Is Disney event coming to an end?

By Rex HoggardNovember 10, 2012, 10:19 pm

I hear the train a comin'

It's rollin' round the bend

And I ain't seen the sunshine since I don't know when,

I'm stuck in Folsom prison, and time keeps draggin' on

But that train keeps a rollin' on down to San Antone.

– Folsom Prison Blues, Johnny Cash

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Somewhere in the distance late Saturday afternoon a train whistle interrupted the awkward silence on the Magnolia Course’s 18th green followed by the thought that Cash’s famous missive is an apropos anthem for the season’s final official PGA Tour stop.

But this wasn’t about all of the cash-crunched Tour players scrambling for a payday reprieve that would deliver them from the clutches of Q-School, although Folsom would be the metaphorical equivalent to the Fall Classic for play-for-pay types, so much as it was an ominous reminder that this Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic could be the last.

After 41 years at the Magic Kingdom it seems the most magical place on earth may have finally exhausted its supply of rabbits to pull from the top hat. The Children’s Miracle Network, which has sponsored the event since 2007, is stepping down at the end of this week’s tournament and although tournament officials have time to scare up a new title that didn’t seem likely as players finished their third rounds.

“I’m disappointed to see it leave to be honest with you,” said Ryan Palmer, whose first Tour victory came in 2004 at Disney. “I honestly think it would have been a better field next year being part of the FedEx Cup. I don’t know if it’s the sponsor or Disney, but it would have gotten better being part of the FedEx Cup, for sure.”

Ironically, it is the move to the FedEx Cup portion of the schedule that may be the haymaker that ultimately drops Disney from the Tour docket.

The Tour transitions to a split-calendar schedule beginning next season with the Fall Series events shifting to the start of the 2013-14 season. As part of the transition the fall events will have to increase their purses to $6 million. For an event that has had four sponsors since 1985 that would be a $1.3 million bump which, together with the lost cachet of not being the season ender any longer, is akin to selling ice to Eskimos.

Along with the economics of scale, Disney would also face a suddenly crowded dance card as it attempts to slide into the fall portion of the 2013-14 schedule.

According to a “tentative” schedule obtained by last month the Tour Championship ends the 2013 season on Sept. 22, followed by the Presidents Cup the first week of October. The new season begins with the Open (Oct. 10-13), the Las Vegas stop (Oct. 17-20), WGC-HSBC Champions (Oct. 24-27) and CIMB Classic (Oct. 31-Nov. 3) in Asia, McGladrey Classic (Nov. 7-10) and Mayakoba Golf Classic (No. 14-17).

In theory Disney could be played Nov. 21-24, although it hasn’t been held that late since 1973 and that date would run the event dangerously close to Thanksgiving which will be Nov. 28 next year. Nor are there many options in December, with Tiger Woods’ unofficial event the first week of December followed by the Franklin Templeton Shootout in south Florida.

Numerous requests from Golf Channel for comment from Disney tournament director Kevin Weickel were denied, but the potential hole left by the Magic Kingdom’s departure from the schedule spoke volumes.

“It’s going to be hardest on the kids,” said Davis Love III, whose 20th and last Tour victory came at Disney in 2008. “You have an entire generation of kids who grew up coming here. It’s tough to think events like Hilton Head (RBC Heritage) and Disney could go away, but it’s a tough economy. It kind of shows you what a good job the Tour has done keeping events.”

In a lot of ways the Tour grew up at Disney. Love first played the event in 1986, the year Raymond Floyd won in a playoff, and he has missed the central Florida stop just seven times in his career. Along the way the event has produced a Hall of Fame list of champions that connects generations from Jack Nicklaus (1971, ’72, ’73) to Tiger Woods (1996, ’99).

That pedigree, however, means little unless officials can conjure some magic and save Disney from economic Darwinism.

If you listened hard on Saturday you could hear a train whistle echoing across the cool air from one of Disney’s theme parks and maybe even Cash’s signature baritone offering a forlorn sendoff for the Tour staple, “. . . but those people keep a movin’ and that’s what tortures me.”

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry