Els and Others Happy to be Here

By Associated PressNovember 1, 2006, 5:00 pm
2006 The TOUR Championship presented by Coca-ColaATLANTA -- For all the talk of a black cloud hanging over a TOUR Championship missing the PGA TOUR's two biggest stars, Ernie Els saw nothing but sunshine as he worked quietly on the practice green late Wednesday afternoon.
 
Not many were happier to be at East Lake for the season-ending event for the top 30 on the money list. Els squeaked in three days ago by saving par from 50 yards short of the 18th green, giving him one last chance to salvage his year with a victory.
 
Ernie Els
Ernie Els competes in Wednesday's pro-am at East Lake Country Club.
And that's when the light came on.
 
'At least I've got a chance,' he said. 'And it's a lot better when you only have to beat 26 guys.'
 
He doesn't have to beat Tiger Woods, the No. 1 player in the world who decided to end his PGA TOUR season a month ago by skipping the tour's version of the All-Star game for the first time. He doesn't have to worry about Phil Mickelson, who stuck to his strategy of calling it quits after the majors.
 
Also missing is Stephen Ames, winner of The Players Championship, who is nursing a sore back.
 
Reaction from the 27 players at East Lake competing for $6.5 million in prize money has been mixed. Some believe that Woods and Mickelson owe it to the PGA TOUR to show up at theTOUR Championship.
 
'I think the biggest players have a responsibility to the tour to play in these,' Arron Oberholser said. 'Tiger might not want to hear that, and Phil might not want to hear that, but they don't write my paycheck, so I don't care. I think it's about having a responsibility to your place in the game.'
 
On the other hand, Woods indirectly writes plenty of paychecks. It is his star power in the game that has caused exponential growth in prize money over the last three years. When Woods first played in the TOUR Championship, the purse was $3 million. This year, the winner gets $1.17 million.
 
'You could say Tiger and Phil are hurting the tour by not coming to the TOUR Championship,' U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy said. 'But where would the TOUR be without Tiger and Phil? We'd be playing for $2.5 million this week. We'd have 20 tournaments. And no one would be watching on TV. We'd be back where we were 15 years ago.'
 
One way or the other, their absence has drawn more attention than the tournament. PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem said he was disappointed by they were not at East Lake, although his thoughts were geared more toward next year at the FedExCup competition, which will end in September when the leaves are still green.
 
'I think players have an obligation to support the TOUR,' Finchem said. 'But after this many years on the job, I think in the long term. I don't get hung up on one week.'
 
Woods cited fatigue for missing the TOUR Championship for the first time. Returning from a nine-week absence after his father died, then missing the cut for the first time in a major, he won six of eight tournaments he played, lost the Ryder Cup and made a two-day trip to Ireland beforehand for practice.
 
Mickelson pours so much into the majors that he is exhauted by August. He stopped playing after the American Express Championship last year. This time, he stopped after the Ryder Cup.
 
'Phil was not a surprise to me,' Finchem said. 'Now that I know the details of Tiger's thing from last week, I understand how he came to his conclusion. It doesn't make me less disappointed, but I understand how he got there.'
 
That leaves Jim Furyk as the No. 1 player at East Lake, even though he is No. 2 in the world and No. 2 on the money list. He can't catch Woods for the money title, although a solid week should be enough for Furyk to win the Vardon Trophy for the lowest scoring average.
 
Then again, he could have stayed home this week and still won the Vardon.
 
So what was he doing on the practice range, warming up with wedge shots over a pond to a green about 100 yards away?
 
'I like the golf course. I like the tournament,' he said between shots. 'And I kind of want to win the TOUR Championship.'
 
For others, there is plenty at stake.
 
Eight players have failed to win this year, and three are in the top 10 in the world ranking -- Els, Retief Goosen and Adam Scott.
 
Guys like Dean Wilson, who is No. 20 on the money list, also are grinding. If the Hawaii's best player can stay in the top 20, he will be exempt for the British Open next year and see some incentives kick in on endorsement deals.
 
Eleven players are at the TOUR Championship for the first time, such as Brett Quigley.
 
'It's like a Christmas present come early,' said Quigley, the only player in the 27-man field without a PGA TOUR victory. 'A win this week would be the ultimate.'
 
For Woods and Mickelson, it's a week off.
 
Davis Love III almost missed the TOUR Championship until winning in Greensboro, and he was looking forward to one more big tournament. Then again, maybe that's the problem with the TOUR Championship.
 
It used to be one of the big tournaments of the year, but now has lost some importance with so many other big events over the last 10 months. Including the majors, the PGA TOUR had 13 tournaments with total prize money of at least $6 million this year.
 
'What I tell Tim and the staff all the time is they're a victim of their own success,' Love said. 'The more big tournaments you get with big money, the more opportunities there are for guys to skip.'
 
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    Texas Open purse payout: Landry doubles earnings

    By Golf Channel DigitalApril 23, 2018, 11:42 am

    Andrew Landry won the Valero Texas Open for his first career PGA Tour victory. In the process, he doubled his season earnings. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out at TPC San Antonio.

    1 Andrew Landry -17 $1,116,000
    T2 Trey Mullinax -15 $545,600
    T2 Sean O'Hair -15 $545,600
    4 Jimmy Walker -14 $297,600
    5 Zach Johnson -13 $248,000
    6 Joaquin Niemann -12 $223,200
    7 Ryan Moore -11 $207,700
    T8 Chris Kirk -10 $179,800
    T8 Andrew Putnam -10 $179,800
    T8 Kevin Streelman -10 $179,800
    T11 Ben Crane -9 $136,400
    T11 Billy Horschel -9 $136,400
    T11 Martin Laird -9 $136,400
    T11 Richy Werenski -9 $136,400
    15 Brandt Snedeker -8 $111,600
    T16 Aaron Baddeley -7 $96,100
    T16 David Hearn -7 $96,100
    T16 Grayson Murray -7 $96,100
    T16 Vaughn Taylor -7 $96,100
    T20 Dylan Frittelli -5 $67,167
    T20 Retief Goosen -5 $67,167
    T20 Chesson Hadley -5 $67,167
    T20 Denny McCarthy -5 $67,167
    T20 Johnson Wagner -5 $67,167
    T20 Nick Watney -5 $67,167
    T26 Corey Conners -4 $46,810
    T26 Jim Furyk -4 $46,810
    T26 Keith Mitchell -4 $46,810
    T26 J.J. Spaun -4 $46,810
    T30 Kevin Chappell -3 $37,665
    T30 Austin Cook -3 $37,665
    T30 Ernie Els -3 $37,665
    T30 Jamie Lovemark -3 $37,665
    T30 J.T. Poston -3 $37,665
    T30 Brendan Steele -3 $37,665
    T36 Zac Blair -2 $26,694
    T36 Harris English -2 $26,694
    T36 Jason Kokrak -2 $26,694
    T36 Nicholas Lindheim -2 $26,694
    T36 Troy Merritt -2 $26,694
    T36 Sam Ryder -2 $26,694
    T36 Ollie Schniederjans -2 $26,694
    T36 Brian Stuard -2 $26,694
    T36 Kevin Tway -2 $26,694
    T45 Keegan Bradley -1 $17,732
    T45 K.J. Choi -1 $17,732
    T45 Si Woo Kim -1 $17,732
    T45 Hunter Mahan -1 $17,732
    T45 Ben Martin -1 $17,732
    T45 Ben Silverman -1 $17,732
    T51 Ricky Barnes E $14,508
    T51 Zecheng Dou E $14,508
    T51 Beau Hossler E $14,508
    T51 Matt Kuchar E $14,508
    T51 Danny Lee E $14,508
    T51 David Lingmerth E $14,508
    T51 Graeme McDowell E $14,508
    T58 Abraham Ancer 1 $13,578
    T58 Lanto Griffin 1 $13,578
    T58 Anirban Lahiri 1 $13,578
    T58 Adam Schenk 1 $13,578
    T58 Daniel Summerhays 1 $13,578
    T58 Julian Suri 1 $13,578
    T64 Joshua Creel 2 $12,958
    T64 Charley Hoffman 2 $12,958
    T64 Peter Malnati 2 $12,958
    T64 Andrew Yun 2 $12,958
    T68 Matt Atkins 4 $12,462
    T68 Steve Marino 4 $12,462
    T68 Rod Pampling 4 $12,462
    T68 Michael Thompson 4 $12,462
    72 Ethan Tracy 8 $12,152
    MDF Cameron Champ 2 $11,966
    MDF Xander Schauffele 2 $11,966
    MDF Joel Dahmen 3 $11,594
    MDF Bill Haas 3 $11,594
    MDF Brandon Harkins 3 $11,594
    MDF Hudson Swafford 3 $11,594
    MDF John Senden 4 $11,284
    MDF Brice Garnett 8 $11,160
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    M. Jutanugarn finally joins sister in LPGA winner's circle

    By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 1:42 am

    LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn won the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open by two shots for her first victory in six years on the LPGA Tour, joining sister Ariya as the second siblings to win on the tour.

    The 23-year-old from Thailand shot a 3-under 68 for a 12-under 272 total Sunday at Wilshire Country Club in the tour's return to Los Angeles after a 13-year absence.

    Jutanugarn won in her 156th start after three career runner-up finishes, including at the Honda LPGA Thailand in February. She had 21 top-10 finishes before winning.

    Seven-time winner Ariya tied for 24th after a 70. She joined the predominantly Asian crowd to follow her older sister's final holes, crying as Moriya two-putted to close out the win.

    Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam were the first sisters to win on the LPGA Tour.

    Hall of Famer Inbee Park shot a 68 to tie for second with Jin Young Ko (70).

    Park had opportunities, but she wasn't able to put pressure on Jutanugarn playing in the final threesome. However, Park will return to No. 1 in the world when the rankings come out Monday, knocking off top-ranked Shenshen Fang, who tied for 12th.


    Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


    Jutanugarn began the final round with a two-shot lead and never wavered in fulfilling the potential she first displayed as the LPGA Rookie of the Year in 2013. After a birdie at the second hole, she reeled off nine consecutive pars before sinking birdie putts at 12 and 13.

    She overcame a tee shot that narrowly missed going out of bounds for another birdie at 15 to lead by three.

    Jutanugarn ran into trouble on the par-4 16th. Her approach landed on the green and rolled off it, stopping inches from dropping into a bunker. Her chip shot ran well past the hole and her par putt just missed catching the edge of the cup. That left her with a short putt for bogey, her first in her previous 28 holes, trimming her lead to two shots.

    Ko's tee shot on 18 landed about 4 feet from the hole, giving her a chance to cut Jutanugarn's lead to one shot with the Thai facing a long birdie attempt.

    But Ko missed, leaving Jutanugarn room to maneuver. Her birdie putt came up a couple feet short, but she calmly parred the hole to win. Ariya rushed onto the green and joined others in emptying water bottles on her sister before they embraced.

    So Yeon Ryu (68) finished fourth at 7 under. American Emma Talley (67) and Eun-Hee Ji (71) tied for fifth at 6 under, making Ji one of four South Koreans to place in the top five.

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    After Further Review: Tour players embracing new ideas

    By Golf Channel DigitalApril 23, 2018, 1:26 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On players embracing new ideas on the PGA Tour ...

    PGA Tour players are trying to tell commissioner Jay Monahan something: They like new.

    In the second year of the two-man team format at the Zurich Classic, 10 of the top 14 players in the world have signed up, including all four reigning major champions. It’s the first time all four have been in the same field since the Tour Championship. If the laid-back event offered world-ranking points – it doesn’t, and that’s part of the appeal – the winner would have received 62 points. That’s the same as the Genesis Open.

    Sure, some sponsor obligations are involved in boosting the field here, but there’s no other way to look at this: Today’s PGA Tour players are not only willing to play events that are a departure from the 72-hole, stroke-play norm. They’re encouraging it. - Ryan Lavner


    On Moriya Jutanugarn's breakthrough win ...

    As much love as there is between the Jutanugarn sisters, it couldn’t have been easy for Moriya, watching her baby sister, Ariya, soar past her as one of the LPGA’s dominant stars the last few years. Mo, though, never betrayed an inkling of frustration or envy.

    That’s what made Mo’s breakthrough LPGA victory Sunday at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open especially meaningful for everyone who has admired Mo’s devotion to her sister. Mo was always a fixture, waiting in the wings to celebrate whenever Ariya hoisted a trophy.

    So emotions were high late Sunday, with Ariya waiting in the wings this time, with Ariya sobbing in Mo’s arms after the victory was secured. It was heartwarming for more than Apple, the mother who raised these talented, loving sisters. As always, Apple was there, too, soaking both her daughters in tears of joy. – Randall Mell


    On the tough scheduling decisions facing the PGA Tour ...

    According to multiple sources, officials at Colonial are poised to announce a new sponsorship agreement with Charles Schwab Corporation on Monday.

    While this is good news for the folks in Fort Worth, Texas, who were in danger of finding themselves on the wrong side of timing, there remain some tough decisions to be made in the next few weeks.

    If the PGA Tour’s plan is to end its season before Labor Day beginning in 2019, something must give. Currently, the Houston Open, a staple on Tour since 1946, and The National are without sponsors. When the music stops in a few weeks and the circuit announces the ’19 schedule, there’s a good chance one, or both, of those events will be the victims of bad timing. – Rex Hoggard

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    Triplett hole-out wins Legends of Golf playoff

    By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 12:12 am

    RIDGEDALE, Mo. - Kirk Triplett holed out from a bunker for birdie on the first playoff hole Sunday in the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf to lift himself and partner Paul Broadhurst past Bernhard Langer and Tom Lehman.

    ''Well, you're trying to make it, but you know realistically it doesn't go in very often,'' Triplett said. ''You're trying to give your partner a free run at it. You don't want to hit it up there 20 feet past or do something silly. I'm just trying to hit it the right distance and get it on the right line.''

    Langer and Lehman took it in stride.

    ''You kind of learn to expect it,'' Lehman said. ''These guys out here are so good and Kirk Triplett is a magician around the greens. The odds of making that shot are probably not good, but you certainly expect him to hit a great shot and he did and it went in.''

    Lehman and Langer missed birdie putts after Triplett holed out.

    ''I kind of felt like we both hit pretty good putts, misread them, both of them,'' Lehman said. ''I hit mine probably too hard and Bernhard's was too soft, but you have to hand it to the guys who hit the shot when they have to hit it.''


    Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf


    Broadhurst and Triplett closed with a 6-under 48 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course to match Langer and Lehman at 24 under. Langer and Lehman had a 47, playing the front nine in alternate shot and the back nine in better ball.

    The 56-year-old Triplett won his sixth PGA Tour Champions title.

    ''That's a big roller-coaster - three good shots and mine, right?'' Triplett said. ''I'm feeling a little dejected walking down that fairway there, a little sheepish. To knock it in it just reminds you, this game, you know, crazy stuff.''

    Broadhurst claimed his third senior victory.

    ''I don't get too emotional, but that was something special,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said.

    Spanish stars Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jose Maria Olazabal had a 48 to tie for third with 2017 winners Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco. Singh and Franco, the third-round leaders, shot 50.

    Mark Calcavecchia-Woody Austin (48), John Daly-Michael Allen (49), Steve Stricker-Jerry Kelly (50) and David Toms-Steve Flesch (52) tied for fifth at 20 under.