Notes: Hovercrafts and FedEx Cup playoffs

By Doug FergusonJuly 9, 2013, 11:57 pm

For the curious and the adventurous, a round of golf at an Ohio course is about to cost a lot more.

Windy Knoll Golf Club tries to keep the price under $40 on the weekend, which includes a cart. That soon will go up to $230 – when the round of golf includes a hovercraft.

Pete Duffey, the managing director of the public course in Springfield, Ohio, was so intrigued by the YouTube video of Bubba Watson skimming over water and through bunkers in a hovercraft built for golf that he called the manufacturer to make sure it was real.

And then he ordered two of them.

''We're always looking for a way to set ourselves apart from the competition,'' Duffey said Tuesday. ''We'll be able to offer something that no one in the area, in the state and at this point in the country can offer.''

The golf hovercrafts are made by Neoteric Hovercraft in Terre Haute, Ind., which specializes in light hovercrafts for personal and commercial use. Its clients include government agencies and companies such as Disney World, according to its website.

Neoteric built a golf hovercraft for Oakley, which sponsors Watson and wanted it for corporate events.

Duffey said his first golf hovercraft is to arrive on July 18 and the other a week later. The club plans to launch its new ''carts'' during a promotional outing on July 27 that is to feature LPGA great Nancy Lopez.

He said the cost would be $230 for golf in the hovercraft. He declined to say how much it cost the club except that it was ''10 times the cost of a standard cart.''

Why just two?

''We thought it made sense for a foursome to use,'' he said.

Unlike the video, golfers in the hovercraft can go anywhere. Duffey said there would be a designated area on the front and back nine where the golfers can take it onto the lake. And the club has decided to make the putting green and bunkers off limits, even though Neoteric says it has a footprint pressure 33 times less than the human foot.

He said the club is working with an attorney and its insurance company on liability issues, and that golfers using the craft will have to go through a half-hour presentation on how to drive it. And how will this help pace of play at the club, one of the top issues in golf?

''It's going to turn heads,'' Duffey said. ''I think other golfers on the course might find themselves so interested in looking at it that if it did slow play down, I don't think it will be noticeable.''

For those who don't want a cart or a hovercraft, walking remains an option.


THE FINAL STRETCH: In the first year of the FedEx Cup, there was so much promotion that Vijay Singh said he was tired of talking about it even before the season started. His sound advice was to worry about that when it mattered later in the year, much like the Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup standings.

It's getting to be that time.

There are only six tournaments remaining to get into the top 125 and take part in the $35 million bonanza known as the FedEx Cup playoffs. Singh won the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus in 2008. Now, he is on a short list of players who have never missed the playoffs and currently are outside the top 125. Singh is at No. 136.

Others outside the top 125 who have never missed the playoffs since they began in 2007 include Sean O'Hair, Jonathan Byrd and Robert Allenby.

This would be a bad year to miss out. After the playoffs, there is no longer a Fall Series for players to make up ground. The top 125 earn cards for the following season, while the next 75 players (if not already exempt) would go to a four-tournament series with top Web.com Tour players who play for a card.

That's because the next season starts in October.


OUT WITH THE OLD: Mission Hills in China is one of the largest golf complexes in the world with over 20 courses, most of them named after players who typically ''consult'' on the design and have the course named after them. There are courses for Vijay Singh, Jumbo Ozaki, Annika Sorenstam, Ernie Els, Nick Faldo, David Leadbetter and Jose Maria Olazabal. There's even one for David Duval, a former world No. 1 and British Open champion.

But not much longer.

Mission Hills China announced two weeks ago that U.S. Open champion Justin Rose and Ian Poulter of Ryder Cup fame will stage an exhibition match Oct. 28 to celebrate the opening of the redesigned ''Rose-Poulter'' course.

Brian Curley is the architect of the redesign. The course had been ''designed'' by Duval and was known as the ''Duval'' course.

Rose said in the press release, ''We've had a number of discussions with Brian Curley and I look forward to coming to Mission Hills in October and seeing the end result.''


NEW HOME FOR FRYS: The Frys.com Open is moving to its third course, and this one should make Johnny Miller happy. The tournament will be played at his Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa, Calif., starting in 2014.

The Frys.com Open spent three years at Grayhawk in Scottsdale, Ariz., before moving to CordeValle just south of San Jose, Calif. The goal is to move to The Institute across the highway from CordeValle when the clubhouse is built.

Silverado previously hosted the Kaiser International Open Invitational from 1968 to 1976, and the Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic for four years after that. It also held a Champions Tour event.

This year's event at CordeValle will be the official start of the 2013-14 season on the PGA Tour.


DIVOTS: U.S. Amateur Public Links champion T.J. Vogel makes his pro debut this week in the John Deere Classic. ... John Deere has signed a deal to supply golf course machinery for the 2015 Solheim Cup in Germany. ...Tom Watson says he is on a scouting mission for the Ryder Cup next year, and among the players who have his attention is Billy Horschel. ''With the exception of those pants he wore at the U.S. Open, he's impressive,'' Watson said. ... Fred Couples, among the first to bring the casual street shoe look to golf, has signed a sponsorship extension with Danish-based ECCO. ... Davis Love III made his British Open debut in 1987 at Muirfield, and he has played golf's oldest championship every year since then. The only way for him to return would be to win the John Deere Classic this week. ... Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar are the only multiple winners on the PGA Tour this year. That's the fewest multiple winners before the British Open since 1994, when Nick Price had three wins and on one else had more than one.


STAT OF THE WEEK: In its four-year history, The Greenbrier Classic has produced winners with a world ranking of No. 159 (Stuart Appleby), No. 224 (Scott Stallings), No. 218 (Ted Potter Jr.) and No. 103 (Jonas Blixt).


FINAL WORD: ''I'm a guy who doesn't find it on the range. I'm a guy who finds it on the golf course.'' – Graeme McDowell.

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Dunlap, in 'excruciating pain,' shares early Dominion lead

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:29 pm

RICHMOND, Va. – Scott Dunlap and Fran Quinn shot 5-under 67 on Friday to share the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Fighting a left wrist injury that will require surgery, Dunlap matched Quinn with a closing birdie on the par-5 18th on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''Maybe excruciating pain is the key to playing good golf because I'm not getting nervous on a shot, you're just trying to get through it,'' Dunlap said. ''The worst parts are gripping it and getting the club started ... that's when that bone hits that bone.''

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


The 55-year-old Dunlap entered the week 29th in the standings. Playing through the wrist injury, he's coming off ties for ninth and seventh in his last two starts.

''I think I finally taped it the right way,'' Dunlap said. ''Or maybe it's the pain meds kicking in. I don't know, one of the two.''

Quinn is 64th in the standings.

''I finished up strong last year, too, kind of secured my privileges for the following year making eagle on 18,'' Quinn said. ''I played solid all day. I had a lot of opportunities. A couple hiccups.''

Jay Haas was a stroke back with Kent Jones, Stephen Ames, Woody Austin and Tim Petrovic. The 64-year-old Haas won the last of his 18 senior titles in 2016.

Vijay Singh and Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, were at 69 with Joey Sindelar, Tom Gillis, Billy MayfairLee Janzen, Glen Day and Gene Sauers.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer opened with a 70. The 61-year-old German star won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the points lead. He has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

Defending Charles Schwab Cup champion Kevin Sutherland had a 71. He's 14th in the standings. No. 3 Jerry Kelly shot 72. No. 4 Scott McCarron, the 2016 tournament winner, had a 74.

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Weather continues to plague Valderrama Masters

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 7:55 pm

SOTOGRANDE, Spain  -- Marc Warren helped his chances of retaining his European Tour card by moving into a tie for second place behind Englishman Ashley Chesters at the rain-hit Andalucia Valderrama Masters on Friday.

Bad weather interrupted play for a second straight day at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain before darkness caused the second round to be suspended until Saturday, with overnight Chesters still ahead at 5-under.

Weather delays on Thursday, including a threat of lightning, had kept 60 golfers from finishing their opening round. They included Scottish player Warren, who went out on Friday and finished his first round with a 2-under 69.

He then made three birdies to go with one bogey on the first nine holes of the second round before play was halted. He joined Frenchman Gregory Bourdy one shot behind Chesters.


Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


''I'm hitting the ball as well as I have in a long time,'' Warren said. ''Hitting fairways and greens is the most important thing around here, so hopefully I wake up tomorrow with the same swing.''

Chesters and Bourdy were among several golfers unable to play a single hole in the second round on Friday.

Warren, a three-time European Tour winner, has struggled this season and needs a strong performance to keep his playing privileges for next year.

Currently ranked 144th, Warren needs to break into the top 116 to keep his card.

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Watch: Is this the up-and-down of the year?

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 3:30 pm

Play away from the pin? Just because there's a tree in your way? Not Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. Watch him channel some Arnie (or, more appropriately, some Seve) with this shot in the Valderrama Masters:

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Cut Line: Johnny's exit, Tiger's fatigue

By Rex HoggardOctober 19, 2018, 2:06 pm

In this week’s edition we bid farewell to the most outspoken and insightful analyst of his generation and examine a curious new interpretation that will require players to start paying attention to the small print.

Made Cut

Here’s Johnny. After nearly three decades Johnny Miller will hang up his microphone following next year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Miller called his first tournament as NBC Sports/Golf Channel’s lead analyst in 1990 at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and he told Cut Line this week that at 71 years old he’s ready to relax and spend time with his 24 grandchildren.

“I was the first guy with an open microphone,” Miller said. “That requires a lot of concentration. It’s not that I couldn’t do it but the handwriting was on the wall; it would be more of a challenge.”

Miller will be missed for his insight as much as his often-blunt deliveries, but it’s the latter that made him one of a kind.

A long ride to the right place. After nearly four years of legal wrangling a group of PGA Tour caddies dropped their class-action lawsuit against the circuit this week.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in early 2015 in an attempt by the caddies to secure marketing rights for the bibs they wear during tournaments as a way to create better healthcare and retirement benefits.

The district court largely ruled against the caddies and that ruling was upheld by an appeals court earlier this year, but better healthcare options may still be in the cards for the caddies.

“I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the Association of Professional Tour Caddies.

Sajtinac told Cut Line that the Tour has offered a potential increase to the longtime stipend they give caddies for healthcare and in a statement the circuit said talks are ongoing.

“The PGA Tour looks forward to continuing to support the caddies in the important role they play in the success of our members,” the statement said.

It’s rare when both sides of a lawsuit walk away feeling good about themselves, but this particular outcome appears to have ended with a favorable outcome for everybody involved.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

A long haul. Tiger Woods acknowledged what many had speculated about, telling a group this week at his annual Tiger Woods Invitational at Pebble Beach that his season-ending push and his first victory in five years took a physical toll at the Ryder Cup.

“It was just a cumulative effect of the entire season,” Woods said on Tuesday. “I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf and on top of that deal with the heat and the fatigue and the loss of weight.”

Woods went 0-4 for the U.S. team in France and appeared particularly tired on Sunday following the European victory at Le Golf National.

For Woods the result was worth the effort with his victory at the Tour Championship ending a five-year drought, but his play and concession that it impacted him at the Ryder Cup does create some interesting questions for U.S. captain Jim Furyk, who sent Woods out for both team sessions on Saturday.

Tweet(s) of the week: @BobEstesPGA (Bob Estes) “I spoke to a past Ryder Cup captain yesterday. We both agreed that there should be a week off before the [Ryder Cup] to adequately rest and prepare.”

Given Woods’ comments this week it seems likely he would agree that a break – which may become the norm with the Tour season ending three weeks earlier – would be helpful, but Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts had a slightly different take in response to Estes’ tweet. “I’m afraid a different schedule wasn’t gonna make the fairways wider. On that particular course with how we played, [the United States] had absolutely no chance. Hasn’t more than half the euros played playoffs too?” Colsaerts tweeted.

It’s never too early to get a jump on the 2020 trash talking.


Missed Cut

By the book. The USGA and R&A’s most recent rulemaking hill involved the use of green-reading materials. On Monday the game’s rule-makers unveiled new interpretations on what will be allowed starting next year.

Out will be the legal-sized reams of information that had become ubiquitous on Tour, replaced by pocket-sized books that will include a limited scale (3/8 inch to 5 yards).

While the majority of those involved were in favor of a scaled-back approach to what to many seemed like information overload, it did seem like a curious line to draw.

Both sides of the distance debate continue to await which way the rule-makers will go on this front and, at least in the United States, participation continues to be a challenge.

Banning the oversized green-reading books may have been a positive step, but it was a micro issue that impacted a wildly small portion of the golf public. Maybe it’s time for the rule-makers to start looking at more macro issues.