The Week in Golf News 1113-1117
Kim Withdraws From Arch Championship
Michelle McGann will replace Mi Hyun Kim in this month's Arch Wireless Championship in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Kim, ranked seventh on the 2000 LPGA Tour's money list, has withdrawn due to a medical condition which inhibits her to fly.
Therefore, McGann, at No. 31 on the list, was chosen as the first alternate to replace the South Korean in this event which is open only to the top-30 money winners on tour.
Tuesday - Nov. 14, 2000
Ely Callaway to Remain Callaway CEO Through 2001
A year ago, Ely Callaway had planned to step down at the end of 2000 from the helm of the company he founded. But now he's planning to stick around.
Mr. Callaway, 81, will remain indefinitely as chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Callaway Golf, the club and ball maker based in Carlsbad, Calif. He will also reassume the duties of president, overseeing the company's daily operations. The company announced the changes Nov. 13.
Chuck Yash, the man Callaway had tapped to take over for him in the top spot, has been reassigned as vice chairman of the board and head of a special company committee dedicated to growing the game of golf.
LPGA Returns to Tulsa After 17-Year Absence
The LPGA has announced the addition the $1 million Williams Championship to its 2001 schedule. The event will be played Sept. 7-9 at Tulsa Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The tournament marks the first time the ladies will play an event in Tulsa since the 1983 U.S. Women's Open. That event was won by Jan Stephenson.
Money Records Set on PGA Tour
Sergio Garcia's tie for 5th in Valderrama pushed him over the million-dollar mark in 2000 PGA Tour earnings, making him the 45th player to do so this year. The new total breaks last year's record total of 36 players over $1 million. 15 players also surpassed the $2 million plateau.
The first player to break the million-dollar barrier was Curtis Strange in1988 who finished with $1,147,644. The first player to go over $2 million in a season was Tiger Woods in 1997. He finished with $2,066,833.
This year Tiger Woods shattered his own record of a year ago by more than $2.5 million, finishing with $9,188,321. Woods has won the money title three of the last four years.
Faldo Answers Adams Golf Charges
Nick Faldo, who recently was accused by Adams Golf of breach of contract, said Adams gave him only one set of clubs, which he returned.
'My agreement says very clearly that I'm obligated to play Adams clubs 'when they are to my reasonable satisfaction,'' said Faldo. The irons were received in January of 2000 and Faldo returned them to the company with his notes and recommendations, he said.
Adams CEO Barney Adams saw him one week prior to the U.S. Open and demanded he use the irons, said Faldo. Faldo told Adams he had never received additional clubs. He heard nothing further from the company until recently, he said, when he was notified he was in breach of contract.
Tiger Arrives in Thailand Amid Controversy
An exhausted Tiger Woods arrived in Thailand from London and immediately was surrounded by controversy Tuesday. An honorary degree given to him by a local university was ridiculed by the Bangkok press. He received criticism for flying back and forth to the golf course in a helicopter. His yearly pay was criticized. And fired workers from the Nike plant showed up at his hotel to loudly complain.
Kasetsart University gave him the honorary doctorate degree in sports science, but ceremonies were held at Woods' hotel instead of the customary trip to the campus. The Thai Post wrote the story with the headline, 'University delivers doctoral degree to the hotel, Saint Woods to allow 15 minutes to faculty members to kow tow.'
Fired Nike employees gathered in the hotel lobby where Woods is staying, with placards saying, 'Tiger Woods please help us.' The head of the Thai Labor Committee, Lek Junya Yumprasert, said Woods, who will make $85-100 million over the next five years, 'should be able to really understand why that company (Nike) gave him so much money. It would take the workers here 72,000 years of work for Nike on their wages to make that kind of money.'
Nike employs about 70,000 Thais.
Poulter Named European Rookie of the Year
Ian Poulter has been named the 2000 European Tour Rookie of the Year. The 24-year old Englishman won last month's Italian Open and finished second at the Moroccan Open and third at the Brazil Sao Paulo 500 Years Open.
Past winners of the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award include Tony Jacklin, Sam Torrance, Mark James, Nick Faldo, Jose Maria Olazabal, Colin Montgomerie and last year's winner, Sergio Garcia.
Poulter finished the year 31st on the Order of Merit with over $400,000 in earnings.
Els and Westwood Withdraw from Thailand
Ernie Els and Lee Westwood have both withdrawn from this week's Johnnie Walker Classic to be held at the Alpine Golf and Sports Club in Bangkok, Thailand.
Els, the world's No. 2 player, cited the back injury that forced his first-round withdrawal from the American Express Championship in Valderrama, Spain. Els said he was advised by doctors not to play for three weeks.
Westwood chose to stay at home in England with his wife Laurae, who is expecting their first child.
World No. 1 Tiger Woods remains the top draw in a field that includes Nick Faldo, Sergio Garcia, Jesper Parnevik and defending champion Michael Campbell. Play begins Thursday for the winner's share of a $1.3 million purse.
Wednesday - Nov. 15, 2000
Nicklaus / Palmer Design Officially Dedicated
Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer officially dedicated their first co-designed golf course, The King & The Bear, Wednesday in St. Augustine Fla. The dedication kicked off World Golf Foundation 2000, at the World Golf Village.
In 1998 Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen collaborated as player consultants with designer Bobby Weed for the World Golf Village's first course, The Slammer & The Squire.
After the Wednesday's dedication Nicklaus and Palmer paired up to play the course's first official round of golf.
The King & The Bear course will host the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf event beginning in 2001.
Hank Kuehne's Surgery Not Career-Threatening
Surgery believed previously to 'career threatening' to the arm of Hank Kuehne is not now believed to be as serious, according to Mike Biggs of Gaylord Sports.
Listen to Hank Kuehne Comment on His Recent Surgery
Kuehne, the 1998 U.S. Amateur champion, underwent surgery on his left arm and elbow in Salt Lake City, Utah. He should miss approximately two months of golf activity.
Kerr Withdraws From Arch Championship
An injury to Cristie Kerr's left knee has forced her to withdraw from the season-ending Arch Wireless Championship. Kerr, who had surgery on the knee last year, reinjured it Tuesday night and will drive to her Miami home from Daytona Beach, Fla., to be examined by doctors.
'I don't think the surgery had anything to do with it,' said Kerr. 'I just banged my knee really hard, and anyone who hit their knee as hard as I did, surgery or not, would be hurting.'
She will be replaced in the field by Scotland's Catriona Mathew.
BUY.COM Tour Ups Purses for 2001
The BUY.COM TOUR announced its 2001 schedule Wednesday, listing a total of 34 tournaments including the Canadian PGA Championship, the Tour's first trip north of the border. The event will take place June 7 - 10 at the DiamondBack Golf Club in Toronto.
Three other new events were announced. The BUY.COM Arkansas Classic, the Charity Pro-Am (played consecutive weeks at The Cliffs) and the BUY.COM Siouxland Open were added for 2001.
Minimum purses in 2001 will increase $25,000 to $425,000. Four events will offer $500,000.
The season ending BUY.COM TOUR Championship will be worth $600,000 event.
Aussie's Ask Harrington to Explain Withdrawal
Ireland's Padraig Harrington will be asked to explain his decision last week to play at Valderrama only days before pulling out of this week's Australian Open.
He had given Aussie officials the reason for withdrawing as 'family reasons.' But then he entered Valdarrama.
Woods Wins Vardon Trophy
Latest statistics have confirmed what everyone knew already - Tiger Woods is a hands-down winner of the Vardon Trophy for the lowest stroke average.
Woods posted a 67.79 adjusted stroke average, breaking his 1999 record of 68.43. Woods' actual scoring average of 68.17 was also a record, breaking Byron Nelson's 68.33 in the 1945 season.
Runner-up was Phil Mickelson at 69.25 adjusted stroke average and No. 3 was Ernie Els at 69.31.
Baker-Finch to Make a Return
Former British Open champion Ian Baker-Finch, currently a full-time television commentator for ABC, has entered the Australian Open.
Baker-Finch's last tournament win was the 1993 Australian PGA. His last tournament outing came in 1997 at the British Open, where he withdrew after an opening 92.
Baker-Finch, an Australian, is 40 years old. 'I work 26 weeks a year for television,' he said. 'I cannot play as well.'
Baker-Finch was 4-under through 16 holes last week when he played as a marker to Scott Verplank before taking a 10 at the controversial 17th at Valderrama.
Thursday - Nov. 16, 2000
Mickelson Signs With Titleist
Phil Mickelson has reached a five-year agreement with Acushnet Company to play Titleist clubs and balls, carry the Titleist bag and wear FootJoy shoes and gloves. The contract becomes effective Jan. 1, 2001.
Woods Adopts Elephant
Tiger Woods joined fellow pros Sergio Garcia, Jesper Parnevik, Nick Faldo, Sam Torrance and Michael Campbell in adopting an elephant this week for the Elephant Alliance of Thailand.
Woods, whose mother hails from Thailand, is a national superstar in the country, and in recognition of the culture's love and respect for the animals, decided to donate a check in the amount of $11,500 for an official adoption of one elephant.
In its second year in existence, the Alliance provides medical support and assistance to the giant creatures in hopes of their continued survival.
Friday - Nov. 17, 2000
Faldo Removes Adams Equipment From His Bag
Disagreements between Nick Faldo and Adams Golf came to a head in Thailand. Faldo played in the Johnnie Walker Classic carrying a plain black golf bag and plain black head covers.
Faldo was recently accused by Adams Golf of breach of contract, saying he was not playing Adams clubs as agreed to in a 10-year contract signed in 1998. The company stopped making payments to Faldo.
Faldo argued Adams gave him only one set of clubs, which he returned.
'The problem is the company has been under pressure. It went public, and then they had to satisfy stockholders and we then ended up doing everything totally differently from what the original intention was at signing,' said Faldo.
Faldo added, 'If someone stops paying me, I'm not going to represent them.'
Janzen Wins Skills Challenge
Lee Janzen managed to win two of the nine official events, as well as register runner-up finishes in an additional two, to triumph in Thursday's ninth annual EMC Golf Skills Challenge in Boca Raton, Fla.
Janzen, who had been fighting off a bad head cold all week, was victorious in the trouble shot challenge and the putting challenge. He finished second in the bunker shot challenge and the chip shot challenge.
For his efforts, the 36-year-old from Orlando, Fla. received a record first-place prize of $233,500 from the total purse of $1 million.
David Duval also won two categories and finished in outright second place. PGA Tour rookie Gary Nicklaus claimed third.
Said Janzen: 'Sometimes when you're not feeling well you tend to concentrate better and play better.'
Lopez fires flawless 63 for lead in Arkansas
ROGERS, Ark. – Since its first year on the LPGA Tour in 2007, the crowds at the NW Arkansas Championship have belonged to Stacy Lewis.
Another former University of Arkansas star staked her claim as the hometown favorite Friday when Gaby Lopez shot a career-low 8-under 63 to take the first-round lead at Pinnacle Country Club.
Like Lewis, the two-time winner of the tournament, Lopez starred as a three-time All-American for the Razorbacks before joining the LPGA Tour in 2016. Despite flashes of potential, Lopez had yet to join Lewis among the ranks of the world's best - missing the cut in her last two tournaments and entering this week ranked 136th in the world.
For a day, at least, the Mexican standout felt right at home atop the leaderboard in her adopted home state.
''I feel like home,'' Lopez said. ''I feel so, so comfortable out here, because I feel that everyone and every single person out here is just rooting for us.''
Moriya Jutanugarn was a stroke back along with Minjee Lee, Catriona Matthew, Nasa Hataoka, Lizette Salas, Mirim Lee and Aditi Ashok. Six others finished at 6 under on a day when only 26 of the 144 players finished over par, thanks to some mid-week rain that softened the greens and calm skies throughout the day.
Jutanugarn finished second at the tournament last year and is trying to win for the second time on the LPGA Tour this year. Her younger sister, Ariya, is already a two-time winner this year and shot an opening-round 66.
Lewis, the former world No. 1 who won the event in 2007 in 2014, finished with a 66. She's expecting her first child in early November
Defending champion So Yeon Ryu, coming off a victory Sunday in Michigan, shot a 67.
Friday was Lopez's long-awaited day to standout, though, much to the delight of the pro-Arkansas crowd.
After missing the cut her last two times out, Lopez took some time off and returned home to Mexico City to rest her mind and work on her game. The work paid off with two straight birdies to open her round and a 6-under 30 on her front nine.
Lopez needed only 25 putts and finished two shots off the course record of 61, and she overcame a poor drive on the par-5 18th to finish with a par and keep her place at the top of the leaderboard. Her previous low score was a 64 last year, and she matched her career best by finishing at 8 under.
''(Rest) is a key that no one really truly understands until you're out here,'' Lopez said. ''... Sometimes resting is actually the part you've got to work on.''
Harman rides hot putter to Travelers lead
CROMWELL, Conn. – There are plenty of big names gathered for the Travelers Championship, and through two rounds they’re all chasing Brian Harman.
Harman opened with a 6-under 64, then carded a 66 during Friday’s morning wave to become the only player to finish the first two rounds in double digits under par. The southpaw is currently riding a hot putter, leading the field in strokes gained: putting while rolling in 12 birdies and an eagle through his first 36 holes.
“Putted great today,” said Harman, who ranks 22nd on Tour this season in putting. “Got out of position a couple of times, but I was able to get myself good looks at it. I started hitting the ball really well coming down the stretch and made a few birdies.”
Harman, 31, has won twice on the PGA Tour, most recently at last year’s Wells Fargo Championship. While he doesn’t have a win this year, he started his season in the fall by reeling off five straight finishes of T-8 or better to quickly install himself as one of the leaders in the season-long points race.
Now topping a leaderboard that includes the likes of Jason Day, Bubba Watson and Rory McIlroy, he realizes that he’ll have his work cut out for him if he’s going to leave Connecticut with trophy No. 3.
“The putter has been really good so far, but I’ve been in position a lot. I’ve had a lot of good looks at it,” Harman said. “I’m just able to put a little pressure on the course right now, which is nice.”
10-second rule costs Zach Johnson a stroke
CROMWELL, Conn. – Zach Johnson heads into the weekend one shot back at the Travelers Championship, but he was a matter of seconds away from being tied for the lead.
Johnson had an 18-foot birdie putt on No. 3 at TPC River Highlands, his 12th hole of the day, but left the ball hanging on the lip. As Johnson walked up to tap the ball in, it oscillated on the edge and eventually fell in without being hit.
Was it a birdie, or a par?
According to the Rules of Golf, and much to Johnson’s chagrin, the answer was a par. Players are afforded “reasonable” time to walk to the hole, and after that they are allowed to wait for 10 seconds to see if the ball drops of its own accord. After that, it either becomes holed by a player’s stroke, or falls in and leads to a one-shot penalty, resulting in the same score as if the player had hit it.
According to Mark Russell, PGA Tour vice president of rules and competitions, Johnson’s wait time until the ball fell in was between 16 and 18 seconds.
“Once he putts the ball, he’s got a reasonable amount of time to reach the hole,” Russell said. “Then once he reaches the hole, he’s got 10 seconds. After 10 seconds, the ball is deemed to be at rest.”
Johnson tried to emphasize the fact that the ball was oscillating as he stood over it, and even asked rules officials if marking his ball on the edge of the hole would have yielded a “bonus 10 seconds.” But after signing for a 2-under 68 that brought him within a shot of leader Brian Harman, the veteran took the ruling in stride.
“The 10-second rule has always been there. Vague to some degree,” Johnson said. “The bottom line is I went to tap it in after 10 seconds and the ball was moving. At that point, even if the ball is moving, it’s deemed to be at rest because it’s on the lip. Don’t ask me why, but that’s just the way it is.”
While Johnson brushed off any thoughts of the golf gods conspiring against him on the lip, he was beaming with pride about an unconventional par he made on No. 17 en route to a bogey-free round. Johnson sailed his tee shot well right into the water, but after consulting his options he decided to drop on the far side of the hazard near the 16th tee box.
His subsequent approach from 234 yards rolled to within 8 feet, and he calmly drained the putt for an unexpected save.
“I got a great lie. Just opened up a 4-hybrid, and it started over the grandstands and drew in there,” Johnson said. “That’s as good of an up-and-down as I’ve witnessed, or performed.”
Travelers becoming marquee event for star players
CROMWELL, Conn. – Get lost in the throngs following the defending champ, or caught up amongst the crowds chasing the back-to-back U.S. Open winner, and it’s easy to forget where this tournament was a little more than a decade ago.
The Travelers Championship was without a sponsor, without a worthwhile field, without a consistent date and on the verge of being jettisoned to the PGA Tour Champions schedule. The glory days of the old Greater Hartford Open had come and gone, and the PGA Tour’s ever-increasing machine appeared poised to leave little old Cromwell in its wake.
The civic pride is booming in this neck of the woods. Main Street is lined with one small business after the next, and this time of year there are signs and posters popping up on every corner congratulating a member of the most recent graduating class at Cromwell High School, which sits less than two miles from the first tee at TPC River Highlands.
Having made it through a harrowing time in the event’s history, the local residents now have plenty of reason to take pride.
The Tour’s best have found this little New England hamlet, where tournament officials roll out the red carpet in every direction. They embrace the opportunity to decompress after the mind-numbing gauntlet the USGA set out for them last week, and they relish a return to a course where well-struck shots, more often than not, lead to birdies.
Ten years ago, this tournament was also held the week after the U.S. Open. Stewart Cink won, and for his efforts he received a paltry 36 world ranking points. But thanks to a recent influx of star-power, this week’s winner will pocket 58 points – the same amount Rory McIlroy won at Bay Hill, and two more than Justin Rose got at Colonial. Now at the halfway point, the leaderboard backs up the hefty allocation.
While Brian Harman leads at 10 under, the chase pack is strong enough to strike fear in the heart of even the most seasoned veteran: McIlroy, Bubba Watson and Zach Johnson, they of the combined eight major titles, all sit within three shots of the lead. Former world No. 1 Jason Day is one shot further back, and reigning Player of the Year Justin Thomas will start the third round inside the top 20.
Paul Casey and Bryson DeChambeau, both likely participants at the Ryder Cup this fall, are right there as well at 8 under. Casey lost a playoff here to Watson in 2015 and has come back every year since, witnessing first-hand the tournament’s growth in scope.
“It speaks volumes for what Travelers have done and how they treat everybody, and the work that Andy Bessette and his team put in to fly around the country and speak highly of this event,” Casey said. “And do things which matter, to continue to improve the event, not just for players but for spectators.”
Part of the increased field strength can be attributed to the Tour’s recent rule change, requiring players who play fewer than 25 events in a season to add a new event they haven’t played in the last four years. Another portion can be attributed to the short commute from Shinnecock Hills to TPC River Highlands, a three-hour drive and even shorter across the Long Island Sound – an added bonus the event will lose two of the next three years with West Coast U.S. Opens.
But there’s no denying the widespread appeal of an event named the Tour’s tournament of the year, players’ choice and most fan-friendly in 2017. While Spieth’s return to defend his title was assumed, both Day and McIlroy are back for another crack this year after liking what they saw.
“Anyone that I talked to could only say good things about the tournament about the golf course, how the guys are treated here, how the fans come out, and how the community always gets behind this event,” McIlroy said. “Obviously I witnessed that for the first time last year, and I really enjoyed it.”
After starting the week with all four reigning major champs and five of the top 10 players in the latest world rankings, only Masters champ Patrick Reed got sent packing following rounds of 72-67. The remaining top-flight contingent will all hit the ground running in search of more low scores Saturday, with Spieth (-4) still retaining a glimmer of hope to keep his title defense chances alive, perhaps with a 63 like he fired in the opening round.
The Tour’s schedule represents a zero-sum game. Outside of the majors and WGCs that essentially become must-play events for the game’s best, the rest of the legs of the weekly circus become victim of a 12-month version of tug-of-war. Some players like to play in the spring; others load up in the fall. Many play the week before majors, while a select group block off the week after for some R&R far away from a golf course.
But in an environment where one tournament’s ebbs can create flows for another, the Travelers has continued a steady climb up the Tour’s hierarchy. Once in jeopardy of relegation, it has found its footing and appears in the process of turning several of the Tour’s one-name stars into regular participants.
Rory. Jordan. Bubba. JT.
It’s been a long battle for tournament officials, but the proof is in the pudding. And this weekend, the reward for the people of Cromwell – population 14,000 – looks to be a star-studded show.
“All the events are incredible,” Thomas said. “But this is kind of one of those underrated ones that I think until people come and play, do they realize how great it is.”