Plenty of International Flavor at Riviera

By Associated PressFebruary 14, 2007, 5:00 pm
2007 Nissan OpenLOS ANGELES -- Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Sergio Garcia are among international players making their first PGA TOUR start of 2007 at the Nissan Open, and it's no coincidence that Riviera has the deepest field on tour this year.
 
Even without Tiger Woods.
 
The last few years has brought an unstoppable shift in the world of golf, and now a majority of the top players in the world rankings come from abroad. Sure, Woods and Jim Furyk give the Americans a 1-2 punch at the top, and the way Phil Mickelson won at Pebble Beach last week, it might not be long before he makes it a threesome.
 
Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia is making his 2007 PGA TOUR debut at the Nissan Open. (Wire Images)
Top to bottom, however, golf has gone global.
 
'Over here, we play for a lot of money,' Els said Wednesday. 'So that draws a lot more players to come and play the U.S. tour. It means that the depth of the field becomes a lot stronger than anywhere else in the world. And subsequently, you have a stronger tour. But you've got a much broader base of players from around the world.'
 
Consider the Nissan Open, which starts Thursday with Rory Sabbatini -- a South African -- as the defending champion.
 
The tournament boasts 11 of the top 13 players in the world, and all but two of them (Furyk and Mickelson) carry passports. Els, Goosen, Garcia and Paul Casey have been playing in the desert, but it was in Qatar, Dubai or Abu Dhabi, not Phoenix or Palm Springs.
 
Another example of international power -- more world ranking points were available at Abu Dhabi than the Bob Hope Classic.
 
It's quite a turnaround from when the world rankings first were introduced two decades ago. The top three players were European (Bernhard Langer, Seve Ballesteros and Sandy Lyle), but there were 31 Americans among the top 50.
 
Now, it's top-heavy with Americans, but there are only 13 others in the top 50.
 
'The golf world has changed its face a little bit,' said David Howell of England. 'The U.S. tour, pretty much most weeks there are more international players than U.S. players, which obviously would have been unheard of 10, 15 years ago. I would imagine that's good for golf.'
 
His numbers were slightly off. The Americans still have a 2-to-1 advantage at Riviera in the 144-man field.
 
Then again, the numbers favor international players in other ways, for they have won the Nissan Open the last four years, and six times in the last 10 years. Adam Scott's victory wasn't official in 2005 because it was only 36 holes (plus a playoff) due to rain.
 
That shouldn't be a problem this year.
 
The forecast called for mostly sunshine this week, and players already can tell the difference. Not only are the greens firm and quick, but the rough isn't quite as deep as it has been in recent years.
 
'Hopefully, the conditions stay as they are because the course is a lot firmer and faster than we've seen it in the past,' Scott said. 'I think that's going to really require some shotmaking this week. I'm excited about that.'
 
Aside from Woods, the only player missing from the top 10 is Dubai Desert Classic winner Henrik Stenson of Sweden.
 
The reason so many international players -- especially those with European Tour membership -- are at Riviera is to get acclimated to the U.S. surroundings heading into the Accenture Match Play Championship next week outside Tucson, Ariz.
 
The conditions figure to be nothing alike, however.
 
Match Play moves to a new desert course in Arizona, where the greens figure to be smooth and the fairways generous. The Nissan Open is held at storied Riviera with its kikuya fairways and poa annua greens that can get bumpy in the afternoon. That's the biggest reason Woods decided to skip his hometown tournament for only the second time as a pro.
 
Not than anyone misses him terribly.
 
Els was asked if Woods' absence changes the outlook, especially considering the world's No. 1 player has won his last seven starts on the PGA TOUR.
 
'Him not being here?' Els asked to clarify.
 
Then he smiled.
 
'Yes, absolutely,' he said. 'I mean, whenever Tiger plays, he basically shows up with his game, and he is basically effective. So yes, it changes a little bit. Seeing that Phil won last week, he's probably the guy to beat this week. When he gets hot, he's as good as anybody. So is Adam, Retief. I can go down the list. We've got a great field here.
 
'But yes, it makes it a little bit different with Tiger not being here.'
 
Els won at Riviera in 1999, and probably should have won in 1995 at the PGA Championship until he played conservatively in the final round and got left behind. Scott followed that unofficial victory in '05 by making a late charge to finish second at Riviera a year ago.
 
Goosen is simply looking for a chance.
 
He didn't even make it to the first tee the last time he was here, in 2005, having overslept and missing his pro-am time by some 10 minutes. Under PGA TOUR policy, those who don't make the pro-am give up their spot in the field.
 
'The last time I was here, I only played one practice round,' Goosen said. 'But I brought six alarm clocks with me this week. I'm not going to be sleeping so well before Wednesday and Thursday.'
 
Alarm clocks could come in handy in other ways. If Americans aren't aware of it already, this week might be another wake-up call that the international players are no longer occasional guests on the PGA TOUR.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • Full Coverage - Nissan Open
     
    Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

    By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

    NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

    Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

    The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

    Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

    Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

    Getty Images

    Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

    Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

    Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

    Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

    4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

    4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

    4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

    4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

    4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

    5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

    5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

    5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

    5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

    5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

    6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

    6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

    6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

    6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

    6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

    6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

    7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

    7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

    7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

    7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

    7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

    7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

    8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

    8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

    8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

    8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

    8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

    8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

    9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

    9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

    9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

    9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

    9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

    10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

    10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

    10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

    10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

    10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

    10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

    11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

    Getty Images

    Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

    He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

    “There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

    Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

    “I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

    Getty Images

    Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

    Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

    Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

    “I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

    Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

    “It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

    More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

    “I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”