Time to Adjust the Mercedes Field
The PGA TOUR is entering a new era with the advent of the FedExCup, and a new television deal. Much time and effort have been spent in creating what promises to be a very exciting finish to the PGA TOUR Season. The PGA TOUR is now much more like the other major sports with a playoff system that culminates in a definitive end to the season. I believe the FedExCup will be very successful but will cause the players to think hard about their playing schedules.
OK, so the end of the PGA TOUR schedule has been reconstructed and is now set but what about the start? In baseball, other than the playoffs, the most important day is Opening Day. And for the PGA TOUR, it needs to open its year with that kind of a bang. The top players need to play not only at the end of the season but at the beginning. The Sony Open in Hawaii field is highly dependent on the Mercedes-Benz Championship the week prior and right now the Mercedes winners-only format is increasingly becoming too restrictive. Too many of the top players are missing. Its time to consider a qualifying standard adjustment for the Mercedes-Benz Championship.
Over the past couple of years, for a variety of reasons, some to the games top players, even though they had won the year before, have not been in the Mercedes field. One of the issues is that Tiger Woods tournament, the Target World Challenge, doesnt finish until the middle of December and the Mercedes-Benz Championship begins only two weeks later. That is a very short holiday break for the players in Tigers field and very little time to prepare for the Mercedes. I think the proximity of these two dates needs to be re-thought. Irrespective of that, I think that adding a few players to the Mercedes field would be a good insurance policy in case some players choose not to come.
There are a number of repercussions when the top players, who have qualified to play, opt not to come to the season-opening event. There is less buzz for the event and for the PGA TOUR. There is less media coverage, lower attendance and subsequently less money for local charities and overall lower TV ratings.
Here are a couple of options to consider. What if the one-year eligibility right now for the Mercedes-Benz Championship was adjusted to reflect the same benefit as winning any PGA TOUR event, which is two years, or in the case of the Players Championship as much as five years; that would add 15-20 players a year into the field. If thats too many perhaps you could allow the past Mercedes winners into the field; that would have allowed Ernie Els or Sergio Garcia to be eligible for this past Mercedes-Benz Championship.
I certainly cant say I have the right answers but there needs to be an answer.
Thats MY VIEW!
Editors Note: Mark Rolfing, a Maui resident, is one of the leading forces in sports event marketing and production in Hawaii. As NBC Sports award-winning golf commentator, Rolfing continues to cover top golf events such as the prestigious Ryder Cup, The Players Championship and The U.S Open. Rolfing also hosts Golf Hawaii on The Golf Channel. Golf Hawaii, now in its twelfth season is one of the longest running sports shows in the nation.
Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish
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.
Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him
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.
Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter
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.
Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose
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.
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.