Ties that bind

By Rex HoggardJune 29, 2011, 8:34 pm

NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. – On this the Official World Golf Ranking is not the culprit, just the crystal-clear catalyst. You may not be a fan of the OWGR math, but there’s no denying that Rory McIlroy is the globe’s third-best at the moment.

Ditto for Lee Westwood (No. 2), Martin Kaymer (fourth) and, yes, even Luke Donald, who has held down the top spot for five weeks now. All total, five of the top 10 in the world order are from Europe. Even more telling, three of the top 4 are not PGA Tour members.

Many experts of all nationalities agree this is part of a cycle, a natural order expedited by Tiger Woods’ freefall and Phil Mickelson’s curious funk. To a Tour official, however, it’s difficult to see anything other than a disturbing trend, particularly when one considers that the circuit will begin a new round of television negotiations later this year and is currently meeting with FedEx to continue sponsoring the circuit’s season-long playoff run.

McIlroy, as a former frat brother who let his membership lapse last year, is limited to 10 Tour starts this season, has played seven and will likely only play two more the rest of the way (WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship). Expect the same totals for Westwood and Kaymer, also non-members who currently have seven starts in the books.

In April McIlroy’s manager Chubby Chandler said, “If he could play 12 or 13 (instead of the Tour minimum 15 events) he’d be all right.”

And why shouldn’t the world’s third-ranked player and most-recent major winner be allowed to “cherry pick” his schedule? The European Tour has loopholes in its regulations to make room for the world’s best and brightest and if one has ascended to the top of the global heap it’s impossible to argue that they aren’t deserving.

One proposal that has been floated in recent weeks is to simply exempt anyone ranked inside the top 10 into whatever event they wishes to play, regardless of regulations or tour affiliation.

“It’s certainly a possibility,” acknowledged Tour commissioner Tim Finchem on Wednesday. “I wouldn’t say it’s the first thing on our agenda.”

Perhaps not, and the commish certainly must traverse the fine line between delivering the best possible fields and protecting those players who support the circuit full time.

“You’ve got to protect your members and protect your brand. There’s a reason why the Tour is the best tour in the world,” Joe Ogilvie said. “You can’t make a decision based on a six-month cycle. I’m of the belief American golf doesn’t have a big problem.”

But if the “cycle” continues and power keeps shifting toward the Continent it’s going to become increasingly difficult to dismiss the holes that currently dot the top of the circuit’s tee sheet.

On Wednesday at Aronimink Golf Club Finchem continued to take the high road on this issue, saying, in short, that what’s good for the Tour may not always be good for the growth of global golf, a position he is increasingly taking ever since golf worked its way back into the Olympic fold.

“If we’re successful in changing rules so that a player, an international player can play four or five more times here that’s great for those weeks here, (but) it means that he’s not going to play three or four times someplace else,” he said.

That Finchem would make such a distinction at this week’s AT&T National, an invitational that features a field that looks more like a “classic,” was telling. Since the AT&T began in 2007 the quality of its field, at least when measured by the World Ranking, has steadily declined.

This week’s field does not include a single player ranked inside the top 10 (and just four from the top 20), compared to two top-10 players in 2010, four in ’09, two in ’08 and six in ’07.

Although Finchem stressed that the Tour does not use the World Ranking to measure the quality of its fields, it’s impossible to ignore the high-profile absentees.

Whether a change in the exemption rules for international players would help AT&T National, centrally located two weeks before and after the U.S. and British opens, respectively, is doubtful. What isn’t up for debate is how beneficial another two or three starts for McIlroy in the United States could be at a crucial time for the Tour.

Finchem said it’s not likely such a rules adjustment would be made before next season, and by that time perhaps the “cycle” has swung back in America’s favor, but given the current landscape we wouldn’t bet that sprawling clubhouse at TPC Sawgrass on it.

Maybe Greg Norman was right and a “world tour” is a Darwin-like inevitability. And maybe it’s time the Tour opens up the shop, however slightly, to make room for that inevitability.

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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.

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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.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm