Subtle Things Keep Players from Being a Major

By Associated PressMarch 21, 2006, 5:00 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- The argument is the same every spring.
 
The Players Championship has a great golf course that the U.S. television audience knows as well as any. The field is considered the strongest and deepest of the year, one that is not bogged down by amateur hopefuls, club pros or Charles Coody. The TPC at Sawgrass delivers drama like few other stages in golf.

Clearly, it certainly has all the ingredients of a major championship.
 
Another nugget of evidence came Monday morning along A1A, the coastal road that leads to Sawgrass. A man stood off to the side of the road with a cardboard sign that read, 'I NEED TICKETS.'
 
Alas, no money was exchanged. No one even stopped. Come to think of it, there was nowhere near the traffic one finds on Washington Road in Augusta, Ga., or 17-mile Drive when the U.S. Open goes to Pebble Beach.
 
There are other subtleties that separate The Players Championship from the majors.
 
'We don't get an annual report in our locker,' David Toms said Tuesday morning. 'You go to the majors, they don't want you to know what's going on.'
 
Jeff Sluman was asked what he does at the U.S. Open that he doesn't at The Players Championship.
 
'Pray for rain,' he replied.
 
Sluman is responsible for the defining statement on the status of The Players Championship as a major when he said three years ago, 'When you go Denny's and order the Grand Slam breakfast, they don't give you five things, do they? They give you four.'
 
The argument figures to pick up more steam next year when The Players Championship moves to the second week of May, which had less to do with agronomy and a divided TV audience than the PGA Tour's longtime desire for its showcase event to be a classified a major.
 
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem won't publicly lobby for this to be a major, although the move to May was no accident. In his eyes, golf now has five prestigious events in consecutive months, starting with the Masters in April and ending with the PGA Championship in August.
 
But what -- or who -- confers status on a major championship remains a mystery.
 
'I don't think there's any magic in four majors, there can only be four majors, like tennis,' Phil Mickelson said. 'There are four tournaments that tend to stand out with history and challenge and strength of field and so forth. This is becoming one of them.'
 
No argument there.
 
But making The Players Championship a major is not as simple as the PGA Tour declaring it one. The tour did that on the Champions Tour, which has five majors, although no one takes the 50-and-older circuit seriously.
 
Majors have intangible qualities to them.
 
If former Justice Potter Stewart were asked to join this debate, he probably would have said something like, 'I shall not today attempt to define a major, but I know it when I see it.'
 
What keeps The Players Championship from being a major is the very organization that longs for it to be one.
 
The majors are run by four groups -- Augusta National, the USGA, the Royal & Ancient and the PGA of America. Each run one tournament a year with a full field of golf's best players. The Players Championship, on the other hand, is among 41 events run by the PGA Tour. Ultimately, it's a PGA Tour event in a prom dress.
 
Similarly, the U.S. Women's Open dwarfs anything else on the LPGA Tour, and not because of the prize money. It's the only tournament in which the LPGA has no control. It isn't always tougher, but it's different. The LPGA is in charge of the other U.S. majors, and it's hard to tell them apart from the Safeway International.
 
That doesn't make The Players Championship anything less than what it is.
 
'They can dress it up as much as they want, but it's a regular event with a big purse,' Toms said when asked to compare this with the majors. 'It's a great event. It's the best one we have.'
 
The 'we' would be the PGA Tour. And he's right -- it is the tour's best event. But golf is more than the PGA Tour. Likewise, the tour as a whole is just as valuable as the majors.
 
'It's a special week,' Sluman said. 'Will it ever be a major? That's up to the press and time. If you look at it objectively, it's the best field, the toughest in golf. They've got everything in place. It just needs history.'
 
Finchem has done an admirable job reminding players that this is their tournament, and a number of players say they consider this to be a major. Beyond the man trying to get tickets on A1A, there is other evidence that this is a major week. Lucas Glover was among the dozen or so players who came to Sawgrass in the last two weeks for a practice round, and the course was unusually busy on a Monday.
 
And the fact this 'fifth major' discussion has become a rite of spring speaks to the quality. No other tournament gets consideration as a fifth major.
 
Still, the more people talk about it, the more it seems like the PGA Tour is forcing the issue.
 
'If you have to sell it as a major, then it's not a major,' Kevin Sutherland said. 'It's still a great, great tournament.'
 
Go ahead and call it the fifth major, as long as everyone understands that a grand slam scores only four runs. And if you're still confused, ask Sluman to take you to breakfast at Denny's.
 
Related Links:
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    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.

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    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

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    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.”

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    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.”