Presidents Cup math: Addition by subtraction

By Rex HoggardMay 17, 2017, 7:19 pm

It was the last question Nick Price was asked, which seemed apropos if not perfectly planned.

In April Price was named the International Presidents Cup team captain for the third time. As he and U.S. captain Steve Stricker were wrapping up a one-year-out news conference last October the conversation predictably turned to the Zimbabwean’s ongoing debate with the PGA Tour to reduce the total number of points in the biennial matches from 30 to 28, which is the same number used for the Ryder Cup.

“Last year [2015], I think it was very, very close. If it continues to be close, we may not need to change, but I honestly believe down the road, we'll probably change it to 28,” Price figured.

Prior to the ’15 matches, which the International team lost by a single point, Price & Co. had persuaded then-Tour commissioner Tim Finchem to reduce the number of available points from 34 to 30, a compromise that – at least from a competitive point of view – seemed to inject new life into the matches.

After fighting for so long to reach that 28-point threshold, which seems to work so well at the Ryder Cup, Price likely based his theory on an eventual shift to fewer points on the fact that Finchem stepped down this year and was replaced by Jay Monahan, who by most accounts is more of a consensus builder than his predecessor.

Asked about the possibility of reducing the number of matches last week at The Players, Monahan certainly didn’t seem opposed to the idea.

“We will look at everything. What happened in Korea put the Presidents Cup in a great spot,” said Monahan, who added that he studies the International team’s standings every Monday morning. “I think [Price] had it right and we all got it right in Korea and that’s an example of talking, discussing, collaborating. That will continue to be a part of everything that we do.”

The ’15 matches were close and compelling, at least for those on the right side of the international dateline, with the cup decided by the final singles match on Sunday when Bill Haas defeated South Korea’s Sangmoon Bae.


AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos


For his part, Adam Scott – the undisputed leader of the International team, having played in the last seven matches – said he’s comfortable with the current point structure, but that doesn’t mean he likes it.

Scott doesn’t necessarily want to win a Presidents Cup - that’s happened just once (1998) since the matches began in 1994 - but like Price he has a passionate desire to assure it’s competitive.

“It was getting to that point of frustration - what are we doing this for? This is not enjoyable. I’ve heard it’s a cycle of strong and weak teams, but this is a long time now,” Scott said. “The decision was up to the Tour and they did what they thought was best and we have to accept it now. But certainly we need to see a competitive match and that was my argument, why wouldn’t you assure yourself a competitive event.”

For Scott and the other members of the International team it’s really a question of diminishing returns and a wildly lopsided event that was becoming increasingly difficult to enjoy.

In 2013 the U.S. team won by three points, four in ’11 and five in ’09. You get the idea.

Scott is one of the game’s most thoughtful and reasonable voices, and he understands better than most that changes to the Presidents Cup format can’t be made in a bubble.

“We can’t just have it our way; there’s another 12 guys on the U.S. team who may not want it different. I’m not saying we’re right and they are wrong, because they play the Ryder Cup as well, but a lot is made of Ryder Cup heroes, whether it’s Patrick Reed who plays amazing or Ian Poulter,” Scott said. “Yet no one on our teams is thought about as a match player. It’s a bit overlooked because the Ryder Cup is such a big deal.”

To Scott’s point, Branden Grace went 5-0-0 at the ’15 matches paired with Louis Oosthuizen, a week that included four-ball victories over Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson and J.B. Holmes. Yet no one compares his record to the likes of Reed and Poulter.

Would an International victory in October change that narrative? Maybe not, but it’s certainly not going to diminish his stature if he were to blaze a winning trail for the rest of the world.

In sports, you are what your record says you are, and the Internationals have largely been the Washington Generals to the U.S. side’s Harlem Globetrotters. But if that could change with some simple math and two fewer matches, which the ’15 outcome suggests could, wouldn’t that be best for everyone involved?

“It’s all long-term stuff, it’s not about whether I ever win a Presidents Cup, we’re looking at it from a longevity point of view,” Scott said. “But the last few [matches] for me, guys are just going through the motions and that’s a shame.”

The Tour will likely wait to see how competitive this year’s matches are before any potential changes, but given the likelihood of a more competitive event and a more amenable man in the commissioner’s office Price’s optimism is understandable.

Vegas lists Woods at 20-1 to win a major in 2018

By Will GrayNovember 22, 2017, 12:53 pm

He hasn't hit a competitive shot in nearly a year, but that hasn't stopped one Las Vegas outlet from listing Tiger Woods among the favorites to win a major in 2018.

The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook published betting odds this week on dozens of players to win any of the four majors next year. Leading the pack were Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth at 3/2, with Rory McIlroy next. But not far behind was Woods, who has been sidelined since February because of a back injury but was listed at 20/1.

Woods will make his much-anticipated return next week at the Hero World Challenge, and next month he will turn 42. Next summer will mark the 10-year anniversary of his last major championship victory, a sudden-death playoff win over Rocco Mediate at the 2008 U.S. Open.

Here's a look at the odds for several marquee players on winning any of the four biggest events in golf next year:

3/2: Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth

5/2: Rory McIlroy

7/2: Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day

9/2: Justin Rose

5/1: Brooks Koepka

15/2: Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey

10/1: Adam Scott

12/1: Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Marc Leishman, Thomas Pieters, Patrick Reed

15/1: Daniel Berger, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Patrick Cantlay, Branden Grace, Kevin Kisner, Alex Noren, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson

20/1: Tiger Woods, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Tony Finau, Martin Kaymer

25/1: Ryan Moore, Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson, Lee Westwood, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Chappell, Bryson DeChambeau, Bill Haas, Jason Dufner, Charley Hoffman

30/1: Pat Perez, Gary Woodland, Bernd Wiesberger, Brian Harman, Padraig Harrington, Emiliano Grillo, Ross Fisher, Si Woo Kim, J.B. Holmes

Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


FALLING

J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

"Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

"The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

"Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.