Notes Vijay Clinches Player of the Year

By Associated PressSeptember 28, 2004, 4:00 pm
While it was a mere formality, Vijay Singh made it official. His victory Sunday at the 84 Lumber Classic clinched his first PGA of America player of the year award.
 
Singh's eighth victory, including a major, gives him 140 points in the standings. That is enough to mathematically eliminate Phil Mickelson (second in the standings), even if Lefty were to win the final five tournaments of the year.
 
The points-based system awards 30 points for a major, 20 points for The Players Championship and 10 points for all other tour events. The 41-year-old Fijian also gets 20 points for having the lowest scoring average and 20 points for leading the PGA Tour money list.
 
Tiger Woods won the PGA of America award the last five years, and six out of the last seven. Singh becomes the first international player to win the award since Greg Norman in 1995.
 
The PGA Tour player of the year award is a vote of the players which takes place after the Tour Championship, although that figures to be a tap-in for Singh.
 
The only major award still up for grabs is the Vardon Trophy for the lowest adjusted scoring average. Singh leads that category at 68.92, with Mickelson at 68.94. Woods and Ernie Els (69.06) are still in the running.
 
Singh, Woods Have Ties to 84 Lumber
Appearance money is not allowed on the PGA Tour, but there were murmurs when the field at the 84 Lumber Classic in Pennsylvania originally included Vijay Singh and Tiger Woods, a rare 1-2 punch in a fall tournament.
 
Both players have financial ties to 84 Lumber founder Joe Hardy.
 
Woods agreed in 1997 to play three charity events for a reported $1.7 million on the Mystic Rock course. At the time, Hardy was trying to lure a PGA Tour event to his Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, but only one of the 18-hole exhibitions was played. Five years later, Nemacolin had a tour stop.
 
Woods decided to play in the second edition of the 84 Lumber Classic, although he wound up pulling out by saying he was too tired from the Ryder Cup.
 
Singh played in the 84 Lumber Classic last year, then returned in June to play a 9-hole exhibition with Rocco Mediate on a revamped Mystic Rock course. Singh and Hardy hit it off, and the Fijian signed an endorsement deal with 84 Lumber on the eve of the tournament.
 
The deals might smack of backdoor appearance money, but the PGA Tour says they are above board.
 
'We have several players with a personal services contract with companies that are title sponsors,' said Henry Hughes, chief of operations for the PGA Tour. 'We do not let them enter into contracts that include language tied to tournament appearances or commitments. We're comfortable (Singh's) contract does not have that language.'
 
What looks like appearance money is simply good business.
 
Woods renewed his five-year deal with Buick earlier this year. He has played in at least two of the four Buick-sponsored tour events since 1999, although Woods has said tournament appearances are not in his contract.
 
Ditto for Phil Mickelson, who signed with Ford about the time the automaker signed up as title sponsor for Doral. Mickelson played Doral in March for the first time in four years.
 
John Daly also has an endorsement deal with 84 Lumber. Along with playing the tournament, he has become one of the biggest promoters of the event.
 
'It makes good business sense (for players) to be there,' Hughes said. 'But we don't allow contractual requirements that tie into competing.'
 
PRESIDENTIAL BOOST
Hamilton Golf and Country Club was a big hit with the players when it hosted the Canadian Open last year, proof that a course doesn't have to be long (6,985 yards at par 70) to be a good test (the winning score was 8-under 272).
 
Now, there are two reasons why the Canadian Open might expect a strong field when it returns to Hamilton.
 
The Royal Canadian Golf Association and the PGA Tour are talking about going back to Hamilton in 2007, just one week before the Presidents Cup is played at Royal Montreal.
 
Hamilton is far enough away from Montreal that it wouldn't overload fans and corporate sponsors. And it might be incentive for Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Adam Scott to play golf's third-oldest national championship as a tuneup.
 
DIVOTS
Five winners on the PGA Tour this year - Heath Slocum, Jonathan Byrd, Vaughn Taylor, Craig Parry and Bart Bryant - are outside the top 50 on the money list. ... Jack Nicklaus designed seven courses used on the PGA Tour this year, more than any other architect. Two of his courses will be in play this week at Mount Juliet in Ireland (American Express) and Annandale Golf Club (Southern Farm Bureau Classic).
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
All three of Adam Scott's victories on the PGA Tour have come on TPC courses - '03 Deutsche Bank (TPC of Boston), Booz Allen Classic (TPC at Avenel) and The Players Championship (TPC at Sawgrass).
 
FINAL WORD
'I'm going to clean out my locker, shake hands, kiss babies and sign autographs.' - Christina Kim, on how she would celebrate her first LPGA Tour victory.
 
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Schauffele just fine being the underdog

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Jordan Spieth: 7/4

Xander Schauffele: 5/1

Kevin Kisner: 11/2

Tiger Woods: 14/1

Francesco Molinari: 14/1

Rory McIlroy: 14/1

Kevin Chappell: 20/1

Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

Alex Noren: 25/1

Zach Johnson: 30/1

Justin Rose: 30/1

Matt Kuchar: 40/1

Webb Simpson: 50/1

Adam Scott: 80/1

Tony Finau: 80/1

Charley Hoffman: 100/1

Austin Cook: 100/1

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Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

“This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

“I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

“I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

“We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

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Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”