LPGA: Season-long race for 2014; $1M bonus

By Randall MellJanuary 8, 2014, 12:54 pm

The LPGA’s new Race to the CME Globe was unveiled Wednesday as a season-long competition for the biggest winner’s prize in women’s golf.

A $1 million check will await the winner of a new points-based race that will run from start to finish of the 2014 season.

The race begins with the LPGA’s season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic in two weeks and continues until its conclusion at the re-named season finale, the CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla. The season finale was played as the CME Group Titleholders the last three years.

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan delivered expanded playing opportunities with the release of the 2014 tour schedule late last year, a schedule that features 33 events, five more than were played in 2013. The Race to the CME Globe comes as a bonus.

“It’s a bow on the present,” Whan said.

The CME Group Tour Championship will continue to be played as a 72-hole stroke-play event with $500,000 going to the champion. The Race to the CME Globe will conclude as a separate competition within the tournament, one that will be decided by total points rather than strokes.

The LPGA isn’t calling its new points race a playoff, but the season-finale will have a post-season feel with two trophies at stake in Naples Nov. 20-23.

“We’ll sort of have a one-game playoff, a win or go home playoff,” Whan said.

LPGA pros will have more incentive to make every finish count with points meaning so much at season’s end.

“I love the concept,” said Paige Mackenzie, a player director on the LPGA Board and "Morning Drive" contributor. “It’s amazing how far the LPGA has come in the last few years, and to be able to play for $1 million, and potentially walk away with $1.5 million, is incredible.”

Here are the Race to the CME Globe highlights:

• The LPGA will award 500 points to all the winners of its regular events with 625 points going to the winners of its major championships. Points will be awarded to the top 70 players and ties at every event with a cut. Points also will be awarded to the top 40 and ties at events without a cut and to the top 20 and ties at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, the smallest field on the tour schedule.

• The top 72 players on the race’s points list after the Lorena Ochoa Invitational (Nov. 13-16) will earn the right to play in the CME Group Tour Championship. Only the top nine in points, however, will go to the season finale with a chance to win the $1 million top prize.

• Only the top three point winners at the conclusion of the CME Group Tour Championship will take home money. The race’s second-place point earner will take home $150,000 with the third-place finisher taking home $100,000. Money won through the race will be unofficial for the purposes of the money list.

• Before the start of the CME Group Tour Championship, the season-long points will be reset, with the season-long leader reset to 5,000 points, second place reset to 4,500 points, third place to 4,000 with fewer points continuing down the line.

The CME Group Tour Championship winner will earn 3,500 points, second place will receive 2,400 points, third place will receive 2,200 points, with point distribution continuing to fall the lower players finish.

Whan said the reset guarantees the points race will be decided at the CME Group Tour Championship. It prevents someone from clinching the big prize before the season finale.

“We wanted to have a balance that valued season-long performance, but, obviously, we wanted to create drama and excitement for the final event,” said Jon Podany, the LPGA’s chief marketing officer. “You’ve got to play well all year. You have a clear advantage if you do, but you’ve got to finish it off at the CME Group Tour Championship.”

• Only the top three point earners going into the season finale control their destiny. If a player who is first, second or third in points wins the CME Group Tour Championship, she is guaranteed of winning the CME Globe.

• If the new Race to the CME Globe would have been in place in 2013, Inbee Park would have won the it with Shanshan Feng second and Stacy Lewis third, according to the LPGA. Feng won the CME Group Titleholders in ‘13. Na Yeon Choi would have won the CME Globe in 2012 and Yani Tseng in 2011.

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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”

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Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06

By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.

Hoylake in 2006.

That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.

So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”

With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?

“The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”