Notes Augusta Changes Wont Increase Field
With an overhaul of the PGA TOUR schedule and format, the Masters revamped its qualifying this year to invite winners of PGA TOUR events that get full FedExCup points, those who qualified for the Tour Championship at the end of the FedExCup season, and those who finished in the top 30 on the PGA TOUR money list.
The Masters will be played April 10-13 and the field will not be set until the Shell Houston Open the previous week. But here's how it's shaping up after the first year of the new criteria:
Twenty-two players already have qualified by finishing in the top 30, making the Tour Championship field or winning. Camilo Villegas, who would not have qualified for the Masters under the old system, was the only player at East Lake who did not finish in the top 30 on the money list.
Nick Watney (New Orleans), Brian Bateman (Buick Open) and Jonathan Byrd (John Deere) only qualified by winning tournaments. And only one player, Steve Flesch, was added to the field in the top 30 category through the money earned during the Fall Finish.
Under the previous criteria of top 40 on the money list, 23 players would have qualified. The five players who finished inside the top 40 were Justin Leonard, Carl Pettersson, Ken Duke, Sean O'Hair and Henrik Stenson.
Stenson will qualify as top 50 in the world ranking at the end of 2007. There are two weeks left of worldwide events that get ranking points, and among those on the bubble are Anders Hansen (No. 49), Rod Pampling (No. 52) and Bradley Dredge (No. 53). If there are no changes, 11 players will be added to the Masters field by the end of the month.
Going into the 2008 season, about 85 players will have qualified. The only spots up for grabs until April will be winners from 14 tournaments and anyone who gets into the top 50 by the end of March.
So for the field to be more than 100, different players would have to win every week who aren't already eligible. And that's about as likely as Martha Burk being invited to the club for peach cobbler.
The Masters had 97 players compete last year, and no fewer than 92 players over the last five years.
TIGER CLUBS: Tiger Woods was in south Florida on Monday to promote new products from Nike, with most of the attention on the driver. But that led to a question about what additional clubs Woods takes to a tournament, particularly irons.
He brings a backup putter, wedges, fairway woods and a driver -- but no irons.
'I don't really foresee myself breaking any irons,' Woods said.
But that's what happened at the Masters last year when he tried to hit his approach on No. 11 from behind a pine tree. The shaft snapped in half when it struck a tree.
It was the second time in two years Woods had to play a stretch of holes without one of his irons. His caddie, Steve Williams, dropped his 9-iron into a pond on the seventh hole of the Ryder Cup in Ireland.
Woods said he brings different wedges depending on the grass and conditions, and he carries a few 2-irons with different lofts. He also carries a backup putter, made by Nike. But his first-string putter is a Scotty Cameron, the only club in his bag that doesn't have a swoosh.
Don't expect that to change. Woods has won 12 majors with that putter.
HOWELL'S EQUIPMENT: Charles Howell III signed an endorsement deal with Callaway when he turned pro in 2000, but don't look for that brand when he shows up at Kapalua next month for the Mercedes-Benz Championship.
Callaway officials said Howell has asked out of his contract, and he was granted his release.
'Sometimes you wonder what they're thinking,' said Nick Raffaele, vice president for sports marketing at Callaway. 'But we don't want any player who's not comfortable. I hope he finds what he's looking for.'
That part remains unclear. Howell's agent, Thomas Parker, declined comment until there was more news to report.
WOMEN'S WORLD CUP: Juli Inkster and Pat Hurst will get another crack at the Women's World Cup.
The longtime friends finished second to Paraguay by seven shots in January. They got another chance when Paula Creamer and Cristie Kerr both declined to play this year, saying they wanted a long break before the start of the official season.
Creamer also is skipping the Lexus Cup, matches between Asia and players from the rest of the world. That will give her a three-month break from competition. Asked the last time she had a break that long, Creamer smiled and said, 'When I was 12,' and it wasn't clear if she was joking.
Kerr, the U.S. Women's Open champion, didn't sound like she would ever play. This is the second year in a row she turned down the offer, and while she is playing the Lexus Cup, she said the Women's World Cup 'just comes at a bad time in the schedule.' Kerr plans to spend the first two months getting in shape for the season.
DIVOTS: Scott Verplank had to withdraw from the Merrill Lynch Shootout because of minor surgery on his thumb, which has been bothering him all year. He also had to skip the Target World Challenge, but will recover in plenty of time for the winners-only Mercedes-Benz Championship in Kapalua to start the 2008 season. ... Despite going wire-to-wire at Q-school, Frank Lickliter declined interview requests every day until it was over. 'Hogan didn't talk to the press,' he reasoned. Then again, Ben Hogan was never at Q-school. ... The Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf will return to a team event next year for the first time since 2002. It will be a better-ball format as it was from 1978 to 2001, only now the prize money will count as official and both players will be credited with an official victory. ... American Express announced a new program in which anyone who buys lessons from participating PGA of America professionals can bring along a guest for no additional charge.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Nine players earned PGA Tour cards after making it through all three stages of Q-school.
FINAL WORD: 'She's never going to beat me, though.' -- Tiger Woods, on his 6-month-old daughter showing some early interest in golf.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Miller to retire from broadcast booth in 2019
After nearly 30 years in the broadcast booth, Johnny Miller is ready to hang up his microphone.
Following a Hall of Fame playing career that included a pair of major titles, Miller has become one of the most outspoken voices in the game as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports. But at age 71 he has decided to retire from broadcasting following the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open.
“The call of being there for my grandkids, to teach them how to fish. I felt it was a higher calling,” Miller told GolfChannel.com. “The parents are trying to make a living, and grandparents can be there like my father was with my four boys. He was there every day for them. I'm a big believer that there is a time and a season for everything.”
Miller was named lead analyst for NBC in 1990, making his broadcast debut at what was then known as the Bob Hope Desert Classic. He still remained competitive, notably winning the 1994 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at age 46, but made an indelible mark on the next generation of Tour pros with his frank and candid assessment of the action from some of golf’s biggest events.
Miller’s broadcasting career has included 20 U.S. Opens, 14 Ryder Cups, nine Presidents Cups, three Open Championships and the 2016 Olympics. While he has teamed in the booth with Dan Hicks for the past 20 years, Miller’s previous on-air partners included Bryant Gumbel, Charlie Jones, Jim Lampley and Dick Enberg.
His farewell event will be in Phoenix Jan. 31-Feb. 3, at a tournament he won in back-to-back years in 1974-75.
“When it comes to serving golf fans with sharp insight on what is happening inside the ropes, Johnny Miller is the gold standard,” said NBC lead golf producer Tommy Roy. “It has been an honor working with him, and while it might not be Johnny’s personal style, it will be fun to send him off at one of the PGA Tour’s best parties at TPC Scottsdale.”
Miller was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1998 after a playing career that included wins at the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont and The Open in 1976 at Royal Birkdale. Before turning pro, he won the 1964 U.S. Junior Amateur and was low amateur at the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic, where he tied for eighth at age 19.
Born and raised in San Francisco, Miller now lives in Utah with his wife, Linda, and annually serves as tournament host of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open in Napa, Calif.
Randall's Rant: Tiger vs. Phil feels like a ripoff
Usually, you have to buy something before you feel like you were ripped off.
The wonder in the marketing of Tiger vs. Phil and “The Match” is how it is making so many people feel as if they are getting ripped off before they’ve shelled out a single penny for the product.
Phil Mickelson gets credit for this miscue.
Apparently, the smartest guy in the room isn’t the smartest marketing guy.
He was a little bit like that telemarketer who teases you into thinking you’ve won a free weekend getaway, only to lead you into the discovery that there’s a shady catch, with fine print and a price tag.
There was something as slippery as snake oil in the original pitch.
In Mickelson’s eagerness to create some excitement, he hinted back during The Players in May about the possibility of a big-money, head-to-head match with Woods. A couple months later, he leaked more details, before it was ready to be fully announced.
So while there was an initial buzz over news of the Thanksgiving weekend matchup, the original pitch set up a real buzzkill when it was later announced that you were only going to get to see it live on pay-per-view.
The news landed with a thud but no price tag. We’re still waiting to see what it’s going to cost when these two meet at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, but anything that feels even slightly inflated now is going to further dampen the original enthusiasm Mickelson created.
Without Woods or Mickelson putting up their own money, this $9 million winner-take-all event was always going to feel more like a money grab than real competition.
When we were expecting to see it on network or cable TV, we didn’t care so much. Tiger's and Phil’s hands would have felt as if they were reaching into corporate America’s pockets. Now, it feels as if they’re digging into ours.
Last week, there was more disappointing news, with the Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting that tickets won’t be sold to the public, that the match at Shadow Creek will only be open to select sponsors and VIPs.
Now there’s a larger insult to the common fan, who can’t help but feel he isn’t worthy or important enough to gain admittance.
Sorry, but that’s how news of a closed gate landed on the heels of the pay-per-view news.
“The Match” was never going to be meaningful golf in any historical sense.
This matchup was never going to rekindle the magic Tiger vs. Phil brought in their epic Duel at Doral in ’05.
The $9 million was never going to buy the legitimacy a major championship or PGA Tour Sunday clash could bring.
It was never going to be more than an exhibition, with no lingering historical significance, but that was OK as quasi silly-season fare on TV on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23), the traditional weekend of the old Skins Game.
“The Match” still has a chance to be meaningful, but first and foremost as entertainment, not real competition. That’s what this was always going to be about, but now the bar is raised.
Pay per view does that.
“You get what you pay for” is an adage that doesn’t apply to free (or already-paid for) TV. It does to pay per view. Expectations go way up when you aren’t just channel surfing to a telecast. So the higher the price tag they end up putting on this showdown, the more entertaining this has to be.
If Phil brings his “A-Game” to his trash talking, and if Tiger can bring some clever repartee, this can still be fun. If the prerecorded segments wedged between shots are insightful, even meaningful in their ability to make us understand these players in ways we didn’t before, this will be worthwhile.
Ultimately, “The Match” is a success if it leaves folks who paid to see it feeling as if they weren’t as ripped off as the people who refused to pay for it. That’s the handicap a history of free golf on TV brings. Welcome to pay-per-view, Tiger and Phil.
Trial date set for drifter charged with killing Barquin Arozamena
AMES, Iowa – A judge has scheduled a January trial for a 22-year-old Iowa drifter charged with killing a top amateur golfer from Spain.
District Judge Bethany Currie ruled Monday that Collin Richards will stand trial Jan. 15 for first-degree murder in the death of Iowa State University student Celia Barquin Arozamena.
Richards entered a written not guilty plea Monday morning and waived his right to a speedy trial. The filing canceled an in-person arraignment hearing that had been scheduled for later Monday.
Investigators say Richards attacked Barquin on Sept. 17 while she was playing a round at a public course in Ames, near the university campus. Her body was found in a pond on the course riddled with stab wounds.
Richards faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.
LeBron's son tries golf, and he might be good at everything
LeBron James' son seems well on his way to a successful basketball career of his own. To wit:
But with just a little work, he could pass on trying to surpass his father and try to take on Tiger and Jack, instead.
Bronny posted this video to Instagram of him in sandals whacking balls off a mat atop a deck into a large body of water, which is the golfer's definition of living your best life.
If you listen closely, at the end of the clip, you can just barely hear someone scream out for a marine biologist.