Notes: Spieth sports AT&T logo like Tiger used to

RSS

SHANGHAI – For the first time in nearly five years, the AT&T logo can be found on a golf bag on the PGA Tour.

It belongs to Jordan Spieth.

Spieth showed up at the WGC-HSBC Champions with a black-and-orange golf bag promoting AT&T. He signed an endorsement deal with the Texas-based telecommunications giant earlier this year, and this was the first evidence of the logo while he was on the golf course.

AT&T is one of the top supporters of the PGA Tour, with title sponsorship at Pebble Beach and the Byron Nelson on the PGA Tour, and a Champions Tour event in Texas.

The last player AT&T endorsed on the PGA Tour was Tiger Woods. He had an AT&T bag when he returned from knee surgery early in 2009. The company ended its endorsement deal a month after revelations that Woods had multiple extramarital affairs.

Spieth is playing for the first time since the Ryder Cup. He is headed back home to Dallas after the HSBC Champions, and then returning to Asia to play in the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan and then the Australian Open in Sydney before ending his year at the Hero World Challenge that Woods hosts in Florida.


KOEPKA'S DILEMMA: Brooks Koepka is spending a much-needed week of vacation in Thailand before two final events on the European Tour that could shape his schedule next year.

Koepka began his career on the Challenge Tour in Europe, winning three times to earn an instant promotion to the European Tour. He did well enough in his limited starts on the PGA Tour last year – a tie for fourth in the U.S. Open and a tie for third in the Frys.com Open – to earn his U.S. card.

He would like to play both tours again next year, but that can only happen if he's entrenched in the top 50 in the world. That would make him eligible for the World Golf Championships and the majors, which means he would need only limited starts in Europe to keep both cards.

But right now, Koepka is at No. 60.

Even though he was a European Tour member first, PGA Tour regulations do not allow the Floridian to claim Europe as his home circuit, meaning he would need to get a release to play overseas. Players typically are granted three ''conflicting event releases'' when playing 15 PGA Tour events, with one more release for every five more PGA Tour events they play.

One caveat is for players to claim an alternative home circuit, but only if they have been a member of that tour at least five years and commit to playing at least 20 times on the PGA Tour. Frank Nobilo of New Zealand went that route when he joined the PGA Tour after several years in Europe.

Koepka finishes his year in Turkey and Dubai, both of which will have strong world ranking points.


DUSTIN JOHNSON: That voluntarily leave by Dustin Johnson certainly isn't hurting his position in the world ranking.

Johnson was at No. 16 in the world after the Canadian Open when he announced he was stepping away from golf to seek professional help for ''personal challenges.'' He is No. 15 in the world now.

Johnson will start losing points, starting with the HSBC Champions. He won a year ago Sheshan International and is not back to defend.

His agent at Hambric Sports, David Winkle, said Tuesday that Johnson is not expected back until sometime early next year. Johnson's fiancé, Paulina Gretzky, is expecting their first child and Johnson won't play again until the baby is born.

''They haven't announced when the baby is due yet,'' Winkle said.


DIVOTS: Adam Scott is trying out another caddie this week at the HSBC Champions. He is using David Clark, who works for Cameron Tringale. ... Graeme McDowell says he will be joining a task force, only it has nothing to do with the Ryder Cup. McDowell says he has been asked by his alma mater, the University of Alabama-Birmingham, to be part of a group that studies the future of the football program. ... Tickets went on sale Tuesday for the British Open next year at St. Andrews. A daily ticket for adults will increase 5 pounds to 70 pounds (about $110) if bought before May 31, and to 80 pounds ($125) after that. Weekly tickets are available for 240 pounds ($380). A daily ticket went for 60 pounds ($95) in 2010 when The Open was last held at St. Andrews. ... Davis Love III tied for eighth in Malaysia, his first top 10 on the PGA Tour in two years.


STAT OF THE WEEK: McDowell is the only player with top-10s in every World Golf Championship this year. He was a quarterfinalist at the Match Play Championship, tied for ninth at Doral and tied for eighth at Firestone.


FINAL WORD: ''I know one thing for sure. We can't have more than 52 tournaments.'' – Henrik Stenson on what the golf calendar will look like in 10 years.