Economy hurting players sponsors

By Doug FergusonMarch 17, 2010, 2:25 am

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Some golfers are losing that NASCAR look on their apparel with fewer sponsorship deals. Geoff Ogilvy and Vijay Singh are among those with no visible logo on their shirts.

Chalk that up to the economy. Without question, players are getting paid less even when they do have endorsement deals.

Chubby Chandler, head of London-based International Sports Management with players such as Ernie Els, Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy in his stable, has discovered that during recent negotiations. What looks like a substandard offer turns out to be more than fair.

“If you get 50 percent of what you had two years ago, you’re doing pretty good,” Chandler said during the CA Championship.

That makes the PGA Tour’s next TV negotiation even more interesting, especially with key industry officials suggesting that the golf market has shrunk by at least 30 percent.

“We’ve all had to realign our expectations,” Chandler said.

WGC ADDITION?: The PGA Tour proudly points to Shanghai as an example that not all of the World Golf Championships are staged in America. That would be easier to accept if the tour actually counted the HSBC Champions as an official event.

Phil Mickelson received $1.2 million and 66 points toward the world ranking, although he was mildly annoyed that this WGC event didn’t count toward his PGA Tour victory total.

The status of the HSBC Champions as an official PGA Tour event could be changing.

“I do think it’s something we should look at it, and we are looking at it,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. “I can argue that it’s not a big deal, and I think that’s probably the case. But still, it does raise the questions, ‘Shouldn’t there be a consistent approach to the WGCs?’ We are in the process of taking another look at that.”

Finchem said the International Federation of PGA Tours, which oversees the WGCs, is meeting during the British Open. He said the PGA Tour policy board would have to approve Shanghai as an official event, as would the other tours.

“It might not be resolved until the July board meeting, if there’s going to be a change,” Finchem said. “It’s under discussion now. To get it finalized would be the middle of the summer.”

One option could be to count it as official PGA Tour victory provided the winner is a PGA Tour member.
Among the more popular golf tournaments in Florida – one without much notoriety – is the Pro-Member at Seminole, the renowned course where Ben Hogan and others used to prepare for the Masters. Bubba Watson won in his debut this year with a 63, noting on Twitter that his team shot 61.

Another such event is in the works with just as much cache – the Pine Valley Pro-Member.

Pine Valley, perennially atop most lists of greatest American courses, plans to stage its first Pro-Member on July 28. The date makes sense because it’s the Monday of the AT&T National at Aronomink, a short drive away in the Philadelphia area.

But that’s bad news for Brad Faxon, a Pine Valley member who won’t be playing this year. It’s the same day as the CVS Charity Classic, which he hosts with Billy Andrade. The event has raised more than $4 million for New England charities.

Faxon said the Pine Valley Pro-Member won’t have any bearing on which players he can attract to this tournament because the CVS Charity Classic already has 12 of the 20 players, and he is in the market for three LPGA players.

Besides, Faxon said such Pro-Members are not always about tour players. Some of them are PGA professionals, and he said the Philadelphia section is among the best in the country. Chubby Chandler, the agent for Ernie Els and Lee Westwood, played as a pro at Seminole last week (he played the European Tour long ago).

“I just wish it wasn’t the same day because I want to play,” Faxon said. “It’s a wicked cool thing.”

Faxon said he hasn’t been a member long enough, nor has he had the time, to arrange for several PGA Tour players to come to Pine Valley for no other reason than he’s curious how they would play.

Faxon said his best score is a 67 from the member tees, although on a soft day with easy pins, he suspects a 63 or 64 is out there.

“Ben Crenshaw once said it was made more for match play than stroke play,” Faxon said. “Pine Valley is hard.”

Some pros might get a chance to find out for themselves.
Imagine the surprise of Adam Scott to learn about Sam Snead winning back-to-back at Pebble Beach – not that Snead wasn’t a capable golfer, but that the first victory was only 18 holes.

Scott does not get credit for his victory at Riviera in 2005 because rain shortened the tournament to 36 holes over five days. He won in a playoff over Chad Campbell.

The PGA Tour in 1998 stopped counting as official any victory that was not at least 54 holes. The policy board determined that 36 holes was not enough to clearly identify the best player that week.

Neal Lancaster still gets credit for winning the Byron Nelson in 1994 and Michael Bradley won the old Buick Challenge in 1996, both contested over 36 holes, both ending in a playoff.

“It’s kind of funny,” Scott said. “Maybe if I were to win a few majors before the end of my career, they’ll count L.A.”

Probably not. The Tour traditionally does not add or remove victories retroactively, except for the British Open.
The PGA Tour now has 12 winners in 12 tournaments this year, the longest stretch without a multiple winner since 2004 when Phil Mickelson picked up his second victory in the 15th event. … European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie is among who received exemptions to the Arnold Palmer Invitational. … Despite winning a PGA Tour event last week (Puerto Rico), Derek Lamely is still third in the FedEx Cup standings among rookies, behind Rickie Fowler and Alex Prugh.
Robert Allenby last week at Doral made an eagle on a par 3, a par 4 and a par 5.
“Tiger was thinking about the Grand Slam when he was a kid. Angel was thinking about food.” – Charlie Epps, swing coach for Angel Cabrera of Argentina, who grew up in poverty.

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Watch: You have to see this golf swing to believe it

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 23, 2018, 3:29 pm

Ho-sung Choi is a 44-year-old South Korean touring pro who plays primarily on the Japan Golf Tour. This week he's competing in the Asian Tour's Kolon Korea Open, where he is in second place, two shots off the lead, after three rounds. This is especially significant because the Korea Open is an Open Qualiffying event, meaning he could qualify for this year's Open Championship.

That, however, is not why we're writing about Mr. Choi. The video above is why:

We're with Charlie here: We can't wait for Brandel's take on this swing.

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Lopez fires flawless 63 for lead in Arkansas

By Associated PressJune 23, 2018, 12:41 am

ROGERS, Ark. – Since its first year on the LPGA Tour in 2007, the crowds at the NW Arkansas Championship have belonged to Stacy Lewis.

Another former University of Arkansas star staked her claim as the hometown favorite Friday when Gaby Lopez shot a career-low 8-under 63 to take the first-round lead at Pinnacle Country Club.

Like Lewis, the two-time winner of the tournament, Lopez starred as a three-time All-American for the Razorbacks before joining the LPGA Tour in 2016. Despite flashes of potential, Lopez had yet to join Lewis among the ranks of the world's best - missing the cut in her last two tournaments and entering this week ranked 136th in the world.

For a day, at least, the Mexican standout felt right at home atop the leaderboard in her adopted home state.

''I feel like home,'' Lopez said. ''I feel so, so comfortable out here, because I feel that everyone and every single person out here is just rooting for us.''

Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship

Moriya Jutanugarn was a stroke back along with Minjee Lee, Catriona Matthew, Nasa Hataoka, Lizette Salas, Mirim Lee and Aditi Ashok. Six others finished at 6 under on a day when only 26 of the 144 players finished over par, thanks to some mid-week rain that softened the greens and calm skies throughout the day.

Jutanugarn finished second at the tournament last year and is trying to win for the second time on the LPGA Tour this year. Her younger sister, Ariya, is already a two-time winner this year and shot an opening-round 66.

Lewis, the former world No. 1 who won the event in 2007 in 2014, finished with a 66. She's expecting her first child in early November

Defending champion So Yeon Ryu, coming off a victory Sunday in Michigan, shot a 67.

Friday was Lopez's long-awaited day to standout, though, much to the delight of the pro-Arkansas crowd.

After missing the cut her last two times out, Lopez took some time off and returned home to Mexico City to rest her mind and work on her game. The work paid off with two straight birdies to open her round and a 6-under 30 on her front nine.

Lopez needed only 25 putts and finished two shots off the course record of 61, and she overcame a poor drive on the par-5 18th to finish with a par and keep her place at the top of the leaderboard. Her previous low score was a 64 last year, and she matched her career best by finishing at 8 under.

''(Rest) is a key that no one really truly understands until you're out here,'' Lopez said. ''... Sometimes resting is actually the part you've got to work on.''

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Harman rides hot putter to Travelers lead

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 12:28 am

CROMWELL, Conn. – There are plenty of big names gathered for the Travelers Championship, and through two rounds they’re all chasing Brian Harman.

Harman opened with a 6-under 64, then carded a 66 during Friday’s morning wave to become the only player to finish the first two rounds in double digits under par. The southpaw is currently riding a hot putter, leading the field in strokes gained: putting while rolling in 12 birdies and an eagle through his first 36 holes.

“Putted great today,” said Harman, who ranks 22nd on Tour this season in putting. “Got out of position a couple of times, but I was able to get myself good looks at it. I started hitting the ball really well coming down the stretch and made a few birdies.”

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Harman, 31, has won twice on the PGA Tour, most recently at last year’s Wells Fargo Championship. While he doesn’t have a win this year, he started his season in the fall by reeling off five straight finishes of T-8 or better to quickly install himself as one of the leaders in the season-long points race.

Now topping a leaderboard that includes the likes of Jason Day, Bubba Watson and Rory McIlroy, he realizes that he’ll have his work cut out for him if he’s going to leave Connecticut with trophy No. 3.

“The putter has been really good so far, but I’ve been in position a lot. I’ve had a lot of good looks at it,” Harman said. “I’m just able to put a little pressure on the course right now, which is nice.”

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10-second rule costs Zach Johnson a stroke

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 12:06 am

CROMWELL, Conn. – Zach Johnson heads into the weekend one shot back at the Travelers Championship, but he was a matter of seconds away from being tied for the lead.

Johnson had an 18-foot birdie putt on No. 3 at TPC River Highlands, his 12th hole of the day, but left the ball hanging on the lip. As Johnson walked up to tap the ball in, it oscillated on the edge and eventually fell in without being hit.

Was it a birdie, or a par?

According to the Rules of Golf, and much to Johnson’s chagrin, the answer was a par. Players are afforded “reasonable” time to walk to the hole, and after that they are allowed to wait for 10 seconds to see if the ball drops of its own accord. After that, it either becomes holed by a player’s stroke, or falls in and leads to a one-shot penalty, resulting in the same score as if the player had hit it.

According to Mark Russell, PGA Tour vice president of rules and competitions, Johnson’s wait time until the ball fell in was between 16 and 18 seconds.

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“Once he putts the ball, he’s got a reasonable amount of time to reach the hole,” Russell said. “Then once he reaches the hole, he’s got 10 seconds. After 10 seconds, the ball is deemed to be at rest.”

Johnson tried to emphasize the fact that the ball was oscillating as he stood over it, and even asked rules officials if marking his ball on the edge of the hole would have yielded a “bonus 10 seconds.” But after signing for a 2-under 68 that brought him within a shot of leader Brian Harman, the veteran took the ruling in stride.

“The 10-second rule has always been there. Vague to some degree,” Johnson said. “The bottom line is I went to tap it in after 10 seconds and the ball was moving. At that point, even if the ball is moving, it’s deemed to be at rest because it’s on the lip. Don’t ask me why, but that’s just the way it is.”

While Johnson brushed off any thoughts of the golf gods conspiring against him on the lip, he was beaming with pride about an unconventional par he made on No. 17 en route to a bogey-free round. Johnson sailed his tee shot well right into the water, but after consulting his options he decided to drop on the far side of the hazard near the 16th tee box.

His subsequent approach from 234 yards rolled to within 8 feet, and he calmly drained the putt for an unexpected save.

“I got a great lie. Just opened up a 4-hybrid, and it started over the grandstands and drew in there,” Johnson said. “That’s as good of an up-and-down as I’ve witnessed, or performed.”