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Monahan: Woods' tourney on, sponsored or not

By Doug FergusonOctober 3, 2017, 7:57 pm

JERSEY CITY, N.J. - Tiger Woods' tournament outside Washington is still talking to potential title sponsors, including Quicken Loans, which did not renew. But it's on the schedule for the new season as The National, and PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan says it's not coming off.

''We made the commitment,'' Monahan said. ''Our players are going to be showing up there and we're going to be playing for that amount of money ($7.1 million).

The tournament, run by the Tiger Woods Foundation, originally was scheduled to return to Congressional for 2018. But with uncertainly over title sponsorship, the PGA Tour decided to opt out of its contract with the club for 2018 and 2020.

Why opt out with such certainty of playing in 2018? Monahan said there is no guarantee the National will be played in 2019 and beyond. Being tied to a golf course - even one as storied as Congressional - might limit any negotiations.

''Let's say we didn't renew with Quicken and there was another sponsor and they had a different objective. They wanted to be at a different golf course, a different part of town. They wanted to do something different,'' Monahan said. ''You can't be wed to one golf course that might limit your ability to get a deal done.''

The tournament remains in contact with Quicken Loans, and there are conversations with other potential sponsors.

Still on the table is a scenario in which Detroit-based Quicken Loans might be interested in having the PGA Tour closer to its headquarters. But that would be after 2018. Monahan went from ''highly, highly likely'' to ''it's for sure in D.C. - I can say that'' for the National to be held in Washington this season, with or without a title sponsor.

The course has not been determined. It was played last year at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm.

The Houston Open also is without a title sponsor. Finding replacements is a priority for the PGA Tour, along with concern that Bridgestone might not renew its title sponsorship after next year of the World Golf Championship event at Firestone.


PRESIDENTS CUP DOWN UNDER: The PGA Tour announced that the dates for the 2019 Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne will be Dec. 12-15, two days later than the conclusion of the matches the first time it went to Australia in 1998.

Still to be determined is the cutoff for qualifying for the team, and when to announce the captains' picks.

This will be the fourth time the Presidents Cup goes to the Southern Hemisphere, but the first since the PGA Tour went to a wraparound season.

This year, the 10 automatic spots were determined on Sept. 4 after the second FedEx Cup playoff event - three weeks ahead of the matches. If the cutoff is the Tour Championship in 2019 - that presumably will be Labor Day - then the U.S. team would be set three months before the opening tee shot.

When the PGA Tour first took the Presidents Cup to Australia, the cutoff for qualifying was the Tour Championship. But that was on Nov. 1, just five weeks ahead of the Presidents Cup.

The cutoff for qualifying again was the Tour Championship when the matches were at Royal Melbourne in 2011. That was Sept. 25, two months before the Presidents Cup (Nov. 22-25). That was when the Tour had the Fall Series to allow players a chance to earn their cards. Tiger Woods was a captain's pick and wound up playing the Frys.com Open to get his game sharp. Several Americans also played the week before in either the Singapore Open or Australian Open.

What to expect in 2019? Tour officials have not begun discussions. It wouldn't make any sense to decide a team three months before the Presidents Cup. Then again, it could lead players to add fall events to the schedule to avoid being left off.


PERFECT STORM: Ben Crane rolled the dice by staying home from the Web.com Tour Championship and wound up losing.

Until he realized he didn't lose much at all.

Crane already had a bizarre time in the Web.Com Tour Finals when he was penalized eight shots and eventually disqualified for having practice stickers on his clubs that he forgot to remove. He was No. 18 on the Finals money list and seemingly in good shape to finish among the top 25, which are awarded PGA Tour cards. So he pulled out of the final event, spending his weekend at the Presidents Cup for Citi.

Jonathan Byrd won. Sam Saunders and Shawn Stefani tied for second. Before he knew it, eight players did well enough to move past him. And it didn't help that eight others withdrew because they already had cards locked up. When the Tour Championship was pushed to Monday, they wanted to get to California for the Thursday start of the new season at the Safeway Open.

Bad news? Not really.

With his conditional status - Crane finished 147th in the FedEx Cup - he figured he would miss only a couple of tournaments he normally plays. And then it got better. Four players ahead of him in the FedExCup earned cards at the Web.com Finals. Five others already were exempt through winning within the last two years.

Now, he's not in much different position than if he had gone to Florida for the final event and earned his card.


LPGA MANTRA: The slogan for the LPGA is ''See Why It's Different.''

But there's another one at LPGA headquarters, mainly used internally, that might be even more meaningful. Heather Daly-Donofrio, the chief communications and operations officer, signs off her emails with ''Act Like a Founder.''

''It's part of our internal culture,'' he said. ''We're here because of our 13 founders, and our job is to carry that forward with the same grit and determination. Everyone has really latched onto it.''

It's more than just a motto.

For the last four years, the staff nominates an employee for the ''Act Like a Founder'' award, and the management team chooses the winner. The staff member is honored at the holiday party, gets a plaque signed by the living founders and wins a trip to the Founders Cup, where they go to the dinner honoring pioneers.

''For the people who have won it,'' Daly-Donofrio said, ''it's emotional when they get it.''


DIVOTS: Michelle Wie is sufficiently healed from her appendectomy and plans to play the final six LPGA events. Five of them are in Asia, starting next week in South Korea, wrapped up by the CME Group Tour Championship in Florida. ... Dustin Johnson finished at No. 3 on the PGA Tour money list last season. But he led the Tour in average earnings per start at $436,610 in his 20 tournaments. ... Thomas Bjorn and Arjun Atwal will be captains at the EurAsia Cup, to be played Jan. 12-14 in Malaysia. ... Americans won 33 of the 48 events on the PGA Tour this year, up from 24 out of 47 the previous year.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Since the start of the wraparound season in October 2013, Brendan Steele last year is the only player to win the season-opening tournament and not reach the Tour Championship.

FINAL WORD: ''They got better at doing what Europe does than what Europe did. And we paid the price.'' - Geoff Ogilvy on the U.S. team spirit at the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup in recent years.

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Goat visor propels Na to Colonial lead

By Will GrayMay 25, 2018, 1:29 am

Jason Dufner officially has some company in the headwear free agency wing of the PGA Tour.

Like Dufner, Kevin Na is now open to wear whatever he wants on his head at tournaments, as his visor sponsorship with Titleist ended earlier this month. He finished T-6 at the AT&T Byron Nelson in his second tournament as a free agent, and this week at the Fort Worth Invitational he's once again wearing a simple white visor with a picture of a goat.

"I bought it at The Players Championship for $22 with the 30 percent discount that they give the Tour players," Na told reporters. "It's very nice."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Perhaps a change in headwear was just what Na needed to jumpstart his game. Last week's result in Dallas was his first top-35 finish in his last six events dating back to February, and he built upon that momentum with an 8-under 62 to take a one-shot lead over Charley Hoffman after the first round at Colonial Country Club.

While many sports fans know the "GOAT" acronym to stand for "Greatest Of All Time," it's a definition that the veteran Na only learned about earlier this year.

"I do social media, but they kept calling Tiger the GOAT. I go, 'Man, why do they keep calling Tiger the GOAT? That's just mean,'" Na said. "Then I realized it meant greatest of all time. Thinking of getting it signed by Jack (Nicklaus) next week (at the Memorial)."

Marc Dull (Florida State Golf Association)

Golden: Dull rude, caddie 'inebriated' at Florida Mid-Am

By Ryan LavnerMay 25, 2018, 1:03 am

Jeff Golden has offered more detail on what transpired at the Florida Mid-Amateur Championship, writing in a long statement on Twitter that Marc Dull’s caddie was “inebriated” before he allegedly sucker-punched Golden in the face.

In a story first reported by GolfChannel.com, Charlotte County Police responded to a call May 13 after Golden claimed that he’d been assaulted by his opponent’s caddie in the parking lot of Coral Creek Club, where he was competing in the Mid-Am finals. Golden told police that the caddie, Brandon Hibbs, struck him because of a rules dispute earlier in the round. Hibbs denied any involvement, and police found no evidence of an attack.

Golden posted a 910-word statement on the alleged incident on his Twitter account on Thursday night. He said that he wanted to provide more detail because “others have posed some valid questions about the series of events that led to me withdrawing” from what was an all-square match with two holes to play.

Golden wrote that both Dull and Hibbs were rude and disruptive during the match, and that “alcohol appeared to be influencing [Hibbs’] behavior.”

Dull, who caddies at Streamsong Resort in Florida, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“I’ve never seen an opposing caddie engage in so much conversation with a competitor,” Golden wrote. “On the eighth hole I had become extremely frustrated when my opponent and caddie were talking and moving. I expressed my disappointment with their etiquette to the rules official in our group.”

On the ninth hole, Golden informed the official that he believed Hibbs had broken the rules by offering advice on his putt. Golden won the hole by concession to move 2 up at the turn, and Hibbs removed himself from the match and returned to the clubhouse.

Golden wrote that after the penalty, the match “turned even nastier, with more negative comments from my opponent on the 10th tee.” He added that he conceded Dull’s 15-foot birdie putt on No. 10 because he was “sick of the abuse from my opponent, and I wanted the match to resemble what you would expect of a FSGA final.”

Though there were no witnesses to the alleged attack and police found little evidence, save for “some redness on the inside of [Golden’s] lip,” Golden wrote that the inside of his mouth was bleeding, his face was “throbbing” and his hand was also injured from bracing his fall. X-rays and CT scans over the past week all came back negative, he said.

Golden reiterated that he was disappointed with the FSGA’s decision to accept his concession in the final match. He had recommended that they suspend the event and resume it “at a later time.”

“The FSGA has one job, and that’s to follow the Rules of Golf,” Golden wrote. “Unfortunately, there’s no rule for an inebriated ‘ex-caddie’ punching a player in a match-play rain delay with no witnesses.”

Asked last week about his organization’s alcohol policy during events, FSGA executive director Jim Demick said that excessive consumption is “highly discouraged, but it falls more broadly under the rules of etiquette and player behavior.”

Dull, 32, was back in the news Wednesday, after he and partner Chip Brooke reached the finals of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. They lost to high schoolers Cole Hammer and Garrett Barber, 4 and 3.

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D. Kang, M. Jutanugarn in four-way tie at Volvik

By Associated PressMay 25, 2018, 12:50 am

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Amy Olson crossed paths with her coach, Ron Stockton, on her walk to the 18th tee at the Volvik Championship.

''Make it another even $20,'' Stockton said.

The coach was already prepared to give his client $35 for making seven birdies - $5 each - and wanted to take her mind off the bogey she just had at 17.

Olson closed the first round with a 6-under 66, putting her into the lead she ended up sharing later Thursday with Moriya Jutanugarn , Caroline Masson and Danielle Kang.

Do small, cash incentives really help a professional golfer?

''Absolutely,'' said Olson, who graduated from North Dakota State with an accounting degree. ''He'll tell you I'm a little bit of a hustler there.''

Olson will have to keep making birdies - and petty cash - to hold her position at Travis Pointe Country Club.

Jessica Korda, Minjee Lee, Nasa Hataoka, Lindy Duncan, Morgan Pressel, Megan Khang and Jodi Ewart Shadoff were a stroke back at 67 and six others were to shots back.

Ariya Jutanugarn, the Kingsmill Championship winner last week in Virginia, opened with a 69.

The Jutanugarn sisters are Korda are among six players with a chance to become the LPGA Tour's first two-time winner this year.

Moriya Jutanugarn won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles.

''What I feel is more relaxed now,'' she said. ''And, of course I like looking forward for my next one.''

Olson, meanwhile, is hoping to extend the LPGA Tour's streak of having a new winner in each of its 12 tournaments this year.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


She knows how to win. It just has been a while since it has happened.

Olson set an NCAA record with 20 wins, breaking the mark set by LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, but has struggled to have much success since turning pro in 2013.

She has not finished best finish was a tie for seventh and that was four years ago. She was in contention to win the ANA Inspiration two months ago, but an even-par 72 dropped her into a tie for ninth place.

If the North Dakota player wins the Volvik Championship, she will earn a spot in the U.S. Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama. If Olson finishes second or lower in the 144-player field, she will enjoy an off week with her husband, Grant, who coaches linebackers at Indiana State.

''I'll make the best of it either way,'' she said.

Olson was at her best in the opening round on the front nine, closing it with four birdies in a six-hole stretch. Her ball rolled just enough to slowly drop in the cup for birdie on the par-3, 184-yard 13th. She had three birdies in five-hole stretch on the back, nearly making her second hole-in-one of the year at the par-3, 180-yard 16th. A short putt gave her a two-stroke lead, but it was cut to one after pulling and misreading a 6-foot putt to bogey the 17th.

Even if she doesn't hold on to win the tournament, Olson is on pace to have her best year on the LPGA Tour. She is No. 39 on the money list after finishing 97th, 119th, 81st and 80th in her first four years.

''Two years ago, I started working with Ron Stockton and whenever you make a change, it doesn't show up right away,'' Olson said. ''That first year was tough, but we've turned a corner and I've just found a lot of consistency in the last year. And, it's a lot of fun to go out there and play golf a little more stress free.''

Stockton helped her stay relaxed, walking along the ropes during her morning round.

''Maybe some people feel a little more pressure when their coach is there,'' she said. ''I'm like, 'Great. If he sees the mistake, he knows what can go wrong and we can go fix it.' So, I like having his eyes on me.''

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Club pro part of 6-way tie atop Sr. PGA

By Associated PressMay 25, 2018, 12:04 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Nevada club professional Stuart Smith admitted sleeping on the lead of the biggest tournament available to him might be a problem.

''I can't say, 'Oh, it won't bother me.' But to me, it's fun,'' Smith said after shooting a 5-under 66 on Thursday for a share of the first-round lead in the Senior PGA Championship.

Smith closed his morning round with a double bogey on the par-4 18th, and Scott McCarron, Tim Petrovic, Wes Short Jr., Barry Lane and Peter Lonard matched the 66 in the afternoon.

One of 41 club pros in the field at Harbor Shores for the senior major, Smith is the director of golf at Somersett Country Club in Reno.

''To see my name on the board out there, it's not like I'm blind to the leaderboard, that was cool,'' said Smith, who is playing in his fourth Senior PGA and third at Harbor Shores - where he has made the 36-hole cut the previous two times.

''All my members are taking pictures and I know at home my members are pulling up that screen and like I tell them, going to the middle and looking down. So it probably took them a while to find my name today."

Petrovic, who was among the leaders in the Regions Tradition last week before a poor final round, said it was a little bit of a surprise when he heard Smith was at 7 under through 17 holes.

''There was a little bit of buzz, we were talking about it,'' he said. ''I heard somebody say 7 under and I said 'who is it? And we looked up, but we didn't know who the player was. In a tournament like this, you know how it is, there's always one guy, one smart-alec that shoots 7, 8 under in the first round.''

Smith, who birdied five consecutive holes starting at the seventh, played college golf at UCLA and knocked around the mini tours and South Africa for several years without ever gaining his tour card. He was college teammates with some of the players in the field, including Corey Pavin, Duffy Waldorf and Steve Pate, but said he no longer seeks the tour life.


Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


''It's just not me anymore,'' he said. ''So that's why maybe I do have an advantage this week because it's just fun to me. It's like my wife said - just enjoy the ride.''

Petrovic had seven birdies in his round while McCarron and Lonard played bogey-free rounds. Short holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par 4 12th and made eagle on the par 5 ninth hole, his last hole of the day.

McCarron is the only one of the six leaders with a major on his resume. He won the Senior Players Championship last year, and played The Players Championship recently.

''It was a lot of fun being on that stage, of course being at The Players with the best players in the world playing one of the best golf courses in the world,'' he said. ''I think the preparation there and just being on that stage helped me going into last week in Alabama, and certainly this week.''

The top two money winners on the PGA Tour Champions are not in Benton Harbor. Defending champion Bernhard Langer is skipping the event to attend son Jason's high school graduation, and Steve Stricker is playing the PGA Tour event in Texas.

Paul Goydos, a five-time senior winner including the 2016 Charles Schwab Cup Championship, and Chris Williams of South Africa shot 67. Joe Durant, David Toms, Kenny Perry, Jerry Pate and Fred Funk were among 15 players at 68.

Colin Montgomerie, who won the first of consecutive Senior PGA titles here in 2014, shot 69, and Miguel Angel Jimenez, coming off a win last week in the first major of the year at the Regions Tradition, opened with a 70.