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Monahan: Players was perfect for Tiger-Phil

By Rex HoggardMay 12, 2018, 7:35 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan spends Players Championship week zigzagging his way around TPC Sawgrass for countless meetings, which explained why on Saturday when he sat down with for an exclusive interview, his voice was soft and hoarse.

“Hopefully it’s just talking too much,” he smiled. “I don’t want to get sick.”

In a wide-ranging interview that covered a variety of topics from the 2018-19 Tour schedule to this week’s decision to pair Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, Monahan – who took over as commissioner in 2017 – made a clear statement that he was pleased with the direction of the circuit.

• At the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in March, Monahan said he was “hopeful” the 2018-19 schedule – which will include The Players moving to March, the PGA Championship moving to May and a pre-Labor Day finish to the season – would be ready for public consumption by this week’s Players Championship. It was not.

“It was our hope to announce it at The Players, but things are moving well,” he said. “The challenge is when you’re trying to solve a problem and then you think you have the problem solved and you have to get all the right pieces in a row. You might settle these issues but it might take some time to get everyone aligned.”

• One of the final pieces of that puzzle appears to be the Tour’s annual stop in Houston, which lost its title sponsor last year and continues to search for a replacement.

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“We have the situation in Houston and we’re doing everything we can to get that solved,” he said. “The optimist in me thought there was a good chance we might have it solved by now. While we’re having good discussions it’s not yet complete.”

• This will be the final Players Championship played in May, with next year’s event moving back to March for the first time since 2006. For Monahan, the decision to move was two-fold as it applies to what’s best for the overall Tour schedule and the event.

“Having The Players here at TPC Sawgrass, in March, coming off, just look at the energy that was created in January and February this year,” he said. “To bring the best field in golf here, early in the season and to be able to use this platform and have tent-pole events, big events, every month March through July and get the playoffs to a position where we’re really excited about where we’re going, that’s good for the overall schedule.

“When you look at how we make this product [The Players] better, this product works in May, this product works in March. You need to pick the areas where you need to improve.”

• And finally, the commissioner talked about this week’s decision to pair Woods, Mickelson and Rickie Fowler for Rounds 1 and 2, which was the first time Tiger and Phil had been paired together for the first two days in a regular Tour event since 1998.

“There were a lot of people out here watching, not just those groups but the groups around them,” he said. “The three of them together, it was fun to see and watch.

“Tiger has returned to the game, he’s playing at a high level. Phil has won this year, it’s neat to see their relationship evolve and they’ve won this championship, like Rickie, let’s put them together.”

Monahan said he didn’t know when Woods and Mickelson might find themselves in the marquee group early in the week again, but explained The Players was the perfect spot to group them together.

“You’re not going to do this every week, but this is a great opportunity to do so,” he said. “When that will happen again, I don’t have a crystal ball. But we think long and hard about that process.”

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Watch: Highlights from Tiger's first round at East Lake

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 20, 2018, 7:00 pm

Tiger Woods is back at the season-ending Tour Championship for the first time since 2013, and he provided the fans in Atlanta with some highlights on the first day of competition.

Still looking for his first win of the year after coming close on numerous occasions, Woods started the day off by splitting the fairway on the first hole with the driver, not even bothering to watch his ball land.

Despite the picture-perfect opening tee shot, Woods would go on to bogey the first hole, but he rebounded with back-to-back birdies on 5 and 6, making putts from 26 and 15 feet.

Tiger's best shot on the front nine came on the par-4 seventh hole after he found the pine straw behind a tree with his drive. The 14-time major champ punched one under the tree limbs and onto the green, then calmly two-putted for par from about 40 feet en route to a front-side 1-under 34.

Woods added another birdie on the par-4 12th hole, hitting his approach inside 3 feet to get to 2 under on the day.

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Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 20, 2018, 6:23 pm

Tiger Woods is looking to close his season with a win at the Tour Championship. We're tracking him this week at East Lake Golf Club.

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Garcia (66) peaking for Ryder Cup?

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 20, 2018, 6:17 pm

Sergio Garcia might be finding his form just in time to terrorize the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Garcia made seven birdies during an opening round of 5-under 66 to sit just two shots off the early lead at the European Tour’s Portugal Masters.

It was Garcia’s fifth consecutive round of par or better, a stretch that includes rounds of 66-65-67-70-66. That solid play at the Wyndham Championship wasn’t enough to extend his PGA Tour season – he didn’t qualify for the FedExCup playoffs – but the Spaniard is starting to round into form with the Ryder Cup on deck.

Full-field scores from the Portugal Masters

A few weeks ago he was a controversial selection by European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn. After missing the cut in all four majors, Garcia could have been left at home in favor of such players as Rafa Cabrera Bello, Matt Wallace (a three-time winner this season who, once again, is at the top of the leaderboard in Portugal), Matt Fitzpatrick or Thomas Pieters. But Bjorn tabbed Garcia, noting his Ryder Cup experience, his sterling foursomes record and his influence in the team room. If Phil Mickelson is the U.S. player under the most pressure to perform in Paris, all eyes will be on Garcia next week – especially since it could be one of his final opportunities to wear a European uniform, as he’ll be 40 for the 2020 matches.

Garcia’s 66 matched his lowest opening round of the year and puts him in position to secure just his second top-10 since March.

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Watch: 100mph storm destroys tent at St. Andrews

By Grill Room TeamSeptember 20, 2018, 4:25 pm

The Old Course at St. Andrews has endured all sorts of wacky weather over the years, but things ratcheted up a notch this week with the arrival of Storm Ali.

The first named storm of the season struck Wednesday, bringing 100 mph gusts, killing two people and leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power in parts of Ireland, Scotland and England.

According to the Courier no one was injured in the St. Andrews area, but a video posted from the home of golf shows just how powerful the storm was as wind absolutely destroyed one of the hospitality tents set up in advance of the Dunhill Links Championship:

While plenty of clean-up is sure to be needed, officials say the Dunhill Links, which also be conducted at Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, will go on as scheduled October 4-7.