Hjorth Defends at Mizuno Classic
Last year's winner, Maria Hjorth, is making the trek back to the island to defend her title. In 1999 Maria Hjorth was forced to compete in the first round of the Mizuno Classic using a borrowed set of clubs after the airline was unable to locate hers. She went on to shoot a 70 (-2) during that round.
Hjorth's clubs were located and delivered to her in time for second round play where she proceeded to set a new tournament record by posting scores of 64 (-8) and 67 (-5) for a three day total of 201 (-15).
Hjorth, a rookie in 1998, had a good year in 1999. She recorded wins at the SAFECO Classic and the Mizuno Classic, as well as posting five other top-10 finishes.
In addition to Hjorth, 43 other LGPA Tour players will travel to the sleepy little resort town of Seta located an hour's drive from Osaka. Those making the journey will find beautiful vistas amongst the rolling hills. The area, just a short drive from Kyoto, is best known for 'onsen' - the Japanese hot springs that abound in the area.
The Sorenstam sisters, Annika and Charlotta, were both scheduled to remain on the island after competing in the CISCO WORLD LADIES CHALLENGE. But Annika, unsuccessful in her efforts to captain the LPGA team into victory at last week's team match-play event, withdrew from this week's competition for reasons unknown. Younger sister Charlotta will be the only Sorenstam to try her luck this year on the 6,423-yard, par 72 Seta Golf Course located near the largest lake in west Japan - Lake Biwa.
Other LPGA players competing in this week's three-day competition are Sophie Gustafson, Rachel Hetherington, and Grace Park. In the field and celebrating birthday's this week are Michelle Estill (Nov. 1) and Fiona Pike (Nov. 4). Among those not making the journey is Laura Davies who finished second last year.
Alicia Dibos withdrew from competition along with Cristie Kerr.
The first round of the Mizuno Classic gets underway Friday. There is no television coverage so be sure to check back with thegolfchannel.com for daily updates on all the action.
Woods receives his Tour Championship trophy
We all know the feeling of giddily anticipating something in the mail. But it's doubtful that any of us ever received anything as cool as what recently showed up at Tiger Woods' Florida digs.
This was Woods' prize for winning the Tour Championship. It's a replica of "Calamity Jane," Bobby Jones' famous putter. Do we even need to point out that the Tour Championship is played at East Lake, the Atlanta course where Jones was introduced to the game.
Woods broke a victory drought of more than five years by winning the Tour Championhip. It was his 80th PGA Tour win, leaving him just two shy of Sam Snead's all-time record.
Garcia 2 back in storm-halted Andalucia Masters
SOTOGRANDE, Spain -- Ashley Chesters was leading on 5-under 66 at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters when play was suspended because of darkness with 60 golfers yet to complete their weather-hit first rounds on Thursday.
More than four hours was lost as play was twice suspended because of stormy conditions and the threat of lightning at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain.
English journeyman Chesters collected six birdies and one bogey to take a one-shot lead over Gregory Bourdy of France. Tournament host and defending champion Sergio Garcia was on 68 along with fellow Spaniards Alvaro Quiros and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, and Australia's Jason Scrivener.
''It's a shame I can't keep going because the last few holes were the best I played all day. Considering all the delays and everything, I'm very happy with 5 under,'' Chesters said. ''The forecast for the rest of the week is not very good either so I thought I'll just make as many birdies as I can and get in.''
Caddies drop lawsuit; Tour increases healthcare stipend
After nearly four years of litigation, a group of PGA Tour caddies have dropped their lawsuit against the circuit.
The lawsuit, which was filed in California in early 2015, centered on the bibs caddies wear during tournaments and ongoing attempts by the caddies to improve their healthcare and retirement options.
The caddies lost their class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court and an appeal this year.
Separately, the Association of Professional Tour Caddies, which was not involved in the lawsuit but represents the caddies to the Tour, began negotiating with the circuit last year.
“I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the APTC.
In January 2017, Jay Monahan took over as commissioner of the Tour and began working with the APTC to find a solution to the healthcare issue. Sajtinac said the Tour has agreed to increase the stipend it gives caddies for healthcare beginning next year.
“It took a year and a half, but it turned out to be a good result,” Sajtinac said. “Our goal is to close that window for the guys because healthcare is such a massive chunk of our income.”
The Tour did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the agreement or the end to the lawsuit.
Caddies have received a stipend from the Tour for healthcare for some time, and although Sajtinac wouldn’t give the exact increase, he said it was over 300 percent. Along with the APTC’s ability to now negotiate healthcare plans as a group, the new stipend should dramatically reduce healthcare costs for caddies.
“It’s been really good,” said Sajtinac, who did add that there are currently no talks with the Tour to created a retirement program for caddies. “Everybody is really excited about this.”
PGA Tour Latinoamérica moving season finale to Doral
PGA Tour Latinoamérica announced Wednesday that it will play its season finale, the Latinoamérica Tour Championship-Shell Championship, at Trump National Doral from Nov. 29-Dec. 2.
The limited-field event will feature the top 60 players on the circuit's money list competing on Doral's Golden Palm Course.
“We are very happy that we will continue playing the Latinoamérica Tour Championship-Shell Championship in South Florida, and Doral is a tremendous community that we know will open its arms to our players and this tournament,” PGA Tour Latinoamérica president Jack Warfield said in a statement.
The PGA Tour ended its more than 50-year relationship with Doral and the resort's Blue Monster course back in 2016, when Cadillac's title sponsorship of the World Golf Championship lapsed as then-candidate Donald Trump was mounting his bid for the presidency.
“We continue to stand by our earlier statement, and the statement of other golf organizations, that Mr. Trump's comments are inconsistent with our strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment in the game of golf,” then-PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said in December 2015, referring to Trump's campaign rhetoric concerning Mexicans and Muslims.
The event was moved to Mexico City in 2017 and renamed the WGC-Mexico Championship.
The Latinoamérica Tour Championship was staged the last two years at Melreese Country Club in Miami, where David Beckham is currently attempting to build a stadium for his Major League Soccer expansion club, Inter Miami.
PGA Tour Latinoamérica's release states that the move to Doral "keeps the event in this part of the Sunshine State and allows the tournament to maintain its ties to The First Tee of Miami as a charitable recipient and sponsor." Melreese, the city's only public golf course, is home to the First Tee of Miami, which naturally opposes Beckham's efforts to close the facility and repurpose the land.
A November referendum will ask voters to decide if the city should negotiate a no-bid lease with Beckham's ownership group, which seeks to create a $1 billion dollar complex comprising of the proposed stadium, youth soccer fields, a park, commercial and retail space, and a hotel.