May 2021

first_imgThe favorites continued to reign, but there was one “upset” in the quarterfinals of GolfChannel.com’s Major Match Play Championship. Fifth-seeded 1977 British Open narrowly defeated fourth-seeded 1950 U.S. Open by less than 2 percentage points. Here’s a look at results from Week 2 (based on voting percentages): (1) 1986 Masters def. (8) 1960 U.S. Open, 74.8 percent to 25.2 percent (5) 1977 British Open def. (4) 1950 U.S. Open, 50.8 percent to 49.2 percent (2) 1997 Masters def. (7) 1913 U.S. Open, 51.6 percent to 48.4 percent (3) 2008 U.S. Open def. (6) 2000 U.S. Open, 55 percent to 45 percent. Here’s a look at how the opening round played out: (1) 1986 Masters def. (16) 1953 British Open, 84.6 percent to 15.4 percent (8) 1960 U.S. Open def. (9) 1962 U.S. Open, 68 percent to 32 percent (4) 1950 U.S. Open def. (13) 1923 PGA Championship, 87 percent to 13 percent (5) 1977 British Open def. (12) 2001 Masters, 62 percent to 38 percent (2) 1997 Masters def. (15) 1954 Masters, 75 percent to 25 percent (7) 1913 U.S. Open def. (10) 1930 U.S. Amateur, 63.1 percent to 36.9 percent (3) 2008 U.S. Open def. (14) 2000 PGA Championship, 74.5 percent to 25.5 percent (6) 2000 U.S. Open def. (11) 1975 Masters, 56.6 percent to 43.4 percentlast_img read more

first_imgAUGUSTA, Ga. – This is a story about a tree. But really, it’s about so much more than that. This is a story about a tree that was born lucky. One estimation suggests there are more than 400 billion trees in the world. Some stand tall in parks, their limbs teeming with adventurous children on sunny afternoons. Others remain hidden in forests, angling and growing without causing so much as a double-take from human life. This tree caused plenty of double-takes. And fist-shakes. And even a few knee-quakes and eventual backaches. A loblolly pine that first grew its roots more than a century ago, this tree happened to be standing on what would become hallowed ground when Clifford Roberts and Bobby Jones built their vision of Augusta National Golf Club. Located on the left side of the 17th hole, 180 yards from the tee – later expanded to 210 yards away – it became the most famous tree on the course. Heck, the most famous tree in golf. One of the most famous trees in the world. This is a story about a tree with a name. They called it the Eisenhower Tree – in a cruel twist of irony. President Dwight D. Eisenhower hated it. Every time he played the course’s penultimate hole, it seemed, he would hit his tee shot squarely into this tree. Masters Tournament: Articles, videos and photos “He didn’t like the tree at all,” recalled his friend, Arnold Palmer. “A couple of times he told me, ‘Arnie, if I could hit that tree enough to bring it down, I’d do it.’” It happened so much that in 1956, Eisenhower proposed during the club’s governors’ meeting that this tree be cut down immediately. According to which ending you’d rather believe, Roberts either overruled the president or, not wanting to offend him, quickly adjourned the meeting. Either way, this tree remained. This is a story about a tree with a place in history. “I played Augusta every year since that tree was a baby and I watched it grow up,” said Palmer, who won four Masters titles. “And, yes, I had encounters with it. I won the Masters one year when I hit it right into the tree and hit a 4‑iron from under the tree on to the 17th green. So it was a problem to everybody.” Tommy Aaron, who won the Masters in 1973, hit his Pinnacle into this tree one year. All the locals promised him the balls always come down, but his never did. Well, not that day. The next day, though, he was walking by this tree with his caddie and – plop! – down came that Pinnacle, right in front of him. Three years ago, four-time champion Tiger Woods hit a tee shot under this tree. In attempting to play his next shot, his foot slipped on the pine straw beneath it. Despite still saving par, he injured his Achilles and didn’t compete again for four months. “I can’t say some of the guys are going to miss it,” said Woods, who isn’t here this week, “but we are going to certainly see a difference. There’s no doubt about that.” This is a story about a tree that met its untimely demise. On Feb. 16, 2014 it was announced that this tree was gone. A furious ice storm had ravaged Augusta, causing unrescuable damage to its limbs. Club officials, on the advice of arborists, had the tree uprooted and removed. “The loss of the Eisen­hower Tree is difficult news to accept,” chairman Billy Payne said via statement. “Unfortunately, we were advised that no recovery was possible.” The ensuing reaction ranged from sentimental (“It’s a shame that it was destroyed,” said Jim Furyk) to rational (“I’m glad to see it go; I’ve hit it far too many times,” admitted Matt Kuchar) to philosophical (“Anything that lives will eventually die, I guess,” surmised Adam Scott) to existential (“It’s a tree,” concluded Rory McIlroy). This is a story about a tree no longer. On Monday morning, before severe rains swept through the area and caused a suspension of the Masters practice round, volunteer marshal Franklin Wilson was asked where this tree had been located. He pointed to a spot about 10 yards inside the left part of the fairway, on a little upslope. The ground was perfect green grass, nothing to show the aftereffect of this year’s storm or the death of one of the world’s most famous trees. Nothing, that is, except one small pine cone, placed upright on the ground to memorialize this tree. “Who put that there?” the marshal is asked. “One of those guys,” he said pointing to some fellow volunteers. “He got tired of answering all the questions.” There remain other questions about this tree. Where is it right now? What will happen to it? Will it be replaced? There are rumors that it could be turned into benches, a more fitting memorial than the lone pinecone. There are rumors that another tree could serve as a replacement someday. These matters either haven’t yet been determined or, like so many decisions at Augusta National, have remained classified until the time officials choose to make them known. To wit: When the tournament’s media guide was first printed earlier this year, it included a course map showing the tree. When a revised edition was handed out this week, it included mention of the tree, but had removed it from the map. All we know is that on a spot where history once sprouted from the ground, now stands nothingness. What was previously an old loblolly pine with a century’s worth of stories is now just a patch of grass like so many others on the course. This is a story about a tree. But really, it’s about so much more than that.last_img read more

first_imgFORT MYERS, Fla. – South Korea’s Min Seo Kwak won the inaugural Patty Berg Memorial on Sunday at Cypress Lake for her first Symetra Tour title. The 23-year-old Kwak had four consecutive birdies early on the back nine and finished with a 3-under 69 for a three-stroke victory over Australia’s Stephanie Na. Kwak won in her 65th start on the tour. ”It’s really nice to win this week. I’ve worked harder this year than I did last year,” Kwak said. ”I wish my mom was here to see my win, but it feels great to win.” She earned $15,000 to jump from 37th to fourth on the money list with $19,556. The top 10 at the end of the season will earn 2015 LPGA Tour cards. Na finished with a 71. Cindy Feng and Demi Runas tied for third at 2 under. Feng, the money leader with $41,407, had a 71, and Runas shot 69.last_img read more

first_imgMALMO, Sweden – Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee quickly won a playoff against Stephen Gallacher of Scotland and France’s Victor Dubuisson to clinch the Nordea Masters on Sunday. Jaidee birdied the par-5 18th at PGA Sweden’s Lake Course while Gallacher and Dubuisson could only make par. Earlier, the 44-year-old Jaidee hit six birdies and an eagle three on the 11th to finish in 7-under 65 and an overall 16-under 272 for his sixth European title. ”I worked hard today,” Jaidee said. ”I started with three birdies in a row, had another one on six, then a good comeback on 11.” He said he was nervous on the last few holes. ”The golf course is wide open, you have to hit good golf shots and the weather helped a little bit,” he said. Dubuisson could have avoided the playoff with a birdie on the 18th, but three-putted from just off the green for a 67. Gallacher (68) appeared to be out of the race when he bogeyed at No. 17, but he converted from 20 feet at the next. Second-ranked Henrik Stenson (71) shared the lead with England’s Eddie Pepperell after the third round. The Swede found himself needing an eagle on the last to win his home title for the first time, but he bogeyed after pushing his second off the green and ended fifth behind Robert-Jan Derksen (65) of the Netherlands. Pepperell (72) went in water at the same hole and finished tied for sixth.last_img read more

first_imgDUBLIN – Rory McIlroy and his lawyers held negotiations with his former agent Tuesday in a bid to reach a settlement in their multi-million-dollar court case. The two sides met for five hours at the High Court complex in Dublin, and the case was adjourned until Wednesday morning. The top-ranked golfer is suing Dublin-based Horizon Sports Management and its leading agent, Conor Ridge, claiming he was misled into signing a contract with the company. McIlroy initiated the case in 2013. Judge Brian Cregan said progress had been made between the two sides Tuesday and he agreed to allow further last-minute talks to try to avoid a long and costly trial. The case had been expected to last eight weeks. McIlroy was in court, along with business executive Barry Funston, who oversees the golfer’s charity work, and his cousin, Brian McIlroy. Ridge was also in court. Wearing a dark suit and glasses, McIlroy arrived at the court on Tuesday morning for the start of proceedings. The case was quickly adjourned until the afternoon and then again until Wednesday as the two sides continued to negotiate. McIlroy has said in court papers that he signed the contract at Horizon’s Christmas party “in circumstances of great informality,” and without having seen a draft of the agreement before it was given to him to sign. Horizon is counter-suing, claiming McIlroy owes it millions of dollars in commissions. McIlroy, who left Horizon to form his own management company in 2013, was expected to testify in court this week. The four-time major winner is coming off a victory at the Dubai Desert Classic last Sunday. Speaking before the tournament, McIlroy said he hopes the court case “won’t take that long, and we can get on with our lives.” “It’s not something you want hanging over your head and it’s not something I’d want anyone to go through, it’s not a nice process,” McIlroy said. “It’s a shame it’s gone this far and that two sides see things completely differently. The only way to sort it out is to get a judge to come in and tell us what to do.”last_img read more

first_imgBELMONT, Mich. – Lexi Thompson birdied six of the first eight holes and wanted more. ”I wanted to make more birdies on the back nine, but it is what it is,” she said. Thompson did add one more birdie Friday for a season-best 7-under 64 and a share of the Meijer LPGA Classic lead with Alison Lee and Lizette Salas. ”I hit it in the rough on a few holes on the back nine where I needed to hit it in the fairway to be able to make birdies,” Thompson said. ”But I’m very happy with my round, don’t get me wrong.” The 20-year-old matched Lee and Salas at 9-under 133 at Blythefield Country Club. Lee, the 20-year-old former UCLA player in her first season on the tour, had a 66, and playing partner Salas, a former University of Southern California star, shot a 69. Kris Tamulis closed with a bogey on the par-4 ninth to drop into a tie for fourth at 8 under with Gerina Piller, Jaye Marie Green, Wei-Ling Hsu and Q Baek. Tamulis shot 68, Piller 65, Baek 68, and Green and Hsu 69. Top-ranked Inbee Park, a playoff loser last year in the inaugural event, was tied for 18th at 4 under after a 68. She has a tour-high three victories this season. Thompson, winless since taking the then-Kraft Nabisco last year for her first major title, took advantage of early windless scoring conditions. Thompson birdied Nos. 1-2, 4-6, 8 and 15. ”The greens were rolling really well out there early in the morning, so it was nice,” Thompson said. ”Playing in the morning without the wind and the greens are a little bit softer in the morning so it’s easier to just control the way your irons are going to bounce out into the green. It was a lot easier to control than [Thursday] afternoon.” Lee, who is still working on her degree at UCLA, said she was inspired by Salas shooting 64 in the first round. ”We kind of pushed each other through the day,” Lee said. ”I was fired up today going into the round and wanted to shoot a low number. It’s great to be in contention. I mean, this is my rookie year and I’m still learning.” Salas said playing in the afternoon in the second round was a sharp contrast to the first round. ”The wind definitely kicked in this afternoon and you have to be really precise to your targets,” she said. She said she hasn’t been on top of the leaderboard in a while, and she is excited. ”We have 36 more to go and I’m going to try to be patient and stay calm and just be committed to every shot,” she said. Park said being five shots off the lead was fine, but it is more important to have good results this week to give her confidence going into the Women’s British Open next week. ”The most important thing is just work on my game so it’s ready to go next week,” she said. ”You know, make sure that your ball striking, your swing feels good, make sure you’re feeling good on the greens. This is the last chance to try it on. I’m trying to get my game to the level I want. It’s not quite there, but trying to get there.”last_img read more

first_imgThere are those who cling to the Rules of Golf and dismiss Dustin Johnson’s miscue on the 72nd hole of the 2010 PGA Championship as little more than an awkward and unavoidable truth. “It’s what should have happened,” said Herb Kohler, who built and owns Whistling Straits, when asked about the two-stroke penalty that cost Johnson a spot in the playoff at the ’10 championship. Others, however, dismiss the letter of the law when remembering one of the most controversial finishes in major championship history. “It was not then nor has it ever been a bunker,” said David Feherty, the on-course reporter for CBS Sports covering Johnson during the final round five years ago. These are the facts: Johnson began the final round at Whistling Straits, which will host this week’s PGA, three strokes behind Nick Watney and paired in the final group at a major championship for the second time that season (U.S. Open). By the time Johnson arrived on the 72nd tee he’d just birdied his last two holes and led the field by a stroke when his drive on the hole – fittingly named Dyeabolical after Straits Course designer Pete Dye – sailed well right of the fairway and into a large crowd. After finding his golf ball and having the gallery moved from his intended line, Johnson grounded his club not once, but twice in one of the Straits Course’s 1,000 bunkers (all of which were deemed hazards in a memo given to players at the beginning of the week). He made bogey and thought he was heading to a playoff – which was eventually won by Martin Kaymer – but he was instead informed of a possible infraction. After reviewing the tape in the scoring room, Johnson was assessed a two-stroke penalty and tied for fifth, two shots out of the playoff. These are the stories from those who were closest to the action on Sunday at the 2010 PGA: DUSTIN JOHNSON: “[No.] 16 is a par 5, but I did make a birdie out of the hay on the left. I do remember that. I hit a 60-degree [wedge]. And then 17 is a tough par 3, and I think I made about a 20-footer (for birdie) on 17. “I was just playing my shot (at No. 18). It wasn’t like, never once did I walk up and think that I was in a bunker. S*** happens. I mean, there was beer cans and s*** everywhere.” [[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_original”,”fid”:”1183921″,”attributes”:{“alt”:””,”class”:”media-image”,”height”:”300″,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”,”width”:”600″}}]] DAVID PRICE, walking rules official with the final group: “We had dealt with bunkers on two of the previous five holes before we got to 18, and it was unique. It was a pretty good-sized bunker. But when you had all the people in there and certainly they were covering the back portion of the bunker. My biggest concern for Dustin was all these people hovering around. That’s one of the things I dislike the most, the galleries attempt to hover as close as they can to the player. “At that point I didn’t think to tell him [he was in a bunker]. In my estimation there was no question he was in a bunker. I was standing there asking people to move back out of the bunker. “I looked at him and asked if he was OK with everything, and he said he was OK. I asked him if there was anything he needed from me, and he said he needed me to go down and move some people about 30 yards down the fairway. “I was surprised he hit the shot while I was still moving the gallery. “On the 18th green I simply said, ‘Dustin there is speculation that you possibly touched the sand in the bunker back on your second shot.’ He just looked at me in kind of shock and said, ‘I don’t know, I don’t think so. I don’t remember.’” DAVID FEHERTY: “I was the first one to get to the ball except for the crowd that was spreading beer bottles all around it. It was so not a bunker. It was entirely the wrong decision and one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in major championship history. “I looked at it and didn’t look at it again and was thinking it was a pretty good lie. “[Price] goes up to him after he putts out and I’m thinking, does he want an autograph? I had to get [Johnson] out of the shower to interview him. The whole thing was bizarre. “I was in shock; I can’t imagine how poor Dustin felt. I felt sorry for him to have that yanked out from underneath him like that, it would have destroyed other players.” [[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_original”,”fid”:”1183926″,”attributes”:{“alt”:””,”class”:”media-image”,”height”:”300″,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”,”width”:”600″}}]] NICK WATNEY, third-round leader who was paired with Johnson on Sunday: “I couldn’t see [Johnson on the 18th hole]. I had no idea where he was and didn’t think he had any issues once he found his ball. I was shooting a million so I wasn’t that worried anyway. “I think I just assumed, even at Kiawah, when they said everything is a bunker I had a tough time grounding my club because your whole life you’re condition to not ground your club in the sand. “[Price] came up to us on the 18th green and I thought I’d done something wrong because my day had gone so bad, and he said Dustin may have grounded his club. Dustin was caught off guard. He was like ‘Which hole?’ “Once he saw the tape and went through it in his head it was clear. In no way was he trying to gain an advantage. The rules official has to take some responsibility.” ALLEN TERRELL, Johnson’s swing coach: “I honestly never thought, watching it from the camera view, that he was in the bunker. I was aware of the local rule, and I think Dustin was, where everything was deemed a bunker. In that environment, as far right as he hit there, I don’t think it even processed that he was even in a bunker. He just thought he was on a big dune. “Even if he would have read the rules on the 18th tee I’m still not sure he would have processed it considering where he was. “I think he won a lot of fans that day. It was the first time the public got to see another side of Dustin and got a closer look at who he was and how he handled adversity.”last_img read more

first_imgINCHEON, South Korea – However the Presidents Cup arrived at its compelling crossroads, be it fewer points or Phil Mickelson’s pointed comments, it now appears to be worth the price of admission. The United States may well turn the 11th edition into another boat race on Sunday with 12 singles matches looming, but the foundation for fireworks that Nick Price envisioned when he lobbied for the current format at least delivered a one-point margin of error with the U.S. clinging to a 9 ½ to 8 ½ advantage. And Mickelson’s ill-advised jab at the Internationals on Friday following a rules infraction that cost he and Zach Johnson a one-hole penalty didn’t hirt either. “I feel like we spotted the Internationals’ best team [Jason Day and Adam Scott] two holes and they still couldn’t beat us. Just saying,” Mickelson said. Whatever the tonic, the one-point U.S. lead is the closest these matches have been through three days since the teams finished Saturday knotted at 11 points apiece in 2005; and since those matches, the two sides have split singles play with 30 points each. “This is what we all came here for, for it to be exciting tomorrow,” said Price, who is taking his second turn as the International captain. It could have been even closer but for the Internationals’ inability to hold a lead in the morning foursome session when Day and Charl Schwartzel blew a 3-up advantage at the turn to lose to Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth on the last hole. Sangmoon Bae and Hideki Matsuyama, likewise, split their match with Bill Haas and Matt Kuchar after leading early. But the matinee matches largely went to script, with the two sides splitting the session thanks to continued solid play from the South African duo of Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace as well as Bae and Matsuyama. Bae and Matsuyama combined to post 10 birdies in 13 holes for a 6-and-5 victory over Jimmy Walker and Chris Kirk that included three consecutive birdies for Bae at the turn. “That was one of the best matches I’ve ever played,” said Bae, who has provided a hometown spark for a gallery that has largely avoided partisanship. The South Africans, Oosthuizen and Grace, were able to slip past the American power two-ball of J.B. Holmes and Bubba Watson with a chip-in birdie at the 16th hole, becoming the first International team to go 4-0-0. American captain Jay Haas’ counter came by way of Spieth, who could have beaten the International tandem of Day and Schwartzel single-handedly in the afternoon with eight birdies in 16 holes after combining for just two birdies during Friday’s fourball session when paired with Johnson. Despite that timely play from all the familiar places and the advantage on the scoreboard, it was the rest of the world that seemed to be in charge after starting the week by dropping four of five foursome matches on Thursday. “To me, it kind of feels like we’re losing just because of what’s gone on the last two days,” Zach Johnson said. “But our first day was substantial. That was a big day, a lot of positives.” Much of that renewed vigor from the International team room could be traced to a format change this year that reduced the total number of points from 34 to 30, a move that Price argued would make the matches more competitive. But then pinning the Internationals’ inspired play only on new math is a disservice to what has been the side’s most competitive start in a decade. “I think the points change is huge. But these guys have played phenomenally well,” Price said. “It’s both [the players and the new point structure], honestly. I can’t actually single out one particular thing.” While the reasons for the International side’s biennial swoon remain a mystery – from the challenges of getting 12 professionals from seven countries to play under one flag to a general lack of depth – in simplest terms, the rest of the world simply needed to play better. That was Price’s message to his dozen on Thursday night after the Americans blitzed the home team, 4-1, in the opening session. Since then, the Internationals have outscored the United States, 5 ½ to 7 ½, and turned what has been a formality for more than a decade into an opportunity. An International victory would be historic. No team that began the singles frame trailing has gone on to win the cup, but for the first time the rest of the world can envision a favorable ending that wouldn’t require either a classic comeback or collapse. For Price and his dozen, it doesn’t matter whether it’s been Mickelson’s bulletin board miscue or the event’s new math or simply more putts dropping, the result has been a psychological shift that is impossible to ignore. “We need to win this. This is massive for us. We need this tournament to be competitive and keep the Presidents Cup alive,” Oosthuizen said. It’s hard to imagine the Presidents Cup is on life support, but Oosthuizen’s point is valid, because for the first time in a long time, neither are the International’s title hopes going into Sunday.last_img read more

first_imgPaul Casey’s smile widened and he swept his hands from side to side. “This is a home run. This is sweet. Take care of the rules so [the Tour] doesn’t get all over me,” he said. The Englishman was playing the Safeway Open for the first time since 2011, and while he wasn’t there under duress – the rolling hills are rather easy on the senses – Casey was in Napa Valley by directive. Casey’s start last week at the season opener was a result of the PGA Tour’s new strength-of-field regulation that was implemented for the 2016-17 season. The new rule requires players who didn’t have at least 25 starts in the previous season to add an event to their schedules that they hadn’t played in the last four years. Those who fail to meet the new requirement could be subject to a “major penalty,” which under the Tour’s regulations would be a fine in excess of $20,000 or a possible suspension. “It was pretty easy because I wanted to go to Napa anyway,” Casey said. “It’s a good rule. Maybe there are events that have had weaker fields in the past, they might get a couple of guys they might not ordinarily get.” After decades of debate over strength-of-field concerns and the rights of independent contractors, the new rule is something of a compromise. Although various regulations have been proposed over the years to improve tee sheets at certain tournaments, there was always a degree of oppositon from players. There was also a concern from tournament organizers that didn’t want their event to be labeled as inferior. The new regulation proved to be an acceptable compromise for both parties. Players, with some foresight and planning, can add events that don’t disrupt their normal schedules, and tournaments, like last week’s Safeway, can enjoy incremental field improvements without being relegated to second-tier status. In practice, the new regulation shouldn’t prove much of a burden. Of the 125 players that advanced to last season’s playoffs, 78 played 25 or more events and aren’t subject to the new rule. And for some those who didn’t play 25 tournaments, adding a new event will prove easy enough. Jason Day, for example, finished the season sixth on the FedEx Cup points list but played just 20 events. According to the Tour, he has 16 events to choose from this season that he can add to his schedule to fulfill the new requirement. FedEx Cup champion Rory McIlroy can choose from 22 events to add to his schedule this season. Worth note, major championships, World Golf Championships, playoff events and the Presidents and Ryder Cups don’t count toward the new regulation, even if a player hadn’t participated in that tournament in the last four years. Similarly, a player like McIlroy, who is qualified for all of the top events, wouldn’t be able to add an opposite-field event played the same week as a major or WGC. “There was actually two or three [new events] I was planning to play anyway,” said Ryan Moore, who was considering adding either the FedEx St. Jude Classic or Valero Texas Open to his schedule this season because of the new rule. “For me, it really wasn’t much of an issue because there were a couple I really wanted to play, but for some reason it hadn’t worked out.” But the new regulation isn’t perfect. Some players have played vastly different schedules as their Tour status has changed over the years, resulting in a surprisingly limited number of options to add to their lineup this season. Lucas Glover, for example, has to choose one of just three events to add after playing 23 times last season. Billy Horschel has 10 events from which to choose. “What you have to avoid this year is to not play a bunch of events that you haven’t played in five years,” Casey said. “I could shoot myself in the foot because if I don’t play 25, again, then you run out of options and you may have to play something that doesn’t suit you or doesn’t fit nicely in the schedule.” For Casey, that means not returning to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which he hasn’t played since 2002 but was looking to add to his schedule thanks to the re-worked West Coast swing. Instead, he’ll wait a year or two to play Pebble Beach, just in case he doesn’t get his 25 starts in 2017. Players that split their time between the PGA Tour and European circuit may also struggle with the new regulation. Although McIlroy only made 18 starts on the PGA Tour last season, he also had to meet his minimum requirements on the European Tour (five events, not including the majors or WGCs), and now he has the strength-of-field requirement to fulfill. “If this is your only tour, it’s a fair rule. If you’re playing two tours, then it’s tough,” Casey conceded. Moreover, fans shouldn’t get too excited to see Phil Mickelson at their hometown event as a result of the new rule any time soon. A player is exempt from the regulation if they are a life or veteran member who is at least 45 years old. Despite some of the more concerning details, the new rule has proven to be a workable solution for both players and, more importantly, tournaments that could always use a little extra star power.last_img read more

first_imgPALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – If Ernie Els keeps playing this well, he may have a big problem. If he keeps turning back the clock at the Honda Classic, he may find himself with a lot more work on his hands when he captains the Internationals against the Americans at Royal Melbourne in Australia. If Els finishes what he started Thursday at PGA National, he may find a bunch of players who idolized him at his door, lobbying for him to tee it up with Tiger Woods as dueling playing captains. Hey, if Els can win his 20th PGA Tour title this week, why not? Els didn’t look like a guy slogging toward his 50th birthday in the first round. He looked like the guy so many of these international players grew up admiring. He looked as good as he was when he won the Honda Classic in ’08. “Oh my God, I’ve looked up to him,” Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas. Vegas could have meant that literally. Off to his own hot start, Vegas kept seeing Els climbing the leaderboard with him. “You feel like you had to push harder to keep up with him,” Vegas said. Vegas took the early lead with a 6-under-par 64. Els shot 66. Full-field scores from the Honda Classic Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos “Ernie played fantastic,” fellow South African Charl Schwartzel said after opening with a 67. “With the success he’s had at Royal Melbourne, he can pick himself, the way he’s playing.” OK, OK, it’s just one round. It’s easy to get carried away. Nobody knows that better than Els, but while he continues to insist he is not interested in being a playing captain, there’s a gleam in his eye when he talks about Royal Melbourne. “I have won there three times, and I do have the course record there,” Els said as he walked to his car after the round. Uh, huh. “Maybe if I magically find a lot of form, if I win another major, if I can win three more times, yeah, absolutely I’ll do it,” Els says with a laugh. Maybe if his putting stroke, a source of frustration as he has aged, continues to look as solid as it did on Thursday . . . But Els quickly catches himself. “It’s just not in the equation,” he said. “There’s so much to do, especially on my side of the captaincy. Tiger could be a little bit more comfortable doing it. He’s got a team of guys who have played Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups and who have been around it for many years. “I can see doing it from their point of view, but, from my point of view, I have a lot of work to do. I have to educate the guys around the golf course, how it sets up, how to play it. There’s a lot of things on my mind. It would be a difficult decision.” Yeah, but if he keeps outplaying the Internationals he is supposed to be scouting . . . Els was paired in the first round with Adam Scott and Kiradech Aphibarnrat, two players expected to make his team. Els put up a score six shots better than Scott in the first round, and nine better than Aphibarnrat. Els was asked what reaching 20 PGA Tour wins would mean to him. “It’s late in my career, but I’ll take any win now,” he said. “I’m not thinking about it. I’m just thinking about tomorrow’s round and so forth. “But it would be magic.”last_img read more