Price: 'Very, very, very important Presidents Cup'

By Rex HoggardOctober 6, 2015, 9:18 am

INCHEON, South Korea – For Nick Price this is not personal.

With as much objective detachment as he could muster on Tuesday at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea, the International captain explained that after more than two years of backroom bargaining he’s cautiously optimistic that the Presidents Cup has turned the proverbial competitive corner.

What other option does Price have? The alternative for the 58-year-old who has now dedicated four years of his adult life to being a captain – and is a five-time Presidents Cup player – is unacceptable.

But on Tuesday when pressed for his thoughts on this year’s matches Price didn’t shy away from the competitive elephant in the International team room that is America’s 8-1-1 advantage in the biennial event.

“I will tell you guys, this is a really important Presidents Cup,” Price said. “I’m not going to say, ‘What if?’ But this better be closely contested. I’ll let you guys figure out the repercussions.”

If that sounds like the International captain is laying down an ultimatum it’s important to understand Price’s passion when it comes to the Presidents Cup.

The Zimbabwean played in the first Presidents Cup in 1994 and was a member on the only winning International team in 1998 at Royal Melbourne on his way to an 8-11-4 record as a player.

Also know that the International team’s loss two years ago at Muirfield Village, another blowout in a long line of U.S. boat races, left a scar. So much so, that when Price was approached to captain the team again for this year’s matches he accepted with an eye toward a sea change for an event that has largely been defined by its lack of competitiveness.

Like Greg Norman before him, Price began lobbying the PGA Tour and commissioner Tim Finchem shortly after the 2013 matches to reduce the total number of points from 34 to 28, which is the same number used at both the Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup.

“We seem to think looking at the past, that the most excitement there is in an event is when you have a 28-point format. I think the Solheim Cup showed that two weeks ago,” Price said. “Some people think that you're hiding your weakest players, but in actual fact what you're doing is putting your strongest team forward. It's glass half-full or glass half-empty, depends which way you look at it.”

Following months of internal dialogue over the proposal, the Tour and Finchem reduced the total number of points available to 30 with the caveat that every player must play at least twice before Sunday singles.

For Price, the change is encouraging albeit still short of what the International side would have wanted. “We’re the underdogs, again,” he allowed.

To be clear here, while Price became the front-man for the International push to change the points format he was very much the messenger, a conduit between the Tour and a group of International players who have become increasingly disenfranchised with the biennial blowout.

That at least partially explains Price’s comments regarding the gravity of this week’s matches. It was neither a threat nor an ultimatum when the captain made a not-so-veiled assessment of what awaits if the Americans roll over the “home” team again this week.

“It’s hard for these guys,” Price said. “You ask these guys to give up a week and to play in an event that is not competitive. Any one of these guys can go play anywhere around the world and receive money and they can easily dump this event if they wanted to. Most of them don’t want to do that.”

That sense of apathy dates back to 2012 when arguably the International side’s deepest team lost, 19-15, at Royal Melbourne to extend the losing streak to four consecutive matches.

From Price’s perspective, competitive relevance is crucial to the long-term success of the Presidents Cup and not just among fans, but the players as well.

“This is a huge deal for us right now. If it doesn’t happen and we keep losing guys won’t get interested in it and won’t want to play in it and won’t want to travel,” Jason Day said. “I’m here for the captain and for the guys. We would like to win one. No one likes losing.”

After months of debate regarding the points structure, Price – who is walking a fine political line this week in what he says will be his last turn as captain – sees a more fundamental concern when it comes to the Presidents Cup.

Unlike the Ryder Cup, which is a joint venture between the PGA of America and European Tour, the Presidents Cup is the exclusive property of the PGA Tour.

Or, put another way, “The difference with the Presidents Cup is you have one guy [Finchem] controlling both sides. At the Ryder Cup you have two sides controlling each side. That may be something that needs to change as well,” Price said.

Last month at the Tour Championship, Finchem had an interesting take when asked about the “negotiations” between himself and Price over the 28-point proposal.

“We don’t look at it as meeting anyone halfway. We took everybody’s input, digested and said, ‘Are we going to make a change or not?’ It’s not like you’re here, and we’re there and come halfway,” the commissioner said. “We were making the decision, we weren’t negotiating. We were just listening to all the input.”

The International team doesn’t necessarily need a signature victory to turn things around in Price’s eyes, just a compelling and competitive event that comes down to the final match on Sunday ... say, between Jordan Spieth and Day.

“The absolute perfect scenario for all of us would be Jordan and Jason in the final group, playing the 18th hole, the whole thing tied up,” Price said. “Then who is going to complain about the four-point change?”

There are those who will label Price an alarmist, or worse; but throughout this process his only motivation has been to be a realist about an event that means the world to him and contains limitless potential.

“This is about the long-term health of the Presidents Cup going forward,” he said. “I swear it’s not about individuals. If this is going to survive and grow, it could blow the Ryder Cup out of the water if it becomes exciting and competitive. It’s about making this the very best it can be.”

As Price made his way back to the golf course on Tuesday afternoon he was pressed one last time for what he meant when he said there would be “repercussions” if this Presidents Cup ended the way so many others had.

With a deep sigh, Price shook his head, “This is a very, very, very important Presidents Cup.”

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Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

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Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:







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Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.

Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

"The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

"You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

"But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."