Par 5: Moneyball

By Randall MellOctober 11, 2011, 2:40 pm

Setting the agenda for the week ahead with five questions for tournament golf at large ...

Will Webb Simpson make Luke Donald squirm?

Simpson can overtake Donald as the PGA Tour’s leading money winner this week.

With a finish of 15th or better at the McGladrey Classic, Simpson can jump over Donald to the top spot. Simpson’s won twice in his last five starts and trails Donald by $68,971 with just two events remaining to decide the money title.

It’s possible Simpson and Donald both turn up at the Children’s Miracle Network Classic next week at Disney World. Though Donald’s commitment seems unlikely, especially with his wife expecting their second child in a couple weeks, he told reporters last week he hasn’t yet ruled out the possibility. Donald is aiming to become the first player to win the money titles on the PGA Tour and European Tour in the same season.

If Simpson and Donald both turn up at Disney, they turn that event upside down. Usually, the season-ending event is all about the other end of the money list, the battle to secure Tour cards with a top-125 finish on the money list.

Where does Rickie Fowler rank among the game’s best young players?

So many young players are stepping up now. We’ve seen Martin Kaymer (26) grab the No. 1 world ranking after winning the last major in 2010, Charl Schwartzel (26) win the Masters, Rory McIlroy (22) run away with the U.S. Open, Keegan Bradley (25) claim the PGA Championship, Jason Day (23) challenge in multiple majors, Simpson (26) make a run at the PGA Tour money title and Matteo Manassero (18) win a pair of European Tour titles.

It seems as if they’ve all buzzed past Fowler in the last year or so, but the buzz is back around Fowler heading to the McGladrey Classic this week. You look at all those players listed above, and nobody carries more potential to excite fans than Fowler should he start winning. Fowler’s Q-rating potential has to rank above even McIlroy’s should Fowler win a major.

With Fowler claiming his first professional victory Sunday at the Kolon Korea Open, he brings momentum and confidence to Sea Island, Ga., this week in his bid to win his first PGA Tour title. Fowler, 22, may not have beaten a deep field in South Korea, but he beat McIlroy by six.

In 55 PGA Tour starts, Fowler’s finished second four times. He was runner up at the Open in just his second PGA Tour start as a pro in 2009, logged second-place finishes last year at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and at the Memorial and finished second this year at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

'Time to get my first win @pgatour!” Fowler tweeted after winning in Korea.

So just how young is the game going to get?

With Fowler jumping into the top 25 of the world rankings this week, the game feels like it’s never been younger at the top.

If you go back to the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black in the summer of 2009, there was just one player in his 20s in the top 10 in the world rankings. Sergio Garcia was the lone wolf, and he barely qualified at 29 years and 6 months.

Today, there are four players in their 20s among the top 10 (McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Kaymer and Day).

The average age of the top 10 in the world back at that U.S. Open in ’09 was 37 years old.

Today, the average age of the top 10 is 31 and threatening to get younger in a hurry.

No. 10 Phil Mickelson, at 40 years old, is vulnerable to getting bumped. Poised to take his place in the top 10 are Nick Watney (30) at No. 11, Simpson at No. 12 and Schwartzel at No. 13.

With Fowler’s move, 10 of the top 25 players in the world rankings today are in their 20s. There were six among the top 25 in the summer of ’09.

What’s the upside for Bud Cauley once he gets a PGA Tour card?

Add Cauley to the growing list of rising young stars.

As predictors of success go, earning your PGA Tour card without having to go to Q-School ranks way up there.

Since 1980, the only players to go from college to the PGA Tour in the same season without a trip to Q-School are Gary Hallberg, Phil Mickelson, Justin Leonard, Tiger Woods and Ryan Moore. They all went on to win PGA Tour events with three of the five winning majors.

Cauley, 21, who turned pro this summer with one year of eligibility left at the University of Alabama, virtually assured he’ll win exempt PGA Tour status next year with his non-member earnings. With a third-place finish at the Open Sunday, Cauley won $340,000, pushing his non-member earnings to $671,150 for the season. That’s the equivalent of 114th on the money list. If his winnings rank among the top 125 at season’s end, he gets a PGA Tour card. 

Cauley will tee it up at the McGladrey’s Classic this week looking to pad his earnings. He gained the spot with his top-10 finish at the Open.

Will Yani Tseng build a larger lead as world No. 1 than Tiger Woods did?

Tseng is putting a stranglehold on the world rankings in women’s golf, extending her reign at the top to a 35th consecutive week.

With Tseng coming off a victory at the LPGA HanaBank Championship last weekend, her sixth LPGA title of the year, she arrives at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia this week as the favorite again.

The LPGA brought the top 10 money winners into a news conference in Malaysia Tuesday, where a reporter asked players if they were beginning to feel like they were playing for second place with Tseng dominating.

ldquo;We never really want to go into a tournament feeling like we’re playing for second, but Yani is having a fantastic year,” Cristie Kerr said. “Any time she’s on the front page of the leaderboard, she is going to be a very strong factor, and she has a lot of confidence right now. Definitely don’t want to feel like that, but she’s very hot at the moment, and we are all trying to do our best job out there.”

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Davies leads Inkster after Day 1 of Senior LPGA Champ.

By Associated PressOctober 16, 2018, 1:10 am

FRENCH LICK, Ind. - Laura Davies opened with a 4-under 68 despite finishing with two bogeys Monday, giving her a one-shot lead over Juli Inkster after Round 1 of the Senior LPGA Championship.

Davies, who earlier this year won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open, had a lost ball on the par-5 18th hole on The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort. She still salvaged a bogey in chilly, windy weather that had the 55-year-old from England bundled up in a blanket between shots.

Inkster, runner-up to Davies at the Senior Women's Open, made eagle on the closing hole for a 69.

Jane Crafter was at 70. Defending champion Trish Johnson opened with a 73.

Temperatures were in the high 40s, but the damp air and wind made it feel even colder.

Inkster made a bogey on the 17th hole by missing the green with a 9-iron.

''As old as I am, I still get made and I crushed that drive on 18,'' said Inkster, who followed with a 3-wood to 15 feet to set up her eagle.

The 54-hole event concludes Wednesday.

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Miller to retire from broadcast booth in 2019

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 15, 2018, 9:14 pm

After nearly 30 years in the broadcast booth, Johnny Miller is ready to hang up his microphone.

Following a Hall of Fame playing career that included a pair of major titles, Miller has become one of the most outspoken voices in the game as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports. But at age 71 he has decided to retire from broadcasting following the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

“The call of being there for my grandkids, to teach them how to fish. I felt it was a higher calling,” Miller told “The parents are trying to make a living, and grandparents can be there like my father was with my four boys. He was there every day for them. I'm a big believer that there is a time and a season for everything.”

Miller was named lead analyst for NBC in 1990, making his broadcast debut at what was then known as the Bob Hope Desert Classic. He still remained competitive, notably winning the 1994 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at age 46, but made an indelible mark on the next generation of Tour pros with his frank and candid assessment of the action from some of golf’s biggest events.

Miller’s broadcasting career has included 20 U.S. Opens, 14 Ryder Cups, nine Presidents Cups, three Open Championships and the 2016 Olympics. While he has teamed in the booth with Dan Hicks for the past 20 years, Miller’s previous on-air partners included Bryant Gumbel, Charlie Jones, Jim Lampley and Dick Enberg.

His farewell event will be in Phoenix Jan. 31-Feb. 3, at a tournament he won in back-to-back years in 1974-75.

“When it comes to serving golf fans with sharp insight on what is happening inside the ropes, Johnny Miller is the gold standard,” said NBC lead golf producer Tommy Roy. “It has been an honor working with him, and while it might not be Johnny’s personal style, it will be fun to send him off at one of the PGA Tour’s best parties at TPC Scottsdale.”

Miller was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1998 after a playing career that included wins at the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont and The Open in 1976 at Royal Birkdale. Before turning pro, he won the 1964 U.S. Junior Amateur and was low amateur at the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic, where he tied for eighth at age 19.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Miller now lives in Utah with his wife, Linda, and annually serves as tournament host of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open in Napa, Calif.

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Randall's Rant: Tiger vs. Phil feels like a ripoff

By Randall MellOctober 15, 2018, 7:45 pm

Usually, you have to buy something before you feel like you were ripped off.

The wonder in the marketing of Tiger vs. Phil and “The Match” is how it is making so many people feel as if they are getting ripped off before they’ve shelled out a single penny for the product.

Phil Mickelson gets credit for this miscue.

Apparently, the smartest guy in the room isn’t the smartest marketing guy.

He was a little bit like that telemarketer who teases you into thinking you’ve won a free weekend getaway, only to lead you into the discovery that there’s a shady catch, with fine print and a price tag.

There was something as slippery as snake oil in the original pitch.

In Mickelson’s eagerness to create some excitement, he hinted back during The Players in May about the possibility of a big-money, head-to-head match with Woods. A couple months later, he leaked more details, before it was ready to be fully announced.

So while there was an initial buzz over news of the Thanksgiving weekend matchup, the original pitch set up a real buzzkill when it was later announced that you were only going to get to see it live on pay-per-view.

The news landed with a thud but no price tag. We’re still waiting to see what it’s going to cost when these two meet at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, but anything that feels even slightly inflated now is going to further dampen the original enthusiasm Mickelson created.

Without Woods or Mickelson putting up their own money, this $9 million winner-take-all event was always going to feel more like a money grab than real competition.

When we were expecting to see it on network or cable TV, we didn’t care so much. Tiger's and Phil’s hands would have felt as if they were reaching into corporate America’s pockets. Now, it feels as if they’re digging into ours.

Last week, there was more disappointing news, with the Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting that tickets won’t be sold to the public, that the match at Shadow Creek will only be open to select sponsors and VIPs.

Now there’s a larger insult to the common fan, who can’t help but feel he isn’t worthy or important enough to gain admittance.

Sorry, but that’s how news of a closed gate landed on the heels of the pay-per-view news.

“The Match” was never going to be meaningful golf in any historical sense.

This matchup was never going to rekindle the magic Tiger vs. Phil brought in their epic Duel at Doral in ’05.

The $9 million was never going to buy the legitimacy a major championship or PGA Tour Sunday clash could bring.

It was never going to be more than an exhibition, with no lingering historical significance, but that was OK as quasi silly-season fare on TV on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23), the traditional weekend of the old Skins Game.

“The Match” still has a chance to be meaningful, but first and foremost as entertainment, not real competition. That’s what this was always going to be about, but now the bar is raised.

Pay per view does that.

“You get what you pay for” is an adage that doesn’t apply to free (or already-paid for) TV. It does to pay per view. Expectations go way up when you aren’t just channel surfing to a telecast. So the higher the price tag they end up putting on this showdown, the more entertaining this has to be.

If Phil brings his “A-Game” to his trash talking, and if Tiger can bring some clever repartee, this can still be fun. If the prerecorded segments wedged between shots are insightful, even meaningful in their ability to make us understand these players in ways we didn’t before, this will be worthwhile.

Ultimately, “The Match” is a success if it leaves folks who paid to see it feeling as if they weren’t as ripped off as the people who refused to pay for it. That’s the handicap a history of free golf on TV brings. Welcome to pay-per-view, Tiger and Phil.

Celia Barquin Arozamena Iowa State University athletics

Trial date set for drifter charged with killing Barquin Arozamena

By Associated PressOctober 15, 2018, 7:28 pm

AMES, Iowa – A judge has scheduled a January trial for a 22-year-old Iowa drifter charged with killing a top amateur golfer from Spain.

District Judge Bethany Currie ruled Monday that Collin Richards will stand trial Jan. 15 for first-degree murder in the death of Iowa State University student Celia Barquin Arozamena.

Richards entered a written not guilty plea Monday morning and waived his right to a speedy trial. The filing canceled an in-person arraignment hearing that had been scheduled for later Monday.

Investigators say Richards attacked Barquin on Sept. 17 while she was playing a round at a public course in Ames, near the university campus. Her body was found in a pond on the course riddled with stab wounds.

Richards faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.