Paul Casey and Justin Rose – the seventh-ranked player in the world and a two-time 2010 Tour winner, respectively – did this year.

“My schedule will be very different in 2012,” concedes McDowell, who clinched the winning point for Europe earlier this month in Wales. “The Ryder Cup years will have an influence.”

But even Samuel Ryder’s grudge match would probably not prompt a split schedule. Instead, a player unlikely to qualify via the World Golf Ranking list would turn his attention to the European Tour and one of the five automatic spots.

The game may be going global, as many insiders have declared for years, but golf’s top players appear more interested in simply going home.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.