Notes Presidents Cup Headed to Riviera
Now it has an offer that might be tough to refuse.
Riviera Country Club, the venerable course off Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, met with tour officials Monday about hosting the matches in 2009.
'They're keenly interested in taking a look at this,' said Michael Bodney, senior vice president of championship management for the PGA Tour. 'It's all very preliminary, but they unsolicited wrote us a letter to host it.'
Riviera general manager Michael Yamaki, who met with Bodney, said the cultural diversity in Los Angeles would be a perfect fit for the Presidents Cup. The matches, stretched over four days, feature the United States against an International team from everywhere but Europe.
'I think it's an easy sell for us,' Yamaki said. 'And the format is good because the fans know the person they're supporting will be there all four days and will play, not be a bench-warmer.'
The Presidents Cup, which will be played in 2007 at Royal Montreal, has been held at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in northern Virginia each time it has been played in the United States. Tour officials like the connection to Washington, and former presidents have served as honorary chairmen.
But with a tighter schedule in 2007, the Booz Allen Classic has been bumped to the fall. One problem with keeping the Presidents Cup at RTJ is having two tournaments in the Washington area only a few weeks apart.
Meanwhile, Riviera has enough cache to give the Presidents Cup an extra boost.
It first hosted the Los Angeles Open in 1929 and became known as 'Hogan's Alley' when Ben Hogan won three times in 1947 and 1948, including a two-shot victory over Jimmy Demaret in the '48 U.S. Open.
The PGA Championship was played twice at Riviera. Hal Sutton went wire-to-wire to hold off Jack Nicklaus in 1983, and Steve Elkington won in a playoff over Colin Montgomerie in 1995.
Riviera has asked to host another U.S. Open, although its future was put in doubt when the USGA awarded the 2012 championship to The Olympic Club in San Francisco, giving California three U.S. Opens in a five-year span.
One concern the USGA had was space for corporate chalets.
'We talked a little about that,' Bodney said. 'One thing they don't utilize are those lower tennis courts. There's a lot of room down there, and there seems to be enough room for a good TV compound.'
One other issue was local interest. The gallery was noticeably thin during the '95 PGA Championship.
'You wonder about the L.A. market,' Bodney said. 'You've seen what's happened the last two majors, and that causes you to stand back a little bit.'
The weekend before the Super Bowl and Tiger Woods making his debut with a victory added to a winning combination for CBS Sports, which reported a 146 percent increase in overnight ratings from the final round of the Buick Invitational.
The overnight drew a 5.9 rating, up from 2.4 a year ago when the Woods overtook Tom Lehman and Luke Donald. Last year's tournament, on ABC Sports, was delayed each day by fog.
Sunday's overnight rating was the highest for the final round at Torrey Pines since it drew a 6.9 in 2003, when Woods returned from knee surgery to beat Phil Mickelson.
CHAMPIONS TOUR CHANGE
One of the five majors on the Champions Tour is getting a new sponsor, a new date and a new golf course.
Constellation Energy will be title sponsor of the Senior Players Championship, replacing Ford Motor Co. Traditionally played in July at the TPC of Michigan, it will move to Oct. 4-7 at Baltimore Country Club.
It's the second tournament in which Ford, which recently announced 30,000 job cuts, has not renewed its sponsorship. It also had the PGA Tour at Doral, which will become a World Golf Championship in 2007 with a new title sponsor. Ford's endorsement deal with Phil Mickelson expires in April.
For the Champions Tour, the move allows for more time between its majors. This year, the Senior Players Championship is the week after the U.S. Senior Open and the week before the Senior British Open.
ROOKIE ON THE RISE
Nathan Green did not get much attention when he finished fifth in his PGA Tour debut at the Sony Open, primarily because he was one shot behind big-hitting Bubba Watson.
Green, a 30-year-old tour rookie from Australia, followed that by getting into a three-way playoff at Buick Invitational, won by Tiger Woods. His tie for second was worth $448,800, giving him $652,800 in two starts. That should be more than enough to secure his PGA Tour card for next year, the first goal for rookies.
Better yet, it will send the Nationwide Tour grad toward the top of the reshuffle after the West Coast Swing and make him eligible for some of the more exclusive events, such as Bay Hill.
'The goal was to make some money before the re-rank so I could play some tournaments,' Green said. 'To come over and achieve what I've achieved, I couldn't have scripted it any better.'
TORREY IN '08
USGA chief agronomist Tim Moraghan was at Torrey Pines again last week, looking over a South Course that will host the U.S. Open in two years.
As expected, it will play as a par 70 for the Open with two par 5s being converted to par 4s by using forward tees on the 560-yard sixth hole and the 571-yard 18th. Bunkering will be reconfigured to account for the new tees.
The final tune up will be the '08 Buick Invitational, although that almost didn't happen.
Tournament director Tom Wilson said the USGA first proposed moving the Buick Invitational to another course in San Diego until it was pointed out there was precedence -- the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am was played in 2000, and the U.S. Open was held at Pebble four months later.
Then, the USGA proposed holding the final two rounds on the North Course until Wilson said the PGA Tour stepped in and it was decided to leave the final two rounds on the South Course.
Jose Maria Olazabal and Nathan Green became the 48th and 49th players worldwide to finish second to Tiger Woods. ... The Buick Invitational was the first time this year that the winner did not have a share of the 54-hole lead. ... The world rankings are so tight from No. 3 to No. 6. that if Sergio Garcia won the Buick Invitational, he would have moved to No. 3. ... Lucas Glover, Jason Gore, Sean O'Hair, Carl Pettersson and Wes Short Jr. are the only PGA Tour players to have played in all four events this year. Glover has three top 10s. Pettersson and O'Hair are taking this week off.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Tiger Woods has won his last three official tournaments in a playoff -- the American Express Championship, the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan and the Buick Invitational.
'I was out there mowing lawns and gardening. I wasn't lighting matches.' -- Australian rookie Nathan Green, who used to work at a crematorium managed by his parents.
Copyright 2006 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.