Tour moves closer to designating must-play events
In an effort to bolster tournaments that typically get weak fields, the concept is to designate a small number of events and demand players choose one to play. The policy board approved the idea at a meeting last week in West Virginia, which was the first step.
“Because it’s a tournament regulation, it has to be passed twice,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. “It was preliminarily approved in concept. Now we go back to the PAC (Players Advisory Council) and work through the details, get some player input and bring it back to the fall meeting.”
Finchem said he was “positively inclined” that it ultimately would be adopted.
What remains are the details, starting with how many tournaments would be designated and which players would be required to play. The tour could use the FedEx Cup standings, money list or even the world ranking from a previous year to determine who it affects.
It would be the closest thing the tour has had to mandatory participation, although it falls short of the “1-in-4” concept of the LPGA in which players must compete in every tournament at least once over a four-year span.
Finchem has said he would want the policy adopted by around September, which would give the tour the rest of the year to explain and educate players on the plan.
Another proposal that appears to have stalled – at least for now – is expanding the field at the season-opening SBS Championship at Kapalua, traditionally reserved only for winners from the previous season. The PAC has discussed giving a two-year exemption to Kapalua for PGA Tour winners.
Finchem supports the idea, but the tour is looking for another title sponsor (although SBS is under contract through 2019). The commissioner said he wants to see if another sponsor emerges before making changes, to be sure a new sponsor agrees with the change.
AMERICAN DROUGHT: Anthony Kim put his Ryder Cup hopes in jeopardy when he had left thumb surgery in May, which forced him to miss two majors over three months. He was No. 2 in the standings, but movement is volatile during a Ryder Cup year.
Kim returns this week at the Bridgestone Invitational and has fallen all the way … to No. 5.
That speaks to the lack of American success on the PGA Tour over the last three months. In the 14 tournaments since Kim had surgery, the only American winners were Zach Johnson at Colonial, Bubba Watson at the Travelers Championship, Steve Stricker at the John Deere Classic and Matt Bettencourt, who won an opposite-field event in Reno the week of St. Andrews.
Americans finished second in only eight of those events, a list that includes the Ryder Cup captain (Corey Pavin) and one of his assistant captains (Paul Goydos). About the only player who consistently contended was Jeff Overton, who has been rewarded by moving up to No. 4 in the standings.
That doesn’t make Overton – or Kim, for that matter – a lock to finish in the top eight and make the team.
Only about $645,000 separates Jim Furyk at No. 2 from Tiger Woods at No. 9, with two events remaining with combined prize money of about $16 million.
PATIENT PADRAIG: Padraig Harrington is playing the kind of consistent golf that usually leads to winning.
He’s just not winning.
The Irishman is approaching the two-year anniversary of his last official victory – the 2008 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills. And he concedes that his patience is being tested, although Harrington finds his expectations at odds with everyone else.
He had 10 finishes in the top 10 last year, more than he had in either 2008 or 2007, and his runner-up finish in the Irish Open was his sixth top 10 of this season.
“I don’t normally use as a guideline how many top-10s because I think it’s not a great thing to focus on,” he said. “But I’ve had more top-10s in the last year than I’ve ever had in my career. So going on a guideline that most people use, I’ve actually had the best year of my career. Glaringly obvious, I haven’t won. But my form has been solid enough.”
Harrington posed a question last week about which should be considered a better player – someone who won and did nothing else the rest of the year, or contended a majority of the time without ever winning?
“Obviously, a win would make life a lot easier,” he said. “But I can tell, as much as I need a win, I’m quite happy that the form is there.”
TOP COURSES: Despite hosting its sixth major championship, Pebble Beach failed to beat out Pacific Dunes on Golf Magazine’s list of “Top 100 Courses You Can Play.” Pacific Dunes, designed by Tom Doak in Bandon, Ore., was voted No. 1 by the magazine’s panel.
Bandon had four courses in the top 15, including Old Macdonald, which was among seven new courses on the list.
California had the most courses in the top 100 with 10, while 67 of the golf courses could be played for under $100.
LANGER IN WALES?: Bernhard Langer won senior majors in consecutive weeks, eight time zones apart, and there are some wondering whether he merits consideration as a captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup.
Don’t count Darren Clarke among them. In between Langer winning the Senior British Open and the U.S. Senior Open, Clarke was asked if he thought the 52-year-old German had played himself into contention for the team.
“Which team?” Clarke replied.
The Ryder Cup.
“What year?” he asked.
“Have you been drinking?” came the latest reply.
Langer has not played in the Ryder Cup since 2002, and he was the European captain in 2004. Could he be a player again?
“I couldn’t see that, no,” Clarke said last week at the Irish Open. “I think Bernhard is a great player, has been a great player. I think he’s obviously played great winning the British Seniors Open, but it’s a different field you’re competing in.”
STAT OF THE WEEK: Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin and Tiger Woods each have played seven times on the PGA Tour this year. Pavin is No. 96 in the FedEx Cup standings, while Woods is No. 111.
FINAL WORD: “If the fairways are 15 yards wide and you didn’t have to hit it 330 (yards) to compete, maybe I wouldn’t do that.” – Jeff Overton on the swing he uses to create power.
LeBron's son tries golf, and he might be good at everything
LeBron James' son seems well on his way to a successful basketball career of his own. To wit:
But with just a little work, he could pass on trying to surpass his father and try to take on Tiger and Jack, instead.
Bronny posted this video to Instagram of him in sandals whacking balls off a mat atop a deck into a large body of water, which is the golfer's definition of living your best life.
If you listen closely, at the end of the clip, you can just barely hear someone scream out for a marine biologist.
Sponsored: Callaway's 'Golf Lives: Home Course'
In this original series, Callaway sets out to profile unique golf locations around the country based on their stories, communities and the characters that surround them. The golf cultures across the series are remarkably diverse, yet in all cases it's the course itself that unifies and ignites the passions of those who play.
“Golf Lives: Home Course” focuses on three distinct home courses across the country – one in D.C., one in Nebraska and one in Portland, Ore. All have very different golf cultures, but are connected by a deep love of the game.
Click here for a look at all three episodes in the series, as well as past Golf Lives films (check out the trailer below).
And here’s a breakdown of the three courses in focus:
Langston Golf Course (Washington, D.C.)
Opened in June 1939, Langston is steeped in a rich history. Known for its triumphant role in the desegregation of public golf, the course has been integral to the growth of the game’s popularity among African Americans. With its celebratory feel, Langston shows us golf is not unifies individuals, but generations.
Edgefield Golf Course (Portland, Ore.)
The air is fresh, the beers are cold and the vibes are electric at Edgefield. You'd be hard pressed to find a more laid back, approachable and enjoyable environment for a round. Overlooking stunning panoramic views of northeast Portland, two par-3 pub courses (12 holes and 20 holes) wind through vineyards, thickets of blackberry bushes and a vintage distillery bar. All are welcome at Edgefield, especially those who have never swung a club.
Wild Horse Golf Club (Gothenburg, Neb.)
In 1997, the locals and farmers living in the tight-knit town of Gothenburg decided to build a golf course. A bank loan, a couple of tractors, and a whole lotta sweat-equity later, their prairieland masterpiece is now considered one of the best in the country. Wild Horse is the soul of the community, providing unforgettable memories for all who play it.
Pepperell likely sews up Masters invite via OWGR
Eddie Pepperell received a trophy for his win Sunday at the British Masters, but another prize will be coming in the mail at the end of the year.
Pepperell held on to win by two shots at rainy Walton Heath, giving him his second win of the year to go along with a pair of runner-ups. The Englishman started the year ranked No. 133 in the world and was as low as 513th in May 2017. But with the win, Pepperell jumped 17 spots to a career-best 33rd in the latest world rankings.
It means that Pepperell, who finished T-6 at The Open while fighting a hangover in the final round, is in line to make his Masters debut next spring, as the top 50 in the world rankings at the end of the calendar year become exempt into the season's first major.
Another player now in the mix for that top-50 exemption is Emiliano Grillo, who went from 62nd to 49th with a T-2 finish at the PGA Tour's CIMB Classic. Grillo has played in two Masters but missed this year's event. Marc Leishman moved up eight spots to No. 16 with his win in Malaysia, while T-2s result moved Chesson Hadley from 75th to 60th and Bronson Burgoon from 162nd to 102nd.
There were no changes among the top 10 in the latest rankings, with Dustin Johnson still ahead of Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy. Francesco Molinari remains in sixth, with Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth rounding out the top 10.
Both Koepka and Thomas are in the field at this week's CJ Cup in South Korea, where they will have an opportunity to overtake Johnson for world No. 1.
With his next competitive start unknown, Tiger Woods stayed at No. 13 for another week.
USGA, R&A unveil new limits on green books
Following a six-week feedback period, the USGA and R&A unveiled a new interpretation of the Rules of Golf and the use of green-reading materials on Monday.
The interpretation limits the size and scale of putting green books and any electronic or digital materials that a player may use to assist with green reading.
“We’re thankful for everyone’s willingness to provide feedback as we worked through the process of identifying a clear interpretation that protects the essential skill of reading a green, while still allowing for information that helps golfers enjoy the game,” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior managing director of governance.
Players will be allowed to continue to use green-reading books beginning in 2019, but the new interpretation will limit images of greens to a scale of 3/8 inch to 5 yards (1:480), and books can be no larger than 4 1/4 inches by 7 inches (pocket-sized). The interpretation also bans the use of magnification devices beyond normal prescription glasses.
The USGA and R&A will allow for hand-drawn notes in green books as long as those notes are written by the player or their caddie. The rule makers also dropped a proposal that would have limited the minimum slope to four percent in green-reading material.
“These latest modifications provide very practical changes that make the interpretation easier to understand and apply in the field,” Pagel said.