Riviera set for strongest field this year

By Doug FergusonFebruary 17, 2011, 5:45 am

Northern Trust Open

LOS ANGELES – Steve Stricker has a new appreciation for the lengths some players go to compete on the PGA Tour.

Stricker, the defending champion at the Northern Trust Open, is fresh off the longest trip of his life. He flew halfway around the world to play in the Qatar Masters and it felt like his first day at school. He didn’t know where to register. He never got caught up on his sleep. There was more to that week than playing golf.

The collection of players at Riviera this week include Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa, Padraig Harrington of Ireland and Ryo Ishikawa, the 19-year-old from Japan. 

“I don’t know how they do it,” Stricker said. “I found it very hard to go over there and concentrate and play well. And I can see when these guys travel across from Europe to here how difficult it’s got to be for them.”

The travel is what makes Riviera so intriguing this week.

It marks the PGA Tour debut this year of Oosthuizen, the British Open champion who joined the U.S. tour for the first time. Another rookie is Robert Karlsson, a 41-year-old from Sweden who recently moved from Monaco to Charlotte, N.C. There’s also Ishikawa and K.T. Kim of South Korea, both ranked inside the top 50 in the world.

The world will be coming to America for the next several months, and while none of the top three players in the world are at the Northern Trust Open – Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Tiger Woods – this very well could be the strongest field so far this year.

Riviera has five of the top 10 in the world, and 16 of the top 30.

From last year’s PGA Tour money list, only three players are missing from the top 20 – Ernie Els, Tim Clark and Camilo Villegas, all of whom are not here because of nagging injuries.

Next week is the Match Play Championship in Arizona for the top 64 in the world. Two weeks later is another World Golf Championship event at Doral, with more tournaments in Florida and Houston as players get ready for the Masters.

There are different starting lines in golf.

PGA Tour members tend to begin their season in Hawaii. The European Tour essentially kicks off in the United Arab Emirates. But there is a sense at Riviera, with so much depth to the field, that the best are starting to congregate.

“When I played in Hawaii, it almost felt like the silly season,” Hunter Mahan said. “Some guys were just done playing Chevron, or playing in China. San Diego was a little more of a normal routine. But it doesn’t seem like an event is a real event until all the international guys start showing up.”

Phil Mickelson is another headliner at Riviera, where he will try to win for the third time on a course that used to give him fits. And just like Ishikawa and Oosthuizen, he had to get on a plane to get here.

OK, so Mickelson didn’t have that far to fly.

As he often does, Mickelson has found it easier to stay at home with his wife and three kids in San Diego and fly his jet up the coast to Santa Monica. Door-to-door it takes him about an hour, which is how long it can take to just get down Sunset Boulevard when leaving Riviera at the wrong time.

Mickelson had a slightly tougher time Wednesday, with such low cloud cover that he was forced to land in Van Nuys, adding a half-hour to his flight. He’s not losing any sleep over that one.

“I’m a little concerned the next day or two getting in with some of the low minimums of the clouds,” Mickelson said. “It looks like it’s going to be OK.”

As for his game? Mickelson isn’t worried about that, either.

He was energized going into this year, with his health improved and his wife’s battle with cancer having turned the corner. Mickelson just hasn’t been getting the results, except for a runner-up finish at Torrey Pines. He has won twice at Riviera, and hopes to make this the sixth tournament he has won at least three times.

“I’ve been playing well,” he said. “I’ve got just a slight hurdle to get over where I’ve got to get the scores down to how I feel I’m playing. Some of that will be course management, some of that will just be getting a couple putts to drop, but I feel like I’m right on the cusp of playing some really good golf.”

Weather could be a factor beyond Mickelson’s flight plan.

It was cool, windy and rainy for the pro-am, and the forecast is for rain during various parts of the week. That hasn’t affected the course too much, as Riviera was in such great shape that it can hold water and still remain relatively fast.

Karlsson didn’t have to travel as far as he once did to get here.

With his two children getting older, and life too cramped in a small apartment in Monaco, Karlsson figured it was time to move on. One option was Sweden. But his runner-up finish in Memphis last year paved the way for him to earn a PGA Tour card, and he decided it was time to take up membership in America.

Why not move to Florida? Karlsson wanted a change of seasons, and he met enough people in Charlotte that he was hooked. Although it was cold enough in the south this year that he didn’t get much time to work on his golf.

“With the winter being quite harsh in North Carolina – not for a Swede, but for golf – I was hoping to get a bit of practice in,” he said. “And it didn’t work out that way.”

He had two top 10s in the Arabian desert, so it’s not all bad.

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2018 NCAA Golf Championships TV Schedule

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 21, 2018, 12:29 pm

Golf Channel will shine a spotlight on college golf across the next two weeks at the 2018 NCAA Division I Women’s and Men’s Golf National Championships. With more than 60 hours of live tournament and news coverage on-site from Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater Oklahoma (Monday-Wednesday May 21-23 and May 28-30), Golf Channel’s coverage connects 18 straight days of live tournament golf.

Watch live coverage of the NCAA Golf Championships beginning Monday, May 21 at 4pm ET on Golf Channel and streaming.

Keep up with the social media conversation by following Golf Channel on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Join in by using #NCAAGolf 

Golf Channel NCAA Women’s Golf Championships Coverage (all times ET)

Monday, May 21: Individual National Championship  4-8 p.m. (Live)

Tuesday, May 22:Quarterfinals, Team Match Play 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live)

Tuesday, May 22: Semifinals, Team Match Play 4-8 p.m. (Live)

Wednesday, May 23:Team Match Play National Championship 4-8 p.m. (Live)

 

Golf Channel NCAA Men’s Golf Championships Coverage (all times ET)

Monday, May 28: Individual National Championship 4-8 p.m. (Live)

Tuesday, May 29: Quarterfinals, Team Match Play 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live)

Tuesday, May 29: Semifinals, Team Match Play 4-8 p.m. (Live)

Wednesday, May 30: Team Match Play National Championship 4-8 p.m. (Live)

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AT&T Byron Nelson purse payout: Wise a millionaire

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 21, 2018, 12:05 pm

PGA Tour rookie Aaron Wise earned his first Tour title on Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out at Trinity Forest:

1 Aaron Wise -23 $1,386,000
2 Marc Leishman -20 $831,600
T3 Branden Grace -19 $400,400
T3 J.J. Spaun -19 $400,400
T3 Keith Mitchell -19 $400,400
T6 Ryan Blaum -16 $257,950
T6 Kevin Na -16 $257,950
T6 Jimmy Walker -16 $257,950
T9 Adam Scott -15 $207,900
T9 Charles Howell III -15 $207,900
T9 Kevin Tway -15 $207,900
12 Brian Gay -14 $177,100
T13 Rory Sabbatini -13 $148,867
T13 Ethan Tracy -13 $148,867
T13 Matt Jones -13 $148,867
T16 Russell Knox -12 $115,500
T16 Hideki Matsuyama -12 $115,500
T16 Bronson Burgoon -12 $115,500
T16 Derek Fathauer -12 $115,500
T16 Joel Dahmen -12 $115,500
T21 Jordan Spieth -11 $80,080
T21 Billy Horschel -11 $80,080
T21 Robert Garrigus -11 $80,080
T21 Peter Uihlein -11 $80,080
T21 Martin Piller -11 $80,080
T26 Tyler Duncan -10 $55,825
T26 Anirban Lahiri -10 $55,825
T26 Parker McLachlin -10 $55,825
T26 Martin Flores -10 $55,825
T26 J.T. Poston -10 $55,825
T26 Shawn Stefani -10 $55,825
T32 Cody Gribble -9 $39,116
T32 Johnson Wagner -9 $39,116
T32 Geoff Ogilvy -9 $39,116
T32 Nick Taylor -9 $39,116
T32 C.T. Pan -9 $39,116
T32 Scott Piercy -9 $39,116
T32 Nicholas Lindheim -9 $39,116
T32 Fabian Gomez -9 $39,116
T32 Beau Hossler -9 $39,116
T32 Nate Lashley -9 $39,116
T42 Zac Blair -8 $23,184
T42 Abraham Ancer -8 $23,184
T42 Maverick McNealy -8 $23,184
T42 Denny McCarthy -8 $23,184
T42 Jonathan Byrd -8 $23,184
T42 Eric Axley -8 $23,184
T42 Sam Ryder -8 $23,184
T42 Brian Stuard -8 $23,184
T42 J.B. Holmes -8 $23,184
T42 Sung-hoon Kang -8 $23,184
T42 Andrew Putnam -8 $23,184
T53 Ben Crane -7 $17,659
T53 Steve Wheatcroft -7 $17,659
T53 Troy Merritt -7 $17,659
T53 Patrick Rodgers -7 $17,659
T53 Corey Conners -7 $17,659
T53 Robert Streb -7 $17,659
T59 Ryan Armour -6 $16,632
T59 Peter Malnati -6 $16,632
T59 Vaughn Taylor -6 $16,632
T59 Dominic Bozzelli -6 $16,632
T59 Adam Schenk -6 $16,632
T59 Hudson Swafford -6 $16,632
T59 Michael Thompson -6 $16,632
T66 Matt Atkins -5 $15,862
T66 Roberto Diaz -5 $15,862
T66 T.J. Vogel -5 $15,862
69 Sang-Moon Bae -4 $15,554
T70 Tom Lovelady -3 $15,246
T70 Cameron Percy -3 $15,246
T70 Rod Pampling -3 $15,246
73 Brian Davis -1 $14,938
74 Mark Wilson 1 $14,784
75 Robert Allenby 2 $14,630
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Howell, Uihlein qualify for U.S. Open via OWGR

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 11:02 am

Charles Howell III and Peter Uihlein both used strong play at the AT&T Byron Nelson to maintain their positions inside the top 60 in the latest Official World Golf Ranking, thereby ensuring exemptions to next month's U.S. Open.

Howell moved up three spots to No. 56 in the world thanks to a T-9 finish at Trinity Forest. He'll make his 10th career U.S. Open appearance, but just his second since 2009. Howell missed the cut at Olympic in 2012.

Uihlein finished T-21 in Dallas, which was barely enough to hold onto a top-60 spot as he actually fell two positions to No. 59. The former U.S. Amateur champ will make his third U.S. Open appearance and second in as many years.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


The drama for the final spot came down to the wire on Sunday, where Adam Scott's bid to unseat Chesson Hadley at No. 60 came up just short. Needing a solo ninth-place finish, Scott ended up in a three-way tie for ninth to begin the new week at No. 61. Hadley, who didn't play the Nelson, remained No. 60 and will make his U.S. Open debut.

Others to punch tickets to Shinnecock Hills include No. 52 Luke List, No. 53 Chez Reavie and No. 57 Dylan Frittelli. A second and final top-60 cutoff will be done based off the June 11 world rankings following the FedEx St. Jude Classic, with U.S. Open sectional qualifying conducted in England and the U.S. on June 4.

The only change among the top 10 in the rankings this week came at No. 10, where Paul Casey moved past Tommy Fleetwood despite an off week for both players. Justin Thomas remains world No. 1 for a second week, followed by Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm and Justin Rose. Rickie Fowler remains No. 6, with Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama and Casey rounding out the top 10.

Taking the week off following a T-11 finish at The Players Championship, Tiger Woods fell two spots to No. 82.

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After Further Review: Nelson lost in the shuffle?

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 21, 2018, 3:40 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the Nelson's future ...

If the goal was “different” by bringing the AT&T Byron Nelson to Trinity Forest, consider it achieved. But bringing a world-class field south of Dallas could still be tricky.

Yes, the tournament can always rely on local resident and AT&T spokesman Jordan Spieth to throw his hat in the ring. But even with Spieth strolling the fairways this week, the field strength was among the worst all season for a full-point event.

The debut of the sprawling, links-like layout likely did little to sway the undecideds, with only the third round offering the challenging conditions that course co-designer Ben Crenshaw had envisioned. And the schedule won’t do them any favors next year, as a revamped itinerary likely puts the Nelson right before the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black.

The course will inevitably get better with age, and Spieth expects positive word of mouth to spread. But it might be a while before the stars truly align for an event that, for the moment, feels lost in the shuffle of a hectic schedule. – Will Gray


On Jordan Spieth's putting ...

Jordan Spieth’s putting is plainly bad right now, but it isn’t going to stay this bad forever.

He is the second ranked player on Tour in strokes gained: tee-to-green, just like he was last year. This putting slump has lingered, but it’s unfathomable to think this guy just forgot how to putt.

Sooner rather than later he’s going to remember he’s Jordan Spieth and the 40-footers are going to start pouring in. He’ll be telling Greller to go get the ball because he’s too far away and the tee is in the other direction.

Bottom line, the ball striking is for real and the putting slump will pass. He’ll win soon – maybe even as soon as this week. – Nick Menta


On golf and gambling ...

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court over tuned a federal ban on sports betting in most states, a move the PGA Tour and many professional sports leagues embraced as a tool to both build fan interest and grow revenue.

Experts estimate sports betting could become a $150-$200 billion annual industry, and even a small piece of that could be significant for golf, but there will be risks.

Unlike any other sport, golf is played on multiple fields simultaneously, which inherently creates risks when gambling is introduced to the equation. Although the Tour has gone to great pains to head off any potential problems, like all bets gambling comes with great rewards, and great risks. – Rex Hoggard