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Punch shot: Tiger vs. Phil for $10 mil

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 6, 2018, 9:37 pm

With the news Friday that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are in negotiations to play a $10 million, winner-take-all exhibition match, we assembled two of our senior writers, Rex Hoggard and Ryan Lavner, to break down what it all means:

LAVNER: OK, Rex: What do you make of the Golf.com report that a $10 million Tiger-Phil made-for-TV exhibition is likely to happen?

HOGGARD: I think it might be a decade or so too late, but still a novel idea. These are two players who carried the game for 20-some years and anything that puts them head to head in a match (even one that's made for TV) is worth watching.

LAVNER: Agree. It's a decade too late, but it also never would have happened a decade ago. It's also probably a concession that we'll never get the showdown that we REALLY want: Tiger vs. Phil, Sunday afternoon at a major.

HOGGARD: It's amazing to think that Tiger and Phil were paired together in a PGA Tour round just 34 times. I'm also interested in hearing Tiger's side of this. This seems to have been Lefty's idea and I'm curious how much TW will embrace what will be an "exhibition."

LAVNER: We've been writing and talking all year about how this is a new Tiger, how he's friendlier and more mellow than in his prime. This is the best example yet. But it also adds a little context to their practice round at Augusta and their friendly banter at TPC Sawgrass. By that point they were already deep into negotiations. Does it now seem a little sleazy that they were playing us all along?

HOGGARD: Sleazy? No. Premeditated, absolutely. Phil doesn't do, or say, anything off the cuff. He's had a plan for this for some time. And what does Tiger have to prove with this? It's not like $10 million is going to impact his bottom line, and on the historical scorecard, Phil's really not a match.

LAVNER: The money - the same as the freakin' FedExCup bonus - is not life-changing for either player. And there's sure to be a charitable component. So there has to be something else at play here. It's hard to imagine that they're actually really good friends who want to travel the world playing exhibitions together, so to me it's just another opportunity for Tiger to rehab his image as he transitions into the next chapter of his life.



HOGGARD: Cynical much? There may be something to that, although after his U.S. Open snafu Phil's image may need a little nip/tuck as well. Phil has always said you play for whatever (money) makes you nervous, and since we both agree $10 million isn't going to get either player deep breathing on the 18th tee, may I suggest an alternative: Winner is given a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team this year in Paris, loser gets the keys to a vice captain's golf cart. Thoughts?

LAVNER: And ruin Jim Furyk's 18 months of planning? The nerve!

HOGGARD: Fine, loser has to wash the winner's dinghy. Better?

LAVNER: How do you feel about the idea of exhibitions in general? Like them or hate them? Want to see more of them?

HOGGARD: The right players at the right time are good for the game, particularly in developing countries. Imagine the impact this match could have if it were played, for example, in India?

LAVNER: I don't know how much it'd necessarily grow the game, but I grew up watching the "Battles at (fill in the blank)" and the "Wonderful World of Golf" series. It'd be a blast to watch today's stars duke it out.

HOGGARD: Agree, but it has to be the right stars at the right time. This is about the show as much as it is the competition. To prove the point, what impact, if any, would a Phil victory in this match mean? The answer: not much.

LAVNER: I don't think it even matters who wins this particular duel. I really don't. It's more about watching Tiger and Phil go head to head -- something we, sadly, never got to see during the prime of their careers.

HOGGARD: OK, what would be the head-to-head, primetime match you'd want to see most? DJ vs. Brooks? JT vs. Jordan? Rory vs. PReed?

LAVNER: Lest you forgot, DJ and Brooks just went head to head, and it wasn't must-see TV … Spieth-JT, Rory-PReed, Sung Kang-Joel Dahmen would all be wildly entertaining, if not ultimately significant.

HOGGARD: True, true. Getting back on point. What kind of "entertainment" action would you give Tiger vs. Phil? Given recent play, this would be interesting.

LAVNER: Based on recent trends, it depends if they're going to be putting on bermuda, bent or poa annua.

HOGGARD: Have to be a neutral site. Let's go with Cypress Point in October.

LAVNER: Give me Phil in 18 holes, Tiger over 72.

HOGGARD: Interesting. Let's "talk" later. Finally, if not Phil, who would you most want to see Tiger go head-to-head with in this kind of match?

LAVNER: Since I'm fairly certain that Tiger can take the now-78-year-old Jack Nicklaus, I'd love to watch Tiger compete in a Tiger Babies battle royale, going against Jason Day, Rory and JT - all of whom idolized Woods growing up.

HOGGARD: I like that, but given his track record against the Italian, I'd pay admission to see Tiger play Francesco Molinari. Or we can just wait until the Ryder Cup when they are matched up for a Sunday singles duel.

LAVNER: You might be the only person on the planet pining for that matchup.

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Stock Watch: Up or down for FedExCup changes?

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 18, 2018, 2:20 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Angela Stanford (+9%): In this era of youthful dominance, Justin Rose and now Stanford offer reminders that sometimes the long, winding journey is even more rewarding. It took Rose 20 years to reach world No. 1; for Stanford, she needed 76 major starts (and 15 years after a major playoff loss) before she finally became a Grand Slam winner, at age 40.

Sang-Moon Bae (+6%): The next time you complain about losing your game after a few weeks away, remember that the two-time Tour winner shelved his clubs for TWO YEARS to fulfill his South Korean military obligations and then regained his card. That’s a heckuva achievement.

FedExCup changes (+5%): Though the Tour Championship shouldn’t count as an official victory – come on, the playoffs leader has a TEN-SHOT head start over No. 26! – the strokes-based system is no doubt easier to follow than the various points fluctuations. RIP, Steve Sands’ whiteboard.

Tyler McCumber (+3%): Maybe he’s on his way to challenging his famous father, who won 10 times on the PGA Tour. A three-time winner this season in Canada, McCumber clinched Mackenzie Tour Player of the Year honors and will be one to watch next year on the Web.

Matthew Wolff (+2%): The reigning NCAA Freshman of the Year is now 2-for-2 this season, winning at both Pebble Beach and Olympia Fields with a 67.2 scoring average. He’s a primetime player.  


FALLING

Amy Olson (-1%): To win a major most need to have their heart broken at least once … but that ugly 72nd-hole double bogey could linger for longer than she probably hoped.  

Lexi (-2%): As heartwarming as it was to watch Stanford snap her major-less drought, keep in mind that the best U.S. player – the 23-year-old Thompson – next April will be five years removed from her lone LPGA major title.

Web final (-3%): Twenty-five Tour cards will be on the line this week at the season-ending Web.com Tour Championship, but here’s guessing you won’t even notice – for some reason, it conflicts with the big tour’s season finale. Why couldn’t this have been played last week, when the Tour was dark and the Web could get some much-needed exposure?

Player of the Year debate (-5%): As much as the Tour might promote otherwise during its big-money conclusion, Justin Thomas said it best on Twitter: Majors trump all. It’s Brooks Koepka’s trophy this year.  

Repairing damage (-6%): Golf’s governing bodies are confident that the new rules (out Jan. 1!) will speed up pace of play, but it’s hard to see how that’s possible when they now will allow players to tap down spike marks on the green. With $1 million and major titles on the line, you don’t think guys will spend an extra minute or two gardening?

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FedExCup gets massive overhaul for next season

By Rex HoggardSeptember 18, 2018, 2:05 pm

ATLANTA – The PGA Tour unveiled more dramatic changes to the FedExCup and its playoffs on Tuesday, outlining a new model to determine the season-long champion and giving a boost to the circuit’s regular season.

Starting next year when the Tour transitions from four post-season events to three, the FedExCup champion will be determined solely on the outcome at the Tour Championship, with players beginning the week at East Lake with a predetermined total based on their position on the points list.

The No. 1 player on the post-season points list will begin the finale at 10 under par. The next four players will start at 8 under through 5 under, respectively, while Nos. 6-10 will begin the tournament at 4 under par with the total regressing by one stroke every five players with those ranked 26th through 30th starting at even par. The winner at East Lake will also claim the FedExCup.


Current FedExCup standings

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The new system removes the confusing calculations that have highlighted the finale since the season-long race began in 2007 and avoids awkward moments like last year when Xander Schauffele won the Tour Championship but Justin Thomas claimed the FedExCup.

“As soon as the Tour Championship begins, any fan – no matter if they’ve followed the PGA Tour all season or are just tuning in for the final event – can immediately understand what’s going on and what’s at stake for every single player in the field,” commissioner Jay Monahan said in a statement.

A player’s rank on the points list will be based on their play in the first two playoff events, The Northern Trust (125 players) and BMW Championship (70 players), and a victory at East Lake will count as an official triumph, although it remains to be seen if players will receive world ranking points at what is essentially a handicapped event.

The Tour also announced the addition of a regular-season bonus pool called the Wyndham Rewards Top 10. The $10 million bonus pool will be based on regular-season performance, with the No. 1 player on the points list after the Wyndham Championship, the final regular-season event, earning $2 million.

In addition to the format changes at the Tour Championship and regular-season race, Monahan announced that the FedExCup bonus pool will increase to $70 million, up from $35 million, with the champion receiving $15 million.

“Now is the time to make these changes,” Monahan said, “and thanks to significant input in the process by our players, partners and fans, I believe we’re making exactly the right moves.”

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Congressional to host 2031 PGA, 2036 Ryder Cup

By Will GraySeptember 18, 2018, 12:51 pm

The PGA of America announced that Congressional Country Club will host a number of its biggest events over the next two decades, including the 2031 PGA Championship and 2036 Ryder Cup.

Located near Washington, D.C., Congressional hosted the 1976 PGA Championship when Dave Stockton won. But it's perhaps more well known in recent years as a USGA venue, having hosted three U.S. Opens including 1964 (Ken Venturi), 1997 (Ernie Els) and 2011 (Rory McIlroy). The course also hosted the Quicken Loans National seven times between 2007-2016.

But the famed Blue Course will now become a PGA of America venue, and down the line will host the organization's two biggest events. Before that, Congressional will be home to the KPMG Women's PGA Championship in both 2022 and 2027, KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship in 2025 and 2033, the Junior PGA Championship in 2024 and the PGA Professional Championship in 2029.

The announcement is a win for golf fans in the nation's capital, as the area lost its regular PGA Tour stop when the former Quicken Loans National ended this summer. Quicken Loans will sponsor the new Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit beginning in 2019.

The Wanamaker Trophy will again be up for grabs at Congressional in 2031, adding to the long list of already confirmed future PGA Championship venues. The event now has only three open dates (2025, 2026, 2030) before 2032, but has already promised one of those available spots to Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa.

The biggest prize may require the longest wait, as Congressional will host the Ryder Cup for the first time in 2036. It's the third time in less than a year that the PGA has locked in a future Ryder Cup site, having added Hazeltine (2028) earlier this year and Olympic (2032) in November. The 2020 matches will be held at Whistling Straits, while the 2024 matches will go to Bethpage Black.

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Montana parents must pay to watch high school matches

By Will GraySeptember 18, 2018, 12:22 pm

Parents of Montana high school golfers can once again watch their kids during matches - for a price.

Late last year the Montana State High School Association enacted a rule banning spectators from watching high school golf "except for certain locations." That led to an uproar from local parents, who pointed out that parents of athletes in other sports have no such troubles watching their kids in action.

The MSHSA has amended the rule according to the Montana Sidney Herald, allowing spectators on the course as long as they turn cell phones off, stay at least 40 yards away from players and refrain from offering advice. But they'll also have to fork over some cash, as spectators will be asked to pay $10 in exchange for a badge they'll be required to wear "at all times that they are on the course."

"We will try it at all levels and see how it goes," said executive board vice president Luke Kloker. "Every other state seems to be able to figure out how to make it work."

According to the report, only two states currently do not allow spectators on the course during high school matches. The new policy will be considered a "pilot program," going into effect for the fall postseason and also extending to the spring season.