Notes Campbells Cameo Tiger Going Global
Take away the majors, World Golf Championships and The Players Championship, and that leaves him only one other PGA Tour event he can play.
Despite winning a major, Campbell's options on the PGA Tour are limited because of a bad year in 2003.
As a New Zealand native, he claimed 'home circuit' status on the PGA Tour two years ago, meaning he did not need a release to compete overseas provided he played at least 15 times on tour. Campbell quit after playing 14 events, and it has cost him.
'The penalty for using the home circuit exception and not satisfying the requirements is immediate forfeiture of membership the following year, and for five years, he can play only 10 tournaments as a nonmember,' said Andy Pazder, the tour's vice president of competition.
Campbell was at a low point in 2003. He made only five cuts in his 14 tour events, and three of those were at WGC events that had no cuts. He was disqualified at The Players Championship after opening with an 89.
'I played (bad),' he said. 'I had no house to go to. I was traveling with the family, two kids. It made me crazy. So I went back to England, to the European tour, and I won about a month later at the Irish Open. That told me it was time to pack up my bags and get back to England.'
Campbell sought a compromise with the tour, asking if he could play 12 or 13 events in 2006. Because he could not commit to 15 tournaments, his request was denied.
The only other regular tournament he will play is the Bay Hill Invitational.
'I want to play Memorial, but I can't play that now because of my restrictions,' Campbell said. 'I feel that my wings have been clipped a little bit. I want to be a global player. I want to play in Europe and Australia and different parts of the world. But I couldn't commit to 15 events.'
Tiger Woods is the most global player among Americans, and his schedule next year might include the most overseas events of his career.
Woods already has committed to the Dubai Desert Classic in early February, and said he will return to Japan to defend his title in the Dunlop Phoenix. He said he probably would return to Shanghai for the HSBC Champions event in November, and he is leaning toward playing the HSBC World Match Play Championship in England.
'And don't forget the American Express,' Woods said, noting that it will be played next year just north of London. Woods is the defending champion.
Throw in the British Open, and that could be six overseas tournaments. The most he has played in any year, including the British Open and American Express Championship, is five times in 1998, 1999 and 2002.
WOMEN'S WORLD CUP
It looks as if the only way Cristie Kerr will ever to get to the Women's World Cup is to be the highest-ranked American on the LPGA Tour money list.
Kerr finished fifth on the list last year, one spot behind Meg Mallon, but Mallon chose 30th-ranked Beth Daniel as her partner in South Africa. Mallon and Daniel are good friends and have played in a half-dozen matches together at the Solheim Cup.
Kerr finished third on the money list this year, one spot behind 19-year-old rookie Paula Creamer, who will go to South Africa with Natalie Gulbis.
'We've got similar games and get along,' Creamer said. 'I'm going over with someone I feel comfortable with.'
Creamer went 3-1-1 at the Solheim Cup to lead the Americans to victory over Europe. One of those points came with Kerr, a 1-up victory in better ball against Catriona Matthew and Carin Koch.
Creamer and Gulbis played together in the Lexus Cup earlier this month, winning a better-ball match.
Europeans still have not cracked the Big Five in the world ranking, with Sergio Garcia of Spain the best hope at No. 6. But the outlook is much brighter than a year ago.
Padraig Harrington once attributed the European slide to a mere cycle, and he might be right. A year ago, only four Europeans were among the top 20 in the world ranking. Now there are eight in the top 22, from the resurgent Colin Montgomerie to the younger players such as Luke Donald and David Howell.
'We didn't have many in the top 20 at the start of the year. Now there are a whole bunch,' Montgomerie said. 'We've done well to get back into it now. We went through a period in the early '90s where Europe held the top five places in the world rankings, and now we're coming back.'
The best measure might be at the Ryder Cup, where the United States typically has far more players at the top of the rankings than Europe.
Kenny Perry was playing a new ball with an old name at the Target World Challenge.
TaylorMade is getting back into the golf ball market, although only a handful of its top players are expected to be using it next year. Part of that depends on which player's contract with Titleist has expired.
Perry is one of them.
'I had good tests with it,' he said. 'It had the same ball spin, same launch trajectory. My ball speed was averaging 168 (mph) with the Titleist and it was 172 with that one. I've found they're a little softer chipping, but it flighted the same as a Titleist. I thought I was playing the same golf ball, to tell you the truth.'
Perry showed the ball with a Maxfli logo on it, but said it was supposed to have TaylorMade's logo. TaylorMade recently acquired Maxfli.
Those in green jackets can expect a menu of steak and chicken at the Masters champions dinner at Augusta National this year. Tiger Woods, who has to pick up the tab for the Tuesday dinner, said he probably would serve the same thing he did in 2003. ... Morgan Pressel has signed endorsement deals with Callaway Golf and Polo. ... Vijay Singh has decided to play the Qatar Masters the last week in January, meaning he will miss the Buick Invitational. Singh tied for 24th and missed the cut his last two trips to Torrey Pines.
STAT OF THE WEEK
The points difference between Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh at Nos. 1 and 2 in the world ranking is equal to the difference of Singh and Peter Lonard at No. 46.
'It's like being a young player all over again. We're going to have to figure it all out.' -- Jim Furyk on where and when to play when the new schedule starts in 2007.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Murray fixes swing flaw, recovers momentum
SAN ANTONIO - Grayson Murray fixed a flaw in his swing and hit the ball well enough that blustery conditions weren't an issue for him Thursday in the Valero Texas Open.
Coming off a missed cut at Hilton Head last week, Murray made seven birdies for a 5-under 67 and a one-shot lead. His only mistake was a double bogey from a greenside bunker on the par-3 seventh hole.
''Just the fact I did give myself enough opportunities today for birdie, it took a lot of pressure off,'' Murray said.
Of the five players at 68, only Chesson Hadley played in the morning side of the draw, and he called it among his best rounds of the year because of gusts. The wind died in the afternoon and scoring improved slightly on the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio. Keegan Bradley, Ryan Moore, Billy Horschel and Matt Atkins each posted 68. Horschel and Moore played bogey-free.
''Struck the ball really well, something that we've been working hard on,'' Horschel said. ''Could have been better, yeah. I didn't really make anything out there today. But I'm happy with it.''
Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the course, played the Texas Open for the first time since 2010 and shot a 74. Adam Scott failed to make a birdie in his round of 75. Scott is at No. 59 in the world and needs to stay in the top 60 by May 21 to be exempt for the U.S. Open.
Harris English was in the group at 69, while two-time Texas Open champion Zach Johnson, Nick Watney and Brandt Snedeker were among those at 70. Johnson saved his round by going 5 under over his final five holes, starting with a 12-foot eagle putt on the par-5 14th hole. He birdied the last three.
Murray was coming off a pair of top 15s at Bay Hill and the Houston Open when his game got away from him last week in the RBC Heritage, and he shot 74-70 to miss the cut. He got that sorted out in the five days between teeing it up in San Antonio.
He said he was coming down too steep, which meant he would flip his hands and hit a sharp draw or pull out of it and hit it short and right.
''I was hitting each club 10 yards shorter than I normally do, and you can't play like that because your caddie is trying to give you a number and a club, and you keep hitting these bad shots or keep coming up short,'' Murray said. ''I got back to the basics with the setup and the takeaway, got my club in a better position at the top, which kind of frees my downswing. Then I can start going at it.''
Even so, Murray thought he wasted his good start - three birdies in his first six holes - when his bunker shot at No. 7 came out with no spin and rolled off the green into a deep swale. He hit his third short to about 7 feet, but missed the putt and took double bogey.
''I would have loved to limit that to a bogey because bogeys don't really kill you - doubles are the ones that now you've got to have an eagle or two birdies to come back with, and out here it's kind of tough to make birdies,'' Murray said. ''But I kept my head. My caddie keeps me very positive out there, that's why I think we could finish 4 under the last nine holes.''
Only 34 players in the 156-man field managed to break par.
Horschel missed four birdie chances inside 18 feet on the back nine. What pleased him the most was the way he struck the ball, particularly after his tie for fifth last week at the RBC Heritage. Horschel was one shot behind going into the last round and closed with a 72.
But he's all about momentum, and he can only hope this is the start of one of his runs. Horschel won the FedEx Cup in 2014 when he finished second and won the final two playoff events.
''I'm a big momentum player. I've got to get the train moving forward,'' he said. ''I've always been a guy who gets on a little roll, get that train moving and jump in that winner's circle.''
LPGA back in L.A.: Inbee Park leads by 1
LOS ANGELES - Inbee Park's flirtation with retirement is in the rear-view mirror.
Backed by a large contingent of South Korean fans, Park shot a 5-under 66 for a one-shot lead Thursday in the opening round of the HUGEL-JTBC LA Open in the LPGA's return to Los Angeles after a 13-year absence.
Showers ended shortly before Park's threesome, including second-ranked Lexi Thompson, teed off at windy Wilshire Country Club just south of Hollywood.
Using a new putter, Park birdied four consecutive holes on the back nine before a bogey on the par-4 17th. She quickly recovered and rolled in birdie putts on the second and fifth holes to finish off her round.
''I never played a tournament outside Korea having this much Korean supporters out,'' Park said. ''I almost feel like I'm playing back home. It's almost like a little Korea.''
That applies to the food, too, with nearby Koreatown's restaurants beckoning.
''Too many,'' Park said.
The third-ranked Park banished the blade-style putter she used in her Founders Cup victory last month in Phoenix, a playoff loss in the ANA Inspiration and a tie for third last week in Hawaii. She went back to one that feels more comfortable and has brought her success in the past.
''Last week was just an awkward week where I missed a lot of short ones and I just wasn't really comfortable with the putter,'' Park said, ''so I just wanted to have a different look.''
The 29-year-old Hall of Famer recently said she was 50-50 about retiring before returning to the tour in early March after a six-month break. Momentum has been going her way ever since.
Marina Alex was second. Thompson was one of seven players at 68 in partly sunny and unseasonable temperatures in the low 60s.
Alex tied Park with a birdie on No. 11. The American dropped a stroke with a bogey on the par-5 13th before rallying with a birdie on No. 14 to share the lead.
Alex found trouble on the par-4 17th. Her ball crossed over a winding creek, bounced and then rolled into the water, leaving Alex looking for it. Eventually, she salvaged a bogey to drop a shot behind Park. After a bad tee shot on 18, Alex managed a par to close at 67.
''I made a lot of the putts that I shouldn't, I wouldn't have expected to make,'' she said. ''I made two great saves on 17 and 18. Kind of got away with some not-so-solid golf shots in the beginning, and I capitalized on some great putts.''
Thompson returned from a two-week break after finishing tied for 20th at the ANA Inspiration, the year's first major.
She bogeyed her second hole, the par-4, 401-yard 11th, before settling down and birdieing four of the next eight holes, including the 14th, 15th and 16th.
''I changed a little thing that slipped my mind that I was working on earlier in the year,'' said Thompson, declining to share the change in her putting technique. ''I don't want to jinx it.''
ANA winner Pernilla Lundberg was among those in the logjam after a 68.
Natalie Gulbis was among five players tied for 10th at 69. Playing sparingly the last two years, Gulbis put together a round that included four birdies and two bogeys.
Top-ranked Shanshan Feng struggled to a 74 with five bogeys and two birdies.
The venerable course with views of the Hollywood sign and Griffith Observatory wasn't any kinder to eighth-ranked Cristie Kerr and Michelle Wie.
Both had up-and-down rounds that included three bogeys and a double-bogey on No. 10 for Kerr and five bogeys, including three in a row, for Wie. Wie, ranked 14th, had a few putts that lipped out.
Horschel (68) builds on momentum at Valero
Billy Horschel only ever needs to see a faint glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.
While some players require a slow ascent from missed cuts to contending on the weekend, Horschel's switches between the two can often be drastic. Last year he missed three straight cuts before defeating Jason Day in a playoff to win the AT&T Byron Nelson, a turnaround that Horschel said "still shocks me to this day."
The veteran is at it again, having missed five of six cuts prior to last week's RBC Heritage. But a few tweaks quickly produced results, as Horschel tied for fifth at Harbour Town. He wasted no time in building on that momentum with a bogey-free, 4-under 68 to open the Valero Texas Open that left him one shot behind Grayson Murray.
"I'm a big momentum player. I've got to get the train moving forward," Horschel told reporters Thursday. "I've always been a guy who gets on a little roll, get that train moving and jump into the winner's circle. So yeah, it would have been great to win last week, but it was just nice to play four really good rounds of golf."
Many big names tend to skip this week's stop at TPC San Antonio, but Horschel has managed to thrive on the difficult layout in recent years. He finished third in both 2013 and 2015, and tied for fourth in 2016.
With a return next week to the Zurich Classic of New Orleans where he notched his first career win in 2013 and a title defense in Dallas on the horizon, Horschel believes he's turning things around at just the right time.
"Gets the momentum going, carry it into this week, next week, which I've had a lot of success at," Horschel said. "Really the rest of the year, from here on in I have a lot of really good events I've played well in."
Three years later, PXG launches new iron
Three years is a long time between launches of club lines, but Bob Parsons, founder and CEO of PXG, says his company had a very good reason for waiting that long to introduce its second-generation irons.
“Three years ago, when we introduced our first generation 0311 iron, we made a commitment that we would not release a product unless it was significantly better than our existing product,” Parsons said. “:Our GEN2 irons are better than our GEN1 irons in every respect. We believe it’s the best iron ever made, and the second-best iron ever made is our GEN1 iron.”
PXG’s 0311 GEN2 irons, which officially went on sale today, feature what the company says is the world’s thinnest clubface. They have a forged 8620 soft carbon steel body and PXG’s signature weighting technology. The hollow clubheads are filled with a new polymer material that PXG says not only dampens vibration, but also produces higher ball speeds and thus more distance.
The irons come in four “collections” – Tour Performance, Players, Xtreme Forgiveness and Super Game Improvement.
Cost is $400 per iron, or $500 for PXG’s “Extreme Dark” finish. Price includes custom fitting. For more information, visit www.pxg.com.