Players Say Thanks to Military
The purpose: Saying thanks to sailors and marines.
The Naval Media Center was at Quail Hollow on Tuesday rounding up players for the commercials. The PSAs will be broadcast on the American Forces Network and on the Direct-To-Sailor TV Network over the next two years.
Colin Montgomerie announced last week that he and his wife, Eimear, have separated 'with a view to divorce.'
'This has been a desperately difficult decision for us both and is a painful time for the family,' the Montgomeries said in a statement. They have been married 14 years and have three children.
Montgomerie has always been tabloid fodder in Britain. Fueling this frenzy is actor Hugh Grant ('Four Weddings and a Funeral'), a frequent golf partner with Montgomerie in pro-celebrity tournaments. Grant was said to have given Mrs. Montgomerie support during the marital strain.
Those close to both sides say the friendship is purely platonic.
Montgomerie pulled out of an Asian tour event last week to meet with his wife, but said he would keep his schedule. He is playing this week in the British Masters.
'As anyone would, I have to carry on with my job,' said Montgomerie, who is 45th in the world ranking and on the bubble to qualify for the U.S. Open and British Open.
CHINESE MAKING INROADS
The largest country is starting to make small inroads in professional golf.
Zhang Lian-Wei became the first player from China to play in the Masters last month, when he shot 77-72 and missed the cut by one shot.
Last weekend, Hong Mei Yang became the first Chinese player to win a tournament in the United States by capturing the IOS Futures Golf Classic in El Paso, Texas, the developmental circuit for the LPGA Tour.
Hong Mei, Chun Wang and Li Chun Zhang were chosen to train in America two years ago. All three qualified for the Futures Tour last year, while Yang missed the 54-hole cut at the LPGA Tour qualifying tournament.
'They will become like Yao Ming in basketball and they will have a very big impact in China for women's golf,' said James Chen, who coaches them at Oak Valley Golf Academy in Beaumont, Calif. 'These three are the pioneers.'
The recent success can't hurt golf's bid to become an Olympic sport.
USGA executive director David Fay, who represents the World Amateur Golf Council in Olympic negotiations, said it is not too late for golf to be included at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
A key date is July 2005, when the IOC meets in Singapore to review the Olympic program. It has been said that golf cannot be added unless other sports are dropped.
Fay said adding a new sport to the program usually requires seven years.
'But they have a provision where they had can make changes whenever,' he said. 'The key to me is if they get a sense from the Beijing organizers that they want golf. That would go a long way.'
The news of two Iowa State golfers injured in a car accident Sunday hit home to officials at the John Deere Classic.
The PGA Tour event gave a sponsor's exemption last year to sophomore Tyler Swanson. He opened with rounds of 71-71 to make the cut, and wound up in 64th place at 3-over 291.
Tournament spokesman Barry Cronin said Swanson had written a letter asking for another exemption, and the John Deere Classic was leaning toward giving him one.
Swanson and freshman Curtis Foster were on Interstate 80 when the accident occurred. The latest word from Iowa State is that Swanson was in a coma with a head injury. Foster was in fair condition.
Reality TV has come to golf.
Eight amateurs have been selected to two teams that will start on opposite ends of the country and play 18 of the PGA Tour's most famous holes in 12 states over nine days. Each team travels in a motor home, and they don't know where they're going until the end of each day.
Then, they are given their next course assignment and have to race the clock to get there and play the hole. The lowest cumulative team score will get the winning team an all-expenses trip to the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
'Reality television has become such a part of our culture and golf is a sport played by 37 million Americans, so it made sense to join the two,' said Stu Nicol, vice president and executive producer of PGA Tour Productions. 'It's a golf road trip we'd all love to take.'
The show is called 'PGA Tour 18 - Golf's Ultimate Road Trip.' CBS Sports golf analyst David Feherty is the host, and the three one-hour shows will be broadcast Saturday, May 22 and June 6.
The U.S. Amateur likely won't have defending champion Nick Flanagan and runner-up Casey Wittenberg returning this year. Flanagan said he will turn pro after the British Open, and all signs point toward Wittenberg, who tied for 14th at the Masters, turning pro after the U.S. Open. Several agents have contacted PGA Tour events seeking sponsor exemptions on behalf of Wittenberg. ... The PGA Tour is broadening its marketing machine by setting up an office in New York this summer and hiring the William Morris Agency to get its players more involved in the entertainment business. ... Kenny Perry, a seven-time winner on the PGA Tour, was inducted last week into the Kentucky Hall of Fame.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Phil Mickelson has 16 consecutive rounds at par or better, his longest streak in one season since the end of the 2002.
'I played better when I was 17.' - Aree Song, the 54-hole leader at the Chick-Fil-A Charity Championship who closed with a 78 the day after she turned 18.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
LPGA's new Q-Series to offer deferrals for amateurs
The LPGA’s new Q-Series, which takes the place of the final stage of Q-School beginning this year, will come with a revolutionary new twist for amateurs.
For the first time, the LPGA will offer deferrals that will allow amateurs to win tour membership in December but delay turning pro until the following June or July, tour commissioner Mike Whan told GolfChannel.com.
It’s a notable change, because the deferral will allow a collegiate player to earn tour membership at the end of this year but retain amateur status to finish out her collegiate spring season next year, before joining the tour.
“We haven’t done that in the past, because we didn’t want an onslaught, where every player in college is trying to join the tour,” Whan said.
The way it worked in the past, a collegian could advance through the final stage of Q-School, but if that player earned the right to a tour card and wanted to take up membership, she had to declare after the final round that she was turning pro. It meant the player would leave her college team in the middle of the school year. It was a particularly difficult decision for players who earned conditional LPGA status, and it played havoc with the makeup of some college teams.
Whan said the revamped Q-Series format won’t create the collegiate stampede that deferrals might have in the past.
“It will take a unique talent to show up at the first stage of Q-School and say, ‘I’ll see you at Q-Series,’” Whan said. “There won’t be a lot of amateurs who make it there.”
Under the new qualifying format, there will continue to be a first and second stage of Q-School, but it will be much harder to advance to the final stage, now known Q-Series.
Under the old format, about 80 players advanced from the second stage to the Q-School finals. Under the new format, only 20 to 30 players from the second stage will advance to the Q-Series, and only a portion of those are likely to be collegians.
Under the new format, a maximum of 108 players will meet at the Q-Series finals, where a minimum of 45 tour cards will be awarded after 144 holes of competition, played over two weeks on two different courses. The field will include players who finished 101st to 150th and ties on the final LPGA money list, and players who finished 11th to 30th and ties on the final Symetra Tour money list. The field will also include up to 10 players from among the top 75 of the Rolex Women’s World Rankings and the top five players on the Golfweek Women’s Collegiate Rankings.
“We feel if you make it to the Q-Series finals as a college player, you are probably among the best of the best, and we ought to give you the opportunity to finish the college year,” Whan said.
University of Washington coach Mary Lou Mulflur said she would prefer amateurs not be allowed to compete at Q-School, but she called this a workable compromise.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” Mulflur said. “It’s better than the way it’s been in the past. That was hard, because it broke up teams.”
Mulflur said she disliked the tough position the former policy put college players in at the final stage of Q-School, where they had to decide at event’s end whether to turn pro and accept tour membership.
“I can’t imagine being a kid in that position, and I’ve had a couple kids in that position,” Mulflur said. “It’s hard on everybody, the player, the family and the coaches. You hear about coaches standing there begging a kid not to turn pro, and that’s just not the way it should be, for the coach or the player.”
Mulflur agreed with Whan that the new Q-Series format should limit the number of collegians who have a chance to win tour cards.
“I believe it’s a good compromise, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out going forward,” Mulflur said. “Kudos to the commissioner for giving kids this option.”
Whan said collegians who take deferrals will be counseled.
“We will sit down with them and their families and explain the risks,” Whan said. “If you take a deferral and start playing on July 15, you might find yourself back in Q-Series again later that year, because you may not have enough time.”
Tour still focused on security after death of suspected Austin bomber
AUSTIN, Texas – Although the suspect in the wave of Austin-area bombings was killed early Wednesday, the PGA Tour plans to continue heightened security measures at this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club.
According to various news outlets, Mark Anthony Conditt has been identified as the bombings suspect, and he was killed by an explosion inside his car in Round Rock, Texas, which is 19 miles north of Austin Country Club.
“We do not comment on the specifics of our security measures, but we are continuing to work in close collaboration with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in Austin to ensure the safety of our players and fans at this week’s tournament,” the Tour said in a statement. “Regardless of the recent developments, our heightened security procedures will remain in place through the remainder of the week.”
Authorities believe Conditt is responsible for the five explosions that killed two people and injured five others in Austin or south-central Texas since March 2.
Play began Wednesday at the Match Play.
Monahan addresses alcohol, fan behavior at events
AUSTIN, Texas – Fan behavior has become a hot-button topic on the PGA Tour in recent weeks, with Rory McIlroy suggesting on Saturday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational the circuit should “limit alcohol sales on the course.”
The Tour’s policy is to stop selling alcohol an hour before the end of play, which is normally around 5 p.m., and on Wednesday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play commissioner Jay Monahan said it’s something the Tour is monitoring.
“When you have people who aren’t behaving properly and they’ve had too much alcohol, then I agree [with McIlroy],” Monahan said. “In those incidences those people who are making it uncomfortable for a player alcohol sales should be cut off.”
Fan behavior became an issue with some players when Tiger Woods returned to competition at last month’s Genesis Open. During the final round of the Honda Classic Justin Thomas had a fan removed when he yelled for Thomas’ tee shot at the par-4 16th hole to “get in the bunker.”
Monahan declined to address Thomas’ situation at PGA National specifically, but he did seem to suggest that as interest grows and the Tour continues to attract more mainstream sports crowds, vocal fans will continue to be the norm.
“I believe that there was more that went into it that preceded and in a situation like that we’re hopeful our players will reach out to our security staff and they can handle that,” Monahan said. “[But] yelling, ‘get in the bunker,’ that’s part of what our players have to accept. In any sport, you go to an away game, in any other sport, and people aren’t rooting for you. Sometimes out here you’re going to have fans that aren’t rooting for you, but they can’t interfere with what you’re trying to do competitively.”
Senden playing first event since son's brain tumor
John Senden is back inside the ropes for the first time in nearly a year at this week's Chitimacha Louisiana Open on the Web.com Tour.
Senden took a leave of absence from professional golf in April, when his teenage son, Jacob, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He didn't touch a club for nearly four months as Jacob endured six rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, a gauntlet that stretched from April until mid-November.
But Senden told PGATour.com that his son's tumor has shrunk from the size of a thumbnail to the size of a pinky nail, and after a promising MRI in January he decided to plan his comeback.
"I haven't really played in 12 months, but in that time Jacob has really, really hung tough," Senden said. "His whole body was getting slammed with all these treatments, and he was so strong in his whole attitude and his whole body. Just really getting through the whole thing. He was tough."
Senden was granted a family crisis exemption by the Tour, and he'll have 13 starts to earn 310 FedExCup points to retain his playing privileges for the 2018-19 season. He is allowed five Web.com "rehabilitation" starts as part of the exemption, but will reportedly only make one this week before returning to the PGA Tour at the RBC Heritage, followed by starts in San Antonio, Charlotte and Dallas.
Senden, 46, has won twice on Tour, most recently the 2014 Valspar Championship.