Spanning the Globe

By Rex HoggardMarch 17, 2011, 12:04 am

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Maybe Greg Norman was right. Maybe the World Golf Championships experiment was little more than a stalling tactic to the inevitable – a true world circuit.

At least that was the second sentence to Sunday’s sit-down at Doral between PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and his European counterpart George O’Grady. Insular types need read no further, because if body language is any indication, Norman’s outrageous concept of a world tour may be closer than the “Great White Prognosticator” could have ever envisioned.

Not that Finchem or O’Grady seemed anywhere near ready to sign off on a global tour, but they are talking about it and that’s a start.

On Sunday at Doral, Finchem said he wouldn’t expect a world tour for at least 10 or 20 years. O’Grady was a tad more optimistic. Reality, as it always is, is probably somewhere in between.

Lee Westwood
Lee Westwood would be one player that would likey welcome a world tour. (Getty Images)

“George and I have talked about this I think a fair amount, it may develop over the years that golf just becomes integrated,” Finchem said.

“We clearly recognize that the global presentation of the sport and the broadcast that's tied to that has changed and evolved over the last 15 years, and to leverage that properly, at some point in the future, at least in my view, integration will become a very viable alternative.”

Interesting, but then “integration” doesn’t feel two decades away and Finchem’s view from 30,000 feet doesn’t dovetail with the reality down in the weeds.

At the moment, the world Nos. 1, 2 and 8 players in the world are not PGA Tour members. Two of those non-members – second-ranked Lee Westwood and eighth-ranked Rory McIlroy – have already said they will not play this year’s Players Championship. Conversely, there aren’t a lot of Americans heading over to play the BMW PGA Championship, the European Tour’s flagship event.

Ernie Els, and probably other top South Africans, will have to decide between their national championship, the South African Open, and the Presidents Cup, scheduled the same week in November on the other side of the world in Australia.

As the game continues its global growth, expect more fragmentation and turf tussles unless golf’s power brokers can find some middle ground.

Not that consensus, or a global tour, will come easily.

“The idea (of a global circuit) sent a chill up my spine,” said one tournament official this week in Tampa. “Where does that leave us?”

But Chubby Chandler – whose International Sport Management team represents Westwood, McIlroy and Louis Oosthuizen, among others – doesn’t envision a 30-event global schedule. Instead he suggested last week at Doral that a global tour consist of as few as 10 events.

Consider a world docket that would include the four major championships, four World Golf Championships, The Players, BMW PGA and two or three others – with a keen eye toward Asia and the Middle East.

Years ago a Tour player was driving through Palm Springs, Calif., and noticed a yacht dealership. When he asked his swing coach why they would have such an establishment in the middle of a desert the response was, “You don’t sell a boat where the water is. You sell a boat where the money is.”

And the money, at least right now, is trending toward Asia and the Middle East.

Imagine a 15-event international schedule spread across the calendar that would guarantee the game’s best on the grandest scale.

The concept is not without problems. Entry into these events would be based on the World Golf Ranking, theoretically, and that arithmetic is not without its problems. A global tour also runs the risk of becoming a closed shop, a self-perpetuating system that leaves little room for up-and-coming players.

Nor have the top American players shown much interest in globe-trotting, but a money and ranking-points rich circuit may be what finally draws them out of the Lower 48.

“For us, I think it doesn’t really change a lot because we are travelling anyways, a lot,” world No. 1 Martin Kaymer said this week when asked about a possible world tour. “It will be difficult for the American players, especially the ones with families. At the moment it’s pretty easy for them to travel only inside the country, but if they have to travel overseas . . . that’s going to be difficult.”

And, of course, there is the concern of what will come of the dozens of other events that would be left out of the global picture. The PGA Tour calendar is checkered with plenty of events that don’t draw “top” fields but are successful nonetheless. Would those events, with fields that would likely change little, still be considered viable if they were suddenly reduced to Triple-A status?

At the highest level perception is reality, and if the game suddenly became a world circuit followed by everything else it could be catastrophic for stops like the Honda Classic or Waste Management Phoenix Open, which have both carved out a healthy niche without the marquee of a Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson.

At the moment the devil outnumbers the details, but the tumblers continue to fall in the direction of a world tour. It may be 20 years away, it may be closer. What seems certain is it is coming.

“I don't think it's as simple as somebody writing out, here is a new world tour and it's all done with a blueprint tomorrow,” O’Grady said. “It evolves to avoid some of the clashes that are going on at the moment, which are not really in anybody's best interests.”


Follow Rex Hoggard on Twitter @RexHoggard

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. 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.

Getty Images

Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

Getty Images

Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. 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. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

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.

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