Monahan, the man with the plan

By Rex HoggardSeptember 19, 2017, 7:35 pm

ATLANTA – Jay Monahan settled into his chair with an easy smile and slight hunch, giving the commissioner’s annual State of the PGA Tour news conference a fantasy football draft feel.

Of the litany of things that have changed the last year since Monahan took over for Tim Finchem, however, friendly body language doesn’t begin to accurately portray the differences between the old and new bosses.

As metaphorical extremes go, maybe the easiest way to judge the gulf between current and former regimes was Monahan’s socks, a flowery pattern that fit playfully with the predictable loafers and blue blazer, which firmly announced there is new management now calling the shots in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Finchem didn’t own flowery socks. As best anyone can tell, he didn’t own flowers, just a stoic, B-to-B pragmatist who, in fairness, oversaw unprecedented growth during his tenure as commissioner.

A year ago at East Lake, Finchem gave his final State of the Tour less than two months before giving Monahan the keys to the kingdom. Finchem, as was normally the case, gave a lengthy explanation of the Tour’s reach across multiple media platforms and the coterminous, he actually used that one in 2006, of the circuit’s reach.

That’s not Monahan.

Instead, the commissioner spent his time talking fondly of Arnold Palmer, who passed away a year ago during the Tour Championship, and family.


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“We all make a lot of sacrifices along the way where we're not home as much as we would like to be. That's a part of being dedicated to your craft and that's not lost on us,” he told the assembled scribes.

It wasn’t all warm and fuzzy with a side of flowery socks.

Monahan is currently in the process of the largest schedule makeover since the Tour introduced the postseason in 2007. The new dance card will include a post-Labor Day finish, the PGA Championship in May and The Players in March, to touch on just a few of the highlights.

But before Monahan and Co. can dig into that puzzle of a hundred moving parts, he must shore up next year’s schedule, a 49-event line up that looks largely the same as this year’s with a few concerning issues.

The Tour’s event in the Washington, D.C., area and Houston Open are both on the ropes and currently don’t have title sponsors. In the case of The National, which is run by the Tiger Woods Foundation, the event also doesn’t have a golf course since the Tour recently terminated its contract to hold the tournament at Congressional Country Club in 2018 and ’20.

“So we think that we'll be successful [in Houston] but obviously we haven't been yet and [Hurricane] Harvey is not an excuse,” he said. “I think that we'll continue to work our way through that and hopefully we'll have some positive news as we go forward.”

Monahan’s commitment to an event that has been a Tour staple since 1946 is admirable and understandable. The National, which debuted with much fanfare in ’07 thanks to Woods’ association, is another story.

The Jenga game that is the ’19 schedule and beyond is a factor here.

An indication of how profound those changes in ’19 will likely be could be gleaned from Jordan Spieth’s reaction to the 2017-18 schedule, which is virtually unchanged from this year’s line up.

“I'm not surprised that next year's similar and then after that we'll see what happens,” said Spieth, who has been involved with the ongoing schedule talks. “I wouldn't necessarily be quick to judge on how the Tour's saying that based on a short-term view of next year. Wait and see what happens after that.”

For Monahan, that means maintaining the status quo. If, for example, Quicken Loans, the title sponsor of The National since 2014, wanted to move the event to, say, Detroit, where the company is based, it would leave the Tour in a curious position.

“We’re focused on D.C. and we’re hopeful we can find a solution. There are a lot of markets that want to have a PGA Tour event, but that’s not where we are. It’s a matter of trying to be in a market that has been very good to us,” he said. “If we get to a place where we can’t accomplish that, then you’ve got to look at what those alternatives are and what fits best, but we’re not there yet.”

Perhaps, but if the Tour is going to end it’s season before the start of meaningful football, that means events will either have to be shifted to the fall portion of the schedule or removed, with the former the likely preferred outcome.

Although it’s become a popular topic in recent years, neither Monahan nor the Tour has any interest in an extended off-season. It was little surprise that the commissioner had a ready answer when the idea came up again on Tuesday, explaining that in 1967 the Tour had 47 events on its schedule, the same as this season.

Above all else, the Tour is a business and as a rule businesses don’t contract without a reason, which means whatever form the schedule takes in ’19 and beyond it will simply be rearranged, not reduced.

“If you get to that point and you're ending prior to the NFL and you're not going to the offseason, then you're ending at an earlier point and you're probably starting at an earlier point,” Monahan simply.

And that, more so than the flowery socks and easy smile, may be the biggest difference between the circuit’s old and new. Monahan may not have all the details of the new schedule, but he doesn’t need 10-dollar words and fancy business speak to explain the big picture.

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

An Instagram user known as hwalks posted photos to her account that included images of Tiger Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson Friday at Trump National, as well as video of Woods' swing.



Original story:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.



Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.