Notes: Mahan's schedule depends on baby No. 2

By Doug FergusonJanuary 7, 2015, 2:04 am

KAPALUA, Hawaii – Hunter Mahan is a Californian and predictable when it comes to his PGA Tour schedule on the West Coast. He has played Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach and Riviera every year dating to 2007, a streak that probably will end.

Mahan's wife, Kandi, is expecting their second child in the middle of that stretch. He knew he could count on the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua. After that, it's up in the air. His plan is to not have one.

''I'm just going to play my schedule and make adjustments from there,'' Mahan said. ''It's too hard to figure out.''

He is scheduled to play the Phoenix Open, Farmers Insurance Open, AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and the Northern Trust Open. He is not expecting to play them all.

''Whenever the baby falls is where he's going to fall,'' Mahan said.

Give him a choice, and the one tournament he would hate to miss is Riviera.

''I love that place. I love that golf course,'' Mahan said. ''It's the end of a four-week stretch. It's the one tournament I want to be in good shape. I enjoy it and really want to win there.''

But baby comes first. Remember, Mahan was leading the Canadian Open when he left after 36 holes because his wife went into labor.


POINT TAKEN: As more players join the PGA Tour, the gap in the ranking points swings even more toward America.

The average points awarded to PGA Tour winners in 2014 was 56.42, compared with 42.13 for winners on the European Tour. That includes the four majors, where the winners automatically get 100 points, and the four World Golf Championships, which averaged 73 points for the winner. Remove those eight events from the equation and the average PGA Tour winner received 49.54 points, compared with 32.54 points in Europe.

The PGA Tour points were a slight increase from 2013, while Europe had a slight decrease.

Throw out the BMW PGA Championship, the flagship event in Europe which is guaranteed 64 points to the winner, and four final events in the Race to Dubai, and the Scottish Open had the strongest field for a regular European Tour event. It offered 52 points.

The PGA Tour had eight regular events that offered 52 points or more. The strongest field for a regular event was the Memorial with 64 points to the winner.

As for the playoffs.

The four FedEx Cup playoff events offered an average of 67.5 points to the winner. The Final Series in the Race to Dubai offered an average of 54.5 points, and that includes the HSBC Champions, a WGC event.


GWAA AWARDS: Rory McIlroy and Bernhard Langer were runaway winners as the top male and senior player of the year by the Golf Writers Association of America. Stacy Lewis won a tighter race in a more crowded field of contestants for female player of the year.

McIlroy received 94 percent of the vote after a year in which he returned to No. 1 with emphasis by capturing two majors at the British Open and PGA Championship, a World Golf Championship and the European Tour flagship event at Wentworth. It's the second time in three years he has won the GWAA award.

''This award is testimony to my best year as a professional golfer and something I can aim toward winning again as I go into next season,'' he said.

Langer received 90 percent of the vote as the senior player of the year. He had five wins, two majors and captured the Schwab Cup at age 57.

Lewis swept the biggest awards on the LPGA Tour - the money title, Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average and points-based player of the year. She received 57 percent of the GWAA voting over Lydia Ko and U.S. Women's Open champion Michelle Wie.

They will be honored at the GWAA Annual Awards Dinner on April 8 in Augusta, Georgia.


BAE'S DILEMMA: Bae Sang-Moon smiled as he loaded his golf bag onto a cart at Kapalua on Tuesday.

''I make big news, huh?'' he said.

Bae might be making more headlines now than when he won the Frys.com Open in October to start the 2014-15 season. According to the Yonhap News Agency, the South Korean faces ''military conscription'' after being denied an extension on his overseas travel permit.

Bae said he has hired a legal firm to help him sort out the matter with South Korean government, which has to do with how much time he spent at home while being granted an overseas travel permit. He has been in Honolulu over the holidays and practicing at Waialae Country Club. Bae said he does not expect his PGA Tour schedule to be interrupted early in the season and that he has no immediate plans to return to South Korea.

But he smiled again when reminded that getting back to South Korea at the end of the PGA Tour is the ultimate goal. The Presidents Cup is going to South Korea for the first time, and there currently are no South Koreans on the International team. Bae is the highest-ranked player from Korea.


WALKER'S AFFINITY: Jimmy Walker was born in Oklahoma and raised in Texas. But his favorite courses are far from home.

Two of his three victories last year were in California - CordeValle for the Frys.com Open and Pebble Beach. Walker says Pebble Beach and Riviera are two his most favorite courses of the year.

He just doesn't know why.

''It's so different from what I'm used to,'' he said. ''You get out there, and you're in a different world. You're out on the beach. Riviera is my favorite tournament of the year. The golf course is so good. And I don't mind poa greens. It kills some guys. But the ball rolls true if you hit it where you're supposed to.''


DIVOTS: Hideki Matsuyama, the 22-year-old Japanese star who already has six wins worldwide, has signed with IMG. ... The Westgate Las Vegas Sports Book has Rory McIlroy has the 6-1 favorite to win the Masters, followed by Tiger Woods at 12-1. More interesting are the odds to win multiple majors. Odds are 11-4 that Woods will win one major, 20-1 to win two majors, 100-1 to win three and 250-1 to win them all. Odds are 8-5 for McIlroy to win one major this year, 11-2 to win two, 25-1 to win three and 80-1 to win a calendar Grand Slam. ... Six players at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions are not eligible for the Masters yet - Scott Stallings, Matt Every, Steven Bowditch, Matt Jones, Chesson Hadley and Nick Taylor. Hadley and Taylor won opposite-field events. The other won their PGA Tour events prior to the Masters and played Augusta National last year.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Five players from the top 10 in the world ranking did not win on the PGA Tour last year.


FINAL WORD: ''Why can't it be both?'' - David Duval, when asked if his priority in 2015 would be his golf or his new role with Golf Channel.

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Garcia leads as Valderrama Masters extends to Monday

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2021, 3:52 pm

Weather continues to be the enemy at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, where Sergio Garcia remains in front as the tournament heads for a Monday finish.

European Tour officials had already ceded the fact that 72 holes would not be completed this week in Spain, but players were not even able to finish 54 holes before another set of thunderstorms rolled in Sunday afternoon to once again halt play. Garcia remains in front at 10 under, having played seven holes of the third round in even par, while Lee Westwood is alone in second at 7 under.

Officials had previously stated an intention to play at least 54 holes, even if that meant extending the tournament to Monday, given that this is the final chance for many players to earn Race to Dubai points in an effort to secure European Tour cards for 2019. Next week's WGC-HSBC Champions will be the final event of the regular season, followed by a three-event final series.


Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


Garcia, who won the tournament last year, started the third round with a four-shot lead over Ashley Chesters. He balanced one birdie with one bogey and remains in position for his first worldwide victory since the Asian Tour's Singapore Open in January.

Westwood, who has his son Sam on the bag this week, made the biggest charge up the leaderboard with four birdies over his first eight holes. He'll have 10 holes to go when play resumes at 9:10 a.m. local time Monday as he looks to win for the first time since the 2015 Indonesian Masters.

Shane Lowry and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano are tied for third at 6 under, four shots behind Garcia with 10 holes to play, while Chesters made two double bogeys over his first four holes to drop into a tie for sixth.

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Azinger: 'Can't see anybody beating Tiger' at his best

By Will GrayOctober 22, 2018, 2:44 pm

There's a new world No. 1, and a fresh crop of young guns eager to make their mark on the PGA Tour in 2019. But according to Paul Azinger, the player with the highest ceiling is still the same as it was when he was walking inside the ropes.

Azinger was named Monday as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports, and on "Morning Drive" he was asked which player is the best when all are playing their best. The former PGA champion pondered new world No. 1 Brooks Koepka and former No. 1 Dustin Johnson, but he came back around to a familiar answer: Tiger Woods.

"I just can't see anybody beating Tiger when Tiger's at his best. I just can't see it," Azinger said. "He's not his best yet, but he's almost his best. And when Tiger's his best, there's more that comes with Tiger than just the score he shoots. That crowd comes with Tiger, and it's a whole 'nother dynamic when Tiger's at his best. And I'm just going to have to say that when Tiger's at his best, he's still the best."

Woods, 42, started this year ranked No. 656 in the world but had a resurgent season that included a pair of near-misses at The Open and PGA Championship and culminated with his win at the Tour Championship that ended a five-year victory drought. For Azinger, the question now becomes how he can follow up a breakthrough campaign as he looks to contend consistently against players from a younger generation.

"That's why we watch, to see if he can maintain that. To see what he's capable of," Azinger said. "Now longevity becomes the issue for Tiger Woods. In seven or eight years, he's going to be 50 years old. That goes fast. I'm telling you, that goes really fast."

When Woods returns to action, he'll do so with a focus on the upcoming Masters as he looks to capture the 15th major title that has eluded him for more than a decade. With bombers like Koepka and Johnson currently reigning on the PGA Tour, Azinger believes the key for Woods will be remaining accurate while relying on the world-class iron play that has been a strength throughout his career.

"I think he's going to have to recognize that he's not the beast out there when it comes to smacking that ball off the tee. But I'd like to see him try to hit a couple more fairways periodically. That'd be nice," he said. "If he can drive that ball in the fairway, with that putter, we've seen what his putter is capable of. The sky's the limit, boys."

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Spieth drops out of top 10 for first time since 2014

By Will GrayOctober 22, 2018, 2:08 pm

As Brooks Koepka ascended to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking, a former No. 1 continued a notable decline.

Jordan Spieth didn't play last week's CJ Cup, where Koepka won by four shots. But Jason Day did, and his T-5 finish in South Korea moved him up two spots from No. 12 to No. 10 in the latest rankings. Spieth dropped from 10th to 11th, marking the first time that he has been outside the top 10 in the world rankings since November 2014.

Since that time, he has won 12 times around the world, including three majors, while spending 26 weeks as world No. 1. But he hasn't won a tournament since The Open last July, and this year he missed the Tour Championship for the first time in his career. Spieth is expected to make his season debut next week in Las Vegas at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


Koepka and Day were the only movers among the top 10 on a week that saw many top players remain in place. Sergio Garcia's rain-delayed win at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters moved him up four spots to No. 27, while Gary Woodland went from 38th to 30th after finishing second behind Koepka on Jeju Island.

Koepka will tee off as world No. 1 for the first time this week at the WGC-HSBC Champions, where new No. 2 Dustin Johnson will look to regain the top spot. Justin Rose is now third in the world, with Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and Day rounding out the top 10.

With his next competitive start unknown, Tiger Woods remained 13th in the world for the fifth straight week.

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Pavin's season nearly ends after slow-play penalty

By Will GrayOctober 22, 2018, 1:50 pm

Corey Pavin's season on the PGA Tour Champions nearly came to an end because of a slow-play penalty.

Penalties for pace are often discussed or threatened, but rarely doled out on either the PGA Tour or the over-50 circuit. But that changed Sunday during the final round of the Dominion Energy Charity Classic, where Pavin was told by a rules official after completing his round that he would receive a 1-stroke penalty for slow play.

The penalty was on the surface rather harmless, turning an even-par 72 into a 1-over 73 and dropping Pavin into a tie for 15th. But this was the first event of a three-tournament postseason for PGA Tour Champions players, and only the top 54 in points advanced to this week's Invesco QQQ Championship.


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


Pavin, who has two top-10 finishes in 20 starts this season, barely held on at 53rd place after the penalty was enforced.

Slow-play discussions came up earlier this season surrounding Bernhard Langer at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, but Golf Channel analyst Lanny Wadkins expressed his surprise on the telecast that it was Pavin who got a shot added to his score.

"Of all the things to happen with all the times I have played - I can't even count the number of rounds - I never thought Corey Pavin was a slow player," Wadkins said. "All the guys we know are slow players have never been penalized out here. Where has this been for the last 15 years?"

The subject of the penalty also raised an eyebrow from Stephen Ames, who finished alongside Pavin in 15th place while Langer finished second behind Woody Austin: