Notes Majors Treat Players Championship Differently

By Associated PressMarch 29, 2005, 5:00 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- The PGA Tour believes it needs backing from the players and the media for The Players Championship to be regarded as a major, even if its the fifth one.
But it also requires support from the other major golf organizations, and that remains divided.
Augusta National offers the winner of The Players Championship a three-year exemption to the Masters, saying that reflects the importance the PGA Tour and its players place on their showcase event. The other three major champions get a five-year exemption to the Masters.
The British Open gives a five-year exemption to the other major winners, and a three-year exemption to the winner of The Players Championship and the BMW Open, the flagship event in Europe.
We think its a wonderful event, magnificently organized with a great field, Royal & Ancient secretary Peter Dawson said over the weekend. So, its well worthy of its status.
The U.S. Open gives five-year exemptions to major champions, and it recognizes The Players Championship by giving its winner a one-year exemption from qualifying. Players not otherwise eligible must win two PGA Tour events to be exempt from qualifying.
USGA executive director David Fay said a longer exemption has not been part of any discussion over the last several years, and he doesnt know what would happen if the topic was broached.
Lets face it, how an event is perceived requires a number of components, Fay said. What the players think, what the press thinks, and whether the public buys into what the players and press are saying, which is not always the case. At this point in mens golf, youre talking about four (majors).
The PGA of America treats The Players Championship no different from any other PGA Tour event. Every winner on tour is exempt into the PGA Championship, which perennially has the most players from the top 100 in the world ranking.
Chief executive Jim Awtrey is quick to point out that the PGA Championship is the most accommodating to PGA Tour players because its the only major that recognizes any tour victory, and it takes the top 70 from the money list, more if needed to fill the field.
When you look at that, theres no other reason to give anything (to The Players Championship winner), Awtrey said. The champion is always in.
Awtrey said it is not the role of other majors to define what a major championship should be.
We shoot for the top 100 (in the world ranking). We ensure we get the top 70 (on the money list). We invite a player that might not otherwise qualify, he said. Its the media and the players and history that must decide what the final status is.
If the Big Four dont slug it out in the final round of the majors this year, there is always the illustrious Battle at the Bridges.
In what could be the final year for the made-for-TV exhibition, management sources say IMG is trying to get Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson for the July 25 match at The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe.
Two sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Woods and Mickelson already are confirmed and might even be partners in the better-ball match. Els played at the Bridges two years ago when he and Woods lost to Mickelson and Sergio Garcia. Singh has never played in these exhibitions.
Television ratings have plunged since Monday Night Golf began in 1999. The highest rating was 7.6 in 2000 when Garcia beat Woods, but that was the end of singles matches because Woods felt he had nothing to gain. Since then, ratings have slipped all the way to 3.6.
This is the final year of the contract with title sponsor Lincoln Financial.
There was plenty of discussion early this season about power dominating the PGA Tour, and no one will ever dispute that big hitters always have an advantage.
But the last two weeks showed that certain conditions can place a premium on accuracy.
Kenny Perry won the Bay Hill Invitational because he kept it out of the 6-inch rough most of the week. And while the TPC at Sawgrass is not particularly long, it was important to put the ball in the correct spots on the fairway, especially since players were allowed preferred lies in the wet conditions.
Plus, wind and water make every course more difficult to play from the rough.
Fred Funk, the most accurate driver on tour, won The Players Championship. He is No. 181 in driving distance. In fact, the biggest hitter among the top seven at Sawgrass was Tim Herron, who is ranked 59th in distance. Three others'Scott Verplank, Luke Donald and Steve Elkington'are ranked out of the top 100 in driving distance.
AUGUSTA GREENS: Peter Lonard knows how difficult it can be for a newcomer to read the green at Augusta National. He made his Masters debut in 2003 and three-putted the first four greens.
But the real proof came on the ninth hole. Lonard played the first two days with Phil Mickelson, and both missed the green to the right. Lonard was slightly inside him.
The pin was in the back left corner, and we hit it over the back and to the right, Lonard said. I walked around his ball to come over and take a look at the green. I looked over and said to myself, Ive just been standing on his line for the last five minutes.
It worked out fine.
Lonard said Mickelson hit his third shot to within inches of the cup, and never said anything to him.
There are a lot of things there you have to see to believe, he said.
Jay Haas tied the record for most starts at The Players Championship by competing for the 28th year, joining Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite. ... Phil Mickelson will make an appearance at Borders Books in Augusta, Ga., on Monday of the Masters to sign copies of his book, One Magical Sunday (But Winning Isnt Everything). ... Tiger Woods now has gone eight consecutive rounds without breaking 70, his longest streak on the PGA Tour since he went he went 14 straight rounds in the 70s in 1999.
The last time Florida hosted a top golf tour in May was the 1999 Titleholders on the LPGA Tour. The tournament was not finished until Monday because of rain delays.
If its this breezy, I dont go out. You dont even hit balls when its this windy.'Vijay Singh, after playing in 35 mph gusts during the final day of The Players Championship.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Watch: Tiger 'drops mic' in long drive contest

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 20, 2018, 12:44 am

Tiger Woods is in Las Vegas this weekend for the 20th annual Tiger Jam charity event that benefits his foundation.

During the tournament on Saturday afternoon, Woods challenged World Long Drive competitor Troy Mullins to a long drive contest.


A post shared by TROY MULLINS (@trojangoddess) on May 19, 2018 at 1:25pm PDT

Safe to say it looks like Tiger won.

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Sunday showdown for Wise, Leishman at Nelson

By Will GrayMay 19, 2018, 11:40 pm

DALLAS – While the swirling Texas winds may still have their say, the AT&T Byron Nelson is shaping up to be a two-horse race.

With a four-shot gulf between them and their closest pursuers, co-leaders Marc Leishman and Aaron Wise both stepped up to the microphone and insisted the tournament was far from over. That it wouldn’t revert to a match-play situation, even though the two men didn’t face much pressure from the pack down the stretch of the third round and have clearly distanced themselves as the best in the field through 54 holes.

But outside of an outlier scenario or a rogue tornado sweeping across Trinity Forest Golf Club, one of the two will leave with trophy in hand tomorrow night.

That’s in part because of their stellar play to this point, but it’s also a byproduct of the tournament’s new and unconventional layout: at Trinity Forest, big numbers are hard to find.

Even with the winds picking up during the third round and providing the sternest challenge yet, the field combined for only 16 scores of double bogey, and nothing worse than that.

Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

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There’s irony in a course called Trinity Forest offering a tree-less test, sure, but there are also no water hazards in play here. For the most part, players have been maxing out with bogey – and Leishman and Wise have combined for only six of those so far this week.

If someone from the chase pack is going to catch them, the two sharing the pole position aren’t going to do them any favors.

“I don’t really want to give them a chance,” Leishman said. “I’d love to go out and shoot a low one and make Aaron have to shoot a good score tomorrow to beat me, which, I fully expect him to shoot a good score.”

While Leishman has been somewhat of a late bloomer on the PGA Tour, with only one win across his first eight seasons, he now has a golden opportunity to add a third trophy in the last 14 months. He has felt right at home on a sprawling layout that reminds him of a few back in his native Australia, and he’s part of a Down Under invasion on a leaderboard that also includes Matt Jones (-13) and Adam Scott (-9).

While Wise briefly held sole possession of the lead, Leishman has seemingly held an iron grip on the top spot since opening his week with a blistering 61.

“Before last year, I was a pretty slow starter. I always got off to a slow start Thursday, or I’d be fighting to make the cut and have a good weekend to slide into the top 10,” Leishman said. “Getting into that round straight away on the first tee rather than the ninth green or something, which sounds like a really basic thing, but it’s something I didn’t do very well until last year.”

But as Leishman acknowledged, he likely can’t count on a stumble from Wise to help finish off a wire-to-wire victory. As the youngest player to make the cut this week, Wise is facing a challenge of taking down a top-ranked Aussie for the second time in as many starts.

While he came up short at the Wells Fargo Championship, tying for second behind Jason Day, he remains supremely confident that he can put those hard-earned lessons to use this time around.

“I feel like it’s a great opportunity,” Wise said. “It will obviously be a huge day for me. I feel like having one go at it already, I’m a little more confident going into it this time.”

Even among the landscape of the Tour’s promising next wave, Wise stands out as a particularly young gun. Still only 21, he could feasibly be heading to Karsten Creek next week with his Oregon Duck teammates to close out his senior season with another NCAA championship appearance.

But Wise turned pro after winning the NCAA individual title as a sophomore, and he steadily worked his way through the professional ranks: first a win on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada, then one last summer on the Tour.

Now he’s poised to turn what he described as a “lackluster” season before his Quail Hollow runner-up into one that defies even his own expectations.

“Absolutely, I am way ahead of the curve. It’s pretty hard to do what I’ve done at such a young age. Only a few have done it,” Wise said. “I feel like I’m getting some great experience for a kid this young. It’s only going to serve me well down the road.”

An unpredictable Coore-Crenshaw layout will have one more day to star, and outside of Wise the top six names on the leaderboard have at least one Tour win to their credit. But after the two men traded punches on a firm and fast afternoon, it sure feels like the final round is shaping up to offer more of the same.

For Leishman, it’s a chance to add another notch to some quickly expanding credentials; for Wise, it’s an opportunity to win on the one level he has yet to do so.

“It’s golf, at the end of the day. If you play better than everyone else, you’re going to win,” Wise said. “That’s why I play it. That’s why I love this sport, and tomorrow is nothing different.”

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5 thoughts from NCAA Women's Championship Day 2

By Ryan LavnerMay 19, 2018, 11:35 pm

The field is almost halfway through stroke-play qualifying at the NCAA Women’s Championship. Here are some thoughts on the first two days at Karsten Creek:

1. UCLA is on a mission. Just a year ago, the Bruins were headed home from regionals after becoming the first No. 1 seed that failed to advance out of the qualifying tournament. This year, with the core of the team still mostly intact, the Bruins have opened up a five-shot lead on top-ranked Alabama and a comfortable 16-shot cushion over Southern Cal in third place. On one of the most difficult college courses in the country, UCLA has received contributions from all four of its usual counters – standout Lilia Vu shot 68 on Saturday, while Mariel Galdiano posted a 69. Freshman Patty Tavatanakit and junior Bethany Wu also broke par. This is a strong, deep lineup that will pose issues for teams not just in stroke-play qualifying, but also the head-to-head, match-play bracket.

2. What happened to Arkansas? Riding high off their first SEC Championship and a dominant regional performance, the Razorbacks were considered one of the top threats to win the national title. But entering Sunday’s third round of stroke play, they need to hold it together just to ensure they make the top-15 cut. Arkansas is 32 over par through two rounds. The Razorbacks had shot in the 300s just once this season in the play-five, count-four format. Here at Karsten Creek, they’ve now done so in consecutive rounds.

3. The Player of the Year race is heating up. With a decent showing at nationals, Arkansas’ Maria Fassi should have been able to wrap up the Annika Award, given annually to the top player in the country. She has six individual titles, plays a difficult schedule and is well-liked among her peers. But through two rounds she’s a whopping 15 over par while spraying it all over the map. If the Razorbacks don’t survive the 54-hole cut, neither will Fassi. That’d open the door for another player to steal the votes, whether it’s UCLA’s Vu or Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho. There’s a lot still to be decided.

4. Stanford has steadied itself. One of the biggest surprises on Day 1 was the horrendous start by the Cardinal, one of just two teams to advance to match play each of the three years it’s been used to determine a national champion. They were 19 over for their first nine holes Friday, but instead of a blowup round that cost them a shot at the title, they’ve found a way to hang tough. Stanford has been just 4 over par over its last 27 holes. Andrea Lee made only one bogey during her second-round 69, Albane Valenzuela eagled the 18th hole for a 73 and senior leader Shannon Aubert – who has been a part of each postseason push – carded a 74. And so, even with its early struggles, coach Anne Walker once again has Stanford in position to reach match play.

5. Karsten Creek is identifying the best teams. The top teams in the country want a difficult host venue for NCAAs – it helps separate the field and draws an unmistakable line between the contenders and pretenders. Only one team (UCLA) is under par after 36 holes. Fewer than a dozen players are under par individually. The dearth of low scores might not be the greatest advertisement for how talented these players are, but the cream has still risen to the top so far: Five top-10 teams currently sit inside the top 7 on the leaderboard (and that doesn’t even include last year’s NCAA runner-up Northwestern). This is all any coach wants, even if the scores aren’t pretty.

Quick hits: Cheyenne Knight, part of Alabama’s vaunted 1-2-3 punch along with Lauren Stephenson and Kristen Gillman, shot rounds of 70-69 to figure in the mix for individual honors. The junior will turn pro after nationals. …  Arizona’s Bianca Pagdanganan made a hole-in-one on the 11th hole Saturday en route to a 68 that tied the low round of the day. She’s at 5-under 139, same as Knight. ... Defending champion Arizona State, which lost star Linnea Strom to the pro ranks at the halfway point of the season, is 35 over par after two rounds. … Play was delayed for nearly an hour and a half Saturday because of inclement weather.

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Wise (21) makes Leishman (34) feel a little old

By Will GrayMay 19, 2018, 10:55 pm

DALLAS – With the final round of the AT&T Byron Nelson likely to take on a match-play feel, Marc Leishman likes his chances to close out another win – even if his opponent makes him feel a little old.

Leishman, 34, shares the lead at Trinity Forest Golf Club with 21-year-old Aaron Wise, who was the youngest player to make the cut at the tournament’s new venue. The two men will start the final round at 17 under, four shots clear of their next-closest pursuers.

Leishman played the third round alongside Wise and Brian Gay, and he originally didn’t realize just how fresh-faced his fellow co-leader is.

Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos

“He’s a solid player for, I heard this morning he’s only 21. I didn’t realize that,” Leishman said. “I guess I was in high school before he was born, so that’s – I don’t know. You hear guys talk about that all the time but I’ve never said that, I think. Yeah, he’s a good player.”

Wise won the 2016 NCAA individual title while at Oregon, and he opted to turn pro after his sophomore season. While he could have been capping his senior season with a return to the NCAAs next week, Wise is pleased with the career choice and remains eager for a chance to close out his first career PGA Tour win against a seasoned veteran.

“I feel like I’m in a great spot for tomorrow,” Wise said. “I feel like I’m getting some great experience for a kid this young. It’s only going to serve me well down the road.”