Tour releases Olympics-jumbled 2015-16 schedule

By Rex HoggardJuly 30, 2015, 3:30 pm

GAINESVILLE, Va. – The PGA Tour released its 2015-16 schedule on Thursday and, as previously reported, it is a crowded and condensed lineup thanks to golf’s return to the Olympic Games next August.

The 47-event schedule is largely unchanged through the U.S. Open, with the WGC-Dell Match Play's move to late March just two weeks before the Masters as the most notable exception.

The major shakeup will come late in the season as officials were forced to dramatically rework the schedule to make room for the Olympics, which will be played in Brazil the second week of August.

“It’s important from a worldwide standpoint, and I think it’s important to the game of golf that we work around the Olympics because it’s only once every four years,” said Jason Bohn, one of four player directors on the policy board which met on Monday at the Quicken Loans National.

The Open Championship will be played July 14-17 at Royal Troon followed two weeks later by the PGA Championship, July 28-31.

The Quicken Loans National will move to the week after the U.S. Open in late June, followed by the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, which is normally played the week before the PGA.

The Travelers Championship and John Deere Classic will undergo the biggest moves, shifting to the first two weeks of August.

“When we started talking about this to the Tour, everybody bought in that the Olympics were going to grow the game and everybody was on the same page,” Travelers Championship tournament director Nathan Grube said.

The move actually worked in Grube’s favor, as TPC River Highlands implements a series of “major enhancements” starting this fall. The new date will allow officials time to assure the enhancements are completed for next season’s event.

“We thought for one year this could be an OK thing to make sure the course was done and everybody was fine with it,” said Grube, who anticipates moving back to the tournament’s traditional date, the third week in June, after 2016. “I think the Tour will learn a lot about the schedule.”

The transition for the John Deere Classic will not be as seamless, with the event moving from the week before the Open Championship to the same week as the men’s tournament in Rio (Aug. 11-14).

“We feel like we’ve had challenging dates over the 45-year history of our event, but the community has always supported it and we stand proud behind our product,” said tournament director Clair Peterson.

The Olympic field will include 60 players but will likely be top-heavy with star players. Current projections indicate that nearly half of the field will be made up of players ranked outside the top 100 in the World Golf Ranking.

“With only four of our American players playing and, to be honest, I don’t know how many Tour players will be in the [Olympic] field, I don’t know how much that will deter a field," Bohn said. "That would be the ultimate concern if I was the tournament director, but I don’t think it will diminish anything.”

The biggest exception to that will likely be Jordan Spieth, who won this year’s John Deere Classic but appears to be a lock to play for the United States in Rio.

“We expect him to be at the Olympics in 2016, and we are excited for him, and the chance to win a gold medal for your country is something you don’t [often] get a chance to do,” Peterson said.

The FedEx Cup playoffs will follow a similar schedule but the Tour did move the normal open date to the week after the BMW Championship. This year’s open date falls the week after the Deutsche Bank Championship.

The Tour Championship and Ryder Cup, which will be held at Hazeltine National in Minnesota, will be played in consecutive weeks in late September.

The full schedule appears below:


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Ball headed O.B., Stone (68) gets huge break

By Mercer BaggsJuly 19, 2018, 2:14 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brandon Stone knew it when he hit it.

“I knew I hit it out of bounds,” the South African said following his opening round in the 147th Open Championship.

Stone’s second shot on the par-4 18th, from the left fescue, was pulled into the grandstands, which are marked as O.B. But instead of settling in with the crowd, the ball ricocheted back towards the green and nearly onto the putting surface.

Stone made his par and walked away with a 3-under 68, two shots off the early lead.

“I really didn’t put a good swing on it, bad contact and it just came out way left,” Stone said. “I feel so sorry for the person I managed to catch on the forehead there, but got a lucky break.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“When you get breaks like that you know you’re going to have good weeks.”

It’s been more than just good luck recently for Stone. He shot 60 in the final round – missing a 9-foot birdie putt for the first 59 in European Tour history – to win last week’s Scottish Open. It was his third career win on the circuit and first since 2016. It was also just his first top-10 of the season.

“A testament to a different mental approach and probably the change in putter,” said Stone, who added that he switched to a new Ping Anser blade model last week.

“I’ve been putting, probably, the best I have in my entire life.”

This marks Stone’s sixth start in a major championship, with his best finish a tie for 35th in last year’s U.S. Open. He has a missed cut and a T-70 in two prior Open Championships.

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Kang on cheating allegation: 'I did the right thing'

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 1:26 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Three weeks after his playing partner claimed that he “cheated,” taking an improper drop at the Quicken Loans National, Sung Kang insisted Thursday that he did nothing wrong.

Joel Dahmen tweeted that Kang cheated after a lengthy dispute about where his ball had last crossed the line of a hazard. A PGA Tour official ruled in Kang’s favor. Kang made par on the hole, shot 64 and earned one of the available spots in the Open Championship.

Kang didn’t learn of the controversy until the next day, when he received an email from a PGA Tour communications official seeking comment. He researched online what the furor was about, then issued a brief statement through the Tour (which added its own statement, saying that there was “no clear evidence” to suggest that Kang dropped incorrectly).

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Kang said he tried to clear the air with Dahmen before the first round of last week’s John Deere Classic, but they never had the opportunity to discuss their differences.

“I followed the rules official and I think I did the right thing,” Kang told a handful of reporters Thursday following his opening round at Carnoustie, where he shot a 2-under 69 to sit three shots off the early lead.

Kang said he was hesitant to discuss the incident with reporters, because he said there clearly was a difference in opinions. He said he’d already told his side to South Korean news outlets but that “whatever I say, some people are going to trust it and some people are not going to trust it. Then I’ve got to think about it more and more when it’s not going to help my golf game.”

“I really want to say a lot of things about it, the truth about what happened,” he added, “but I’m not going to say anything.”

Kang said that he wouldn’t alter his approach when dealing with rulings in the future.

“No. Why?” he said. “I did the right thing. There’s no point in changing.”

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Kisner (67) enjoying 'frat' life, soccer matches with Jordan and Co.

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 12:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The frat house tradition continued this year at The Open, with a group of seven high-profile Americans rooming together for the week, including early first-round leader Kevin Kisner.

Kisner explained after his opening 5-under 66 that the group – which includes Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler – has spent the week talking about how demanding Carnoustie is playing and enjoying the summer weather.

“We're out there playing soccer at night and hanging out,” he said.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

To be clear, this isn’t a proper soccer match, but instead a penalty-kick situation with all but one player taking turns trying to score.

“I just try to smash [Dufner] in the face,” Kisner laughed. “He's the all-time goalie.”

Although Kisner said he’s always impressed with the athletic prowess of other players, Spieth has proven himself particularly adept on the impromptu pitch.

“Jordan scored when Duf tripped, it was hilarious,” Kisner smiled. “[Spieth] is good until he sends it over the goal four houses over, and we've got to go knock on a neighbor’s door for the soccer ball.”

The group is actually staying in two local houses that are next to each other, one with a large enough back yard and a soccer net, but perhaps not enough soccer balls.

“We’re going to have to Amazon Prime a couple new balls to replace the ones we lost,” Kisner said.