Monahan talks Trump, schedule, Tour transparency

By Rex HoggardJanuary 7, 2017, 9:22 pm

KAPALUA, Hawaii – Five days into his new gig as PGA Tour commissioner, Jay Monahan met with a group of golf writers on Saturday at the SBS Tournament of Champions to cover a wide range of topics.

Although the 46-year-old said his early days in office have been spent focused on more long-term issues, like growing the game and identifying the modern fan and the litany of ways the Tour delivers its product - from traditional broadcast partners to social media and new delivery platforms - the hour-long conversation included a number of new initiatives and issues.

•  With the U.S. presidential inauguration just two weeks away, Monahan was asked how the Tour’s relationship with president-elect Donald Trump may have been impacted by the circuit’s move away from Doral, which is owned by Trump.

“When you look back at that, the reason we’re not there is because we couldn’t find a sponsor,” said Monahan of the World Golf Championship that has been moved to Mexico City. “For me, I spent a lot of time trying to find a sponsor for that tournament. We weren’t just leaving Trump Doral, we were leaving volunteers that had been there 50 years.

“Like any relationship, we’re committed to finding a way to get back there.”

Monahan said the Tour continues to seek a new sponsor for the Miami stop, which has been a Tour stable since 1962, and that it’s “highly likely” that the circuit would return to South Florida.

As for the impact Trump’s presidency could have on the game, he was also optimistic.

“We see president-elect Trump as being probably the best golfer to ever sit in office and probably the most golf knowledgeable,” he said. “For the game, that’s a tremendous thing.”


SBS Tournament of Champions: Articles, photos and videos


•  The commissioner also shed some light on the growing notion the Tour is moving toward a more condensed schedule that would end before the start of the NFL season and could include a dramatic reshuffling, with The Players moving back to March and the PGA Championship sliding from its traditional date in August to May.

“I’d say we are early in the process. If we were going to make any changes it’s going to take time,” he said. “We’ve heard from a number of people who have said it would make since that we complete the FedEx Cup before the start of the NFL season and we think there’s a lot of merit to that, but to do that requires a lot of shifting and moving.”

Monahan said no decisions on possible changes have been made and that the other players in the mix, most notably the PGA of America which would give up its spot as the year’s last major, would need to see the value of a possible makeover.

“It’s not as though we’re going to say this is the schedule, everyone has to adapt,” he said. “Our responsibility is to work very closely with the PGA of America and it’s got to work for everybody.”

Another piece of those changes would likely be a reduction of the number of FedEx Cup Playoff events, from four to three, and Monahan confirmed postseason contraction is a consideration. “If we were to execute the schedule that I just mentioned I think it’s likely,” he said.


•  One area where Monahan, who succeeded Tim Finchem, didn’t appear to have any interest in breaking from tradition is regarding the Tour’s policy of not disclosing player fines and suspensions (only performance-related violations of the circuit’s anti-doping program are made public).

“We implemented our anti-doping program in July 2008, and have given thousands of tests. We’ve had a few incidences and for us, more importantly, we’ve had few secondary incidences,” he said. “Whatever we’re doing is in a way that is helping our players.”

Although Monahan said the Tour will continue to look at the policy, just as they’ve always done, he added, “I think our system works. I know there is a desire to know everything that’s happened, but our job is we’re family and if there’s an issue in your family you deal with it.”


•  Monahan also expressed his concern over recent reports that the Olympic Golf Course in Brazil is already struggling to attract players and is in financial trouble.

“It’s very disappointing. We had four of our employees take 110 round-trip tickets to Brazil in five years to get that golf course ready,” he said. “We thought as a result of the Olympics and some of the commitments made to us that there wouldn’t be any question as to the future of that golf course.

“So to hear these continued questions as to the challenges to the golf course, which are very real, and honestly may not be solvable, it’s very disappointing.”

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M. Jutanugarn eyeing first win with L.A. Open lead

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:50 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn took the lead into the weekend at the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open in her latest bid to join younger sister Ariya as an LPGA winner.

Moriya Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Friday at Wilshire Country Club to get to 8-under 134 in the LPGA Tour's first event in Los Angeles since 2005. The 23-year-old from Thailand started fast with birdies on the par-5 second, par-4 third and par-3 fourth and added two more on the par-4 11th and par-5 13th.

Ariya Jutanugarn has seven LPGA victories.

Marina Alex was second after a 68.


Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


So Yeon Ryu was 6 under after a 69, and fellow South Korean players Inbee Park(71) and Eun-Hee Ji (69). Park was the first-round leader at 66. Lexi Thompsonwas 3 under after a 71.

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng followed her opening 74 with a 67 to get to 1 under.

Ariya Jutanugarn (71) was even par, and Michelle Wie (70) was 1 over. Brooke Henderson, the Canadian star who won last week in Hawaii, had a 79 to miss the cut.

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Garcia tosses driver, misses Valero cut

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

It wasn't quite to the level of his watery meltdown earlier this month at the Masters, but Sergio Garcia still got frustrated during the second round of the Valero Texas Open - and his driver paid the price.

Garcia had a hand in redesigning the AT&T Oaks Course along with Greg Norman several years ago, but this marked his first return to TPC San Antonio since 2010. After an opening-round 74, Garcia arrived to the tee of the short par-4 fifth hole and decided to get aggressive with driver in hand.

When his shot sailed well left, a heated Garcia chucked the club deep into the bushes that lined the tee box:

It took considerable effort for Garcia to find and retrieve the club amid the branches, and once he did things only got worse. He appeared to shank a chip once he got up to his ball, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on a demanding track.

Garcia closed out his round with four straight pars, and at 2 over he eventually missed the cut by a shot. It marks the first time he has missed consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour since 2003, when he sat out the weekend at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Fort Worth Invitational and Memorial Tournament in successive weeks.

Garcia entered the week ranked No. 10 in the world, and he was the only top-20 player among the 156-man field. He missed the cut at the Masters in defense of his title after carding an octuple-bogey 13 on the 15th hole during the opening round.

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Johnson, Moore co-lead Valero Texas Open through 36

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson was going nowhere in the Valero Texas Open when it all changed with one putt.

He made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole of the opening round to stay at 2 under. He followed with a big drive, a hybrid into 12 feet and an eagle. Johnson was on his way, and he kept right on going Friday to a 7-under 65 and a share of the 36-hole lead with Ryan Moore.

''You just never know. That's the beauty of this game,'' Johnson said. ''I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. You just never know.''

Moore had three birdies over his last five holes for a 67 and joined Johnson at 9-under 135.

They had a one-shot lead over Grayson Murray (69) and Andrew Landry (67).

Ben Crane (66), Martin Laird (65) and David Hearn (68) were three shots behind. Billy Horschel and Keegan Bradley shot 71 and were four shots behind at 5-under 139.


Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos


Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, had a short stay in his first time at the Texas Open since 2010. Garcia shot an even-par 72, and at one point became so frustrated he threw his driver into the shrubs.

Garcia finished at 2-over 146 and missed the cut.

It was the first time since 2010 that Garcia missed the cut in successive starts. That was the PGA Championship and, 10 weeks later, the Castello Masters in Spain. This time, he missed the cut in the Masters and Texas Open three weeks apart.

Johnson, a two-time winner of the Texas Open, appeared to be headed to a short week until the key par save on the 13th hole, followed by his eagle, par and three straight birdies. He began the second round Friday with five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, a sixth birdie on the par-4 first hole, and then an eagle on the short par-4 fifth when he holed out from a greenside bunker.

The only sour taste to his second round was a three-putt bogey from about 30 feet on his final hole. Even so, the view was much better than it was Thursday afternoon.

Moore thought he had wasted a good birdie opportunity on the par-5 14th hole when he left his 50-foot eagle putt about 6 feet short. But he made that, and then holed a similar putt from 8 feet for birdie on the next hole and capped his good finish with a 15-foot putt on the 17th.

''That was a huge momentum putt there,'' Moore said of the 14th. ''It was a tough putt from down there with a lot of wind. That green is pretty exposed and ... yeah, really short and committed to that second putt really well and knocked it right in the middle.''

The birdies on the 14th and 15th were important to Moore because he missed a pair of 10-foot birdie tries to start the back nine.

''So it was nice to get those and get going in the right direction on the back,'' he said.

The cut was at 1-over 145, and because 80 players made the cut, there will be a 54-hole cut on Saturday.

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Daly-Allen team grabs Legends of Golf lead on Day 2

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 11:14 pm

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - John Daly and Michael Allen took the second-round lead Friday in the cool and breezy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

Daly and Allen shot an 8-under 46 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course with wind gusting to 15 mph and the temperature only in the high-50s at Big Cedar Lodge. They had three birdies on the front nine in alternate-shot play and added five more on the back in better-ball play to get to 13 under.

''Michael and I go back to the South African days in the late 80s and playing that tour,'' Daly said. ''We've been buddies since. He's just fun to play with. We feed off each other pretty good. And if he's not comfortable guinea-pigging on one hole, I'll go first.''

On Thursday, they opened with a 66 on the regulation Buffalo Ridge course. They will rotate to the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course on Saturday, and return to Top of the Rock for the final round Sunday.

''I went to high school in Jeff City, so it's cool to have the fans behind us,'' Daly said.

Allen won the PGA Tour Champions team event with David Frost in 2012 and Woody Austin in 2016.

''I'm just here to free up John,'' Allen said. ''It was fun. Luckily, I started making good putts today. We just want to keep the good times rolling.''


Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf


Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco were a stroke back along with Bernhard Langer-Tom Lehman and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett. Singh and Franco had a 7-under 32 in best-ball play at Mountain Top, and Lehman-Langer and Broadhurst-Tripplet each shot 6-under 48 at Top of the Rock.

''Part of the issue here is all the tees are elevated, so you're up high hitting to a green that's down below and the wind is blowing, and there is more time for that wind to affect it,'' Lehman said. ''If you guess wrong on the wind, you can hit a really good shot and kind of look stupid.''

Former UCLA teammates Scott McCarron and Brandt Jobe were two strokes back at 11 under with Steve Flesch and David Toms and the Spanish side of Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez. McCarron-Jobe had a 47, and Jimenez-Olazabal a 48 at Top of the Rock, and Tom Flesch shot 34 at Mountain Top.

First-round leaders Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik had a 52 at Top of the Rock to fall three shots back at 10 under. Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly also were 10 under after a 32 at Mountain Top. Jay Haas aced the 131-yard seventh hole at Mountain Top with a gap wedge. Haas and fellow 64-year-old Peter Jacobsen were 8 under after a 32.