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Even if players want a break, most won't take one

By Rex HoggardAugust 30, 2017, 4:56 pm

NORTON, Mass. – It’s whispered about in locker rooms and endlessly, needlessly, editorialized each year as the PGA Tour’s season begins to wind down.

off·sea·son |ˈȯf-ˌsē-zən | noun 
a time of year when a particular activity, typically a sport, is not engaged in

Last week, before he tied for 34th at The Northern Trust, Rory McIlroy perked up when asked about his upcoming schedule. The Northern Irishman played last week and is in the field this week at TPC Boston and hopes next month’s BMW Championship won't be his 2017 swansong.

But if so, so be it.

“I'm excited for it. To have three months where I can focus on myself, my health, my game, and just improvement,” McIlroy said of his impending offseason, a self-imposed hiatus to mend mind and body after what has been a difficult year.

“I don't think I'm ever going to get a chance like this in my career again where I get this opportunity to take three months to re-evaluate things, to work on some stuff, to just try and improve and get better.”

Following his finish in New York, McIlroy remained 43rd on the postseason points list. Without strong performances in his next two starts, last year's FedExCup champion might not make it to East Lake. 

And McIlroy isn't the only player looking for a clean break and a little R&R before getting back to work in ’18.

Bubba Watson, whose tie for 10th at Glen Oaks last week propelled him into the field this week at the Dell Technologies Championship, is equally content to succumb to the competitive misfortunes of an earlier-than-anticipated exit.

“When I'm done with the playoffs, no matter where that is, I'm taking at least 4 ½ months off. I won't play until next year,” Watson said. “I'm looking forward to playing good golf, or I'm looking forward to going home for some vacation. Either way, I'm going to be tee-ball coach. So looking forward to that, being home with the family, and just have a blast.”


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Current FedExCup Playoff points standings


It’s become an annual rite of the Tour’s wraparound season, which began in 2013, to lament the lack of an offseason in golf. When play wraps up on Sept. 24 at East Lake, many of the game’s top players will head directly to the Presidents Cup the next week in New Jersey.

For those who don’t make the U.S. or International team, it’s back to work at the Safeway Open the first week of October to kick off the 2017-18 season.

While the call for a true offseason will become louder over the next few weeks, the Tour doesn’t make anyone play the fall or any portion of the schedule.

In fact, players face very limited requirements. They must play a minimum of 15 events in a season, and those who don’t play at least 25 have to add an event they haven’t played in the last five years. But even that addendum doesn’t dictate where or when that addition must be.

“The players are independent contractors. They choose where they are going to play,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said at last month’s PGA Championship. “Some players go out the first part of our season (October-November). Some step back, rest, and prepare and come back in January. Some do a combination of both. Every player has an ability to decide what’s best for them.”

While players and fans may like the concept of an extended offseason, from the Tour’s perspective, contraction for the sake of rest simply doesn’t make solid business sense.

“We’re not the only tour out there, and if you create openings in our schedule, those openings will be filled. Our job is to maximize playing and financial opportunities and create the platform for our players,” Monahan said.

That means that while players like McIlroy (exempt on Tour through the 2020-21 season) can choose to take a three-month break after the playoffs, other players who don’t enjoy multiple-year exemptions face a risky competitive decision.

“I would like four months off if there were no tournaments scheduled where everybody had to take four months [off],” Paul Casey said. “Your hand is being forced a little bit. If you don’t play any of those fall tournaments you feel like you’re behind.

“These are guys who have multiple-year exemptions. I don’t. If you don’t, you are always having to step up to the plate. I would love to have a multiple-year exemption. Then you wouldn’t see me for three months.”

For the vast majority of Tour players, taking that much time off would mean spotting the field eight fall events to earn points, which count just the same as those events played in 2018.

It’s why, no matter badly players and even some fans may want a few months off to unwind after a long season, there won’t be many that follow McIlroy and Watson into a restful offseason.

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.