Notes Prize money stuck at Skins Game
OMeara capped off his greatest season with eight skins to capture $430,000. Not only was that the third biggest check of his career (behind the Masters and British Open that season), only eight PGA Tour events offered a bigger first-place prize.
A decade later, just about everything has changed but the size of the purse.
The average PGA Tour purse is now $5.8 million, and even if one of the four players ' Phil Mickelson, K.J. Choi, Rocco Mediate and defending champion Stephen Ames ' wins all the skins, the $1 million would be equivalent to 105th on the Tour money list.
Imagine if the purse were $3.5 million. They could play $75,000 per skin for the first six holes, $150,000 for the next six holes, $250,000 for the next five holes and a $900,000 skin for the 18th.
I dont know where it (the money) would come from, said Barry Frank, vice chairman of IMG Media, which produces the LG Skins Game. Production costs have gone up tremendously. The cost of doing this is enormous. We have a 50-50 partner (ABC Sports). They dont want to raise the purse. Its difficult for us to see it.
Besides, Frank says the four players invited arent exactly slumming it.
It still seems if you can win $250,000 for a weekends work, even for these guys, its not chopped liver, he said. You dont have to beat 150 guys to win $1 million as you do in some tournaments.
The 26th edition of the LG Skins Game starts Saturday at Indian Wells, and for a field that has been sliding in star power over the last few years, it did well to attract Mickelson.
Lefty is good friends with Mediate, a chatterbox who is a modern-day Lee Trevino minus six majors. And having Choi in the field should go over well with the South Korean-based title sponsor, especially with LGs contract expiring this year.
Mickelson will be playing the Skins Game for the first time since 2003.
He was interested, Frank said. We cant get No. 1, so you take the best you can get. And hes the best we can get. Hes got a lot of star power, and hell bring some viewers.
Mickelson says the Skins Game is the only event he plays that he thinks about money standing over a putt.
One of my best memories of the Skins Game was watching Nicklaus on 18 at Desert Highlands make a putt for $240,000 and throw his putter up in the air, Mickelson said. I thought that was a pretty cool moment.
That was in 1984. That was almost as much money as he made all year, and it remains the largest check of his golf career.
THE OTHER NOMINEES: Bernhard Langer is bound to win at least one award this year on the Champions Tour.
The two-time Masters champion was the only player to be listed on the ballot as a candidate for player of the year and rookie of the year. Langer won three times and captured the Champions Tour money title with $1.65 million.
Other nominees for player of the year are major champions Jay Haas, Fred Funk, Eduardo Romero, along with Loren Robert. For rookie of the year, Langer joins John Cook, Jeff Sluman, Mark Wiebe and Gene Jones.
On the Nationwide Tour, the nominees were the top four players on the money list, headed by Matt Bettencourt.
WHOS NUMBER TWO?: Phil Mickelson, who has slipped to No. 3 in the world, was asked last week during a conference call to promote the LG Skins Game whether Sergio Garcia deserved to be No. 2.
Garcia had one victory and three runner-up finishes on the PGA Tour and two victories and a second place in Europe. Mickelson had two PGA Tour victories and one runner-up. Garcia tied for second in the PGA Championship, while Mickelson was top 20 in all four majors.
I wont answer that directly, Mickelson said. But I think that hes played some wonderful golf this year. I havent played to the level that I want as far as wins. Ill be looking to improve on that.
Mickelson then was asked if a player with no majors deserves to be No. 2, and this was far easier to answer.
I think for a long time, I had no majors, Mickelson said.
GOING LOW: No one has to remind Bill Haas that sometimes going low isnt good enough to win.
Haas finished at No. 104 on the money list with just over $1 million, but he led the PGA Tour by having six tournaments in which he shot all four rounds in the 60s without winning. If thats not enough, Haas didnt even finish in the top 10 four of those times.
Mark Wilson and rookie Michael Letzig had four tournaments with all four rounds in the 60s without winning. Kevin Streelman, another rookie, had three all-60s tournaments without winning, and he led the PGA Tour with 51 rounds in the 60s.
DIVOTS: Barbara Douglas has been appointed to a one-year term as chair of USGAs womens committee. The FBR Open raised $8,652,542 for local charities in the Phoenix area, an increase of about $800,000 from the previous year and more than any PGA Tour event has ever donated. Ten players on the Nationwide Tour earned at least $300,000 this year. Patrick Sheehan led the PGA Tour with 124 rounds played this year and averaged $6,499 per round. Tiger Woods, who played only six events this year, averaged $222,115 per round. Jason Gore led the PGA Tour in total driving but failed to finish in the top 125 on the money list, the sixth time in the last seven years that has happened.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Shigeki Maruyama withdrew from five PGA Tour events, more than any other player.
FINAL WORD: Their job ultimately is to play golf. We give them a great office and a good salary. ' Tom Pulchinski, tournament director of the $6.3 million Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club.
Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship
Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.
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McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.
McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.
But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.
“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.
“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.
“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”
McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.
“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”
McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.
How The Open cut line is determined
Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.
The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:
• After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.
• There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.
• There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.
The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.
The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major
Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:
What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.
What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.
How old is it?
It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.
Where is it played?
There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.
Where will it be played this year?
At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.
Who has won The Open on that course?
Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).
Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?
Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.
Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?
This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.
Who has won this event the most?
Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.
What about the Morrises?
Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.
Have players from any particular country dominated?
In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.
Who is this year's defending champion?
That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.
What is the trophy called?
The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).
Which Opens have been the most memorable?
Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.
When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?
Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.