Positives and negatives of moving the PGA

By Rex HoggardAugust 7, 2017, 10:40 pm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Will he? Won’t he?

Of the 156 players assembled for this week’s PGA Championship, only one was moving the needle on Monday, and rightfully so.

Jordan Spieth has a chance this week to join the game’s most exclusive club and complete the career Grand Slam, an opportunity made that much more compelling because he staked his claim to the third leg just two weeks ago at Royal Birkdale.

Compelling stuff, right?

Now consider Monday’s news. According to the Associated Press, the PGA of America is poised to announce the long-anticipated move of the PGA Championship from August to May in 2019, a key part of a larger re-structuring of the PGA Tour schedule that will include The Players moving back to March and the playoffs ending around Labor Day to avoid going head-to-head with college and professional football.

A few weeks back, your scribe asked a PGA official if the list of positives outweighed the negatives of moving the association’s flagship event from the anchor position on the Grand Slam docket to the No. 2 slot on the dance card.

The answer was a resounding yes, and Monday’s report would seem to have proven that.

The biggest concern for PGA officials is the championship’s position every four years when golf’s return to the Olympics would force the event to adjust. Golf’s return to the Games may have been universally applauded and supported, but it’s the PGA that had to make the pieces fit together last year when the event moved to July.

That was unacceptable.

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Although moving to May will likely mean the PGA will have to focus more on southern venues – given how severe a winter the northeast endures in ’19, a May PGA played at Bethpage Black in New York could be interesting – and the championship could get lost in what promises to be a busy time of year between the Masters and U.S. Open.

The trade off, however, would be new venues, like this week’s stop at Quail Hollow, and a much more compelling flow to the season. But on the big board of pros and cons there is one element that can’t be so easily rationalized.

By moving to May, the PGA is foregoing an identity that stretches back 70 years. Although they don’t call it “Glory’s Last Shot” any longer, there is a cachet to being the year’s final major.

Win this week or wait some seven months for your next Grand Slam shot. It may not be the most nostalgic or logical hook, but it was the PGA’s.

And what of Spieth’s Grand Slam opportunity this week?

Sure, if the PGA was scheduled for next May the world would still fixate on the Golden Child’s golden quest, but it wouldn’t have the same zeal as it does this week, just a fortnight removed from his Open triumph and still riding high on emotion.

Spieth’s story is so compelling this week because the golf world is caught up in the moment, but with the new schedule all of that momentum would be lost to time and indifference as we waited for the PGA.

There are plenty of reasons to celebrate the reported slide to May and by all accounts this move, which has been four years in the making according to the AP report, has been well vetted.

But the old cliché comes to mind – you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. It’s interesting that part of this larger makeover is moving The Players back to March, where it was traditionally played before moving to May in 2007.

The argument for that move was better course conditions at TPC Sawgrass, but that never really materialized, which at least partially explains the Tour’s desire to move back to March.

It’s called unintended consequences, a missed detail that may end up costing the PGA Championship a piece of its identity.

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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.


TV Times (all times ET):

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

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.