A Shorter Season an Opportunity to See the World

By Associated PressDecember 20, 2005, 5:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were the most vocal about wanting a shorter season on the PGA Tour, although their motives don't appear to be anything alike.
 
Mickelson has been MIA since the Presidents Cup. He did play two more official events, although not many realized he was at Harding Park (tied for 29th), and he didn't stay long in Las Vegas (missed cut). Lefty also played the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Hawaii, but not before stiffing the sponsors by not showing up for the pro-am.

Woods' busiest time of the year came after the year ended.
 
From the Tour Championship in Atlanta, he went to Shanghai to Japan to Hawaii to Palm Springs before ending his season at his Target World Challenge. Woods then said he needed an offseason, so he chose to take time off during the regular season by skipping Kapalua.
 
The PGA Tour often boasts that its players are independent contractors, which makes the need for a shorter season somewhat curious. Because if that's the case -- and using Woods and Mickelson as examples -- then these independent contractors can make their season as long or as short as they want.
 
But maybe this isn't about the players.
 
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said in August that change was necessary to keep golf compelling in a saturated sports market, and the solution was to create a blockbuster finish. Whether that works remains to be seen; most casual fans only care about four tournaments each year, anyway.
 
If there is something good that comes out of a shorter season, the hope is that more Americans will use the extra time to see the world.
 
The PGA Tour is the biggest and best, if not the richest. Television now brings the stars to living rooms in faraway outposts. Still, there is no greater stimulus for growth than when starved fans overseas can watch players in person.
 
'There have been very few years when I haven't gone out of the country to play an event or two,' said Jim Furyk, who usually heads to South Africa. 'It's interesting to go to new places where fans haven't seen you play. The reaction to my swing is like stepping back in time 10 years ago.'
 
The World Golf Championships were not the answer. Even in its infancy, a dozen top Americans did not go to Spain in 2000 for the American Express Championship, prompting Stuart Appleby to needle the Yankees with this classic line: 'They're like a bag of prawns on a hot Sunday. They don't travel well.'
 
One of the letters Michael Campbell received after winning the U.S. Open -- the first player from New Zealand since Bob Charles in 1963 to win a major -- came from Jack Nicklaus.
 
'He said to me, 'Michael, from now on you have responsibilities to promote this game around the world.' And that's what I'm doing,' Campbell said. 'I think it's important for guys to go around the world and promote this game. I want to share my success with people from different parts of the world.'
 
Woods gets plenty of respect for his game, but also for his willingness to travel.
 
Don't get hung up on appearance money. It's part of the game, and always has been. Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Curtis Strange and Greg Norman all cashed in, as are Woods, Ernie Els and Vijay Singh.
 
But at least they go.
 
'I'm sure the world golf population would like to see more guys travel,' Thomas Bjorn said. 'But as long as one guy travels, that's all we need. Golf around the world is Tiger Woods.'
 
Why should anyone else go?
 
'They miss out by not seeing the world, for their own good,' Bjorn said. 'I can understand why they don't. They've got it very good here, and they get a lot of things delivered to them. ... But you learn that the world is a better place than we make it out to be. There's a lot of really good people, genuine people. You don't understand that until you go to all corners of the world.'
 
David Toms, Chris DiMarco, Jerry Kelly and Mike Weir understand. They traveled extensively when they had no other place to play. Toms doesn't get out much now, and doesn't apologize. He spent the last three years on the PGA Tour policy board, and believes his support should start at home.
 
'I've turned down plenty of money to go other places,' he said. 'One, I don't care for the travel. Two, if it's one of the weeks I'm not going to be home, I'd rather it be on our tour than somewhere in the world.'
 
That said, Toms has never missed a WGC event played overseas, even going to Australia over the holidays in 2001 for the Accenture Match Play Championship.
 
Clearly, travel is a way of life for international players.
 
Els had to leave South Africa, and made his first trip out of the country when he was 14. He came to San Diego for the Junior World and beat a local teenager named Phil Mickelson. The European tour schedule is so global that more events are in China than Scotland.
 
David Howell got a late invitation to the Target World Challenge and came without giving it a second thought. When it was mentioned that London to Los Angeles was a 10-hour flight, he shrugged.
 
'But it's not a big flight. We don't see it like that,' he said. 'There's a golf tournament, you go play.'
 
Americans don't always see it that way.
 
'We fully understand why the guys don't travel because they have it so good at home,' Howell said. 'For the good of the game, the more times top players turn up together at good tournaments around the world, the better it is for the game.'
 
Starting in 2007, they will have ample time.
 
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

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Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

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Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.


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“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

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Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.