Notes: Tour makes several changes to 2013 events

By Doug FergusonJuly 31, 2012, 10:07 pm

AKRON, Ohio – A shorter season on the PGA Tour in 2013 will mean slightly larger fields for as many as nine tournaments.

It's a move designed to help players who earn their cards through PGA Tour Qualifying School or the Web.com Tour. They are at the bottom of the priority rankings for getting into tournaments, and spots can be rare in the early part of the season with smaller fields due to limited daylight. If they didn't qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs, they at least had four Fall Series tournaments to make up ground to get into the top 125 and keep their cards.

But next year is all about transition. The Tour season ends with the Tour Championship, and after the three-tournament series that effectively replaces Q-School, the new season (2013-14) will start in October. The Fall Series will be the start of the new year.

''You have four fewer tournaments, and that puts a strain on playing opportunities,'' said Andy Pazder, the Tour's chief of operations.

The Tour's policy board is asking certain tournaments to expand their fields for only 2013. Tournaments in March and April typically have 144 players because of earlier sunsets. Some of them are being asked to expand those fields to 156 players.

Pazder conceded that it puts the tournaments in a ''precarious position'' to make the cut on Friday. The pace is so slow at some spots that they can't make the cut by Friday even without expanding the fields. Among those expected to be left alone are Riviera, Honolulu and Pebble Beach, which recently reduced its field from 180 players to 156 players to improve the pace of the pro-am format.

The limited-field events are not off the hook. The Arnold Palmer Invitational, AT&T National and Colonial are likely to go from 120 players to 132 players. Spared from the list is the Memorial, run by Jack Nicklaus, which recently agreed to ramp up its field from 105 players to 120 players.

That's not the only boost for the Q-School and Web.com graduates.

Tournaments typically have eight sponsor exemptions - two designated for Tour members not eligible (such as John Daly), two for Q-School and Web.com graduates and four unrestricted. The formula for next year will be only two unrestricted exemptions and four exemptions set aside for Q-School and Web.com grads. The Tour is also doing away with the commissioner's exemption for foreign players, which is not used very much, anyway.

In all, it should create close to 90 additional spots to help alleviate not having four Fall Series events at the end of the year.


RYDER CUP PUSH: The next two weeks will decide the eight Americans who make the Ryder Cup team, and while there are plenty of points at stake, those on the outside have their work cut out for them.

Hunter Mahan occupies No. 8 in the standings, but he is $653,522 ahead of PGA champion Keegan Bradley in ninth place. The money (or points) is double at the PGA Championship, the final week to earn an automatic spot.

Bradley was left off the Presidents Cup team last year, even though his two wins included a major.

''I really want this pretty bad, and that can be a negative,'' Bradley said. ''I know that if I have a decent last end of the year, I'll be on that team. But this U.S. team is one of the strongest in recent history, I would say, with all major winners coming from America, except the British Open.''

Indeed, six of the top eight have either won multiple times (Tiger Woods, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Mahan) or won a major worth double points (Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson). The others are Matt Kuchar, who won The Players Championship, and Phil Mickelson, who won Pebble Beach, lost in a playoff at Riviera and tied for third at the Masters.

Missing from the top eight are some usual suspects - Dustin Johnson at No. 12, Steve Stricker at No. 13 and Jim Furyk, who has played on every U.S. team since making his debut in the 1997 Ryder Cup. Rickie Fowler is at No. 10 and Brandt Snedeker is No. 11.

Snedeker lost about 160 points on the final hole of the British Open when he made a bogey, Woods made a birdie, and they tied for third. If Snedeker had been in third place alone, he would be slightly ahead of Fowler.

A year ago, Snedeker could have made the U.S. team for the Presidents Cup by closing with a 1-over 72. Instead, he had a 74 in the BMW Championship and missed out.

''This is a position I'm used to,'' Snedeker said. ''Unfortunately, I've never been on the inside. I've been on the outside looking in. I've got to play well, and if I don't, I have nobody to blame but myself.''

Davis Love III will announce on Sept. 4 his four captain's picks. Just like making the team, it won't be easy.


PGA FIELD: William McGirt was closer than ever to playing in his first major championship.

In another example of how every shot counts, McGirt missed getting into the PGA Championship by $11. The PGA of America went down to No. 78 on its points list to fill the field of 156 players for next week at Kiawah Island. The points list is based on Tour earnings from the Bridgestone Invitational last year through the Canadian Open.

Jimmy Walker, who got the last spot, had $1,189,510. McGirt was at No. 79 with $1,189,499.

McGirt tied for second in the Canadian Open. Finishing in second place alone (he made bogey on the last hole) or winning would have sent him to Kiawah. Alas, all is not lost. McGirt is the first alternate, and two spots are held open in case the winners of the Reno-Tahoe Open or Bridgestone Invitational are not already eligible for the PGA Championship.

The PGA Championship fills out its field with special invitations, which essentially is a way for it to get as many from the top 100 in the world. But even those who fell out of the top 100 in the last few weeks were given exemptions - Michael Hoey of Northern Ireland, Thomas Aiken of South Africa and Robert Allenby. The PGA of America went down to No. 108 - Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand - for its invitations.

The PGA Championship has all of the top 108 players in the world ranking.


DIVOTS: The seventh hole at Bethpage Black, which played as a par 4 at 525 yards for the U.S. Open in 2009, will be returned to a par 5 for The Barclays later this month. That received strong approval from Phil Mickelson. ''I've always been a fan of the original designer's interests in how a golf hole is designed to play from its inception, as opposed to somebody else who comes in and tries to alter it for their own benefit or ego,'' he said, without mentioning names. ... British Open champion Ernie Els has already said he would return to the Frys.com Open at CordeValle, part of the Fall Series. ... He is friends with Hasso Plattner, co-founder of SAP, who owns CordeValle. ... Every winner of a Tour event that awards full FedEx Cup points has qualified for the Bridgestone Invitational except for one - Ben Curtis, who lives 15 minutes from Firestone. Curtis won the Texas Open, which had the weakest field of the year.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Brendan Steele, tied for the lead going into the final round of the PGA Championship a year ago, is the fifth alternate this year.


FINAL WORD: ''I had trouble getting the butterflies to fly in formation.'' – William McGirt, in the final group for the first time on Tour at the Canadian Open. He finished one shot back of winner Scott Piercy.

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U.S. Open purse payout: Koepka clears $2 million

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 18, 2018, 12:09 pm

Brooks Koepka successfully defended his title at the U.S. Open and he was handsomely rewarded for his efforts. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out at Shinnecock Hills.

1 Brooks Koepka +1 $2,160,000
2 Tommy Fleetwood +2 $1,296,000
3 Dustin Johnson +3 $812,927
4 Patrick Reed +4 $569,884
5 Tony Finau +5 $474,659
T6 Daniel Berger +6 $361,923
T6 Henrik Stenson +6 $361,923
T6 Tyrrell Hatton +6 $361,923
T6 Xander Schauffele +6 $361,923
T10 Justin Rose +7 $270,151
T10 Webb Simpson +7 $270,151
T12 Matthew Fitzpatrick +8 $221,825
T12 Zach Johnson +8 $221,825
T12 Russell Knox +8 $221,825
15 Kiradech Aphibarnrat +9 $190,328
T16 Paul Casey +10 $163,438
T16 Haotong Li +10 $163,438
T16 Hideki Matsuyama +10 $163,438
T16 Louis Oosthuizen +10 $163,438
T20 Rickie Fowler +11 $122,387
T20 Brian Gay +11 $122,387
T20 Charley Hoffman +11 $122,387
T20 Dylan Meyer +11 $122,387
T20 Steve Stricker +11 $122,387
T25 Aaron Baddeley +12 $79,200
T25 Bryson DeChambeau +12 $79,200
T25 Jason Dufner +12 $79,200
T25 Branden Grace +12 $79,200
T25 Russell Henley +12 $79,200
T25 Charles Howell III +12 $79,200
T25 Francesco Molinari +12 $79,200
T25 Alex Noren +12 $79,200
T25 Matthieu Pavon +12 $79,200
T25 Ian Poulter +12 $79,200
T25 Justin Thomas +12 $79,200
T36 Rafa Cabrera Bello +13 $54,054
T36 Bill Haas +13 $54,054
T36 Brian Harman +13 $54,054
T36 Pat Perez +13 $54,054
T36 Gary Woodland +13 $54,054
T41 Sam Burns +14 $43,028
T41 Ryan Fox +14 $43,028
T41 Patrick Rodgers +14 $43,028
T41 Jhonattan Vegas +14 $43,028
T45 Patrick Cantlay +15 $34,716
T45 Marc Leishman +15 $34,716
T45 Scott Piercy +15 $34,716
T48 Ross Fisher +16 $27,952
T48 Jim Furyk +16 $27,952
T48 Luis Gagne (a) +16 $0
T48 Phil Mickelson +16 $27,952
T48 Matt Parziale (a) +16 $0
T48 Brandt Snedeker +16 $27,952
T48 Peter Uihlein +16 $27,952
T48 Tim Wilkinson +16 $27,952
T56 Dean Burmester +17 $25,426
T56 Mickey DeMorat +17 $25,426
T56 Tyler Duncan +17 $25,426
T56 Chris Naegel +17 $25,426
T56 Jimmy Walker +17 $25,426
61 Calum Hill +18 $24,629
62 Andrew Johnston +19 $24,448
63 Brendan Steele +20 $24,203
64 Cameron Wilson +21 $23,959
65 Kevin Chappell +22 $23,714
66 Will Grimmer (a) +23 $0
67 Byeong Hun An +26 $23,470
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What's in the bag: U.S. Open winner Koepka

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 18, 2018, 11:24 am

Brooks Koepka won his second consecutive U.S. Open title on Sunday at Shinnecock Hills. Here's a look inside the winner's bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 70 TX shaft

Fairway woods: TaylorMade M2 Tour HL (16.5 degrees), with  Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 80 TX shaft

Irons: Nike Vapor Fly Pro (3), with Fujikura Pro 95 Tour Spec shaft; Mizuno JPX-900 Tour (4-PW), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts, PW with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shaft

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM7 Raw (52, 56 degrees), SM7 Raw TVD (60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron T10 Select Newport 2 prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

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Repeat U.S. Open win gives Koepka credit he deserves

By Ryan LavnerJune 18, 2018, 2:08 am

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – In an ironic twist Sunday, the last man to win consecutive U.S. Opens was tasked with chronicling Brooks Koepka’s final round at Shinnecock Hills.

Carrying a microphone for Fox Sports, Curtis Strange kept his composure as the on-course reporter. He didn’t cough in Koepka’s downswing. Didn’t step on his ball in the fescue. Didn’t talk too loudly while Koepka lined up a putt.

Instead, Strange stood off to the side, clipboard covering his mouth, and watched in awe as Koepka stamped himself as the best U.S. Open player of this next generation.

And so after Koepka became the first player in 29 years to take consecutive Opens, Strange found himself fourth in the greeting line near the 18th green. He was behind Koepka’s playing competitor, Dustin Johnson. And he was behind Koepka’s father, Bob. And he was behind Koepka’s caddie, Ricky Elliott.

But there Strange was, standing on a sandy path leading to the clubhouse, ready to formally welcome Koepka into one of the most exclusive clubs in golf.

“Hell of a job, bud,” Strange barked in his ear, above the din. “Incredible.”

That Koepka prevailed on two wildly different layouts, and in totally different conditions, was even more satisfying.

Erin Hills, in Middle of Nowhere, Wis., was unlike any U.S. Open venue in recent memory. The wide-open fairways were lined with thick, deep fescue, but heavy rain early in the week and the absence of any significant wind turned golf’s toughest test into the Greater Milwaukee Open. Koepka bashed his way to a record-tying score (16 under par) and over the past year has never felt fully appreciated, in large part because of the weirdness of the USGA setup.   


U.S. Open: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage


Koepka doesn’t concern himself with that type of noise, of course, but when he arrived at Shinnecock earlier this week he felt a sense of familiarity. The generous fairways. The punishing venue. The premium on iron play.

“It’s a similar feel,” Elliott said. “We said it all week.”

A new, quirky venue like Erin Hills might not have been held in high regard, but the rich history of Shinnecock? It demanded respect.

“He’s some player,” Strange said, “and I’m proud of him because there was some talk last year of Erin Hills not being the Open that is supposed to be an Open. But he won on a classic, so he’s an Open player.”

“This one is a lot sweeter,” Koepka said.

Those around the 28-year-old were shocked that he even had a chance to defend his title.

Last fall Koepka began feeling discomfort in his left wrist. He finished last in consecutive tournaments around the holidays, then underwent an MRI that showed he had a torn ligament in his left wrist.

Koepka takes immense pride in having a life outside of golf – he never watches Tour coverage on off-weeks – but he was downright miserable during his indefinite stint on the sidelines. He said it was the lowest point of his career, as he sat in a soft cast up to his elbow, binge-watching TV shows and gaining 15 pounds. The only players he heard from during his hiatus: Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson.

“You just feel like you get forgotten,” Koepka said.

During the spring, Elliott would occasionally drive from Orlando to Jupiter, Fla., to check on his boss. “He was down in the dumps,” he said. “That sort of injury he had, it didn’t seem like there was going to be an end. There was no timeframe on it, and that was the most frustrating thing.”

After the Masters, Koepka told Elliott that his wrist was feeling better and that he was going to start hitting balls. Elliott brought his clubs to South Florida, and they played a few holes at The Floridian.

“He was hitting it right on the button,” Elliott said. “I said, ‘Are you sure you haven’t been practicing?’ He hadn’t missed a beat. I have no idea how he does it. He’s just a tremendously talented guy.”

In limited action before the Open, Koepka fired a trio of 63s, at TPC Sawgrass and Colonial. He’s never been short on confidence – as a 12-year-old he once told his dad that he was going to drop out of school in four years and turn pro – and he recently woofed to swing coach Claude Harmon III that he was primed to win sometime in May or June.

“I said to him on the range this morning, ‘You were on your couch in January and February, not really knowing if you were going to be able to play here,’” Harmon said. “I think that’s why it means so much to him. That’s one of the reasons that he kept saying no one was more confident than him, because to get this opportunity to come back and play and have a chance to win back-to-back U.S. Opens, he was going to take advantage of it as best he could.”

Koepka carded a second-round 66 to put himself in the mix, then survived a hellacious third-round setup to join a four-way tie for the lead, along with Johnson, the world No. 1 and his fellow Bash Brother.

As much as Johnson is praised for his resilience, Koepka has proven to be equally tough in crunch time, especially in this major. There’s no better stage for Koepka to showcase his immense gifts than the Open, an examination that tests players physically, mentally and even spiritually. But Koepka, like Johnson, never joined the growing chorus of complainers at Shinnecock. The closest he came to criticizing the setup was this: “I think the course is very close.”

Rather than whine, he said that he relished the challenge of firing away from flags. He accepted bad shots. He tried to eliminate double bogeys. Even after his wrist injury, Koepka showed no hesitation gouging out of the deep fescue, his ferocious clubhead speed allowing him to escape the rough and chase approach shots near the green, where he could rely on his sneaky-good short game.

“He has the perfect game to play in majors,” Harmon said. “He probably plays more conservatively in majors. We’re always joking that we wish he would play the way he does in majors every week. I just think he knows how important pars and bogeys are. It says a lot about him as a player.”

Johnson has many of the same physical and mental attributes, and they’ve each benefited from the other’s intense focus and discipline. They both adhere to a strict diet and are frequent workout partners, which even included a gym session on Sunday morning, before their penultimate pairing. They made small talk, chatting about lifting and how many of the Sunday pins were located in the middle of the green, but after they arrived at the course they barely said two words to each other.

“They’re good friends on and off the course,” Harmon said, “but they definitely want to kick the s--- out of each other.”

“That’s the way it’s supposed to be,” Strange said. “If they’re best buddies, well, you’re standing between me and the trophy. You don’t care much for him for 4 1/2 hours.”

There was much at stake Sunday, but none more significant than Koepka’s march on history. Squaring off head-to-head against the game’s best player, Koepka outplayed Johnson from the outset, going 3 under for the first 10 holes to open up a two-shot lead. And unlike at Erin Hills, where he pulled away late with birdies, it was his par (and bogey) saves that kept Koepka afloat on Nos. 11, 12 and 14.  

In the end, he clipped Fleetwood (who shot a record-tying 63) by one and Johnson by two.

“You’ve got to give him a lot of credit,” Strange said, shaking his head. “He’s got a lot of guts.”

As Koepka marched away to sign his card, Strange was asked if it was bittersweet to know that he’s no longer the answer to the trivia question, the last guy to go back-to-back at the Open.

“Heck no!” he said. “What are they going to do, take one away? I’m a part of a group. And it’s a good group. I hope it means as much to him as it has to me.”

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This time, Dad gets to enjoy Koepka's Father's Day win

By Rex HoggardJune 18, 2018, 1:39 am

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – When Brooks Koepka won his first U.S. Open last year at Erin Hills the celebration was relatively subdued.

His family didn’t attend the ’17 championship, but there was no way they were missing this year’s U.S. Open.

“This year we booked something about five miles away [from Shinnecock Hills]," said Koepka’s father, Bob. "We weren’t going to miss it and I’m so glad we’re here.”

The family was treated to a show, with Koepka closing with a 68 for a one-stroke victory to become the first player since Curtis Strange in 1989 to win back-to-back U.S. Opens.


U.S. Open: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage


Koepka called his father early Sunday to wish him a happy Father’s Day, and Bob Koepka said he noticed a similar confidence in his son’s voice to the way he sounded when they spoke on Sunday of last year’s championship.

There was also one other similarity.

“Two years in a row, I haven't gotten him anything [for Father’s Day],” Brooks Koepka laughed. “Next year, I'm not going to get him anything either. It might bring some good luck.

“It's incredible to have my family here, and my dad loves golf. To be here, he loves watching. To share it with him this time, it will be a little bit sweeter.”