Notes: Tour schedule changes coming in 2014

By Doug FergusonAugust 7, 2013, 11:53 pm

PITTSFORD, N.Y. – For the first time in five years, PGA Tour players will face four straight weeks of golf in the FedEx Cup playoffs in 2014.

The tour has been scheduling a week off between its four playoff events since 2010, mainly to keep players in the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup from too much competition. The last two times in Ryder Cup years, the matches were held a week after the Tour Championship.

The PGA of America, on behalf of Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson, asked PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem to consider giving players a week off before the matches.

''Our captain felt like that it was imperative that our players had a week off prior to the Ryder Cup,'' PGA president Ted Bishop said Wednesday.

The tour acquiesced, and during the course of more conversations, the PGA of America decided to drop ''Glory's Last Shot'' as its slogan for the PGA Championship. While the PGA Championship is the final major, the rest of the calendar year featured the FedEx Cup playoffs and even the Ryder Cup itself.

The PGA Tour is not releasing its full 2013-14 schedule until next month, but this means there will be four straight weeks of playoff events in August and September, followed by a week off before going to Scotland for the Ryder Cup.

Bishop said Finchem was ''provocative'' in stating the PGA Championship had the strongest field among major championships and could stand on its own merit without a slogan.

''I think that we feel that our championship does stand on its own merits and there is other golf that's played after this championship, albeit not major golf,'' Bishop said. ''And so that was just one example of some of the many things that I feel like we have been able to work together and accomplish hand-in-hand with the PGA Tour.''

The last time the PGA Tour had four straight playoff events was in 2009, when Tiger Woods won the $10 million bonus.

Bishop has been concerned about the energy level of the American team since last year at Medinah, where Europe staged a record-tying comeback. That would go against another school of thought, however, that the matches have been close ever since the FedEx Cup began because all the top players are in form.

So does the tour's big bonanza at the end of the year hurt or help?

''I don't think that it's probably impacted the Ryder Cup that much one way or the other,'' Bishop said. ''I know Tom was very emphatic about this in my discussions with him that he did think that due to number of weeks in a row - or six out of eight weeks that these guys play leading up to the Ryder Cup - that he had some concerns that our players, particularly when we were playing a foreign Ryder Cup and you had to deal with the time change and the travel, that there was a fatigue factor.''


NO SOUVENIRS FOR YOU: U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson tried to do some advance scouting during a visit to Gleneagles, the famed Scottish resort that will be the site of next year's matches.

While his hosts couldn't have been more gracious showing Watson around, the hospitality dried up pretty quickly when he asked to see the pin sheets from a previous tournament. By seeing where the putting cups were located during the Johnnie Walker Championship, played over the same Centenary Course, Watson was hoping to make an educated guess where they might be when the U.S. and European sides clash a year from September.

''I looked at them with a smile and said, 'You're not going to give it to us?'''

''They said, 'No.'''

Watson laughed off the exchange, saying it was ''no big deal. ... I've been assured that the golf course will be set up not with any particular bias in mind.''

But that doesn't mean the Europeans won't enjoy a significant home-court advantage.

''At that time of year,'' Watson added, ''it can get cold there.''


RICKIE'S FRESH SET OF EYES: The only swing coach for Rickie Fowler was Barry McDonnell, who taught him on the Murrieta Valley Golf Range in southern California. McDonnell died at age 75 two years ago.

Fowler still doesn't have a coach, though he did seek some help.

Butch Harmon said he was asked to take a look at Fowler's swing during the British Open, during which Harmon recommended the club going back a little more straight so that Fowler doesn't have to drop it back into position on the downswing.

Harmon did not classify it as a formal teacher-pupil relationship.

Nick Watney, meanwhile, was seen twice on the practice range working with Todd Anderson, the Sea Island swing coach whose clients include Brandt Snedeker. Watney worked with Harmon for years, and lately had been seeing his son, Claude Harmon III.


WHAT'S FOR DINNER: A tradition like one other took place Tuesday night when defending champion Rory McIlroy hosted a dinner for past winners of the PGA Championship. McIlroy was in charge of the menu, similar to the Champions Dinner at the Masters, the difference being he didn't have to pay for it.

So what was for dinner?

A goat's cheese and beet root salad for a starter. Irish tenderloin as the main course. Sticky toffee pudding for dessert.

''It was good,'' McIlroy said, speaking at least for himself. ''Everybody definitely enjoyed the last two courses. I don't know how the appetizer went down.''

He also gave them each Bose speakers that were personalized. McIlroy signed a deal with Bose earlier this year.

Keeping with the tradition, McIlroy asked two former champions to make speeches. He selected two-time winner Dave Stockton, who coaches McIlroy on his putting; and Keegan Bradley, who won the PGA Championship prior to McIlroy winning last year at Kiawah Island.

''It was cool,'' McIlroy said. ''You have the most recent PGA champions like myself, Keegan Bradley, Martin Kaymer. And then you have someone like Doug Ford. It was his 91st birthday yesterday.''


GREEN SPEED: The PGA Championship took a page out of Augusta National when asked about the speed of the greens at Oak Hill.

Kerry Haigh, chief championships officer for the PGA of America, offered a different twist.

''Championship speed,'' he said.

Asked for a number, Haigh said he didn't believe it was appropriate to give a number on the Stimpmeter.


OH, BROTHERS: The sons of famed teaching pro and former Masters champion Claude Harmon - Butch, Craig, Billy and the late Dick - were known to give each other the needle. Nothing has changed over the years.

Butch Harmon is the most famous of them having worked with Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman and a host of other major champions. Billy Harmon once said the oldest brother wasn't a great teacher, he just had the best students. Craig Harmon is the longtime head pro at Oak Hill.

That led Billy Harmon to offer this nugget Wednesday: ''Best thing about being at Oak Hill this week is that I'm Craig's brother, not Butch's brother.''

To which Butch replied smugly, ''When you're the oldest, you don't have to do much talking.''

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Chamblee comments on Choi's unique step-through swing

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 24, 2018, 3:55 pm

The golf world found itself enamored with a largely unknown journeyman this weekend.

Ho-sung Choi went from 554th in the world to No. 1 in the hearts of all those who swing the golf club just a little bit differently thanks to his run at the Korean Open.

The 44-year-old with the exaggerated step through impact found himself two off the pace through 54 holes and in contention for one of two available invitations to this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Choi fell out of the hunt for tournament title and the Open exemption with a final-round 74, but nonetheless left an impression with his tie for fifth.



Asked about Choi's swing Saturday night, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee offered the following:

"If Chi Chi Rodriguez and Gary Player had a golf school, what would their first professional golfer swing like? Voila," Chamblee said.

"Both those legends had walk through finishes, but Ho Sung has taken this move to a new level with a borderline pirouette to keep from hanging back.

"In an era when professional golfers get accused of having golf swings that all look alike, I’ve never seen anyone swing quite like Ho Sung Choi.

"I can’t wait to try this on the range tomorrow."

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Wallace holds off Olesen to win BMW International

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 3:43 pm

PULHEIM, Germany - England's Matt Wallace shot a 7-under 65 to hold off a record-breaking charge from Thorbjorn Olesen and win the BMW International Open on Sunday.

Wallace finished on 10-under 278 - just ahead of Olesen, Mikko Korhonen and 2008 winner Martin Kaymer, whose chances took a blow with a bogey on the 17th hole.

''I want to keep building on this,'' Wallace said after his third European Tour win. ''Obviously this gives me a lot of confidence to go on and play well and I want to kick on and hopefully do this in the bigger events from now on.''


Full-field scores from the BMW International Open


Olesen had played himself into contention with the lowest round in tournament history, with nine birdies and an eagle for an 11-under 61. It was the lowest round of his European Tour career and it gave the Dane a three-shot lead before the final group had even teed off.

''I was just trying today to go out there and build on my game, see if I could shoot a low score,'' Olesen said. ''Obviously as the round progressed I kept on thinking birdies and trying to make the round better. Finishing with four birdies was pretty nice.''

Wallace turned in 34 but then made five birdies in seven holes from the turn to edge a shot past Olesen. He waited as Kaymer and Korhonen went close with rounds of 68 and 67, respectively.

England's Aaron Rai and Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard finished joint-fifth with rounds of 69.

Sunghyun Park (left) and Minchel Choi (right). Getty Images

Choi, Park qualify for Carnoustie from Korean Open

By Nick MentaJune 24, 2018, 2:54 pm

Two players - Minchel Choi and Sanghyun Park - qualified for next month's Open Championship at Carnoustie via the Open Qualifying Series on Sunday.

Choi (69) held off Park (66) to win the Korean Open by two shots.

This was the Qualifying Series debut for the Korean Open, whiched awarded Open Championship exemptions to the tournament's top two finishers inside the top eight and ties who were not already qualified.

Choi, the 532nd-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking, punched his ticket in his first professional win.

Park, the 146th in the world, is a six-time Korean Tour champion who has already won twice this season. 

Both players will be making their first ever major starts.

“I am absolutely honored to be playing in The Open and I wanted to win this championship to give me [that] opportunity," Choi said. "I cannot believe that I have won today. I am so happy and excited."

“It is a great honor to have qualified for The Open and make my first appearance in the championship," Park added. "I’ve watched The Open on television every single year and I can’t really believe that I have qualified, it is amazing."

The Open Qualifying Series continues next week at the Open de France, where as many as three exemptions will be awarded to the three leading players inside the top 10 and ties who are not already qualified.

The 147th Open will be held at Carnoustie from July 19-22.

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Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.


Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship


Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.