PGA/Ryder Cup snub of fall events creates divide

By Rex HoggardMarch 25, 2015, 2:47 pm

Political gridlock has arrived on the PGA Tour.

It’s not the debilitating congestion that’s crippled our lawmakers in Washington, D.C., but the gulf between ideologies is every bit as wide as the divide that has wedged itself between both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill.

It’s not health care or foreign policy that has polarized the Tour; it’s the PGA of America’s decision last month to overhaul the Ryder Cup selection process.

The PGA’s task force, which included eight former or current Tour players, voted to exclude the six events on the fall portion of the Tour schedule from the Ryder Cup selection process.

Points in “off” years will only be given for finishes in the four major championships, The Players and the World Golf Championships events, with the rest of the Tour schedule being included starting on Jan. 1, not in October when the circuit begins its wrap-around season.

Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, who worked as an advisor to Jimmy Carter, said he “kind of whiffed” on the decision that some say robs the fall events of hard-fought legitimacy; while Phil Mickelson, who once caused a stir when he said California’s high taxes might make him leave his home state, suggested the move was best for the game’s top players.

“We’ve been trying, the last two years, to have a wrap-around schedule and I’m not really a big fan of it. It’s hard for spectators to understand it. I can’t understand it,” Mickelson said earlier this month.

“After playing eight out of 10 or eight out of 11 weeks the guys are going to take time off and from the Ryder Cup standpoint it doesn’t make sense to have points assessed on those events when none of the top players, or few of the top players, are playing and maybe the FedEx Cup should look at it as well. Maybe that’s not the best place to start [the season].”

But the debate over the nip/tucked Ryder Cup selection process goes well beyond Lefty and left-leaning Finchem and it appears a showdown is looming.

Finchem said he planned to speak with the PGA about the move and the change has become a talking point for some of the circuit’s decision makers.

“I think it was a mistake that needs to be rectified,” said Jason Bohn, one of four player directors on the Tour’s policy board.

The policy board met last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational but didn’t address the exclusion of the fall events from the Ryder Cup process. The discussion must begin with the player advisory council, which is scheduled to meet next at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Although there seems to be a growing amount of opposition to the PGA’s decision to circumvent the fall events, it remains unclear what influence the Tour would have to reverse the decision.

While PGA of America president Derek Sprague is among the nine policy board members, and the newly-minted Ryder Cup committee – which was created to advise the PGA on future captains and other Ryder Cup matters – includes three Tour players, change, at least in the short term, is unlikely.

“My logic on not starting the points with the start of the season is it would be hard to justify to the [FedEx Cup] playoff events, which are just a few weeks before the Ryder Cup, and they have the best players and all the pressure, those are the guys who are playing really well,” said Davis Love III, a member of the task force and, along with Mickelson and Tiger Woods, is one of the three Tour players on the Ryder Cup committee.

If anything, Love said he would not have included the World Golf Championships events in the points process the year before the matches “if you let me do it 100 percent my way.”

Love was in a particularly unique position during the debate to include the fall events. He hosts the McGladrey Classic, which is the third fall event, and will captain the next American team.

“It sounds good to fall events [to be included in the Ryder Cup selection process], but is it really going to affect their fields? I don’t think so,” Love said. “It isn’t going to make Webb Simpson come play to make points.

“Plus, people will say, well, Zach Johnson won the McGladrey Classic and it doesn’t count. Well, it matters to me because I can pick [as the U.S. captain].”

For Love, the question the issue has created is about missing the point, not missing points.

“They say the fields aren’t as good [in the fall],” Love said. “They are good. McGladrey consistently gets a field as good or better than a lot of FedEx Cup events. That’s not the argument to me. The argument is whether these events are too far away from the Ryder Cup to make a difference.”

In 2014, the winner of the Open received as many or more world ranking points (36) as six events that will be included in next year’s Ryder Cup selection process, and the average purse for the six fall events ($5.82 million) was more than nine events that will count toward next year’s U.S. team.

The fundamental question, however, will ultimately be where the debate turns. Should the players, who now enjoy a voice in the Ryder Cup process, focus on what’s best for the U.S. team or the U.S. tour?

And, like all politics, that’s personal.

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”