Getty Images

LPGA faces dilemma relating to ANA date

By Randall MellApril 23, 2018, 5:00 pm

While the new Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship promises to bolster the overall women’s game, it has created a challenge to the LPGA’s first major championship of the year.

Should the LPGA move the ANA Inspiration to new dates?

Or stay put and go up against the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship?

It’s a complex question, with no easy fix.

“I don’t know that keeping the date we are in is a good long-term decision, but I won’t make a switch out of that date without reviewing all the variables, and thinking about it long term, not just one year,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan told GolfChannel.com.

Whan said his staff is studying options and expects to review them with All Nippon Airways (ANA) sometime over the next two weeks.

Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley announced during the Masters, almost three weeks ago, that the club’s new women’s amateur championship will be played over three rounds, with the final round being played at Augusta National on the Saturday before the Masters. That’s the same week as the ANA Inspiration.

If the ANA Inspiration keeps its dates, it would compete with the Augusta National Women’s Amateur over the ANA’s first three rounds. It would compete for media attention and for some of the top amateurs who have become an integral part of the ANA.

The ANA Junior Inspiration is played the weekend before the women’s first major, with LPGA legends occupying an important role in the event. LPGA legends play alongside juniors in the final round and also attend the ANA Junior Dinner. There’s a mentorship philosophy woven into the entire amateur element of the ANA.

The ANA Junior winner and six other elite amateurs get invites to play the ANA Inspiration.

Switching the ANA dates isn’t the no-brainer some fans might think.

Swapping with the LPGA’s Kia Classic the week before means the possibility ANA loses the highly appealing 20 hours of live TV tournament coverage it receives in its current dates. It also means LPGA pros would get just one full-field event to qualify for the year’s first major. Any swap of earlier March dates puts the LPGA up against formidable PGA Tour Florida swing dates, including The Players, with its expected move back to March.

A swap of dates to mid-March with the LPGA’s Bank of Hope Founders Cup next year would mean LPGA pros wouldn’t get a single full-field event to qualify for the ANA. (The Women’s Australian Open is co-sanctioned with a shared field). Plus, a swap with the Founders Cup would create major logistical issues for Founders Cup and Wildfire Marriott resort officials hosting that event.

Moving to the week after the Masters is equally difficult, with the ANA then competing against the immensely popular Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which featured Beyonce as its headliner this year. Plus, there would be weather and volunteer issues.

“There are a lot of partners involved in a decision relating to a date change,” Whan said. “It’s not just Mission Hills, IMG and ANA and the volunteer and operations groups.

“And, most importantly, it would come down to where we could find a TV window that is at least equivalent to what we have today. Those options are limited.”

While an ANA date switch might be ideal long term, when the LPGA has more time to revamp its entire schedule, to better prepare a lead-in to the ANA, it’s a problem for 2019.

“Staying in the current date is a legitimate alternative,” Whan said. “Because we know we get a great golf course and fan support, and we get a schedule that makes sense in terms of players being able to play their way into the event.”

Still, the ANA dates remain under study.

Getty Images

Lewis wins Portugal Masters for second time

By Associated PressSeptember 23, 2018, 6:19 pm

VILAMOURA, Portugal – Tom Lewis won the Portugal Masters for a second time after shooting a 5-under 66 in Sunday's final round.

Lewis finished three strokes ahead of fellow Englishman Eddie Pepperell (67) and Australia's Lucas Herbert (71).

Sergio Garcia prepared for the Ryder Cup next weekend with a 65 to finish seven strokes behind Lewis.

Lewis made six birdies along with a single bogey on No. 10 to finish the tournament at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course on 22-under 262.

Herbert led through the first three rounds only to struggle on the final day. He hit a double bogey on the final hole to finish the round on par.

Lewis had trailed Herbert by nine shots after the first round.

''It's been a rough ride but this week I played hard,'' Lewis said. ''I obviously got off to a bad start, to finish the way I've been finishing has been brilliant.''

Lewis first won the tournament in 2011.

''I think this one means more,'' Lewis said, ''it means a lot to come and win this again.''

Getty Images

Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 23, 2018, 3:00 pm

Tiger Woods began the final round of the Tour Championship with a three-shot lead, and he's cruising at East Lake. We're tracking him.


Getty Images

Rose tries to ignore scenarios, focus on winning

By Rex HoggardSeptember 23, 2018, 12:59 am

ATLANTA – No one has more to play for than Justin Rose on Sunday at the Tour Championship.

The Englishman will begin the day three strokes behind front-runner Tiger Woods after a third-round 68 that could have been much worse after he began his day with back-to-back bogeys.

Winning the tournament will be Rose’s top priority, but there’s also the lingering question of the FedExCup and the $10 million bonus, which he is currently projected to claim.


Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“The way I look at tomorrow is that I have many scenarios in play. I have the FedExCup in play. I have all of that to distract me,” Rose said. “But yet, I'm three back. I think that's my objective tomorrow is to come out and play good, positive golf and try and chase down the leader and win this golf tournament. I think in some ways that'll help my other task of trying to win the FedExCup. It'll keep me on the front foot and playing positive golf.”

Although there are many scenarios for Rose to win the season-long title, if Woods wins the Tour Championship, Rose would need to finish fifth or better to claim the cup.

There’s also the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking to consider. Rose overtook Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world with his runner-up finish at the BMW Championship two weeks ago. He will retain the top spot unless Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka or Johnson win the finale and he falls down the leaderboard on Sunday.

Getty Images

McIlroy needs putter to heat up to catch Woods

By Rex HoggardSeptember 23, 2018, 12:29 am

ATLANTA – Although Rory McIlroy is three strokes behind Tiger Woods at the Tour Championship and tied for second place he had the look of a man with a secret when he left East Lake on Saturday.

Trying to play catch up against Woods is never ideal, but McIlroy’s confidence stemmed from a tee-to-green game that has been unrivaled for three days.

“I definitely think today and the first day were similar,” said McIlroy, whose 66 included birdies at two of his final three holes. “I gave myself plenty of chances, and I think the biggest thing today was only just that one bogey. Got to put your ball in the fairway, put yourself in position, and for the most part, I did that today.”


Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


For the week McIlroy ranks first in strokes gained: off the tee, third in strokes gained: approach to the green and second in greens in regulation. But to catch Woods, who he will be paired with, he’ll need a much better day on the greens.

The Northern Irishman needed 30 putts on Day 2 and ranks 23rd, out of 30 players, in strokes gained: putting.

McIlroy skipped the first playoff event, opting instead for an extra week at home to work on his swing and the move has paid off.

“I hit the ball well. My wedge play has been really good,” he said. “I've done a lot of work on it the last few weeks, and it seems to have paid off.”