Tournament of Champions gets Sentry as new sponsor

By Doug FergusonAugust 17, 2017, 12:13 am

Wisconsin-based Sentry Insurance has agreed to a five-year deal to become the title sponsor of the winners-only PGA Tour event at Kapalua, a move that strengthens the Tour's commitment to starting the new year in Hawaii.

The Sentry Tournament of Champions will be Jan. 4-7 and marks the 20th straight time the PGA Tour starts a new year on Maui.

''We just felt this was a perfect opportunity for Sentry to tell its story on a national basis, which you can do through tournament sponsorship,'' said Pete McPartland, the chairman, chief executive and president of the 113-year-old mutual insurance company.

South Korean broadcaster SBS had been the title sponsor and briefly farmed it out to Hyundai until the automaker switched its sponsorship to Los Angeles and the Genesis Open at Riviera. SBS had been looking for a new sponsor to take over before its deal expired at the end of 2019.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed Wednesday.

Sentry becomes the new sponsor during a strong youth movement in golf that has invigorated the winners-only event at Kapalua. The Tournament of Champions had lost some luster when Tiger Woods stopped playing after 2005, a few years after Phil Mickelson decided not to start his year in Hawaii.

PGA champion Justin Thomas returns to defend his title, after he held off Hideki Matsuyama a year ago. The previous winners were British Open champion Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, two-time major champion Zach Johnson and former U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson.

McPartland described Sentry as a ''quiet brand'' that had grown rapidly and decided a few years ago to become more aggressive in extending that brand. Stephanie Smith, vice president of marketing and brand management, spearheaded a change in the company's logo from the iconic Capt. John Parker of the Colonial era to one that copies the concept of yin and yang with an ''S'' visible in the middle.

The deal has additional meaning to Smith, whose parents had a vacation home on Maui. Her mother has been a volunteer at the Tournament of Champions for 10 years and expects to do it again.

''Now she gets a shirt with my company on it,'' Smith said.

McPartland said the company hoped to benefit immediately from more name recognition. He said the partnership with the PGA Tour would allow it to entertain more top clients at Kapalua and other tournaments throughout the schedule.

Otherwise, only the name will change.

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan had said last year that the Tour was contemplating a scenario where the LPGA and the PGA Tour play a winners-only format at the same venue. ''That has not materialized here,'' Monahan said.

Meanwhile, the Sony Open in Honolulu is the week after the Tournament of Champions. Its title sponsorship ends in 2018. For years there was concern that if one of the tournaments had left, it would be more difficult to stage the other as a single event in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

''We have been playing golf in Hawaii for over 50 years,'' Monahan said. ''And the two tournaments present a strong start to the calendar year that we looking forward to continuing.''

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Bjorn adds four Ryder Cup veterans as vice captains

By Will GrayMay 22, 2018, 1:05 pm

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn has added a quartet of vice captains for the biennial matches this fall in Paris.

Bjorn had already named Robert Karlsson as his first assistant, and he announced Tuesday at the BMW PGA Championship that his group of advisors will also include major champions Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell, and former world No. 1s Lee Westwood and Luke Donald.

Westwood is among Europe's most decorated Ryder Cup players, and his addition in this role signals he likely won't participate as a player in the matches for the first time since 1995. The Englishman has spoken openly about his desire to captain the European squad at Whistling Straits in 2020, but he's been quiet on the course in recent months, with a missed secondary cut at the Houston Open his only start since mid-February.

Harrington is seen as another possible captain for the 2020 matches, and he'll don an earpiece for the third straight Ryder Cup, having represented Europe as a player on six straight teams from 1999-2010.

Donald played on four Ryder Cup teams from 2004-12, with the Europeans winning each time he was on the roster. This will mark his first stint as a vice captain, as Donald announced last month that he would be sidelined indefinitely while recovering from a back injury.

At age 38, McDowell will be the youngest vice captain in the room, having holed the winning putt eight years ago at Celtic Manor. He won the French Open in both 2013 and 2014 at Le Golf National, site of this year's matches, and will also be making his debut as a vice captain.

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Bidder pays $50,000 to caddie for Woods

By Grill Room TeamMay 22, 2018, 12:28 pm

Someone has paid $50,000 to caddie for Tiger Woods at this year’s Hero World Challenge.

An unnamed bidder paid for the opportunity at an auction Saturday night at Tiger Jam, where monies are raised to support the Tiger Woods Foundation.



The Hero World Challenge will be contested Nov. 29-Dec. in Albany, Bahamas. The pro-am is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 28.

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NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 11:28 am

The NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship is underway at Kartsen Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

After three days of stroke play, eight teams have advanced to the match-play portion of the championship. Quarterfinals and semifinals will be contested on Tuesday, with the finals being held on Wednesday. Golf Channel is airing the action live.

Wake Forest junior Jennifer Kupcho won the individual title. Click here for live action, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.

Scoring:

TV Times (all times ET):

Tuesday
11AM-conclusion: Match-play quarterfinals (Click here to watch live)
4-8PM: Match-play semifinals

Wednesday
4-8PM: Match-play finals

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Arizona grabs last spot with eagle putt, playoff win

By Ryan LavnerMay 22, 2018, 3:18 am

STILLWATER, Okla. – With her team freefalling in the standings, Arizona coach Laura Ianello was down to her last stroke.

The Wildcats began the final round of the NCAA Championship in third place, but they were 19 over par for the day, and outside the top-8 cut line, with only one player left on the course.

Bianca Pagdaganan had transferred from Gonzaga to compete for NCAA titles, and on the 17th hole Ianello told her that she needed to play “the best two holes of your life” to keep the dream alive.

She made par on 17, then hit a 185-yard 6-iron out of a divot to 30 feet. Not knowing where she stood on the final green, Pagdaganan felt an eerie calm over the ball. Sure enough, she buried the eagle putt, setting off a raucous celebration and sending the Wildcats into a play-five, count-four team playoff with Baylor at 33 over par.

Their match-play spot wasn’t yet secure, but Ianello still broke down in tears.


NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Team scoring

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Individual scoring


“Bianca is such an inspiration for all of us,” she said. “She’s the kind of kid that you want to root for, to have good things happen to.”

Arizona prevailed on the second playoff hole. As the 8 seed, the Wildcats will play top-seeded UCLA in the quarterfinals Tuesday at Karsten Creek.

Though the finish had plenty of drama, no teams played their way into the coveted top 8 on the final day of stroke-play qualifying.

Baylor came closest. The Bears barely advanced past regionals after a mysterious stomach virus affected several players and coaches. They competed in the final round with just four healthy players.

On Monday, Gurleen Kaur put Baylor in position to advance, shooting 68, but the Bears lost by three strokes on the second extra hole.

Arkansas finished one shot shy of the team playoff. The second-ranked Razorbacks, who entered NCAAs as one of the pre-tournament favorites, having won seven times, including their first SEC title, couldn’t overcome a 308-300 start and finished 10th. Player of the Year favorite Maria Fassi finished her week at 19 over par and counted only two rounds toward the team total.