PGA/Ryder Cup snub of fall events creates divide

By Rex HoggardMarch 25, 2015, 2:47 pm

Political gridlock has arrived on the PGA Tour.

It’s not the debilitating congestion that’s crippled our lawmakers in Washington, D.C., but the gulf between ideologies is every bit as wide as the divide that has wedged itself between both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill.

It’s not health care or foreign policy that has polarized the Tour; it’s the PGA of America’s decision last month to overhaul the Ryder Cup selection process.

The PGA’s task force, which included eight former or current Tour players, voted to exclude the six events on the fall portion of the Tour schedule from the Ryder Cup selection process.

Points in “off” years will only be given for finishes in the four major championships, The Players and the World Golf Championships events, with the rest of the Tour schedule being included starting on Jan. 1, not in October when the circuit begins its wrap-around season.

Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, who worked as an advisor to Jimmy Carter, said he “kind of whiffed” on the decision that some say robs the fall events of hard-fought legitimacy; while Phil Mickelson, who once caused a stir when he said California’s high taxes might make him leave his home state, suggested the move was best for the game’s top players.

“We’ve been trying, the last two years, to have a wrap-around schedule and I’m not really a big fan of it. It’s hard for spectators to understand it. I can’t understand it,” Mickelson said earlier this month.

“After playing eight out of 10 or eight out of 11 weeks the guys are going to take time off and from the Ryder Cup standpoint it doesn’t make sense to have points assessed on those events when none of the top players, or few of the top players, are playing and maybe the FedEx Cup should look at it as well. Maybe that’s not the best place to start [the season].”

But the debate over the nip/tucked Ryder Cup selection process goes well beyond Lefty and left-leaning Finchem and it appears a showdown is looming.

Finchem said he planned to speak with the PGA about the move and the change has become a talking point for some of the circuit’s decision makers.

“I think it was a mistake that needs to be rectified,” said Jason Bohn, one of four player directors on the Tour’s policy board.

The policy board met last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational but didn’t address the exclusion of the fall events from the Ryder Cup process. The discussion must begin with the player advisory council, which is scheduled to meet next at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Although there seems to be a growing amount of opposition to the PGA’s decision to circumvent the fall events, it remains unclear what influence the Tour would have to reverse the decision.

While PGA of America president Derek Sprague is among the nine policy board members, and the newly-minted Ryder Cup committee – which was created to advise the PGA on future captains and other Ryder Cup matters – includes three Tour players, change, at least in the short term, is unlikely.

“My logic on not starting the points with the start of the season is it would be hard to justify to the [FedEx Cup] playoff events, which are just a few weeks before the Ryder Cup, and they have the best players and all the pressure, those are the guys who are playing really well,” said Davis Love III, a member of the task force and, along with Mickelson and Tiger Woods, is one of the three Tour players on the Ryder Cup committee.

If anything, Love said he would not have included the World Golf Championships events in the points process the year before the matches “if you let me do it 100 percent my way.”

Love was in a particularly unique position during the debate to include the fall events. He hosts the McGladrey Classic, which is the third fall event, and will captain the next American team.

“It sounds good to fall events [to be included in the Ryder Cup selection process], but is it really going to affect their fields? I don’t think so,” Love said. “It isn’t going to make Webb Simpson come play to make points.

“Plus, people will say, well, Zach Johnson won the McGladrey Classic and it doesn’t count. Well, it matters to me because I can pick [as the U.S. captain].”

For Love, the question the issue has created is about missing the point, not missing points.

“They say the fields aren’t as good [in the fall],” Love said. “They are good. McGladrey consistently gets a field as good or better than a lot of FedEx Cup events. That’s not the argument to me. The argument is whether these events are too far away from the Ryder Cup to make a difference.”

In 2014, the winner of the Open received as many or more world ranking points (36) as six events that will be included in next year’s Ryder Cup selection process, and the average purse for the six fall events ($5.82 million) was more than nine events that will count toward next year’s U.S. team.

The fundamental question, however, will ultimately be where the debate turns. Should the players, who now enjoy a voice in the Ryder Cup process, focus on what’s best for the U.S. team or the U.S. tour?

And, like all politics, that’s personal.

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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