The Week in Golf News 115 - 119
Big Names Flocking to March's Dubai Desert Classic
Mark O'Meara has joined his neighbor and good friend Tiger Woods to play in March's Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Club.
O'Meara committed to the event, which has a total purse this year of $1.5 million, and will be competing against not just Woods, but a host of the world's best players, including several prominent European stars in Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke and Colin Montgomerie.
In addition to these names, Jose Coceres will be back to defend his crown from his victory at the 2000 edition.
The event will be contested March 1-4. Be sure not to miss live coverage of the event only on The Golf Channel.
Senior Tour Championship Gets New Home
The season-finale Senior Tour Championship will be hosted by a different venue for this 2001 edition. The site will be the Gaillardia Golf & Country Club in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
This announcement was made Sunday by PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, with the agreement not only seeing Gaillardia as host to the tournament this year, but the following year as well in 2002.
Tom Watson will be returning to defend his title from last year's event, which was played at the TPC of Myrtle Beach. This year, he will be competing for a purse, which has been officially raised to $2.5 million. With $435,000 on the table for the winner, this year's champion will be the richest ever from a single event in Senior PGA Tour history.
In addition, the championship will also be the concluding tournament to the Charles Schwab Cup, an new season-long race on the 50-and-over circuit which offers $2.1 million in bonus money to the top-five finishers and a full $1 million to the winner.
Club Throwing Gets Otto in Hot Water
Sunshine Tour officials will question South African golfer Hennie Otto after reports he broke his golf clubs and threw them into a river at last week's South African Masters.
Caddies and players told officials that Otto had lost his temper after shooting 10-over par in Friday's second round.
Otto is scheduled to play in this week's Alfred Dunhill Championship in Johannesburg where Tour officials plan to meet with him.
Tuesday - Jan. 16, 2001
St. Andrews to Host 2004 British Amateur
St. Andrews, the home of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club will host the 2004 British Amateur Championship to celebrate the R & A's 250th anniversary . The event will be played on the Old Course beginning May 31st.
It will be the 15th time the British Amateur will be played at St. Andrews, and the first time since 1981.
Furyk Moves Up in World Rankings
Despite tying for eighth place last week at the Mercedes Championships, Tiger Woods maintained his gargantuan lead over the golf world in the latest World Golf Rankings.
The next seven players remained the same as Ernie Els, a third- place finisher in Hawaii came in second followed by Phil Mickelson, David Duval, Lee Westwood, Colin Montgomerie, Davis Love III and Hal Sutton.
Vijay Singh, who along with Els tied for third last week switched places with Tom Lehman as they round out the top-10.
Darren Clarke and Jesper Parnevik head the list of the second 10.
Fresh off his win in Hawaii, Jim Furyk moved up three places to 13th followed by Nick Price, Michael Campbell, Sergio Garcia, Justin Leonard, Stewart Cink, John Huston and Thomas Bjorn.
Mercedes Championship runner-up Rory Sabbatini made the biggest move of the week, climbing 24 places to 61st. Sabbatini missed a three-foot birdie putt on the final hole last week, which would have forced a playoff with Furyk.
Mark O'Meara continued his slide in the World Golf Rankings as he dropped 13 places to 88th.
Jumping into the top-100 is Tucson Open runner-up Kevin Sutherland. Coming in at 91st in the rankings, the Sacramento, California native finished one stroke behind winner Garrett Willis. Sutherland had lost to Vijay Singh in the first round at the World Match Play Championships.
Masters Announces 2001 Invitations
Augusta National Golf Club issued its preliminary list of invitations to the 2001 Masters on Tuesday. 88 of the 95 invited players are expected to play in the first major of the year this April in Augusta, Ga.
The list includes 16 Masters rookies including American PGA Tour Players Chris DiMarco, Bob May, Tom Scherrer, Steve Flesch, Jonathan Kaye and Franklin Langham.
The field also includes a record tying 35 international players with Augusta National having the discretion to add to that list.
Players can still earn their way into the Masters by winning The Players Championship or by being in the top 50 in the world rankings or the top three on the PGA Tour money list on the Monday following the Genuity Championship (Doral).
Wednesday - Jan. 17, 2001
Pak Withdraws From Subaru Memorial
Last week's winner Se Ri Pak has withdrawn from this week's $1 million Subaru Memorial in Naples, Fl. The South Korean LPGA star decided to rest for a week to recover from flu-like symptoms she has been burdened with for more than a week.
Pak won last week's YourLife Vitamins LPGA Classic in Orlando, Fl. by shooting a record-tying 64 to win by four shots over Penny Hammel and Carin Koch. It was her first win since the end of 1999.
At the end of her breakthrough rookie season of 1998, Pak was hospitalized for exhaustion.
Greater Milwaukee Open Announces Purse Increase
The 34th annual Greater Milwaukee Open will have a total purse of $3.1 million, a record- setting increase of $600,000 from last year's event.
The winner, runner up and third-place finisher will net $558,000, $334,800 and $210,000, respectively.
This is the sixth straight year that the purse has increased, and the 19th time overall. The increase for the past two years was $500,000.
'The Greater Milwaukee Open, with this announced purse increase and the announcement several weeks ago of a record contribution made by the tournament to charity, continues to be a vibrant part of the PGA Tour schedule,' said Robert Milbourne, president of the Greater Milwaukee Open's board of directors.
The 33rd Greater Milwaukee Open was won by Loren Roberts, who shot a tournament record 24-under 260, eight shots better than Franklin Langham. It was Roberts' seventh career tour victory.
Baker-Finch Drops Out of New Zealand Open
A back injury has forced Ian Baker-Finch to withdraw from this week's New Zealand Open. The 1983 champion was set to tee it up in the first round with Phil Tataurangi and Michael Long. Australian Damian Chatterly, the first reserve, is likely to take Baker-Finch's place in the field.
Baker-Finch missed the cut in his most recent start on the ANZ Tour at last month's Australian PGA at Royal Queensland. He has limited his playing time in the last few years devoting most of his time to broadcasting.
Supreme Court Hears Martin Case
Supreme Court justices heard arguments, Wednesday in Washington D.C., as to whether disabled golfer Casey Martin has a legal right to use a cart in between shots at PGA Tour events.
Martin's lawyer, Roy L. Reardon, contended walking is not an integral part of the game. Citing the Americans with Disabilities Act, a 1990 law that bans discrimination against the disabled in housing, employment and public accommodations; Reardon said the Act gives people 'like Casey Martin a chance to get to the game.'
Adam Barr reports from Washington, D.C.
However, PGA Tour lawyer H. Bartow Farr III argued that the Tour is not obligated to comply with the ADA, and that riding in a cart would fundamentally alter the nature of the competition.
The seven justices are expected to issue a ruling by July.
Martin, 28, suffers from Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber Syndrome, a circulatory disorder in his right leg that makes it painful to walk long distances.
Martin comments from the steps of the Supreme Court.
Martin sued the PGA Tour in 1997 for the right to ride in a cart. A federal judge ruled in his favor; the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals then upheld the decision in 2000.
But the following day, a Chicago-based federal appeals court ruled against Indiana golfer Ford Orliger, who sued the USGA for the right to ride in a cart during U.S. Open qualifying. This became the basis for the PGA Tour appeal to the Supreme Court.
Thursday - Jan. 18, 2001
Strong Euro Contingent Set For Singapore
Six winners from last year's European Tour will join Colin Montgomerie and Vijay Singh at next month's inaugural Caltex Singapore Masters and Charity Pro-Am.
Scotland's Gary Orr, England's Anthony Wall and Brian Davis, Denmark's Steen Tinning, Italy's Massimo Scarpa and Taiwan's Yeh-Wei-tze have committed to the $850,000 tournament.
The event, which will be held at the Singapore Island Country Club Feb. 22-25, will mark the first time that the country has hosted a joint-sanctioned event between the European and Davidoff (former Asian) Tours.
Otto Avoids Penalty
Hennie Otto has avoided sanction after breaking his clubs and throwing them into a river following a 10-over-par round during last week's South African Masters.
The Southern Africa Tour issued a statement on Thursday saying it would not be taking any action since Otto's 'transgression did not take place during a tournament round or in public view.'
The 24-year-old South African player snapped all of his clubs and tossed them with his bag into a nearby river after his second-round score of 80.
Otto, with new clubs in play, posted a first-round 2-over-par 74 at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in Johannesburg on Thursday.
Friday - Jan. 19, 2001
Ryder Cup Board to Discuss 2009 Site
The Ryder Cup Board announced Friday that it will meet next month to discuss where to hold the 2009 Ryder Cup.
England, Scotland and Wales are among the countries that have made significant bids to host the 2009 Ryder Cup matches.
Mitchell Platts, spokesman for the Ryder Cup, said, 'The Ryder Cup Board is keen to stress that no decision on the host nation for the 2009 match has been taken. The Ryder Cup Board has been extremely impressed by the bids, all of which are being given total consideration, and they will continue a process of evaluation leading to an announcement in advance of the 2001 match in September.'
Tiger Joins Dynamic Phoenix Field
The Phoenix faithful just got reason to be a little more rowdy when the PGA Tour comes to town next week. Tiger Woods has officially entered the 2001 Phoenix Open to be held at the TPC of Scottsdale in Arizona, Jan. 25-28.
Woods' addition means 27 of the top 30 finishers on the 2000 PGA Tour money list will be in attendance. Tiger joins, among others, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, David Duval, Nick Price, Jose Maria Olazabal, Tom Lehman, Hal Sutton and Jesper Parnevik.
This will be Tiger's third start in Phoenix. He finished third in 1999, a year in which police apprehended a patron who was following Woods' group on Sunday with a handgun in his backpack.
Woods also tied for 18th in his first Phoenix Open appearance in '97, an event that will forever be remembered as much for his 3rd-round hole-in-one at the famed 16th as for Steve Jones' record-setting victory.
Norman to pose in ESPN's 'Body Issue'
Professional golfers have, from time to time, appeared in ESPN's "Body Issue," which features athletes strategically posed in the nude. The list includes: Belen Mozo, Carly Booth, Gary Player, Camilo Villegas, Sandra Gal, Christina Kim, Anna Grzebien, Suzann Pettersen and Sadena Parks.
And now, Greg Norman.
Modesty has never been an issue for Norman, who has an affinity for posing without a shirt (and sometimes without pants) on his Instagram account.
He joins a list of athletes, in this year's edition, ranging from professional wrestlers (Charlotte Flair) to Olympians (Adam Rippon) to WNBA stars (Sue Bird). Click here for a full list of the athletes to appear.
DJ listed as betting favorite for The Open
With the U.S. Open officially in the books, oddsmakers quickly turned their attention to the season's third major.
Minutes after Brooks Koepka holed the winning putt to successfully defend his title at Shinnecock Hills, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook published its first set of odds for The Open. Jordan Spieth, who opened at 14/1, will defend his title as the tournament shifts to Carnoustie in Scotland for the first time since 2007, when Padraig Harrington defeated Sergio Garcia in a playoff.
Joining Spieth at 14/1 is 2014 Open champion Rory McIlroy, but they're both listed behind world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Johnson, who was a runner-up at the 2011 Open at Royal St. George's and just finished third at the U.S. Open, opened as a 12/1 betting favorite. Koepka, now a two-time major winner, is listed at 20/1 alongside U.S. Open runner-up Tommy Fleetwood.
Here's a look at the first edition of odds, with The Open just five weeks away:
12/1: Dustin Johnson
14/1: Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy
16/1: Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas
20/1: Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm
25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods
30/1: Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama
40/1: Phil Mickelson, Branden Grace, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Marc Leishman
50/1: Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Tyrrell Hatton
60/1: Matt Kuchar, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Ian Poulter, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick
80/1: Tony Finau, Zach Johnson, Thomas Pieters, Daniel Berger, Xander Schauffele, Bubba Watson, Shane Lowry
100/1: Charl Schwartzel, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker
Golf Channel, Loch Lomond Partner on Claret Jug Tour Ahead of 147TH Open
Award-Winning Independent Scotcb Whisky Sponsoring Tour to Select U.S. Cities; Will Include Special Tastings and Opportunities for Fans to Engage with Golf’s Most Storied Trophy
Golf Channel and Loch Lomond Group are partnering on a promotional tour with the Claret Jug – golf’s most iconic trophy, first awarded in 1873 to the winner of The Open – to select U.S. cities in advance of the 147TH Open at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland. Loch Lomond Whisky’s sponsorship of the tour further enhances the brand’s existing five-year partnership with the R&A as the official spirit of The Open, initially announced in February.
“We are proud to partner with Golf Channel to support this tour of golf’s most iconic trophy,” said Colin Matthews, CEO of Loch Lomond Group. “Whisky and golf are two of Scotland’s greatest gifts to the world, and following the news of our recent partnership with the R&A for The Open, being a part of the Claret Jug tour was a perfect fit for Loch Lomond Group to further showcase our commitment to the game.”
“The Loch Lomond Group could not be a more natural fit to sponsor the Claret Jug tour,” said Tom Knapp, senior vice president of golf sponsorship, NBC Sports Group. “Much like the storied history that accompanies the Claret Jug, Loch Lomond’s Scottish roots trace back centuries ago, and their aspirations to align with golf’s most celebrated traditions will resonate with a broad range of consumers in addition to golf fans and whisky enthusiasts.”
The tour kicks off today in Austin, Texas, and will culminate on Wednesday, July 11 at the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe one week prior to The Open. Those wishing to engage with the Claret Jug will have an opportunity at one of several tour stops being staged at Topgolf locations in select cities. The tour will feature a custom, authentic Scottish pub where consumers (of age) can sample Loch Lomond’s portfolio of whiskies in the spirit of golf’s original championship and the Claret Jug. The Claret Jug also will make special pop-up visits to select GolfNow course partners located within some of the designated tour markets.
(All Times Local)
Monday, June 18 Austin, Texas (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m.)
Tuesday, June 19 Houston (Topgolf, 5-8 p.m.)
Wednesday, June 20 Jacksonville, Fla. (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)
Monday, June 25 Orlando, Fla. (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)
Wednesday, July 4 Washington D.C. (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m. – Ashburn, Va.)
Monday, July 9 Edison, N.J. (Topgolf, Time TBA)
Wednesday, July 11 Lake Tahoe, Nev. American Century Championship (On Course)
Fans interacting with the Claret Jug and Loch Lomond during the course of the tour are encouraged to share their experience using the hashtag, #ClaretJug on social media, and tag @TheOpen and @LochLomondMalts on Twitter and Instagram.
NBC Sports Group is the exclusive U.S. television home of the 147TH Open from Carnoustie, with nearly 50 live hours of tournament coverage, Thursday-Sunday, July 19-22. The Claret Jug is presented each July to the winner of The Open, with the winner also being given the title of “Champion Golfer of the Year” until the following year’s event is staged. The Claret Jug is one of the most storied trophies in all of sports; first presented to the 1873 winner of The Open, Tom Kidd. Each year, the winner’s name is engraved on to the trophy, forever etched into the history of golf’s original championship. It is customary for the Champion Golfer of the Year to drink a favorite alcoholic beverage from the Claret Jug in celebration of the victory.
USGA-player relationship at a breaking point?
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – For seven days each year, the American game’s preeminent governing body welcomes the best players in the world with open arms. They set up shop at one of the premier courses in the country, and line it with grandstands and white hospitality tents as far as the eye can see.
The players arrive, first at a slow trickle and then at a steady pace. And once they’ve registered and clipped their player medallions over their belts, they’re told how this year is going to be different.
How this time around, be it in a Washington gravel pit or on a time-tested piece of land on the tip of Long Island, the USGA will not repeat the mistakes of the past. That the process of identifying the best players in the world will not veer into the territory of embarrassing them.
Like a college sweetheart in search of reconciliation, the powers-that-be preach a changed attitude and a more even-handed approach. Then, inevitably, they commit the same cardinal sins they promised to avoid.
So year in and year out, the scar tissue builds. Charlie Brown keeps trying to kick the football and, for most of the players not named Brooks Koepka, he ends up on his butt in a cloud of dust and fescue.
Apparently the Blue Bloods of the @USGA do. I refuse to watch it because I know what the outcome will be. Mike Davis and his crew could ruin Christmas. #amateurhacks #giveusourgameback https://t.co/n3GgOJl02C— William McGirt (@WilliamMcGirt) June 16, 2018
After letting Shinnecock Hills plunge into avoidable yet all-too-familiar territory over the weekend – before being doused back to life – one thing is clear: in the eyes of many players, the USGA can’t be trusted.
“When are they going to get it right? I just feel like they disrespect these historic golf courses,” said Scott Piercy, a runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open who got swept away this week during a crispy third round en route to a T-45 finish. “I think they disrespect the players, I think they disrespect the game of golf. And they’re supposed to be, like, the top body in the game of golf. And they disrespect it, every aspect of it.”
Piercy, like several players in this week’s field, had a few specific gripes about how Shinnecock was set up, especially during the third round when USGA CEO Mike Davis admitted his organization lost control in a display that echoed the mistakes of 2004. But this was not an isolated case.
Players went with skepticism to Chambers Bay three years ago, only to encounter greens that were largely dirt and got compared to produce. Mismatched grass strains, they were told. Whoops.
The next year the USGA threw a dark cloud over a classic venue by allowing much of the final round at Oakmont to play without knowing the leader’s actual score as a rules fiasco reached a furious boil. Last year’s Erin Hills experiment was met with malaise.
At this point, the schism runs much deeper than a single error in setup. It threatens the core competency of the organization in the eyes of several of the players it looks to serve.
“They do what they want, and they don’t do it very well. As far as I’m concerned, there is no relationship (between players and the USGA),” said Marc Leishman. “They try and do it. They do it on purpose. They say they want to test us mentally, and they do that by doing dumb stuff.”
Thanks guys did Bozo set the course up or are the @USGA going to accept responsibility or just say “IF WE HAD A MULLIGAN” I would have liked about 6 mulligans today. But they are not allowed at this level. “Apparently” pic.twitter.com/O08vOpNlTx— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) June 17, 2018
By and large, players who took issue with the USGA’s tactics had a simple solution: put more of the setup choices in the hands of those who oversee PGA Tour and European Tour venues on a regular basis. While some of those personnel already moonlight in USGA sweater-vests for the week, there is a strong sentiment that their collective knowledge could be more heavily relied upon.
“I know (the USGA) takes great pride in doing all this stuff they do to these golf courses, but they see it once a year,” Brandt Snedeker said. “Let those guys say, ‘Hey, we see this every week. We know what the edge is. We know where it is.’ We can’t be out there playing silly golf.”
That’s not to say that a major should masquerade as the Travelers Championship. But the U.S. Open is the only one of the four that struggles to keep setup shortfalls from becoming a dominant storyline.
It all adds up to a largely adversarial relationship, one that continues to fray after this weekend’s dramatics and which isn’t helped by the USGA’s insistence that they should rarely shoulder the blame.
“They’re not going to listen, for one. Mike Davis thinks he’s got all the answers, that’s No. 2,” said Pat Perez after a T-36 finish. “And when he is wrong, there’s no apologies. It’s just, ‘Yeah, you know, we kind of let it get out of hand.’ Well, no kidding. Look at the scores. That’s the problem. It’s so preventable. You don’t have to let it get to that point.”
As a player and a golf fan myself, it’s sad to see how one of our biggest tournaments @usopengolf gets ripped apart because the @USGA can’t figure out the right set up for the great golf courses we play!!— Sergio Garcia (@TheSergioGarcia) June 17, 2018
But this wound festers from more than just slick greens and thick rough. There is a perception among some players that the USGA gets overly zealous in crafting complicated rules with complex decisions, a collection of amateur golfers doling out the fine print that lords over the professional game on a weekly basis – with the curious handling of whatever Phil Mickelson did on the 13th green Saturday serving as just the latest example.
The gripes over setup each year at the USGA’s biggest event, when it’s perceived that same group swoops in to take the reins for a single week before heading for the hills, simply serve as icing on the cake. And there was plenty of icing this week after players were implored to trust that the miscues of 2004 would not be repeated.
“To say that the players and the USGA have had a close relationship would be a false statement,” Snedeker said. “They keep saying all the right things, and they’re trying to do all the right things, I think. But it’s just not coming through when it matters.”
It’s worth noting that the USGA has made efforts recently to ramp up its communication with the top pros. Officials from the organization have regularly attended the Tour’s player meetings in recent months, and Snedeker believes that some strides have been made.
So, too, does Zach Johnson, who was one of the first to come out after the third round and declare that the USGA had once again lost the golf course.
“I think they’ve really started to over the last few years, last couple years in particular, tried to increase veins of communication,” Johnson said. “When you’re talking about a week that is held in the highest regards, I’m assuming within the organization and certainly within my peer group as one of the four majors and my nation’s major, communication is paramount.”
I wish the @USGA would realize that this course really is special. But it was never designed to have greens at 15 on the stemp. You look like you’re trying to embarrass the best players in the world!— Colt Knost (@ColtKnost) June 17, 2018
But the exact size of the credibility gap the USGA has to bridge with some top pros remains unclear. It’s likely not a sting that one good week of tournament setup can assuage, even going to one of the more straightforward options in the rotation next year at Pebble Beach.
After all, Snedeker was quick to recall that players struggled mightily to hit the par-3 17th green back in 2010, with eventual champ Graeme McDowell calling the hole “borderline unfair” ahead of the third round.
“It’s one of the greatest holes in world golf, but I don’t really know how I can hit the back left portion of the green,” McDowell said at the time. “It’s nearly impossible.”
Surely this time next year, Davis will explain how the USGA has expanded its arsenal in the last decade, and that subsequent changes to the 17th green structure will make it more playable. His organization will then push the course to the brink, like a climber who insists on scaling Mount Everest without oxygen, and they’ll tell 156 players that this time, finally, the desired balance between difficult and fair has been achieved.
Whether they’ll be believed remains to be seen.