Golf's powers, golf's focus with Abu Dhabi

By Rex HoggardJanuary 25, 2012, 3:29 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – In order, European Tour officials marched world Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 into the press center on Wednesday for a media meet and greet at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

That the PGA Tour won’t be able to trot out a similar mathematical “Murderer’s Row” until the last week of February at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship is everything one needs to know about where the power base is in professional golf right now.

This truth is neither alarmist nor reactionary, simply the way of the global golf world and, at least from a purely competitive point of view, a sway of the pendulum that is long overdue.

Europeans now hold two of the four major championships (Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy), four of the top 5 spots in the world ranking, the Ryder Cup and a first-of-its-kind transatlantic money title sweep (Luke Donald).

There are cycles and there are cyclones; that’s up to history to decide. What’s not up for debate is the European Tour’s climb in stature from ‘C’ list to center stage.

Camp Ponte Vedra Beach and the Torrey Pines faithful may file this as an inconvenient truth, but Abu Dhabi, and its sister heavyweight Dubai, have become the de facto start of the golf season.

The old Bob Hope Classic used to hold that title, then it transitioned to Doral and most recently Torrey Pines, site of this week’s PGA Tour stop. And this goes well beyond Tiger Woods’ desert cameo and an appearance fee that is reported to pay the world No. 25 between $1.5 million and $2.5 million.

The truth is in the numbers, with six of the top 10, 11 of the top 25 and 19 of the top 50 assembled in Abu Dhabi. By comparison, this week’s Farmers Insurance Open has a single player inside the top 10 (Dustin Johnson) and the Tour’s season kickoff at Kapalua had two in the top 10.

“They have developed a tournament every year and turned it into probably the premiere event in the swing with the field and the ranking points and everything that comes along with it,” McIlroy said.

In a sport increasingly dominated by world ranking math, McIlroy’s point is well taken. Last year, the Abu Dhabi winner received 56 ranking points. The highest point total for a winner this year on Tour is 44 at last week’s Humana Challenge.

If the PGA Tour and its star-driven marquee is the undisputed heavyweight in the room, the European circuit has gained reigning amateur status in recent years thanks to deep-pocketed sponsors like HSBC and the tour’s indifference toward appearance fees, an evil the PGA Tour has long eschewed.

But if Abu Dhabi is the unofficial beginning of the season in some circles it is only a prologue to the PGA Tour’s unchallenged significance as winter turns to spring and major championships, not money, become the primary focus.

“In all fairness between probably April and after the PGA (in August), most of the golfing world is focused on the U.S.,” Lee Westwood said. “But the rest of the world is where golf is big time. The focus of everybody’s attention seems to be in Asia and the Middle East for six months.”

Be it the sign of the times or simply an economic reality, stops in the Middle East like Abu Dhabi and Dubai, as well as Asia, have come by their spot at the big table honestly.

The European Tour’s desert swing began 15 years ago and has grown to three stops in addition to the season-ending Dubai World Championship, while the circuit also will make six trips to Asia this season to round out an ever-expanding global portfolio.

It is a territorial grab that has the PGA Tour scrambling to make up for lost time with soon-to-be official stops in China and Malaysia.

“Everybody understands there’s Asia. Everybody understands there’s the Middle East,” said Westwood’s manager Chubby Chandler, a European staple who has been coming to Dubai since his playing days. “Even the Americans, and I’m not saying that disparagingly, but they didn’t really pay any attention to it and that’s why we snuck up on the outside.”

But playing global catch up won’t help the PGA Tour reclaim its place as the de facto beginning of the golf season, that much was clear as Donald, Westwood, McIlroy and Martin Kaymer – Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4, respectively, in the world – made their way through the media center, heavyweights that make Abu Dhabi the undisputed champion and the unofficial start of 2012.

Getty Images

Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. 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.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.