Woods' event remains atop new fall schedule

By Jason SobelOctober 15, 2013, 11:01 pm

Feel free to believe the PGA Tour is more powerful than its most prominent member. Keep thinking that should a power struggle ever exist, the organization would overrule the individual.

There’s no right or wrong answer here, but there is some sizable proof toward the counterargument.

Unlike years ago, the autumn months are no longer golf’s Silly Season, replete with hit-and-giggle, rich-get-richer exhibitions. Nor is this even like recent campaigns, with journeymen and youngsters alike attempting to retain status before the calendar turns.

Instead, the PGA Tour has deemed this time of year the beginning rather than the end, starting its next season just weeks after the last one has finished. The irony hasn’t been lost on those potentially impacted.

“I'm still wrapping my head around it,” Tiger Woods said of the wraparound schedule in a delicious bit of unintentional wordplay.

At first blush, it appears that these tournaments will receive the same star treatment as when they followed the FedEx Cup instead of started it. Which is to say, not much at all.

Last week’s season-opening Frys.com Open featured just one player, Hideki Matsuyama, ranked in the world’s top-30. This week’s Shriners Hospitals Open will quadruple that number, with Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson and Nick Watney joining Matsuyama, but four of the top-30 still pales in comparison.


Video: Woods talks World Challenge, new Tour schedule


In comparison to what? Glad you asked.

The fields for each of these official PGA Tour events pale are pithy compared with that of the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, Woods’ late-year tournament which is equal parts Silly Season event (it hosts an 18-man field with no cut and guaranteed money) and official event (it doles out world ranking points to every competitor).

This year’s entry list for the 15th edition of what is usually referred to simply as “Tiger’s tournament” will read like a who’s who of elite golfers. Woods will compete, of course, as will five others in the current top-10 (Rory McIlroy, Steve Stricker, Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker and Jason Dufner); six more in the top-20 (Johnson, Graeme McDowell, Jim Furyk, Keegan Bradley, Jason Day and Lee Westwood); and four in the top-30 (Ian Poulter, Ernie Els, Hunter Mahan and Bubba Watson).

With two players yet to be named to the field, that gives the World Challenge a perfect 16-for-16 in getting top-30 players to commit to the tournament.

If you’re scoring at home, that’s a first-round TKO for the PGA Tour’s most prominent member in any potential power struggle with the organization itself.

Granted, it’s always been this way, with Tiger’s tournament drawing better fields than anything officially contested in the autumn months, but never before has it come in direct competition with the start to the PGA Tour season.

“Word has spread,” Woods said in a Tuesday conference call to promote the tournament, which will be held Dec. 5-8. “We've always treated players well there. They've had a great time. It's close enough to the following year where some of the guys want to try and experiment with a few things equipment-wise, club deal-wise. They want to get a tournament in before they play Kapalua, the Hawaiian Open. Some of the guys have done that in the past.”

Peyton Manning doesn’t skip the first six NFL games, then play a star-studded flag football contest. LeBron James can’t eschew the beginning of the NBA season, then show up for a televised pickup game.

In effect, though, that’s exactly what many of these elite players will do this year. And the strength of this field has even dazzled the tourney host.

“I think we're all very surprised that we've got as many international players playing this year,” Woods continued. “The American players have supported our event throughout the years. Obviously it's easier travel if you're based in the States. The guys who are playing in the Race to Dubai, it's a bit more of a challenge to try to get them to play. 

“But for some reason this year we've had guys wanting to play and have probably the best field we've had.”

That fact won’t be lost on those in Ponte Vedra Beach executive offices. Not that the purveyors of the new wraparound schedule expected the elite players to jump aboard immediately and start competing in season-opening tournaments that still own a reputation of being third- or fourth-tier events. But the simple fact that their most prominent member can host a tournament around the same time and receive such an entry list should be alarming, if not troubling.

Tiger Woods might not wield more power than the PGA Tour itself. Without question, such a statement must take into account much more than late-year fields at their respective tournaments.

Even so, a simple comparison of these events must be a source of consternation for the PGA Tour – and undoubtedly a source of pride for Woods.

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Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

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Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

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Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

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Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

“There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

“To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

“To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.