Heavy playing schedule begins this week

By Will GrayJuly 30, 2014, 9:25 pm

AKRON, Ohio – As independent contractors, PGA Tour players value the ability to set their own schedules.

Some will play nearly every event, while others will sit out for weeks at a time. It’s a perk of the job, especially among the top-tier players who can map a schedule around the elite tournaments.

Once the calendar flips to August, though, attendance becomes more important.

This week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational marks the start of a hectic finish to the season on the PGA Tour, one that will cause many players to tee it up six of the next seven weeks. It’s a stretch that includes next week’s PGA Championship and all four of the FedEx Cup playoff events, culminating with the Tour Championship.

Adding to the crunch is the fact that the Tour’s two bye weeks – which last year separated the Deutsche Bank Championship and BMW Championship, as well as the Tour Championship and Presidents Cup – will this year fall on either side of the Ryder Cup staged in Scotland.

That means four weeks, four playoff events. Buckle up.

Since the back-loaded nature of the schedule was known months ago, players have had plenty of time to adapt accordingly. As you might imagine, the plans of attack vary among the Tour’s best.

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World No. 1 Adam Scott usually plays a light schedule, and this season has teed it up on the PGA Tour just 11 times. He’ll make start No. 12 this week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, and plans to play in each of the four playoff events.

“Part of my scheduling, the way I do it, is with the anticipation of playing a very heavy end-of-season schedule, like we’re about to hit,” Scott said Wednesday. “I think I’m pretty fresh, and I should be absolutely fine to push through and play six of the next seven weeks, no problem.

“There’s majors galore, and World Golf Championships, and a FedEx Cup to win. That’s when you want to be feeling good and excited to go out to the golf course.”

Jimmy Walker has topped the FedEx Cup standings for nearly the entire season, thanks in large part to a busy playing schedule – this week marks his 22nd start of the season, nearly double the workload of Scott. Like the Aussie, though, Walker has begun to dial it back in recent weeks to prepare for the taxing events on the horizon.

“I’ve definitely had a little bit of a lighter summer,” said Walker, who has played in just three of nine events since the Crowne Plaza Invitational in May. “Certainly you want to do whatever you can to stay fresh, and use the off days as best you can heading into a big stretch.”

Rickie Fowler has made 20 starts this season. At 22nd in the latest FedEx Cup standings, he plans to skip only the Wyndham Championship in two weeks as he looks to secure one of 30 spots at East Lake, a field he has made only once.

“Four in a row, you can definitely run yourself into the ground by the Tour Championship,” Fowler said. “I plan to make sure there’s a rest day in between each event, use some of the Mondays during the playoffs to kind of relax and recharge a little bit.” 

Not every player subscribes to the notion that the upcoming events are mandatory starts. Tiger Woods notably has skipped playoff events before when high in the standings, as has Sergio Garcia. The Spaniard opted out of the Deutsche Bank Championship in 2012, and last year played in all four tournaments only because a skipped event could have jeopardized his ability to meet the minimum start requirements to keep his PGA Tour card.

This time, Garcia’s focus is not on the FedEx Cup that will conclude in Atlanta, but on the Ryder Cup that will be contested in Scotland two weeks later.

“I want to make sure that I feel nice and as fresh as possible for the Ryder Cup,” said Garcia, who plans to skip one playoff event.

“I don’t want to be playing six out of seven weeks going into the Ryder Cup, or six out of eight weeks,” he said. “It’s quite a lot of playing. So we’ll see how it goes.”

Over the next two weeks, the PGA Tour will hand out several trophies and nearly $60 million in prize money. As players strategize about the best way to earn their share of the bounty available, one truth remains: Fans are about to see the game’s best play a ton of golf in a very short period of time.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

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.

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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.