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PGA Golf

PGA News Wire
  • McIlroy commits to Farmers Insurance Open for first time
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, January 15, 2019

    Rory McIlroy will tee it up at Torrey Pines next week at the Farmers Insurance Open, tournament organizers announced Tuesday.

    • This will be the first appearance in the San Diego-area event for the world No. 8 player, who noted his focus in 2019 will be on the PGA Tour. McIlroy recently finished in a three-way tie for fourth at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Kapalua, Hawaii, which also was a new event for the Northern Ireland native. While at Kapalua, McIlroy told reported he wanted to play once more before the Genesis Open in Southern California in mid-February.

      The 29-year-old McIlroy has won 14 PGA Tour titles including four majors. His most recent victory was at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, Fla., last March.

      McIlroy joins a field that includes defending champion Jason Day, FedExCup champ Justin Rose, Jon Rahm, Tony Finau, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth. Tiger Woods, who has played the event 17 times and won seven of them, has yet to commit to the Jan. 24-27 event.

      The commitment deadline for the event is Friday at 5 p.m. ET.

      --Field Level Media

  • Golf Glance
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, January 15, 2019

    PGA TOUR

    • LAST TOURNAMENT: Sony Open (Matt Kuchar)

      THIS WEEK: Desert Classic, Jan. 17-20

      La Quinta, Calif. (Stadium Course, Par 72, 7,113 yards; Nicklaus Tournament Course, Par 72, 7,159 yards; La Quinta Country Club, Par 72, 7,159 yards)

      Purse: $5.9 million (Winner: $1.063M and 500 FedEx Cup points)

      Defending champion: Jon Rahm

      FedEx Cup leader: Xander Schauffele

      Television: Thursday-Sunday, 3-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel)

      This is the first of three 156-player fields on the "West Coast Swing." The first three rounds are a Pro-Am format and rotate on the three courses. The 54-hole cut will trim the field to the low 70 players and ties, with the final round played on the Stadium Course. ... Reigning FedExCup champion Justin Rose and two-time event champion Phil Mickelson (2002, '04) are among those making their first PGA Tour starts of 2019. ... Rose is the first No. 1-ranked player to compete in the Desert Classic since the world ranking system began in 1986. ... Rahm seeks to join Johnny Miller (1975-76) as the only repeat champions of the event. He beat Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of a sudden-death playoff last year. ... Charlie Reiter, who missed the cut as a high school senior, is in the field again on a sponsor's exemption. He currently plays for Southern Cal. ... La Quinta yielded the lowest average score (68.831) of any Par 72 on the PGA Tour last season. The Nicklaus Tournament Course was No. 2 (69.445), while the Stadium Course yield an average of 71.181.

      NEXT WEEK: Farmers Insurance Open, Torrey Pines GC (South), San Diego.

      LPGA TOUR

      THIS WEEK: Tournament of Champions, Jan. 17-20

      Tranquilo Golf Course, Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Par 71, 6,645)

      Purse: $1.2 million (Winner: $180,000 and 500 CME Globe points); Celebrities & amateurs, $500,000 (Winner: $100,000)

      Defending champion: Inaugural event

      CME Globe leader: First event

      Television: Thursday-Friday, 12-3 p.m. ET (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 2-3 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3-5 p.m. (NBC)

      The inaugural event features 26 winnings on the LPGA Tour from the past two seasons competing in stroke play and 49 celebrities and amateurs competing in a Modified Stableford scoring format with no cut. The Modified Stableford scoring format awards six points for eagle, three for birdie, one for par, zero for bogey, minus-two for double-bogey and higher. ... Stacy Lewis, 33, makes her return to competition following the birth of her daughter Chesnee. ... Top-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn and No. 5 Lexi Thompson are the only top-five players in the field. ... The Tour does not return to the United States until March 21-24 in Arizona.

      NEXT TOURNAMENT: ISPS Handa Vic Open, Victoria, Australia (Feb. 7-10)

      Champions TOUR

      THIS WEEK: Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai

      Hualalai GC., Kona, Hawaii (Par 72, 7,107)

      Purse: $1.8 million (Winner: $$300,000)

      Defending champion: Jerry Kelly

      Charles Schwab Cup leader: First event

      Television: Friday-Sunday, 7-10 p.m. ET (Golf Channel)

      The season-opening event features a 42-player field. ... Kenny Perry, Steve Stricker and Vijay Singh are in the field after competing in the Sony Open on the PGA Tour last week. Stricker earned $1,196,235 in seven Champions events last year and $582,566 in 12 events on the PGA Tour last season. ... Bernhard Langer has won the Charles Schwab Cup four of the past five years. ... Steve Flesch is entered in his first tournament since Sept. 6 back surgery. He returned to the range the first week of December. ... Hale Irwin, 73, is in the field. He is the all-time leader on tour with 45 victories. Langer is second with 38. ... Fred Couples has three runner-up finishes in the event but has yet to win. He made only seven starts last year due to back issues. ... The winner each of the past five years has posted at least one round of 65 or better.

      NEXT TOURNAMENT: Oasis Championship, Boca Raton, Fla. (Feb. 8-10)

      --Field Level Media

  • Kuchar rises, Spieth slides in world rankings
    By Field Level Media / Monday, January 14, 2019

    Matt Kuchar climbed 10 spots to No. 22 in the official world golf rankings released Monday, a day after the 40-year-old claimed his second victory of the PGA Tour season at the Sony Open in Honolulu.

    • Jordan Spieth failed to make the weekend for the second consecutive tournament, leading to a drop a spot to No. 18. That marks the Texan's lowest ranking since December of 2013, according to the Golf Channel's Will Gray.

      Spieth is outside of the top 17 in the world rankings for the first time since the 2014 Sentry Tournament of Champions, and it marks a steep fall for a player who began the 2018 season ranked No. 2. He could tumble out of the top 20 depending on the results of players close to him in the rankings at this week's Desert Classic in La Quint, Calif., and the European Tour event in Abu Dhabi.

      Spieth shot a 4-under 66 on Friday but still missed the cut by one shot following an opening-round 73. It marked the fourth time in his career that Spieth has missed consecutive cuts.

      He is idle this week.

      The top 11 spots in the rankings remained unchanged from last week. Tiger Woods leapfrogged Rickie Fowler and England's Tommy Fleetwood to move to No. 12 despite all three players being off last week. American Patrick Reed remains unchanged at 15th.

      Australia's Marc Leishman climbed to No. 16 with his tie for third place in Honolulu, as he has now recorded a win, a runner-up, a tie for third and a tie for fourth in his past five worldwide starts.

      Bubba Watson, who also missed the cut at the Sony Open, dropped a spot to No. 17, followed by Spieth, Patrick Cantlay and Webb Simpson in the top 20.

      American Andrew Putnam, who finished solo second to Kuchar, vaulted 22 places to a career-best No. 45.

      World Golf Rankings (Jan. 13, 2019)

      Ranking -- Player (Last Week), Total Points

      1 -- Justin Rose (1) -- 446.66

      2 -- Brooks Koepka (2) -- 404.36

      3 -- Dustin Johnson (3) -- 359.25

      4 -- Justin Thomas (4) -- 388.66

      5 -- Bryson DeChambeau (5) -- 366.77

      6 -- Xander Schauffele (6) -- 333.69

      7 -- Jon Rahm (7) -- 317.86

      8 -- Rory McIlroy (8) -- 261.24

      9 -- Francesco Molinari (9) -- 292.3

      10 -- Tony Finau (10) -- 280.94

      11 -- Jason Day (11) -- 220.66

      12 -- Tiger Woods (14) -- 208.67

      13 -- Rickie Fowler (12) -- 239.63

      14 -- Tommy Fleetwood (13) -- 270.38

      15 -- Patrick Reed (15) -- 259.6

      16 -- Marc Leishman (18) -- 243.25

      17 -- Bubba Watson (16) -- 205.45

      18 -- Jordan Spieth (17) -- 207.86

      19 -- Patrick Cantlay (19) -- 175.69

      20 -- Webb Simpson (20) -- 223.72

      --Field Level Media

  • Kuchar shoots bogey-free 66 to hold Sony Open lead
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, January 13, 2019

    Matt Kuchar is comfortable in the Sony Open, and it's showing.

    • Kuchar shot a bogey-free 6-under-par 66 to extend his lead in the Sony Open on Saturday at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.

      He'll go into Sunday's final round at 18-under 192 with a two-shot edge on Andrew Putnam, whose strong start allowed him to tie for the lead early in the third round.

      "I love it here. It's one of my favorite stops on the Tour," Kuchar said. "I love the golf course. I love the island of Hawaii, the culture. It's a great week."

      So far, the fun has certainly extended to the three rounds for the 40-year-old Kuchar. He was 3 under on the front side Saturday and regained the solo top spot.

      Kuchar ended the round with six consecutive pars. Putnam birdied No. 18.

      "Kuch is playing well, so I feel like I've got to get out there and make some birdies if it's not too windy," Putnam said of his final-round strategy.

      Kuchar will aim for his second championship in about two months after winning the Mayakoba Golf Classic in November in Mexico. He tied for 19th place last week in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

      "When I've played well I've been in really good control. I play typically a little fade, and I can just rely on it," Kuchar said. "The golf course gets tough when you're playing from the rough. Even if you have short clubs in your hand it's challenging."

      Kuchar opened with consecutive rounds of 63 this week. He excelled with the irons again Saturday, leaving himself birdie putts of reasonable length.

      Putnam pulled even with Kuchar with three birdies in the first five holes. He had a shot for another birdie on No. 6, but his chip from the fringe sat just outside the cup. That would have made for birdies on three consecutive holes.

      "Didn't feel as easy as the first two days," Putnam said. "Still played a good round. Still got a chance"

      Keith Mitchell and Chez Reavie share third place at 14 under.

      Mitchell played a bogey-free round of 63, including four straight birdies on Nos. 7-10.

      "I know I got a lot to do to catch Matt, but I felt like I put myself in a good position," Mitchell said. "It could have been lower, but I've never walked off the course and said that."

      Reavie (66), who had three eagles Friday, was 5 under through nine holes of Saturday's round. Then he went through a 3-over stretch from Nos. 11-13 and regrouped for two birdies the rest of the way.

      Bryson DeChambeau made a move with 63, tying his best score on the PGA Tour. He opened the round with birdies on each of the first three holes.

      He's among a cluster of golfers at 11 under.

      "Interesting test of golf," DeChambeau said, figuring he's adjusting to the course. "Last time I was here totally different game, mentality."

      Corey Conners of Canada, Davis Love III, Charles Howell III, Dominic Bozzelli and Brian Stuard will all begin the final round tied at 11 under. They all checked in with 64s.

      Hudson Swafford (67), Ted Potter Jr. (68) and Australia's Marc Leishman (68) are also in the bunch at 11 under.

      --Field Level Media

  • Spieth admits less 'certainty' with game entering '19
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, January 10, 2019

    Jordan Spieth made the trip to Honolulu for this week's Sony Open for the fourth consecutive year.

    • However, for the first time it wasn't a short hop over from Oahu, where the annual Tournament of Champions kicks off the PGA Tour's calendar year. Spieth, who hasn't hoisted a trophy since the 2017 Open Championship, failed to qualify for the winners-only event.

      The former top-ranked player in the world also failed to qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship, and then added a few fall events as part of an agreement with the Tour for failing to reach his tournament quota last season.

      Instead of chewing up softer fields, Spieth tied for 55th at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and missed the cut at the Mayakoba Golf Classic.

      The Sony Open marks the first event in two months for Spieth, who got married in between and admits he has been able to put in very little work on his golf game. He arrived in Hawaii admittedly looking to "at least knock some rust off and gather some information about where I am at."

      Spieth enters 2019 with as many questions to answer as any marquee player in the world.

      The three-time major champion has slipped to 17th in the world rankings.

      He finished third at last year's Masters and tied for ninth at The Open, but those are his most recent top-10 finishes and in both events the putting woes Spieth experienced over the past year and a half cost him opportunities to win.

      After winning multiple events for four consecutive years, Spieth didn't so much as earn a runner-up in 24 events in 2018, finishing the year with as many missed cuts (five) as top-10s.

      Instead of being seen on television paling around on kayaks in the Pacific Ocean with buddy Justin Thomas after rounds this week, expect to see Spieth trying to work out the kinks in his game.

      "I think (the time off) was beneficial, but kind of puts me a little bit behind, which I can play catch up I think pretty easily," Spieth told reporters on Wednesday. "Just going to be more like a brain training thing than anything. Figure out exactly where everything is. ... I had a great off-season. Just kind of got my mind right, reset, and get ready for '19."

      Spieth said his problems in 2018 began with putting issues and that by the time he began to fix those, his swing got out of whack. He then found himself pressing to move up leaderboards in an attempt to qualify for the Tour championship.

      While admitting a lot of frustration with how the season went, Spieth is chalking it up to an "inevitable" off year that every professional golfer must cope with at some point during their career.

      "I have lesser amount of certainty of that than I've had in a while," he said. "It doesn't bother me right now. I don't feel anxious, like I have to do anything.

      "I feel pretty patient with what's coming because I know I'm working on the right things. Took me a while to figure out what that was. Now I know I'm working on the right things in the game to get back on track and get to where I'm as a consistent as I've been before."

      Spieth reeled off a lot of buzz words -- including the itch to find the winner's circle again, working with technology to identify his problem areas and rediscovering consistency throughout his game. He declined to go into the specifics on the maintenance he's going through to regain his form, but said he is "embracing" the challenge and not worrying about what his critics are saying.

      "The thing for us is not to get caught up in today's news," Spieth said. "It's easy to sometimes when you're not used to it. I haven't seen, read, or heard anything on it. I learned that lesson already because I know what's wrong with Jordan Spieth, and I know what's right with Jordan Spieth.

      "I know how to get where I want to go with my golf game and have fun doing it. I think it's taken a bit of maturing to do that. Like I kind of get credited with being mature from when I got out here, but in reality there was quite a bit of maturing to do as far as what you pay attention to, how other people's opinion affects you and that kind of stuff.

      "I think I do a better job of that now."

      --Field Level Media

  • Golf Glance
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, January 8, 2019

    PGA TOUR

    • LAST TOURNAMENT: Sentry Tournament of Champions (Xander Schauffele)

      THIS WEEK: Sony Open in Hawaii, Jan. 10-13

      Waialae CC, Honolulu (Par 70, 7,044 yards)

      Purse: $6.5 million (Winner: $1.152M and 500 FedEx Cup points)

      Defending champion: Patton Kizzire

      FedEx Cup leader: Xander Schauffele

      Television: Thursday-Saturday, 7-10:30 p.m. ET (Golf Channel); Sunday, 6-10 p.m. (Golf Channel).

      Kizzire won last year's event in a six-hole playoff against James Hahn. ... Australia's Marc Leishman enters the week with a win, a runner-up, a tie for fourth and a tie for 18th in his last four worldwide starts. ... Jordan Spieth makes his 2019 debut. He has not won since the 2017 Open Championship and enters 17th in the world rankings. He has a missed cut and has a tie for 55th in two starts this season. ... Justin Thomas won the event with a tournament-record score of 253 in 2017, when he posted an opening-round 59. He has shot 68 or lower in eight consecutive rounds at Waialae. ... Jimmy Walker is a two-time winner. ... Twenty-three of the 33 players in last week's field are also entered in the Sony Open. Schauffele is not in the field. ... Rory Sabbatini is playing his first event under the Slovakian flag after becoming a naturalized citizen last week. The South African native's wife is Slovakian. ... Bubba Watson is making his first appearance at the Sony Open since 2010. ... The field features four players over 50: Vijay Singh, Steve Stricker, Davis Love III and Kenny Perry. ... Peter Jung, 16, qualified by winning the Hawaiian qualifier for amateurs and will play in his first PGA Tour event.

      NEXT WEEK: Desert Classic, La Quinta, Calif.

      --Field Level Media

  • Rose reclaims No. 1; Schauffele vaults to No. 6
    By Field Level Media / Monday, January 7, 2019

    England's Justin Rose reclaimed the No. 1 spot in the world rankings on Monday, one day after Xander Schauffele's victory at the Tournament of Champions vaulted him to a career-high No. 6.

    • Rose climbed one spot to No. 1 to grab the top spot in the rankings for the third time in the past five months despite being idle, courtesy of Brooks Koepka's 24th-place finish in the winners-only field in Maui, Hawaii. Rose holds a slim 0.1245 edge on Koepka after failing to surpass him for the year-end top spot on his final hole of 2018.

      They are followed by four Americans: No. 3 Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau and Schauffle, who jumped four spots. Spain's Jon Rahm dropped one spot to No. 7, followed by Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy, who finished a disappointing fourth at the Tournament of Champions after playing in the final group and trailing by only one shot on the front nine Sunday.

      Italy's Francesco Molinari and American Tony Finau both dropped one spot to round out the Top 10. Australia's Jason Day picked up one spot in moving to No. 11, passing American Rickie Fowler, England's Tommy Fleetwood and Tiger Woods.

      Gary Woodland, who began the final round with a three-shot lead only to watch Schauffele snag the victory with a course-tying 11-under 62 on Sunday, jumped nine spot to No. 22.

      The PGA Tour moves over to Oahu for this week's Sony Open.

      --Field Level Media

  • Harrington named European Ryder Cup captain
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, January 3, 2019

    Padraig Harrington on Tuesday was announced as the captain for Europe's 2020 Ryder Cup team.

    • The European Tour called a press conference at its headquarters near London, where the three-time major champion was officially named captain. Harrington will become the third Irish captain for Team Europe in the past four Ryder Cups.

      "There seems to be a natural progression,'' Harrington said Tuesday. "It seems to be the right time and place for me in my career. But just because it seems like my turn, it's something I thought long and hard about. Was it the right time?

      "I realize it's good timing in my career, but I always realize it's probably the best setting for the team, going to the U.S. having me the captain at this time. When I talked to the other players and potential captains going forward, it seemed to fit nicely that I go and do the away match.''

      Denmark's Thomas Bjorn led Europe to a commanding victory over the United States at Le Golf National in Paris in September.

      The 2020 event will take place at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.

      Bjorn and the two previous captains, Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley, are on a panel charged with determining the captain for the next team. Harrington has long been the leading candidate, especially with England's Lee Westwood announcing that he will wait until Rome in 2022 to put his name in the ring for the captaincy.

      Harrington, 47, played in six Ryder Cups - including four Team Europe victories - and has served as a vice captain in each of the three previous Ryder Cups.

      Harrington announced last week that he will miss at least two events due to a broken wrist. He will be sidelined for the Abu Dhabi and Dubai events on the European Tour in January, with a goal to return in time for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am the second week of February.

      "Over the Christmas period I discovered that I had broken a bone in my wrist," Harrington announced on his website.

      "I had slipped whilst walking down the stairs at home in mid-December.

      "Whilst it continues to heal, I need to keep it in a splint a little while longer so, frustratingly, I will need to miss the first two planned events of my season in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

      "However, I should be fully fit for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-am on the PGA Tour in early February."

      Harrington finished 220th in the FedEx Cup standings last season, but has elected to use his one-time top-50 exemption for this season as he is currently 49th on the PGA Tour's career money list.

      --Field Level Media

  • McIlroy makes U.S. tour his No. 1 priority
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, January 2, 2019

    Rory McIlroy is taking a new approach to his continent-hopping golf career in 2019.

    • While the 29-year-old Northern Irishman isn't completely abandoning the European Tour, he is putting his focus firmly on the United States-based PGA Tour.

      Speaking Monday in Kapalua, Hawaii, where he is preparing for the PGA Tour's Sentry Tournament of Champions, McIlroy told reporters, "My life's here (in the United States). I have an American wife. I live in America. Honestly, I enjoy it here more. The way of life is easier. The weather. The convenience. ...

      "I've always been trying to split my time (between two tours, but) I'm sick of always showing up in Florida 100th in the FedEx Cup. Not that it's a big deal. I'll always play enough golf to give myself a chance at the end. I just don't like seeing that number beside my name. The rest of the guys have played 12 PGA Tour events, and I'm playing my first or my second. ... You're not in a good position starting off."

      According to Golf Digest, McIlroy probably won't head back to Europe until July, just before the Open Championship at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland.

      Last year, McIlroy opened his campaign with two European Tour events in the Middle East, and he also played in the BMW PGA Championship near London in May and in the Irish Open in July. That gave him the minimum for Euro Tour events, not including the majors and World Golf Championship events that count for both tours, to retain his European Tour membership.

      Should he fail to meet the Euro Tour's requirements, he could become ineligible to play for Team Europe in the Ryder Cup. Last fall, McIlroy went 2-3-0 as part of the Euro team that cruised to a 17 1/2-10 1/2 win over the American team in the Ryder Cup near Paris.

      McIlroy played 18 events on the PGA Tour in 2018, and he snapped an 18-month winless stretch by capturing the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He finished 13th in the season-long FedEx Cup standings.

      "A lot of guys have this sort of loyalty to the European Tour, which is great," McIlroy said. "But it's not as if we all got handed starts; you've got to qualify to get on.

      "I'm still going to play in Europe and (the fans) are still going to see me play -- maybe not as regularly as it used to be -- but that's just a product of where the global schedule is right now and where my life is right now."

      He added of the difference between the tours: "It's so one-sided. Look, you can talk all you want about these bigger events in Europe, but you can go to America and play for more money and more ranking points.

      "I think as well with the world ranking points, everyone out here, all of their contracts with sponsors, it's all about world ranking points. If players are getting paid more and earning more world ranking points, why would you play over there?"

      --Field Level Media

  • Golf Glance
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, January 1, 2019

    PGA TOUR

    • LAST TOURNAMENT: The RSM Classic (Charles Howell III)

      THIS WEEK: Sentry Tournament of Champions, Jan. 3-6

      The Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort, Maui, Hawaii (Par 73, 7,518 yards)

      Purse: $6.5 million (Winner: $1.3 M and 500 FedEx Cup points)

      Defending champion: Dustin Johnson

      FedEx Cup leader: Charles Howell III

      Television: Thursday-Friday, 6-10 p.m. ET (Golf Channel); Saturday, 4-6 p.m. (NBC), 6-8 p.m. (Golf Channel); Sunday, 6-10 p.m. (Golf Channel).

      The 34-man field is reserved for winners on the PGA Tour in 2018, including the eight fall events to begin the 2018-19 season. Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose and Tiger Woods qualified but did not commit to the event. ... Johnson won by eight shots over Jon Rahm last year for his second victory in eight starts at the event. ... Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy will make his first career start in the TOC. ... Eleven of the 12 previous winners have gone on to qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship, with the lone exception being Daniel Chopra in 2008. ... Brooks Koepka begins 2018 as the No. 1-ranked player in the world, ahead of Rose and Johnson. He finished last in the event in 2018 before taking a three-month break to recover from a wrist injury. ... Johnson has posted 15 rounds in the 60s in the event since 2013, four more than Jordan Spieth. He also leads active Tour members with 11 consecutive seasons with at least one victory.

      NEXT WEEK: Sony Open in Honolulu, Hawaii

      --Field Level Media

  • Woods, Mickelson skipping Tournament of Champions
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, December 29, 2018

    Tiger Woods won't be in the field for January's Tournament of Champions, despite qualifying for the event by winning the Tour Championship in September.

    • It would have been Woods' first TOC since 2005.

      Woods had until Friday to decide whether to play in the tournament, which begins Jan. 3 on Maui at the Kapalua resort.

      Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose were the only other holdouts among the 37 eligible players.

      Rose, ranked No. 2 in the world, is the only member of the top eight ranked players who will miss the tournament.

      Dustin Johnson, who won by eight strokes last year, will be looking for his third title in the event.

      Woods has said he plans to play in fewer tournaments in 2019 and would not commit to any tournaments beyond the four majors and the Genesis Open at Riviera in southern California, which his foundation runs.

      Woods is expected to make his 2019 debut at the Farmers Insurance Open, which begins Jan. 24 at Torrey Pines outside of San Diego, where he has won eight times.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Tiger skipping Tournament of Champions
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, December 27, 2018

    Tiger Woods has opted against playing in January's Tournament of Champions, choosing instead to spend "more time with family and friends over the holiday," ESPN reported Thursday.

    • It would have been Woods' first TOC since 2005. He qualified for the winners-only tournament by winning the Tour Championship in September, his 80th career PGA Tour victory.

      Woods had until Friday to decide whether to play in the tournament, which begins Jan. 3 on Maui at the Kapalua resort.

      Tournament director Alex Urban told ESPN that they heard from Woods' representatives and that he is "spending more time with family and friends over the holiday and will start his season at a later event."

      Woods has said he plans to play in fewer tournaments in 2019 and would not commit to any tournaments beyond the four majors and the Genesis Open at Riviera in Southern California, which his foundation runs.

      "I took a significant break after the Ryder Cup, got away from it for a bit," Woods said in November. "My training sessions have been good. I've been getting a little bit stronger. My core and my legs are definitely stronger than they have been, which is a positive.

      "Now I get started working on my game and getting that organized heading into next year. Haven't really spent a lot of time doing that. I've been working more on getting my body ready to handle the rigors of long practice sessions again and getting back to that."

      Woods is expected to make his debut at the Farmers Insurance Open, which begins Jan. 24 at Torrey Pines outside of San Diego, where he has won eight times.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Tiger, Phil to play 'The Match' in 2019, '20
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, December 26, 2018

    Phil Mickelson beat Tiger Woods in "The Match" last month, but Woods could have his chance to top Mickelson in 2019.

    • Golf Digest reported Wednesday that the two golfers actually signed a three-year contract to play head-to-head matches through 2020. Golfworld, however, said the format could differ, with Mickelson and Woods teaming up against another pair of golfers, or each one pairing with another player and headlining the twosome.

      The two met Nov. 24 at Shadow Creek Golf Club in Las Vegas, and Mickelson took the $9 million winner-take-all purse in 22 holes. It isn't known if play will return to Shadow Creek, or if Mickelson and Woods will meet elsewhere.

      Woods, 42, and Mickelson, 48, have combined for 123 PGA Tour victories.

      Turner Sports put together "The Match" and sold pay-per-view packages at $19.95 per customer. Golfworld reported that about 1 million customers subscribed to the event, but technical difficulties forced Turner to refund their money.

      --Field Level Media

  • Ryder Cup captain Bjorn honors tattoo promise
    By Field Level Media / Monday, December 24, 2018

    No ifs, ands or buts about it -- Thomas Bjorn is a man of his word.

    • The European Ryder Cup captain promised his team he would get a tattoo if they defeated Team USA last September.

      "There could be a visit to a tattoo parlor very soon for Mr. Bjorn," Rory McIlroy said following Europe's 17.5-10.5 victory in Paris.

      "It's going to go on a part that only (my girlfriend) will see," Bjorn said.

      The 47-year-old Danish golfer wasn't joking. On Monday, the European Ryder Cup team's Twitter account shared a video of Bjorn fulfilling his promise with a tattoo of the trophy and the final score from France on his derriere.

      "Told you I would do it," Bjorn says on the video. "Merry Christmas."

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: McIlroy backs off limited Euro Tour schedule
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, December 20, 2018

    Rory McIlroy plans to commit to two more events in 2019 in order to retain his European Tour membership, according to a report by The Mirror.

    • McIlroy, 29, created a firestorm last month when the Northern Irishman indicated he may not play in enough events to retain his European Tour membership as he focuses his efforts on the PGA Tour and the four majors. That led to a meeting with European Tour executive Keith Pelley, who flew to Belfast last week to meet with the four-time major champion.

      McIlroy had previously committed to the Scottish Open the week before The Open and the European Masters. He was not planning to compete in any additional European Tour events until at least July, but could now play in Dubai in January and add the Irish Open or BMW PGA Championship to his schedule.

      The European Tour requires players to enter a minimum of four events outside of the majors and World Golf Championship events in order to maintain their cards. A new European Tour rule also requires Ryder Cup captains to have never forfeited their membership on the tour.

      "Everyone has to look out for themselves and next year I'm looking out for me," McIlroy told reporters last month. "At the same time, I don't have to make a decision on it. I didn't say that it was a definite. It's up in the air. I don't have to make a decision till May. We'll see how it goes."

      McIlroy, who has not won a major since 2014, said he wants to play against the strongest fields in the world week in and week out.

      "Again, look, everyone has to do what's best for them, and for me next year, I'm trying to do what's best for me to help get back to the best player in the world and try to win majors again," he said last month. "I'd cause all the stirs in the world if I go back to winning majors."

      --Field Level Media

  • Jutanugarn, Lee to renew rivalry in Australia
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, December 20, 2018

    The 2019 LPGA season promises early excitement with world No. 1 Ariya Jutanugarn and rival Minjee Lee set to clash at the Women's Australian Open championship from Feb. 14-17.

    • Both players confirmed entry in the tournament at The Grange Golf Club in Adelaide, the Australian Golf Digest reported Thursday.

      Thailand's Jutanugarn, 23, was the LPGA Tour Rolex Player of the Year, the money list winner and CME Globe champion in 2018.

      "I've always enjoyed coming to Australia to play and I've had a great time in Adelaide the past couple of years, so I can't wait to come back in February and get my 2019 started," said Jutanugarn, whose sister Moriya has also committed to the event.

      A native of Perth, Australia, the 22-year-old Lee is remarkably competing in her eighth Women's Australian Open. She has three top-10 finishes in the tourney, including shares of third and fifth place the past two years.

      "I've come close a couple of times, so hopefully in February I can take that next step," said Lee, ranked No. 6 in the world. "It's always a huge thrill to play in front of the home crowds. ... I've had a solid 2018, so I'm really excited about starting 2019 with a bang at The Grange."

      --Field Level Media

  • Koepka closes year at No. 1 as Rose falters in Indonesia
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, December 16, 2018

    Brooks Koepka will finish 2018 as the No. 1-ranked player in the world after England's Justin Rose posted his worst round of the year Sunday with an opportunity to claim the top spot in the final round of the Indonesian Masters.

    • Rose, the defending champion at Jakarta Golf Club, entered the final week of tournaments 0.402 points behind Koepka. With the American idle, Rose needed a two-way tie for 16th or better to close the year atop the world rankings for the first time.

      That opportunity began to slip through Rose's grasp when he opened Sunday's final round 3-over par through two holes. He carded a 39 on the front nine, then negated a birdie on No. 10 with a triple bogey on the par-5 12th.

      Rose ended up posting a 3-over 75 - one shot worse than the three 74s that had marked his worst rounds of the year entering this week.

      It was a disappointing end to a fantastic 2018 for Rose, who twice ascended to No. 1 in the world, won the FedEx Cup, was part of Team Europe's dominating Ryder Cup victory and entered this week having finished no worse than eighth in any of his past seven worldwide starts dating back to August.

      Rose was the defending champion in Jakarta, having gone wire-to-wire for an eight-shot victory last year. After opening with consecutive rounds of 68, he appeared well on his way toward securing that coveted year-end No. 1 ranking.

      Even after a mediocre 71 on Saturday, Rose was in great shape for the top spot entering the final round in a share of fourth place. That quickly began to unravel on the front nine.

      By the time he knocked his approach shot on No. 17 to tap in range, that only got Rose back to 4 over on a round that included a triple, a double and three bogies against an Asian Tour field that he dominated with a 29-under winning score last year.

      Thailand's Poom Saksansin posted the winning score this year with a 20-under.

      Rose needed an eagle on the final hole to give himself a mathematical chance to overtake Koepka, and he gave himself a chance by reaching the par-5 18th hole in two shots despite whipping wind conditions. But he pushed the putt well left before converting the birdie.

      Even three birdies over his final five holes wasn't enough to erase the damage done earlier.

      Meanwhile, Koepka added another cherry on top of his own career year.

      The former Florida State star who traveled the world building his golf resume before earning his PGA Tour card will finish 2018 on top of the world rankings after defending his U.S. Open title and winning his first PGA Championship.

      --Field Level Media

  • Ole Miss star Thornberry turning pro
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    Ole Miss senior Braden Thornberry announced he will skip his final semester of eligibility to turn professional after finishing 74th at last week's Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament.

    • The 2017 NCAA individual champion as a sophomore, Thornberry played in this year's U.S. Open, where he missed the cut by one shot. The 21-year-old has made the cut in three of his five starts in PGA Tour events, including a tie for fourth at the 2017 FedEx St. Jude Classic.

      "Well guys, it's time! It's time for me to become a professional golfer!," Thornberry tweeted on Friday.

      Thornberry is ranked 1,101 in the official world rankings, but is the fourth-ranked amateur. His is Ole Miss' all-time leader with 11 tournament victories, won the 2017 Fred Haskins Award and was twice named first team All-SEC.

      He will have conditional status on the Web.com Tour in 2019, and is likely to receive all seven of the sponsor exemptions that non-members are allowed to accept each PGA TOUR season. However, Thornberry will forfeit automatic spots in the 2019 U.S. Open and The Open Championship that he earned by winning the Mark H. McCormack Medal as the top-ranked player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking after the U.S. Amateur.

      "Some people have wondered why I didn't turn pro after winning the national championship my sophomore year," the Olive Branch, Miss. native wrote on OleMissSports.com. "Then, they assumed I would make the jump after my junior season. There have been a few times I've considered turning pro, but this is the first time where I have felt mentally ready. ...

      "There's nothing quite like the college golf experience. Coming back this fall for my senior season, prepared me for going through the stages of Web.com Tour qualifying. We get to play some of the best courses in the country and compete as a team. My teammates have become some of my closest friends. The older guys were mentors to me when I was an underclassman, and over the past year I was able to help the younger guys on our team now.

      "All of this should help answer the question as to why I've now decided to turn pro. This decision has been years in the making, ready to be made when the time is right. That time is now. My journey has led me to this point. Mentally, I am ready."

      --Field Level Media

  • Kisner: College teammates hated Patrick Reed
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, December 12, 2018

    The line of fire toward unpopular Masters champion Patrick Reed continues to percolate.

    • Fellow PGA Tour pro Kevin Kisner weighed in about Reed in a story by Golf Digest that touches on how Reed's college teammates at Georgia and Augusta State felt about him.

      "They all hate him -- any guys that were on the team with him (at Georgia) hate him and that's the same way at Augusta," Kisner, who attended Georgia prior to Reed's short stint on the golf team, told the entity. "I don't know that they'd piss on him if he was on fire, to tell you the truth."

      Reed was dismissed from Georgia after one season (2009) after accusations of cheating and stealing that he had denied. He spent two seasons at Augusta State and led the team to national titles in 2010 and 2011.

      He isn't well liked on the PGA Tour and even his breakthrough Masters victory in April came with a reputation hit.

      While Reed, 28, was putting forth an effort that earned him his biggest victory as a pro, his estranged parents and sister were a few miles away from Augusta National. They were watching on television in a house and not on the course.

      Asked about the situation, Reed coldly replied: "I mean, I'm just out here to play golf and try to win golf tournaments."

      Reed also was involved in controversy after Team Europe soundly defeated Team USA 17.5-10.5 in the Ryder Cup.

      He complained that he wasn't paired up with Jordan Spieth, saying "the issue's obviously Jordan not wanting to play with me." He also criticized captain Jim Furyk's decision to not use him in two matches.

      --Field Level Media

  • Molinari named European Tour player of year
    By Field Level Media / Monday, December 10, 2018

    Italy's Francesco Molinari was named the European Tour Golfer of the Year after winning The Open and the Race to Dubai while also playing a critical role in Team Europe's dominating victory at the Ryder Cup.

    • The announcement made official what had been firmly locked up since Molinari became the first Italian to win the Race to Dubai last month.

      The 36-year-old climbed as high as fifth in the world golf rankings after a top-10 finish at the BMW Championship during the FedEx Cup playoffs. He also posted four victories and a runner-up during a six-tournament stretch that included titles in three different countries.

      Molinari is currently ranked seventh in the world. During the Ryder Cup, he teamed with Tommy Fleetwood in a pairing dubbed "Moliwood" that went undefeated in group play before Molinari then beat Phil Mickelson in Sunday's finals.

      "So many great names have earned this honor, and I feel proud to join them," Molinari told reporters. "It is an award that means a lot to me, and it's a nice way to end a very special year.

      "Obviously winning The Open at Carnoustie, becoming my country's first major winner, was incredible. To then go on to win the Race to Dubai and be part of that Ryder Cup team was amazing. I'll always look back on this season and be proud of what happened."

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Lake Merced expected to host Steph Curry-PGA Tour event
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, December 9, 2018

    A new Bay Area PGA Tour event hosted by NBA All-Star Steph Curry is expected to debut next September at Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City, Calif.

    • The San Francisco Chronicle reports that more than 80 percent of Lake Merced members approved a proposal for more than $3.6 million in course upgrades, which are considered a "prerequisite to holding the tournament."

      Golf course architect Rees Jones will reportedly oversee the planned changes, which include lengthening the course to 7,300 yards, expanding the driving range and short-game practice area, rebuilding hole No. 10 into a 411-yard slight dogleg left par 4, renovation of the greens on Nos. 7, 12, 14 and 16 and the addition of several fairway bunkers.

      Lake Merced is set to host the LPGA Mediheal Championship on May 2-5, which means the project must be finished quickly. The women's event has been staged at Lake Merced for four of the past five years with Lydia Ko winning three times. The Curry-hosted event is expected to take place in September, likely the week prior to the Safeway Open, which set for Sept. 26-29 in Napa, Calif.

      The Golden State Warriors star has competed in two Web.com Tour events on sponsor exemptions but is not expected to compete in this tournament. Instead, Curry will be "actively recruiting" Tour players for the event while his charitable foundation reportedly will be involved in its operations.

      An earlier Chronicle report noted that Corica Park's renovated South Course in Alameda, Calif., was in the mix to host the event after multiple visits in October from PGA Tour agronomists.

      --Field Level Media

  • Johnson splits with longtime caddie Green
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, December 9, 2018

    Zach Johnson is ending his working relationship with caddie Damon Green after nearly 15 years.

    • Green, who signed on to become Johnson's caddie in 2004, spilled the news to The Caddie Network.

      "Zach said, ‘I think we need to take a break. It's not a ‘firing.' We're too good friends for that,' " Green said. "I just think he didn't want to say the word ‘fire.' I was shocked."

      Green had been caddying for Scott Hoch when he decided to leave to work with Johnson in 2004. Johnson was coming off a first place finish on the then-Nationwide Tour and was starting his rookie season on the PGA Tour.

      The pair went on to win two majors and 11 PGA Tour events together, earning nearly $50 million along the way.

      But Johnson hasn't won since claiming the British Open in a playoff in 2015 and has just 11 top 10s in the past three years after posting a career-best 10 in 2015.

      Johnson, 42, will reportedly hire Brett Waldman, who most recently has been Charley Hoffman's caddie.

      --Field Level Media

  • New events highlight 2019 LPGA schedule
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, December 6, 2018

    Two new events with distinct formats will kick off the 2019 LPGA season, and the first team event in tour history will be held in July.

    • The tour released the event dates for next year on Thursday.

      Kicking off the year will be the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions, scheduled for Jan. 17-20 at Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club Orlando. LPGA event winners from the past two years will be eligible for the tour's first Tournament of Champions in 12 years. A pro-am featuring 45 celebrities will be included.

      For the next event, the LPGA will partner with the men's European Tour at the Vic Open, Feb. 7-10 in Barwon Heads, Australia. The men and women will hold concurrent competitions at the same golf course, 13th Beach Golf Links, with both sides battling for equal prize money.

      The Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, scheduled for July 17-20 at Midland (Mich.) Country Club, will feature 72 two-player teams. The 72-hole, stroke-play format will include foursomes and four-ball rounds.

      "I'm truly excited that three of our new tournaments for 2019 will feature formats that are new to the LPGA," LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. "We've long wanted to get a Tournament of Champions back on the LPGA schedule, and this partnership with Diamond Resorts will definitely make the Four Seasons Orlando the place to be in January.

      "Plus, our friends at Dow, long known for their scientific innovation, have brought that trait to the LPGA by bringing together this great team event. I can't wait to see how the players will partner up over the coming months.

      "Additionally, the Vic Open will showcase a joint men's and women's event that is interesting to players and fans, not to mention timely in the world of equal opportunity and pay."

      Other highlights of the 2019 schedule include the Solheim Cup, set for Sept. 12-15 at Gleneagles in Perthshire, Scotland, and the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, which will offer a $5 million purse.

      The year's 33 events, set for 15 U.S. states and 12 countries, will offer a total of $70.55 million in prize money. Last year, the tour's total purse was $65.35 million.

      "We are in one of the most exciting periods of time in LPGA history," Whan said. "One look at our 2018 season shows the breadth of global talent on our Tour, and I have no doubt that 2019 will continue this upward trend. We are not only proud of our Tour growth, but also the growth of our LPGA Teachers, LPGA Amateurs and LPGA-USGA Girls-Golf efforts."

      The details of the five majors in 2019:

      --April 4-7, ANA Inspiration, Mission Hills Country Club, Rancho Mirage, Calif., $3 million purse

      --May 30-June 2, U.S. Women's Open, Country Club of Charleston (S.C.), minimum of $5 million purse

      --June 20-23, KPMG Women's PGA Championship, Hazeltine National Golf Club, Chaska, Minn., $3.85 million purse

      --July 25-28, The Evian Championship, Evian Resort Golf Club, Evian-les-Bains, France, $4.1 million purse

      --Aug. 1-4, AIG Women's British Open, Woburn Golf Club, Milton Keynes, England, prize purse TBA

      Five Asian events, including one tournament yet to be announced, will immediately precede the CME Group Tour Championship. The year-ending event is scheduled for Nov. 21-24 at Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort's Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla.

      The LPGA Volvik Championship, played each of the past three years in Ann Arbor, Mich., is not on the 2019 schedule.

      --Field Level Media

  • Major golf returns to Texas with PGA of America move
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, December 5, 2018

    Major championship golf is coming back to Texas. On Tuesday, the PGA of America announced it would be moving its headquarters from south Florida to Frisco, Texas, and bringing with it the promise of the 2027 and 2034 PGA Championships.

    • The majors will be played on one of two 18-hole championship courses to be built as part of a $520 million development in the Dallas area. The move is slated for summer 2022, which is when the two golf courses, a nine-hole short course and practice areas are expected to be finished. The project is also set to include a 500-room hotel and massive conference center.

      However, the first major tournament slated for Texas is the 2023 Senior PGA Championship. The PGA of America has committed to bringing to the area two Senior PGA Championships, two Women's PGA Championships and possibly a Ryder Cup. The PGA, based for four decades in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., initially plans to employ at least 100 people at its new headquarters.

      "Our move to Frisco will be transcendent for the PGA of America," said PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh in a statement. "Everything great starts with a dream. This is the beginning of a bold, new journey as we bring together world-class partners in a world-class location -- to deliver innovative and differentiated experiences for our nearly 29,000 PGA Golf Professionals, golfers of all abilities and our staff."

      The last major in Texas was the 1969 U.S. Open in Houston, won by Orville Moody at Champions Golf Club. Texas has been considered too hot to host a PGA Championship, a problem that goes away in 2019 when the major moves from August to May.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: PGA Tour developing college-to-pros pipeline
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, December 4, 2018

    The PGA Tour is reportedly working on a program that will provide collegiate golfers a pipeline to professional tours while simultaneously incentivizing them to both remain in school and stay with their team through the completion of the collegiate season.

    • According to a story by Brentley Romine in the December issue of Golfweek, the Tour's plan would give the best golfers in college guaranteed status in one of a handful of tours, ranging from PGA Tour China to the PGA Tour.

      The Tour currently does not have a system dedicated to directly placing collegiate golfers into professional tours.

      "The PGA Tour has been working to develop a new program that will identify, prepare and transition top collegiate golfers to professional golf," the Tour told Romine in a statement. "This program will be designed to reward season-long collegiate play with varying levels of playing access to tours operated under the PGA Tour umbrella while upholding the principles and virtues of college athletics."

      While no timetable for implementation is known, Romine reported that the Tour is working with its policy board, player advisory councils and other stakeholders for input on the program, as well asking for feedback from the NCAA and college coaches.

      The Golf Coaches Association of America's annual convention is currently underway in Las Vegas.

      The criteria for determining eligibility and ranking is also still being developed as, per the report, the Tour wants a system more dynamic than simply relying on the World Amateur Golf Ranking or other existing ranking systems.

      The program will also give preference to golfers who stay in college in continued pursuit of their education.

      "If a freshman was to turn pro, are they going to be eligible for this program? Likely not," an anonymous Tour official told Romine.

      "This will hopefully change the landscape of college golf," the official continued. "If you look at other sports leagues, it's a little bit different. They have draft systems where players go directly to leagues and they are identified through their play in college. That sort of rough thinking, you know, 'Why doesn't golf have that?' ... This will hopefully be a solution to that problem."

      --Field Level Media