One-in-Four for Europe

By Tom AbbottMarch 3, 2010, 12:20 am
It’s been a while since I’ve been behind the mic on the European Tour, Jan 24th to be exact, for the final day of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship. Whilst the tour continued in the Middle East and then headed to India, I ventured to a mystery location to host the new season of the Big Break. I’d love to tell you more but my lips are glued on that topic. All I can say is: We had a lot of fun and I think you’ll enjoy the new installment when it airs later this year.

The European Tour, meanwhile, is in the midst of a tough stretch in terms of attracting top name players and eye balls on the television screen. I was asked recently whether the “one-in-four rule,” which is employed on the LPGA, would work on other tours. The rule states that players must play each event on tour, once every four years. It might work on the PGA Tour but not on the European Tour and one of the reasons is because of this stretch.

Sandwiched between two WGC events, the Maybank Malaysian Open struggles to attract the top players. You can’t blame the players; trekking back and forth across the Pacific Ocean isn’t fun, even in the luxury of first class. Following the WGC-CA Championship next week, the European Tour heads to Morocco, Spain and Portugal whilst the PGA Tour warms up for the Masters with two tournaments in Florida and a trip to Houston. You can’t expect the tour’s big names to play outside of the U.S. when they are prepping for one of the most important weeks of the year in Augusta.

Despite the weaker fields, we still have some good tournaments coming-up in diverse places. Kuala Lumpur is slated for a PGA Tour event this season, but this week it’s the European Tour’s turn to visit Malaysia with the field highlighted by K.J. Choi, Daniel Chopra, Darren Clarke and Thongchai Jaidee, American Anthony Kang is the defending champion in this co-sanctioned tournament. Our coverage begins 9:30 a.m. ET Thursday on Golf Channel.

Last week the LPGA ventured to Singapore for the HSBC Women’s Champions. I’ve watched Ai Miyazato for a while now and wondered why she doesn’t win every week with that silky smooth swing. The reason must have been her short-game and her mental approach, because for the past two weeks her short-game has been on-song and recent work with Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott has obviously put her in the right frame of mind. Miyazato is great for the LPGA; she’s personable, attractive and dignified, and I very much look forward to our broadcast of the Kia Classic in a few weeks time from Carlsbad, Calif., as she bids for a hat-trick.

In Singapore, players were peppered with questions about the tournament having the feel of a major, much like they are at the Evian Masters. And like Evian, the local campaign to install that event to major status begins to pipe-up; it’s the same for the CN Canadian Women’s Open. The women have four majors; they don’t need to go down the Champions Tour route of adding any more. I can see why officials, fans and media in Asia, Continental Europe and Canada feel left out, so I propose this: Keep the Kraft Nabisco in Palm Springs, the U.S. Women’s Open in the States, and the Women’s British in Britain, but take the LPGA Championship and rotate it around the world each year.

New LPGA commissioner Mike Whan has said he is keen to grow the brand internationally. This would show the world he means business. Take the LPGA brand around the world to diverse countries and courses. Yes, the LPGA is an American-based tour, but why does its championship have to be played on home soil. Bring in a global sponsor on a long-term agreement and build an identity for an event, which this year is piggy backing another tournament – that’s no place for a major. The game in Asia is growing so rapidly there is no point trying to ignore it. If Whan wants to make the LPGA the main player in women’s golf – which it should be – then having a flexible major is a great way to showcase his product to the world market and encourage investment in American-based events.

The Ladies European Tour kicked-off their season last week. Laura Davies captured her 73rd career world-wide win at the Pegasus New Zealand Women’s Open. At the Solheim Cup last year, Davies, 46, limped away from the singles having only won half a point from the five matches [she played just twice]. At the time, I thought her Solheim career was almost certainly over, but with this win there is renewed hope that she may appear in Ireland next autumn to take a bow on a higher-note, which is what she deserves.

And finally, the European Senior Tour is back to business this week with the Aberdeen Brunei Senior Masters. Sandy Lyle, T.C. Chen and Ian Woosnam are among the notables making the trip to the Far East.
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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook played a six-hole stretch in 6 under and shot an 8-under 64 in breezy conditions Saturday to take the lead at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook began the run at La Quinta Country Club with birdies on Nos. 4-5, eagled the sixth and added birdies on No. 7 and 9 to make the turn in 6-under 30.

After a bogey on the 10th, he birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 15 and saved par on the 18th with a 20-footer to take a 19-under 197 total into the final round on PGA West's Stadium Course. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player is making his first start in the event. He won at Sea Island in November for his first PGA Tour title.

Fellow former Razorbacks star Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were a stroke back. Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 on the Stadium Course. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. They are both winless on the PGA Tour.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Jon Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium Course to reach 17 under. The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3, Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

Scott Piercy also was two strokes back after a 66 at the Stadium.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, and Harkins shot 68 on the Stadium Course.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium Course to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time.

The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. The Southern California recruit had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over for the week.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine – and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Mickelson misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.