Woods wins award over U.S. Open champion

By Doug FergusonJuly 3, 2012, 10:18 pm

BETHESDA, Md. – Back when the PGA Tour season ended the first week of November at the Tour Championship, there was growing support for a shorter season. Turns out that shorter season is not to take a break from golf but to chase more money.

There was the Kiwi Challenge that Hunter Mahan won in 2008. The Shanghai Masters was created last year. Tiger Woods went to Australia in 2009 and 2010, though he has a history of international travel from when he was a rookie. Phil Mickelson has a burgeoning golf course design business in Asia, and he is a two-time winner of the HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

According to two British newspapers, the latest edition is the Turkish Airways World Golf Finals in October with a $5.3 million pursue and the best players in the world. The Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph report the field is to include Woods, Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, Charl Schwartzel, Webb Simpson and Mahan.

The winner would receive $1.5 million, with $1 million going to the runner-up.

The tournament is to be played Oct. 9-12, ending on a Friday so that it won't steal attention away from the weekend of the Portugal Masters on the European Tour and the Frys.com Open on the PGA Tour, the second event in the Fall Series.

One newspaper said Woods is working toward a deal with the Turkish airline. GolfChannel.com senior writer Jason Sobel talked with Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, and confirmed that talks were in process regarding the event and sponsorship, but nothing was finalized.

None of the PGA Tour players involved were likely to be at the Frys.com Open or in Las Vegas the week before. Woods made his Fall Series debut at the Frys.com Open last year, though he was still in conversation about a corporate deal at the time. Simpson lost in a playoff last year at the McGladrey Classic, which follows the Turkey event, though he was trying to win the money title.

For the Tour, the shorter regular season was created by the FedEx Cup, which offers $35 million in prize money. And the structure allowed it to then have a wraparound season starting in 2013, with the Fall Series being treated the same as regular Tour events.

One thing hasn't changed. About the only break from golf is the week of Christmas.

FAN VOTING: The Tour signed up Avis as a sponsor of its Player of the Month award and decided this year to let the fans vote.

They have spoken for the month of June. Tiger Woods, who won the Memorial, received 51 percent of the vote to edge Webb Simpson, who won the U.S. Open. Also on the ballot was Memphis winner Dustin Johnson and Hartford winner Marc Leishman.

There have been cases when a major champion didn't win the award. Vijay Singh won in August 2008 over PGA champion Padraig Harrington, though the Fijian won a World Golf Championship and FedEx Cup playoff event that month.

Then again, it's not just the fans.

Players voted Rickie Fowler the Tour Rookie of the Year in 2010 even though he didn't win a tournament and failed to reach the Tour Championship. He won over Rory McIlroy, who shot a 62 to win at Quail Hollow and tied for third in two majors, tying a record with a 63 at St. Andrews.

Under the marketing deal, Avis made a $50,000 contribution to the Tiger Woods Foundation. This comes two days after Woods donated his $1.17 million check to the foundation from winning the AT&T National.

OGILVIE OUT: A sore back turned into a short year for Joe Ogilvie.

Ogilvie was reaching down to pick up a head cover more than two months ago when he experienced a kind of pain he had never felt before. He treated it with massage, though it never went away entirely, and it reached a point where Ogilvie said he had issues with either his back, shoulder or neck three out of seven days.

''Finally at Hartford, I woke up and couldn't move,'' Ogilvie said.

An MRI revealed a herniated disk in his L-5 and S-1, meaning he is out for the year to let it properly heal. Ogilvie said doctors have said he should rest for four to six weeks and then start an intense rehabilitation. He could be ready by October if all goes well, but Ogilvie figures he is better off applying for a major medical exemption in 2013 instead of trying to make up ground in October.

''If I was a 15-handicap, I could play golf,'' he said. ''It's just really tough to beat Hunter Mahan this way.''

The biggest pain now might be figuring out what to do with his time. He already is tired of reading everything on the internet. Television doesn't hold his interest for long. To kill time, the guy with an economics degree from Duke said he would study and take his Series 7 exam - formally known as the General Securities Representation Exam - required by all brokers and money managers.

Of course.

RATING RACES: Tiger Woods again showed his television power last week when CBS Sports reported a 4.6 overnight rating with a 10 share for the final round Sunday, when Woods won the AT&T National for his third win of the year. It was up 188 percent over last year, though the rating did not measure the same metered markets because of widespread power outages in Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore and Columbus, Ohio.

Next up for Woods is The Greenbrier Classic, his first trip to West Virginia.

The Tour event will be up against NBC Sports and the U.S. Women's Open, the biggest event on the LPGA schedule. This will be the first time since 2003 that Woods has played the same week as the U.S. Women's Open.

DIVOTS: Bo Van Pelt became the 71st player on Tour to be a runner-up to Tiger Woods. ... The Tour will take over all aspects of its digital business starting next year. It had relied on Turner Sports to help produce its website and the Tour's digital products. ... John Peterson has been given a sponsor's exemption for the Frys.com Open, which has a history of giving spots to players just out of college. Peterson, who won an NCAA title last year at LSU, already is assured of playing in the Masters and U.S. Open next year because he tied for fourth at the U.S. Open. ... Tiger Woods now is 54-7 when playing in the final group and trailing by no more than one shot.

STAT OF THE WEEK: At The Greenbrier Classic, Tiger Woods will be trying to record back-to-back top 10s for the first time since September 2009.

FINAL WORD: ''I should say I've watched a lot of women's golf, but I really haven't. I've watched a lot of men's golf just because, I don't know, just seems to be on.'' – Juli Inkster, who missed six months this year recovering from elbow surgery.

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Match-by-match: 2018 WGC-Dell Technologies, Day 1

By Will GrayMarch 21, 2018, 6:32 pm

Here is how things played out on Day 1 of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, as 64 players take on Austin Country Club with hopes of advancing out of pool play:

Group 15: (15) Pat Perez vs. (50) Si Woo Kim, halved: The first match of the day ended up in a draw, as the top seed rallied from a deficit to salvage half a point. Kim won three of the first six holes and held a 3-up lead with seven holes to go, but Perez fought back with four birdies over the next six holes to draw even.

Group 15: (24) Gary Woodland vs. (37) Webb Simpson, halved: This group remains entirely up for grabs since nothing was decided on the opening day. Woodland took a 3-up lead at the turn, but Simpson rallied by winning four of the next seven holes, including a birdie on No. 17 that brought him back to all square for the first time since the third hole.

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Watch: Thomas saves par from impossible position

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 21, 2018, 5:18 pm

Luke List was just hoping for an opening in his Day 1 match against Justin Thomas at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

Thomas cracked the door on the par-4 ninth, but then quickly slammed it shut. Thomas, 3 up through eight holes, was in terrible shape after two shots at No. 9. But his third shot was a beauty, and a heartbreaker for List.

Thomas made the putt to halve the hole and make the turn 3 up.

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LPGA's new Q-Series to offer deferrals for amateurs

By Randall MellMarch 21, 2018, 4:36 pm

The LPGA’s new Q-Series, which takes the place of the final stage of Q-School beginning this year, will come with a revolutionary new twist for amateurs.

For the first time, the LPGA will offer deferrals that will allow amateurs to win tour membership in December but delay turning pro until the following June or July, tour commissioner Mike Whan told GolfChannel.com.

It’s a notable change, because the deferral will allow a collegiate player to earn tour membership at the end of this year but retain amateur status to finish out her collegiate spring season next year, before joining the tour.

“We haven’t done that in the past, because we didn’t want an onslaught, where every player in college is trying to join the tour,” Whan said.

The way it worked in the past, a collegian could advance through the final stage of Q-School, but if that player earned the right to a tour card and wanted to take up membership, she had to declare after the final round that she was turning pro. It meant the player would leave her college team in the middle of the school year. It was a particularly difficult decision for players who earned conditional LPGA status, and it played havoc with the makeup of some college teams.

Whan said the revamped Q-Series format won’t create the collegiate stampede that deferrals might have in the past.

“It will take a unique talent to show up at the first stage of Q-School and say, ‘I’ll see you at Q-Series,’” Whan said. “There won’t be a lot of amateurs who make it there.”

Under the new qualifying format, there will continue to be a first and second stage of Q-School, but it will be much harder to advance to the final stage, now known Q-Series.

Under the old format, about 80 players advanced from the second stage to the Q-School finals. Under the new format, only 15 to 25 players from the second stage will advance to the Q-Series, and only a portion of those are likely to be collegians.

Under the new format, a maximum of 108 players will meet at the Q-Series finals, where a minimum of 45 tour cards will be awarded after 144 holes of competition, played over two weeks on two different courses. The field will include players who finished 101st to 150th and ties on the final LPGA money list, and players who finished 11th to 30th and ties on the final Symetra Tour money list. The field will also include up to 10 players from among the top 75 of the Rolex Women’s World Rankings and the top five players on the Golfweek Women’s Collegiate Rankings.

“We feel if you make it to the Q-Series finals as a college player, you are probably among the best of the best, and we ought to give you the opportunity to finish the college year,” Whan said.

University of Washington coach Mary Lou Mulflur said she would prefer amateurs not be allowed to compete at Q-School, but she called this a workable compromise.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Mulflur said. “It’s better than the way it’s been in the past. That was hard, because it broke up teams.”

Mulflur said she disliked the tough position the former policy put college players in at the final stage of Q-School, where they had to decide at event’s end whether to turn pro and accept tour membership.

“I can’t imagine being a kid in that position, and I’ve had a couple kids in that position,” Mulflur said. “It’s hard on everybody, the player, the family and the coaches. You hear about coaches standing there begging a kid not to turn pro, and that’s just not the way it should be, for the coach or the player.”

Mulflur agreed with Whan that the new Q-Series format should limit the number of collegians who have a chance to win tour cards.

“I believe it’s a good compromise, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out going forward,” Mulflur said. “Kudos to the commissioner for giving kids this option.”

University of Miami coach Patti Rizzo, a four-time LPGA winner, applauds the deferral option. Two years ago, Rizzo lost her best player, Danny Darquea, who turned pro in the spring. It hurt Miami’s team.

“That was probably our best chance in seven years to win the nationals,” Rizzo said.

Rizzo said her concerns seeing a player turn pro go beyond how it affects her team.

“What all these girls need to realize now is that a degree is more important than ever,” Rizzo said. “In my day, it was like, 'My chances are pretty good. I will get my card.’ But it’s so much more competitive now. And financially, it’s hard to make it. I think it’s so much harder than it ever was. So many girls aren’t making it, and they need a backup plan.”

Darquea is playing the Symetra Tour now, but Rizzo said she is also back in Miami taking classes to finish up her final semester and get her degree.

“It’s great she is doing that, but it would have been better if she could have stayed in college three more months and got her degree and then turned pro,” Rizzo said. “I think this deferral option is great, and I would think all the college coaches will think so, too.”

Whan said collegians who take deferrals will be counseled.

“We will sit down with them and their families and explain the risks,” Whan said. “If you take a deferral and start playing on July 15, you might find yourself back in Q-Series again later that year, because you may not have enough time.”

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Tour still focused on security after death of suspected Austin bomber

By Rex HoggardMarch 21, 2018, 4:07 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Although the suspect in the wave of Austin-area bombings was killed early Wednesday, the PGA Tour plans to continue heightened security measures at this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club.

According to various news outlets, Mark Anthony Conditt has been identified as the bombings suspect, and he was killed by an explosion inside his car in Round Rock, Texas, which is 19 miles north of Austin Country Club.

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“We do not comment on the specifics of our security measures, but we are continuing to work in close collaboration with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in Austin to ensure the safety of our players and fans at this week’s tournament,” the Tour said in a statement. “Regardless of the recent developments, our heightened security procedures will remain in place through the remainder of the week.”

Authorities believe Conditt is responsible for the five explosions that killed two people and injured five others in Austin or south-central Texas since March 2.

Play began Wednesday at the Match Play.