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Putting together the 2018-19 Tour schedule puzzle

By Rex HoggardMay 16, 2018, 5:50 pm

In March, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan suggested it was his “hope” to announce the 2018-19 schedule at last week’s Players Championship, but as the circuit’s flagship event came and went there was no news.

“We have the situation in Houston and we’re doing everything we can to get that solved,” Monahan said last weekend at TPC Sawgrass. “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.”

Monahan touched on a number of elements that still need to fall into place – chief among them a title sponsor for the circuit’s annual stop in Houston – before the schedule is ready for public consumption and he added that there is currently no timeline for when the schedule might be announced.

“You’re fundamentally changing your season. You’ve got to work with everybody and explain to them what your objectives are,” he said. “You have to recognize that in some cases there might be change and there might be some negative elements to it and just being a good partner. That just takes time.

“I do look at it as it’s been a lot of fun and I’m really excited about what we’re doing.”

The vast majority of that new schedule, however, is relatively straightforward. According to various sources, in many cases tournament’s own websites, the central elements of next year’s lineup are already in place.

Jan. 3-6  Sentry Tournament of Champions The West Coast swing remains unchanged.
Jan. 10-13  Sony Open  
Jan. 17-20  CareerBuilder Challenge  Although job site CareerBuilder signed a six-year deal to sponsor the event in 2015, sources say a new title sponsor could be stepping in soon.
Jan. 24-27  Farmers Insurance Open  
Jan. 31-Feb. 3 Waste Management Phoenix Open.   
Feb. 7-10  AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am  
Feb. 14-17  Genesis Open The tournament received a boost this year with Tiger Woods’ return to Riviera, but it remains to be seen how the WGC-Mexico Championship’s relocation will impact the field
Feb. 21-24  WGC-Mexico Championship This event had been played in the middle of the Florida swing in early March and the move should make it geographically more convenient for players.
Feb. 28-March 3  Honda Classic The event should receive a lifetime “most improved” award with its move to PGA National in 2007 and Jack Nicklaus’ involvement, but like the Los Angeles stop it could suffer around so many high-profile events.
March 7-10  Arnold Palmer Invitational A week before The Players, two weeks after the World Golf Championship in Mexico and two weeks before the Match Play. That’s a tough neighborhood.
March 14-17  The Players Championship After 12 successful years in May, the circuit’s flagship event moves back to March, which is a central part of the schedule makeover.
March 21-24  Valspar Championship Like Bay Hill, the annual Tampa-area stop will likely take a hit because of the crowded spring calendar.
March 28-31  WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play There was talk about this event sliding to the fall portion of the schedule, but it seems officials ultimately decided it’s best to avoid putting a marquee event up against football.
April 4-7  Valero Texas Open The folks in Houston had made the pre-Masters stop an interesting addition for some players. The challenge for San Antonio is replicating that success.
April 11-14  Masters Tournament  
April 18-21  RBC Heritage  
April 25-28  Zurich Classic The transition to a team event last year has proven to be a boost for a tournament that has historically struggled to draw a deep field.
May 2-5  Wells Fargo Championship Some predicted the success of the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow would be the end of a normal Tour event in Charlotte, but officials appear committed to keeping the Wells Fargo Championship on the schedule.
May 9-12  AT&T Byron Nelson A new course this year could backfire on tournament officials and having the PGA Championship wedged in the middle of the Dallas-Fort Worth swing won’t help.
May 16-19  PGA Championship The move to May is the biggest piece of the schedule makeover, giving golf five consecutive months of “major” events. How this will impact the PGA of America’s ability to play on traditional venues in the Northeast remains to be seen.
May 23-26  Fort Worth Invitational Charles Schwab & Co., recently agreed to a four-year sponsorship deal starting in 2019, and one of the circuit’s most popular courses will assure a solid field.
May 30-June 2  Memorial Tournament  
June 6-9  Houston Open Houston, we have a problem. Monahan confirmed that finding a title sponsor for the event contributed to the schedule not being complete in time for a Players announcement, and sources say officials have until early June to find a new sponsor. If no sponsor can be found, Minneapolis and 3M are poised to step in.
June 13-16  U.S. Open  
June 20-23  Travelers Championship  
June 27-30  Quicken Loans (Detroit) Officials at Quicken Loans have been rather outspoken about this in recent weeks. “Quicken [Loans] has stated where we’re at, so I don’t have anything to add to that,” Monahan said. This event would replace The National on the schedule, which currently doesn’t have a sponsor.
July 4—7  RBC Canadian Open This could be a temporary landing spot for the event, which historically has been played after The Open, but it’s not a bad long-term option.
July 11-14  John Deere Classic  
July 18-21  The Open The game’s oldest major will now become the year’s final major.
July 25-28  WGC-FedEx Invitational With Bridgestone out, FedEx stepped up to sponsor the event, although moving from Akron, Ohio, to Memphis in July will make for, let’s say, a steamy transition.
Aug. 1-4  Wyndham Championship The final regular-season event will essentially become something of a “play in” tournament for players looking to shore up their playoff chances now that the post-season will go to three events with the loss of the Boston-area stop.
Aug. 8-11  The Northern Trust Sources have suggested that this event could feature a golf course rotation that would include TPC Boston, which had hosted the now-departed third playoff event.
Aug. 15-18  BMW Championship With one fewer playoff event, the second post-season stop will take on added importance. Monahan confirmed that the structure will “likely” remain unchanged, with the top 125 players on the regular-season points list qualifying for the first playoff event, 70 for the second and 30 for the Tour Championship. It also seems likely that with one fewer playoff stop the Tour will need to rework the post-season points format to add some volatility.
Aug. 22-25  Tour Championship According to numerous sources, the Tour is looking to change the way it crowns a FedExCup champion, although details of that plan remain unclear. “We’re looking at everything. When we have the schedule finalized we’re get into all the details,” Monahan said when asked about a potential change at East Lake. “It’s just too early, we haven’t made any decisions. We continue to look at the best possible outcome for our fans. We realize that there are some elements to it [the playoffs] that aren’t easy to understand, so trying to get to a world where it might be more understandable than it is today.”
Sept.-Nov. Wraparound season
To be clear, the Tour is not contracting its schedule. There will still be a wraparound season with events in the fall, most notably the Greenbrier Classic, which had been played in July but appears poised for a September date.
Andrew Beef Johnston at the 2018 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Getty Images

Getting cheeky: 'Beef' drops trou, saves par

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 17, 2018, 3:23 pm

Andrew "Beef" Johnston provided the Nordea Masters crowd a little beefcake - that was just too easy - on Friday when he dropped trou during the second round.

He had pulled his drive on the short (253 yards) par-4 12th hole into a hazard, but the ball was playable. He played a mud-spattered explosion out of the muck, then opted to abandon his trousers for a pair of rain pants, much to the delight of the fans. The story has a happy ending, too. After hitting his second shot over the green, he chipped up and saved par.

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Cut Line: An appreciation of Woods, Lyle

By Rex HoggardAugust 17, 2018, 2:13 pm

In a regular-season finale edition, we celebrate how far Tiger Woods has come this season, mourn the loss of one of the game’s truly special people and crunch the numbers on Sergio Garcia’s 11th-hour sprint to the playoffs.

Made Cut

Perspective. Tiger Woods’ runner-up finish at the PGA Championship was another reason to appreciate the 14-time major winner’s comeback, and to marvel at how far he’s come in a relatively short period of time.

“I didn't know what my schedule would be. I didn't know how many tournaments I would play this year or if I would even play. So each tournament brought about its own challenges,” Woods reminded us following his closing 64 at Bellerive.

Although Woods has repeatedly talked about those dark and painful days before fusion surgery on his lower back, a recent interview with Nick Faldo on the Dan Patrick Show revealed just how bad things were.

 “I know [Woods] whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago [2017], 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,’” Faldo said. “He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the [2016] Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain.”

Woods’ improved play in recent months has slowly glossed over just how bad things were, not to mention how far he’s come.

RIP Jarrod Lyle. The PGA Tour community continues to mourn the loss of Lyle, who died last week at home in Australia following his third bout with acute myeloid leukemia.

A GoFundMe page created by Golf Channel’s Tripp Isenhour quickly met its goal of raising $200,000 for Lyle’s family, and tournament officials at this week’s Wyndham Championship placed Lyle’s staff bag, along with his signature bright-yellow bucket hat, on the first tee.

Officials at Sedgefield Country Club also created a sand castle memorial for Lyle, who played the Wyndham Championship four times in his career.

“It was hard not to think of Jarrod, certainly,” Adam Scott said on Sunday at the PGA. “The people who knew him quite well that were playing this week, golf was a little distraction, but probably now, as we get some time off and get to go home and be with our family, that we will be able to celebrate him a little bit more.”

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Bon voyage Bellerive. Major championship golf returned to St. Louis for the first time in two decades last week, and the Midwestern masses celebrated like it had been more than 20 years.

Record crowds swarmed the layout all week and Sunday’s final round was the most raucous day in golf (non-Ryder Cup division) since the 2008 U.S. Open.

Even the golf course, which featured slower-than-normal greens and wet conditions following storms on Tuesday and Friday, received high praise from the rank and file, all of which makes the course’s Grand Slam future so awkward.

The PGA Championship is booked up pretty much through 2029, with one open date, either 2025 or ’26, still available; while the Ryder Cup is scheduled through the 2024 matches at Bethpage, which means the earliest it could be played at Bellerive is 2028.

As much as players and fans celebrated golf’s return to St. Louis, Bellerive’s future place on the Grand Slam dance card has a distinct “don’t call us, we’ll call you” feel to it.

Tweet of the week: @JustinThomas34 (Justin Thomas) “Fans and people in St Louis . . . y’all were unbelievable! Never heard roars like that in my life. That is what I’ve thought and dreamt major championship Sundays were like since I was a kid.”

Bubble this and that. It’s a rite of fall in professional golf, players scrambling at the year’s final regular-season event to qualify for the playoffs or improve their postseason fortunes.

Sergio Garcia is the week’s most high-profile “bubble” player in the Wyndham Championship field, with the Spaniard mired at 131st on the point list. But this is likely less about the postseason – Garcia has skipped the first playoff start the last three years – than it is his need to secure his 15th start of the season, which is required to maintain membership.

A similar scenario occurred a few seasons ago with Henrik Stenson, and as the Tour transitions to a new, condensed schedule next year it’s probably going to happen more often.

With fewer playoff events and a condensed summer schedule, players, particularly those who also play the European Tour, will be faced with some tough choices starting in 2019.

Missed Cut

Captain obvious. We can appreciate Jim Furyk’s desire to cling to protocol. He has three weeks to decide who will be his first three captain’s picks for the Ryder Cup, but perhaps he should just come clean.

Following Woods’ runner-up finish at the PGA, which moved him from 20th to 11th on the U.S. point list, Furyk played a particularly aloof card when asked about Tiger’s chances of being a pick.

“He's playing very well. I think there's a lot of folks out there who probably think he can help us,” Furyk said. “I realize Tiger is a story. I realize he's playing very well, and I'm excited to see that.”

While Furyk’s reluctance is understandable, anyone with a pulse and an internet connection knows Woods will be a pick. If the captain wants to focus on other things, like the eight automatic qualifiers, simply stop the formalities and make Tiger an early selection.

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Even with broken driver, Salinda beats Hagestad at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 17, 2018, 2:52 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – With a trip to the U.S. Amateur quarterfinals on the line, and with the Pacific Ocean staring him in the face, Isaiah Salinda piped a 330-yard drive down Pebble Beach’s 18th hole.

Not a bad poke with a replacement driver.

Salinda’s Round of 16 match against Stewart Hagestad got off to a rocky start Thursday afternoon with an awkward tee shot on the second hole.

“The ball came out weird, with no spin,” said Salinda’s caddie and former Stanford teammate, Bradley Knox. “He said, ‘Yeah, that felt weird.’”

Salinda looked at the bottom of his Callaway Epic driver and noticed a crack.

Worried that they'd have to play the rest of the round with only a 3-wood, Knox called a Callaway equipment rep, told him the issue, and was relieved to hear he'd meet them at the back of the third tee. Salinda teed off the next hole with a 3-wood – he’d taken driver there all week – and wound up in a tricky spot, on the side of a mound, leading to a bogey.

“Then they came over and cranked the driver,” Knox said. “It was like a NASCAR pit crew.”

The replacement driver was nearly identical – same head, same loft, same weighting – except for the lie angle. The new one was a degree flatter than his gamer, which led to a few more pulled shots than usual.

“It took a little while to recover the mindset that we’d had the rest of the week,” Knox said.

Match scoring from U.S. Amateur

U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

Salinda downplayed the equipment malfunction – “I just had to adjust, and it wasn’t really a problem” – but he didn’t play well early. After trailing for just one hole during his first two matches, he was 4 over par and 2 down through 10 holes against Hagestad, the 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion who’d finally made match play after eight previous failed attempts.

On 11, Salinda finally got going, stuffing a wedge shot to 10 feet and recording his first birdie. He followed with three clutch pars before another good approach on 15, leading to a conceded birdie to square the match.

On the home hole, Salinda bombed his drive about 30 yards past Hagestad and had 220 yards to the flag. It was a perfect 4-iron distance, and he sent a rocket into a blinding sunset.

“I never saw it,” Salinda said. “I told my caddie: ‘Where is that? I have no idea.’ But it felt good.”

A lone voice shrieked as the ball landed on the green. They knew the shot had to be tight. Years ago, Stanford senior Chris Meyers had made an albatross on 18 for a walkoff victory with Lee Janzen at the PGA Tour Champions’ First Tee Open. Knox thought they’d come close to duplicating the feat.

“Probably almost had a Chris Meyers,” Knox said, chuckling, as they walked up the fairway.

The shot never had a chance to drop – turns out the spectator was well-lubricated – but it still was only 35 feet away, for eagle. Salinda cozied his putt to a few feet and could only watch as Hagestad’s last-ditch 25-footer stopped a rotation short of the cup.

The Round of 16 victory continued a breakout summer for Salinda. His 15th-place showing at the NCAA Championship kick-started a three-month stretch in which he’s finally taken his game to the next level.

“He’s shown flashes of brilliance before,” Knox said, “and he’s had the game. But now he has the consistency and the confidence that it’ll come back time and time again.”

Salinda shot 62 in the third round and won the Pacific Coast Amateur, which boasts one of the strongest fields of the summer. Then he finished third in stroke play at the Western Amateur before a quarterfinal loss in match play.

Now he’s one step closer to his biggest victory yet – even with a backup driver.

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Salas (62) leads LPGA's Indy Women in Tech

By Associated PressAugust 17, 2018, 12:50 am

INDIANAPOLIS - Lizette Salas' waited 77 minutes to line up her 4-foot putt to take the lead Thursday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

She refused to let the weather delay get to her.

When the 29-year-old California player returned to the course, she quickly rolled in the birdie putt, finished her round with another birdie at No. 18 and took a two-shot lead over Angel Yin and Nasa Hataoka with a course record-tying 10-under 62.

''I didn't even think about it the entire time,'' Salas said. ''I was hanging out with Danielle (Kang) and she was giving me her silly dad jokes. So it definitely kept my mind off of it. I was really excited to be back and to finish off with a birdie, from off the green, was the icing on the cake.''

It's the lowest score by a female player at the Brickyard Crossing.

Defending champion Lexi Thompson opened last year's inaugural tournament with a 63, one shot off of Mike McCullough's 62 in the PGA Champions Tour's 1999 Comfort Classic.

But the way the saturated 6,456-yard course played Thursday, Salas needed virtually every putt of her career-best round to reach the top of the leaderboard.

The morning starters took advantage of overnight rain by shooting right at the pins.

And nobody made a bigger early splash than Yin, the 19-year-old Californian who finished second in last year's rookie of the year race.

She opened with five straight birdies and shot 8-under 28 on the front nine. Only a par on No. 6 prevented her from becoming the sixth LPGA player to shoot 27 on nine holes. South Korea's Mi Hyang Lee did it most recently at the 2016 JTBC Founders Cup.

Yin also tied the third-lowest nine-hole score in relation to par in tour history.

Her only bobble came with a bogey on No. 13 and she closed out her best career round with a birdie on No. 18.

Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

''I have never done that before,'' she said. ''I had nine putts, I think, on the front nine, which is incredible. I've never had that many little putts. But it just felt good. Everything was working.''

Last year's runner-up for rookie of the year has never won an LPGA Tour title in her home country though she did win in a playoff at Dubai on the Ladies European Tour.

Everybody seemed to find their groove Thursday.

Eighty-eight of the 143 players shot under par and 54 were 3-under or better.

And with more rain in the forecast Thursday night and Friday, the scores could go even lower as a star-studded cast chases down Salas, Yin and Hataoka.

Four players, including Kang and Jane Park, are three shots behind.

Seven players, including last year's tournament runner-up Lydia Ko, are four shots back. Ko was tied with Yin for the lead - until she knocked her tee shot on the par-4, 16th into the water. She wound up with a double bogey and birdied the final hole to finish with 66.

After taking a monthlong break to recover from physical and mental exhaustion, Thompson looked relaxed and comfortable in her return to the course. She shot 68.

''It was hard for me to take the break because I didn't want to show weakness,'' she said. ''But at the same time, it takes a lot of strength to acknowledge that you need that kind of break and just take time for yourself, especially when you're in the spotlight like this.''

Salas, meanwhile, started fast with an eagle on the par-5 second and finished with a flurry.

She birdied three straight holes on the front side to get to 5-under, added birdies at Nos. 12 and 14 to get to 7-under and then birdied the final three holes - around the approaching storm - to put herself in contention for her first title since the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.

''I have been just striking the ball really well this entire year, and just glad some more putts dropped today,'' she said. ''I was really refreshed. I didn't practice at all last week, and I was just really eager and excited to be back.''