Date Change Hurting International
One of the favorite stops on the PGA Tour, The International will have a much weaker field this year after a change in dates put it the week before the PGA. Ernie Els and defending champion Davis Love III are in the field, but they're the only players in the top 12 of the world rankings.
'It obviously hurts the week before a major,' said Love, who ran away with last year's event after scoring 46 points in the tournament's modified Stableford scoring system.
'You add some guys that are trying to do some things and lose some guys that are trying to rest up. But it's still The International and is still a fun format and a fun event.'
In previous years, The International was played two weeks before the PGA Championship, a perfect time for the top players to get one last tuneup before the final major. There was plenty of incentive to head to Castle Pines Golf Club, with a great golf course, spectacular views and superb amenities for the players and their families.
But tournament organizers asked the PGA Tour in 2002 to switch dates with the Buick Open, in hopes that they could lure more top-name players the week before a major championship. The thinking was that players would enjoy a three-week stretch of playing The International, the PGA and the NEC Invitational in Akron, Ohio.
With the timing, playing in altitude and using a scoring system that's not used the rest of the year, it hasn't worked out quite as they hoped.
Mickelson, the winner of this year's Masters and a two-time International champion, will not play the week before a major for the first time in five years.
Lefty spent extra time at each of the first three major championship courses this year, and said he wants to get familiar with the PGA site: Whistling Straits, a links-style course on the shore of Lake Michigan.
Singh won the Buick Open last week, but opted to rest this week. Garcia is doing the same, as is Woods, who hasn't played in The International since 1998.
U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen was slated to play, but he backed out after injuring his hip last week.
'To tell the truth, I don't know what the best date is,' tournament founder Jack Vickers said. 'The situation this year, where a couple of players have the opportunity to go to next week's event, is one of those unfortunate situations.
'I don't criticize the guys for going up there, but it doesn't make for the best for the PGA Tour, I don't think.'
It's not as if the tournament will be a walkover for the players who did show up.
British Open champion Todd Hamilton is in the field, as is 2002 PGA champion David Toms and up-and-coming stars Charles Howell III and Chad Campbell.
Major championship winners Justin Leonard, Bernhard Langer, Steve Elkington, David Duval, Tom Lehman, Corey Pavin, Lee Janzen, Rich Beem, Ben Curtis, Mark Brooks and Greg Norman also are in the field.
And with so many first-time winners in recent years, just about any tournament is tough to win.
'This tour is strong,' said Els, who won The International in 2000. 'Anybody that's on his game, you take your pick, these guys can all play.'
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Phil rubs fan's Donald Duck hat seven times, signs it
There is a case to be made that what Phil Mickelson did on Saturday made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.
There is also a case to be made that the USGA's setup of Shinnecock Hills made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.
Whatever you think about what Mickelson did on Saturday - and how he attempted to justify it after the fact without even a hint of remorse - watch this video.
The next time you hear someone say, "If anybody else had putted a moving ball on purpose and not apologized for it, it would get a different reaction," you can point to this video and say, "Yeah, here's why."
Here's what happened once a still-strident Mickelson was done rubbing Donald Duck hats on Sunday, per Ryan Lavner:
If you’re wondering whether Mickelson would be defiant or contrite on Sunday, we don’t know the answer. He declined to stop and speak with the media, deciding instead to sign autographs for more than a half hour and then offering a few short answers before ducking into player hospitality.
“The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’” he said. “I don’t know.”
The 2024 Ryder Cup at Bethpage is going to be a three-ring circus, and Mickelson, a likely choice to captain the U.S. team, will be the ringmaster.
Separately, shoutout to 2017 Latin Am champ Toto Gana, who does a terrific Donald Duck (skip to end).
We followed our defending champion Toto Gana during his registration! He even did his Donald Duck impression!— LAAC (@LAAC_Golf) January 17, 2018
Acompañamos a Toto Gana, defensor del título, durante todo el proceso de acreditación. ¡Incluso imitó a Donald Duck!#LAAC2018 pic.twitter.com/NGh7hS4cCz
Ryder Cup race: Mickelson out, Simpson in
There's a new man at the top of the U.S. Ryder Cup race following the U.S. Open, and there's also a familiar name now on the outside looking in.
Brooks Koepka's successful title defense vaulted him to the top of the American points race, up four spots and ensuring he'll be on the team Jim Furyk takes to Paris in September. Dustin Johnson's third-place finish moved him past Patrick Reed at No. 2, while Webb Simpson entered the top eight after a a tie for 10th.
While Bryson DeChambeau remained at No. 9, Phil Mickelson dropped two spots to No. 10. Tony Finau, who finished alone in fifth, went from 16th to 13th, while Tiger Woods fell two spots to No. 37.
Here's a look at the latest U.S. standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:
1. Brooks Koepka
2. Dustin Johnson
3. Patrick Reed
4. Justin Thomas
5. Jordan Spieth
6. Rickie Fowler
7. Bubba Watson
8. Webb Simpson
9. Bryson DeChambeau
10. Phil Mickelson
11. Matt Kuchar
12. Brian Harman
On the European side, England's Tommy Fleetwood took a big stride toward securing his first Ryder Cup appearance with a runner-up finish that included a Sunday 63 while countryman Matthew Fitzpatrick snuck into a qualifying spot after tying for 12th.
Here's a look at the updated Euro standings, with the top four from both points lists joining four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn at Le Golf National:
1. Tyrrell Hatton
2. Justin Rose
3. Tommy Fleetwood
4. Francesco Molinari
5. Thorbjorn Olesen
6. Ross Fisher
1. Jon Rahm
2. Rory McIlroy
3. Alex Noren
4. Matthew Fitzpatrick
5. Ian Poulter
6. Rafael Cabrera-Bello
Koepka autographs local kids' 'Go Brooks' sign after win
Brooks Koepka is a two-time U.S. Open winner, but that doesn't mean he's now too big to go sign a couple pieces of cardboard in somebody's front yard in the middle of the night.
Koepka's girlfriend, Jena Sims, posted two pictures to her Instagram story on Sunday of "Go Brooks" signs she says were put up by some local kids in the area where Koepka was staying for the week.
The first is dated prior to Koepka's final-round tee time.
The second is from Sunday night.
And here, separately, for no reason in particular (other than the fact that she posted it) is a video of Sims running over a parking cone at last year's U.S. Open at Erin Hills.
Speaking of kids, just feels those two are gonna make it.
Koepka moves to No. 4 in world with U.S. Open win
After successfully defending his U.S. Open title, Brooks Koepka reached a new career high in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Koepka held off Tommy Fleetwood to win by a shot Sunday at Shinnecock Hills, becoming the first player to go back-to-back in nearly 30 years. As a result, he jumped five spots in the latest rankings to No. 4, six spots higher than he reached with last year's U.S. Open victory at Erin Hills.
Fleetwood finished alone in second place and moved up two spots to No. 10, tying his career-best placement. Patrick Reed moved up two spots to No. 11 by finishing fourth, while fifth-place Tony Finau went from No. 37 to No. 31.
It was a largely quiet week in the rankings despite the fact that a major championship was contested. Outside of Koepka and Finau, the only other player inside the top 50 to move up or down more than three spots was Jason Dufner, who went from 53rd to 48th with a T-25 finish.
Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1 for the second consecutive week, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Koepka and Jordan Spieth. Jon Rahm dropped one spot to No. 6, with Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Fleetwood rounding out the top 10. Hideki Matsuyama fell two spots to No. 12, dropping out of the top 10 for the first time since October 2016.
Despite a missed cut at Shinnecock, Tiger Woods actually moved up one spot to No. 79 in the latest rankings. He plans to play the Quicken Loans National and The Open in the coming weeks, which will be his final two chances to move into the top 50 in time to qualify for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. The event is being held for the final time this summer at Firestone Country Club, where Woods has won eight times.