Northern Trust moving sponsorship to playoff event

By Doug FergusonJanuary 19, 2016, 5:02 pm

HONOLULU – Northern Trust is moving its title sponsorship on the PGA Tour from Los Angeles to New York and will become the opening FedEx Cup playoff event next year, which could create a small domino effect of sponsors. 

Barclays has decided not to renew its title sponsorship after 12 years in the New York area, according to two people with knowledge of plans for London-based Barclays. They spoke on condition of anonymity because it had not been announced.

Starting in 2017, the FedEx Cup playoff's first event will be called The Northern Trust. It will keep the previous golf courses, starting with Glen Oaks in 2017 and rotating among Ridgewood, Plainfield, Liberty National and Bethpage Black.

Chicago-based Northern Trust took over in 2008 as the title sponsor in Los Angeles, and immediately helped upgrade the tournament at Riviera, which is regarded among the best golf courses on the Tour.

The switch to New York leaves Los Angeles without a title sponsor after this year, but perhaps not for long.

Hyundai Motor America, which had a one-year deal at Kapalua for the Tournament of Champions, has been talking with the PGA Tour about becoming title sponsor in Los Angeles. The company's U.S. headquarters are a few hours away in Orange County.

If Hyundai were to move its sponsorship to Los Angeles, the winners-only event that traditionally starts the year on Maui still would not be without a title sponsor. Korea television giant SBS signed a 10-year deal through 2019, and it had farmed out the title to Hyundai in 2011.

The Tour would look for another title sponsor for Kapalua, and the tournament could be more attractive the way the PGA Tour is trending toward youth. With so many young winners, such as Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions had its strongest field in 10 years.

Phil Mickelson stopped playing in 2002, and Tiger Woods last played at Kapalua in 2005. Neither has won a tournament since 2013.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said officials have considered moving the Hawaii swing to the fall for the start of its wraparound season, though all indications are it will stay in January. ''I think we'd like to try to keep it where it is and make it work,'' he said.

However that plays out, the Tour still has a few big corporate holes to fill after this year.

The biggest question is the World Golf Championship at Trump National Doral. Cadillac is not expected to renew its sponsorship after this year, which has raised questions whether the Tour will leave the Miami area for the first time since 1962.

The tour has a longterm deal to play at Trump National Doral, though that deal is subject to approval by a new title sponsor. Some of Trump's inflammatory remarks during his presidential campaign has caused golf to keep its distance. The PGA of America last year canceled its Grand Slam of Golf, which was planned for Trump National Los Angeles. The PGA of America and USGA, however, have not abandoned plans to stage majors at Trump's courses starting in 2017.

The Tour said in a statement last month that it would ''explore all options'' after this year's Cadillac Championship ends on March 6.

Deutsche Bank is in the final year of its contract for the second FedEx Cup playoff event outside Boston and is not likely to renew. There have been discussions about reducing the playoffs to three events instead of four.

''I'd say if there's a way we can do other things in the schedule that relate to that general period of time, it might be a good thing to do,'' Finchem said. ''The attitude of the players has always been it's tough for four in a row. And then you also a lot of times are getting close to the Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup. Both, in our view, are big events. You want space between big stuff.

''So I think it would depend on what else could go in the schedule, which is something we're looking at.''

Conversely, Finchem said the FedEx Cup playoff events have worked well in each market and are growing.

''It's not like it's broken, but we're always trying to do something better,'' he said.

Colonial also is without a title sponsor this year after Crowne Plaza did not renew after 2015.

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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.