Saturday, December 9

Tiger Woods Jumps 531 Spots in Official World Golf Ranking

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BY NEARLY EVERY MEASURE, TIGER WOODS had a successful initial return from his fourth back surgery and long layoff from tournament golf. Tiger's play at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas surprised virtually everyone, probably even himself.

The unofficial event with an 18-man field also provided world-ranking points. Woods benefited in a big way, as MORNING READ reported:
Tiger Woods climbed [531 spots] in Monday’s updated Official World Golf Ranking after he tied for ninth in the Hero World Challenge. The unofficial PGA Tour event, which awarded OWGR points, marked the first competition for Woods since he withdrew after one round from a European Tour event in Dubai in early February and then underwent spinal fusion surgery in April. He had fallen to No. 1,199 entering last week’s event and now stands at No. 668. Woods was No. 1 as recently as May 2014, after his five-victory season in 2013. He holds the record for most weeks at No. 1 in the 31-year history of the OWGR, with 683.
 Tiger turns 42 on December 30. What will 2018 bring?

Thursday, December 7

Golf on TV: QBE Shark Shootout and Joburg Open

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From a Golf Channel press release.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Twelve two-person teams will convene in South Florida at the QBE Shark Shootout, airing Friday to Sunday on Golf Channel and NBC. The duo of Harris English and Matt Kuchar (defending champions) will look to win the event for the third time in the past five years. The European Tour is in South Africa for the Joburg Open, where Louis Oosthuizen headlines the field in his home country, as the tournament serves as the second event in the 2018 Open Qualifying Series.

QBE Shark Shootout
Dates: Dec. 8-10
Venue: Tiburon Golf Club (Gold Course), Naples, Fla.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern)
Friday              1:30-4:30 p.m. (Live) / 5-8 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday          1:30-4:30 p.m. (Live) / 5-8 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday            1-2 p.m. (Live) / 5-8 p.m. (Replay)

Tournament Airtimes on NBC (Eastern)
Sunday            2-4 p.m. (Live)

Broadcast Notes:
Event format: The field is made up of 12 two-person teams. The competition includes a scramble format (Friday), modified alternate shot (Saturday) and better ball (Sunday).
English/Kuchar defend: Harris English and Matt Kuchar finished one stroke ahead of Jerry Kelly/Steve Stricker to win the event for the second time in four years as a duo.
Teams: Harris English/Matt Kuchar, Charley Hoffman/Zach Johnson, Tony Finau/Lexi Thompson, Jason Dufner/Billy Horschel, Russell Henley/Kyle Stanley, Keegan Bradley/Brendan Steele, Brandt Snedeker/Bubba Watson, Kevin Chappell/Kevin Kisner, Daniel Berger/Gary Woodland, Brian Harman/Pat Perez, Sean O’Hair/Steve Stricker, Shane Lowry/Graeme McDowell.

EUROPEAN TOUR

Joburg Open
Dates: Dec. 7-10
Venue: Randpark Golf Club (Firethorn & Bushwillow Courses), Johannesburg, South Africa

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Friday              9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (Tape delay) / 3:30-5:30 & 7-9 a.m. (Streaming on Golf Channel Digital)
Saturday          9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (Tape delay) / 4:30-9 a.m. (Streaming on Golf Channel Digital)
Sunday            4:30-9 a.m. (Live) / 2-4 p.m. (Replay)

Broadcast notes:
Fichardt defends: Darren Fichardt finished one shot ahead of Paul Waring and Stuart Manley to claim his fifth European Tour win.
Headlining the field: Louis Oosthuizen, Darren Fichardt, Dylan Frittelli, George Coetzee, Thomas Aiken, Sam Horsfield, Alfie Plant, Haydn Porteous and Dean Burmester.

GOLF CHANNEL VIDEO: 'Keep Omelette in Your Pan to Improve Backswing'



THIS TIP COMES FROM MICHAEL BREED, host of The Golf Fix on Golf Channel.

Has TV golf instruction jumped the shark?

Tuesday, December 5

VIDEO: Reborn Through Golf: The Inspiring Story of Young Lester Bell Jr.



DOING RESEARCH ON VARIOUS GOLF TOPICS, I ran across the story of Lester Bell Jr. (above). The video is dated, from 2013, but the story is ongoing. (I found the below clip from 2016.)

Golf as a game, and the people in golf, can inspire and transform lives. This is one of those stories. And it takes place at historic Cedar Crest in Dallas, Texas, which hosted the 1927 PGA Championship won by Walter Hagen.

Maybe you have eight minutes to enjoy this true story of a desperate kid who is saved by a game played right across the street from his dilapidated apartment.

#ThxPGAPro - Ira McGraw Jr./Lester Bell Jr. from PGA of America on Vimeo.

Friday, December 1

Hoffman Leads Hero, Tiger Within Striking Distance

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CHARLEY HOFFMAN LEADS THE HERO World Challenge at the halfway point after a 63 on Friday that gave him a 12-under total and 3-shot lead over Jordan Spieth and first-round leader Tommy Fleetwood.

Tiger Woods is the story, though. His solid play that produced a 69 and 68 put him in contention at 7 under and in a fifth-place tie. Everyone is impressed by Tiger's form at this early juncture as he continues to play without back pain.


"I proved that the surgery was successful, the rehab has been fantastic," Woods told Golf Channel. "Now I have a chance to go out there and play competitive golf again.

"I'm just getting back so I have a long way to go. That is going to take time. A lot more practice, a lot more training and more tournaments."

Hoffman's second round included 12 birdies.

"I got the ball to the hole and the balls were going in, which was nice," he said. "On 17, I was able to make a bunker shot which capped off the day… If I keep making putts I am usually in contention on Sunday. So putter feels great, the game is in a pretty good spot."

Hoffman added, "It is pretty special to be out here and to see Tiger making birdies and eagles and hopefully in contention on Sunday."

Wednesday, November 29

Golf on TV: Hero World Challenge, Australian PGA Championship, AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open



From a Golf Channel press release.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Tiger Woods returns to competitive golf this week at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, where he’ll make his first professional start since withdrawing from the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in February. Eight of the top-10 players in the world are among the elite 18-man field, including World No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott and Marc Leishman headline the field at the Australian PGA Championship, airing Wednesday-Saturday on Golf Channel, live and in primetime. Louis Oosthuizen and Darren Clarke lead the field at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritiues Open in an event co-sanctioned by the European and Sunshine Tours.

Hero World Challenge
Dates: Nov. 30-Dec. 3
Venue: Albany Resort, Albany, Bahamas

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern)
Thursday         12:30-4:30 p.m. (Live) / 5:30-9:30 p.m. (Replay)
Friday              12:30-4:30 p.m. (Live) / 5:30-9:30 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday          Noon-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 5:30-9:30 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday            11 a.m.-1 p.m. (Live) / 5-10 p.m. (Replay)

Tournament Airtimes on NBC (Eastern)
Saturday          2:30-5 p.m. (Live)
Sunday            1-4 p.m. (Live)

Broadcast Notes:
Matsuyama defends: Hideki Matsuyama finished two shots ahead of Henrik Stenson to win last year’s event.
Headlining the field: Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka, Kevin Kisner, Matt Kuchar, Daniel Berger, Kevin Chappell, Patrick Reed, Tommy Fleetwood, Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren and Francesco Molinari.

PGA TOUR AUSTRALASIA

Australian PGA Championship
Dates: Nov. 30-Dec. 3
Venue: RACV Royal Pines Resort (Championship Course), Gold Coast, Australia

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Wednesday     8 p.m.-1 a.m. (Live)
Thursday         9:30 p.m.-1 a.m. (Live)
Friday              9:30 p.m.-1 a.m.
Saturday          9:30 p.m.- 1 a.m.

Broadcast notes:
Varner defends: Harold Varner III won by two shots over Andrew Dodt to claim his first European Tour victory.
Headlining the field: Sergio Garcia, Marc Leishman, Adam Scott, Harold Varner III, Cameron Smith, Curtis Luck, Jonas Blixt, Brett Rumford, Mike Weir and Matt Jones.

EUROPEAN TOUR

AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open
Dates: Nov. 30-Dec. 3
Venue: Heritage Golf Club, Domaine de Bel Ombre, Mauritius

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         1:30-3:30 a.m. / 5:30-8:30 a.m. (Live)
Friday              1:30-3:30 a.m. / 5:30-8:30 a.m. (Live)
Saturday          3:30-7:30 a.m. (Live)
Sunday            3:30-7:30 a.m. (Live)

Broadcast notes:
Headlining the field: Louis Oosthuizen, Darren Clarke, Nicolas Colsaerts, Jamie Donaldson, George Coetzee, Scott Hend, Sam Horsfield, Gregory Havret and Darren Fichhardt.

New York Times: 'Tiger Woods and the Art of the Optimistic Comeback'

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OPTIMISM IS IN THE AIR and on the golf course. It's reportedly pain-free and long off the tee.

Tiger Woods, as you may have heard, is set for another comeback. Tiger will tee off with Justin Thomas at 12:05 p.m. on Thursday in the Hero World Challenge. It will be his first event since February when he withdrew after the first round of the Dubai Desert Classic.

But this time, this comeback, will be different. That's the hope, at least.

As Victor Mather writes today in the New York Timesthis comeback trail is a well-worn path for the era's greatest golfer:
While winning 14 majors over 11 years, Tiger Woods seldom had a layoff. But a series of injuries and personal setbacks have made his last decade a lot rockier. 
After a 10-month wait, Woods begins his latest return on Thursday in the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. He's optimistic. But it's not his first optimistic comeback of recent times...
Mather lays out all seven comebacks in capsule form (the comeback, why, what Tiger said, result). And, well, it's sobering.

But this time will be different, right?

Tiger Comebacks
2009 WGC-Accenture Match Play
2010 Masters
2011 WGC Bridgestone Invitational
2014 Quicken Loans National
2014 Hero World Challenge
2016 Hero World Challenge
2017 Hero World Challenge

Wednesday, November 22

Golf on TV: Australian Open and UBS Hong Kong Open


From a Golf Channel press release.

ORLANDO, Fla. – World No. 2 Jordan Spieth will defend his 2016 title this week at the Australian Open. He’ll be joined in the field by the top-ranked Australian in the world, Jason Day. The Australian Open also is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series, where three players will earn invitations to the 147th Open at Carnoustie. The European Tour will kick off its 2017-18 season at the UBS Hong Kong Open, as Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia headline the field.

PGA TOUR AUSTRALASIA

Australian Open
Dates: Nov. 22-25
Venue: The Australian Golf Club, Sydney, Australia

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern)
Wednesday     8 p.m.-1 a.m. (Live) / 3:30-8 a.m. (Thursday replay)
Thursday         8 p.m.-1 a.m. (Live) / 3:30-8 a.m. (Friday replay)
Friday              8 p.m.-1 a.m. (Live) / 4-8 a.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday          8 p.m.-1 a.m. (Live) / 3:30-8 a.m. (Sunday replay)

Broadcast Notes:
Spieth defends: Jordan Spieth won on the first playoff hole over Ashley Hall and Cameron Smith to win for the second time in three years.
Headlining the field: Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Cameron Smith, Matt Jones, Geoff Ogilvy, Jonas Blixt, Mike Weir and Curtis Luck.

EUROPEAN TOUR

UBS Hong Kong Open
Dates: Nov. 23-26
Venue: Hong Kong Golf Club, Sheung Shui, Hong Kong

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         1-3:30 a.m. (Live) / 8-11 a.m. (Replay)
Friday              1-3:30 a.m. (Live) / 8-11 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday          1-4 a.m. (Live) / 8-11 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday            1-3:30 a.m. (Live) / 8-11 a.m. (Replay)

Live Streaming Airtimes on Golf Channel Digital (Eastern)
Wednesday     9:30-11:30 p.m. (Live, Golf Channel Digital, continuing at 1 am ET)
Thursday         9:30-11:30 p.m. (Live, Golf Channel Digital, continuing at 1 am ET)
Friday              11:30 p.m.-1 a.m. (Live, Golf Channel Digital, continuing at 1 am ET)
Saturday          11 p.m.-1 a.m. (Live, Golf Channel Digital, continuing at 1 am ET)

Broadcast notes:
Brazel defends: Sam Brazel finished one shot ahead of Rafa Cabrera Bello to claim his first European Tour victory.
Headlining the field: Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Harold Varner III, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Sam Brazel, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Tommy Fleetwood.

Tuesday, November 21

Spaniard Jon Rahm: European Tour Rookie of the Year and World No. 4



JON RAHM IS ECSTATIC.

And why not? The Spaniard had a pinch-me kind of week.

The former Arizona State golfer and world No. 1 amateur won the 2017 Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award before the start of the European Tour's season-ending DP World Tour Championship.

And then Rahm won that, too, shooting a final-round 67 for a 19-under total and 1-stroke victory.

"It's hard to sum it up," Rahm said. "An incredible week, I could not be more proud of what I've done this week. It could be very easy to just be content with getting the award and just being here and trying to play the best.

"I didn't plan on being here at the beginning of the year and I sure didn't plan on winning it so it's an incredible feeling."

Rahm, 23, won three titles in 2017: two on the European Tour and one on the PGA Tour (Farmers Insurance Open). He also finished third in the Race to Dubai. (Englishman Tommy Fleetwood finished 21st in Dubai and hung on to win the points race.)

Now Rahm is ranked fourth in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing three Americans by the names of Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.

The young lions are roaring louder and louder.

Thursday, November 16

Bestselling Author John Coyne Talks Caddies on The Golf Shop Show ESPN Charlotte


IF YOU ENJOYED JOHN COYNE'S seven-part caddie series at this blog, you will certainly enjoy the interview it spawned with Mark Greenhalgh and Mike Fresina on their golf radio show.

John is a bestselling author who has followed the game of golf since becoming a caddie at Midlothian Country Club in the 1940s. Learn more at John Coyne Books.

Golf on TV: DP World Tour Championship, CME Group Tour Championship, RSM Classic


ABOVE: Caddie Adam Marrow with a day in the life at the DP World Tour Championship.

From a Golf Channel press release.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The European Tour season will culminate this week at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. Only three players in the field have a mathematical chance of winning the season-long Race to Dubai: Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia. Fleetwood has the best chances of the three, needing Rose to finish outside of the top-5 and for Garcia not to win for the Englishman to claim the title. The LPGA season also comes to a crescendo this week, as the Tour returns to the United States for the CME Group Tour Championship. The top-5 in the season-long standings will win the CME Globe with a victory this week: Lexi Thompson, Sung Hyun Park, Shanshan Feng, So Yeon Ryu and Brooke Henderson, while Nos. 6-12 in the standings also have a mathematical chance of winning the title. The PGA TOUR is on St. Simons Island in Georgia for the RSM Classic, where Mackenzie Hughes defends after winning on the third hole of a five-man playoff that carried over to Monday at last year’s event.

EUROPEAN TOUR

DP World Tour Championship
Dates: Nov. 16-19
Venue: Jumeirah Golf Estates (Earth Course), Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         3-8 a.m. (Live)
Friday              3-8 a.m. (Live)
Saturday          2:30-8 a.m. (Live)
Sunday            2-7:30 a.m. (Live)

Broadcast notes:
Fitzpatrick defends: Matthew Fitzpatrick finished one shot ahead of Tyrrell Hatton to claim his third European Tour win.
Headlining the field: Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Jon Rahm, Tyrrell Hatton, Ross Fisher, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Alex Noren, Branden Grace, Francesco Molinari and Matthew Fitzpatrick.

LPGA TOUR

CME Group Tour Championship                          
Dates: Nov. 16-19
Venue: Tiburon Golf Club, Naples, Fla.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern)
Thursday         4:30-6:30 p.m. (Tape delay) / 2-4 p.m. (Streaming on Golf Channel Digital)
Friday              4:30-6:30 p.m. (Tape delay) / 2-4 p.m. (Streaming on Golf Channel Digital)
Saturday          4:30-6:30 p.m. (Tape delay) / 2-4 p.m. (Streaming on Golf Channel Digital)
Sunday            1-4 p.m. (**Live, Airing on ABC**)

Broadcast notes:
Hull defends: Charley Hull finished two strokes ahead of So Yeon Ryu for her maiden LPGA Tour win.
Headlining the field: Lexi Thompson, Sung Hyun Park, Shanshan Feng, So Yeon Ryu, Brooke Henderson, In Gee Chun, Cristie Kerr, Moriya Jutanugarn, Ariya Jutanugarn, Anna Nordqvist, Stacy Lewis and Lydia Ko.

PGA TOUR

RSM Classic
Dates: Nov. 16-19
Venue: Sea Island Golf Club (Seaside & Plantation Courses), St. Simons Island, Ga.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern)
Thursday         1:30-4:30 p.m. (Live) / 7-10 p.m. (Replay)
Friday              1:30-4:30 p.m. (Live) / 7-10 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday          1:30-4:30 p.m. (Live) / 7-10 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday            1:30-4:30 p.m. (Live) / 5:30-8:30 p.m. (Replay)

Broadcast Notes:
Hughes defends: Mackenzie Hughes won on the third hole of a five-man playoff (that carried over to Monday) for his first PGA TOUR victory.
Headlining the field: Matt Kuchar, Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson, Brandt Snedeker, Davis Love III, Patton Kizzire, Ernie Els, Chesson Hadley, Bubba Watson and Mackenzie Hughes.

Monday, November 13

VIDEO: Mike Weir vs. Tony Finau in Opposite-Handed Competition



MIKE WEIR IS A LEFTY. Tony Finau is a righty.

What happens when these tour pros play a one-hole challenge from their opposite sides?

Weir and Finau went head-to-head on the par-4 18th hole at Glenarbor Golf Club in Bedford Hills, New York. Watch.

Friday, November 10

Golf on TV: Charles Schwab Cup Championship, Blue Bay LPGA, Nedbank Golf Challenge, OHL Classic at Mayakoba



From a Golf Channel press release.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The PGA TOUR Champions will crown a season-long victor this week at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Arizona. Bernhard Langer – winner of the first two playoff events and leader in the standings – will look to sweep the playoffs with a third consecutive victory. The LPGA Tour is in China this week for the penultimate event of its season, and it marks the final opportunity for players to improve their position ahead of next week’s CME Group Tour Championship in Naples. The European Tour also stages its penultimate event of the season with the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa, where leader in the Race to Dubai – Tommy Fleetwood – is in the field. The PGA TOUR is in Mexico for the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, where Rickie Fowler leads the field, while 22-year-old Cameron Champ makes his professional debut and 2016 champion Pat Perez defends.

PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS

Charles Schwab Cup Championship
Dates: Nov. 10-12
Venue: Phoenix Country Club, Phoenix, Ariz.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern)
Friday              4-7 p.m. (Live) / 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday          4-7 p.m. (Live) / 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Sunday replay)
Sunday            4-6:30 p.m. (Live) / 10:30 p.m.-1 a.m. (Replay)

Broadcast Notes:
Langer leads group of five players controlling own outcome with a win: Bernhard Langer is atop the Charles Schwab Cup points list following his victories in the first two playoff events. He is among the five players in the field this week who will automatically win the Charles Schwab Cup with a victory at Phoenix Country Club: 1) Bernhard Langer; 2) Scott McCarron; 3) Kenny Perry; 4) Miguel Angel Jimenez; 5) Kevin Sutherland.
Goydos defends: Paul Goydos finished two shots ahead of Bernhard Langer to earn his fourth PGA TOUR Champions victory.
Headlining the field: Bernhard Langer, Scott McCarron, Kenny Perry, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Kevin Sutherland, Jerry Kelly, Colin Montgomerie, Brandt Jobe, Vijay Singh and Fred Couples.

LPGA TOUR

Blue Bay LPGA                                                       
Dates: Nov. 8-11
Venue: Jian Lake Blue Bay Golf Club, Hainan Island, China

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern)
Thursday         11 p.m.-3 a.m. (Live) / 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Friday replay)
Friday              11 p.m.-3 a.m. (Live)

Broadcast notes:
New world No. 1 Park headlines the field: Sung Hyun Park leads the field at Blue Bay after becoming the new No. 1 player in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings yesterday.
Lee defends: Minjee Lee finished one shot ahead of Jessica Korda to claim her third LPGA Tour win.
Headlining the field: Sung Hyun Park, Shanshan Feng, Anna Nordqvist, I.K Kim, Ariya Jutanugarn, Minjee Lee, Michelle Wie, Lizette Salas and Jessica Korda.

EUROPEAN TOUR

Nedbank Golf Challenge
Dates: Nov. 9-12
Venue: Gary Player Country Club, Sun City, South Africa

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Friday              3-9 a.m. (Live)
Saturday          3-9 a.m. (Live)
Sunday            3-9 a.m. (Live)

Broadcast notes:
Noren defends: Alex Noren finished six strokes clear of the field to earn his fourth European Tour victory of the 2016 season.
Headlining the field: Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Ross Fisher, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Alex Noren, Francesco Molinari, Bernd Wiesberger, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Paul Dunne.

PGA TOUR

OHL Classic at Mayakoba
Dates: Nov. 9-12
Venue: Maykoba Resort (El Camaleon Golf Club), Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern)
Friday              1-4 p.m. (Live) / 7:30-10:30 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday          1-4 p.m. (Live) / 7:30-10:30 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday            1-4 p.m. (Live) / 7:30-10:30 p.m. (Replay)

Broadcast Notes:
Perez defends: Pat Perez finished two shots ahead of Gary Woodland to win for the second time on the PGA TOUR.
Headlining the field: Rickie Fowler, Pat Perez, Zach Johnson, Chesson Hadley, Si Woo Kim, Patrick Reed, Jhonattan Vegas, Gary Woodland, Cameron Champ and Sam Saunders.

Wednesday, November 8

Looping (Conclusion): Pro Caddie Pay and Caddie's Role as a 'Safe Harbor'

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Caddie Mark Fulcher with Justin Rose, back-to-back winner of the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open.

Following is the final installment in John Coyne's caddie series. Read Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5 and Part 6.

By John Coyne


Copyright © John Coyne. Used with permission.


THE ECONOMICS OF CADDIE PAY, as well as their lives on the PGA Tour, began to change in the mid 1990s with the arrival of Tiger Woods.

Tiger brought to the game, as least on television, a viewing audience that didn't play, didn't even like golf in some cases, but wanted to see Tiger play. Golf viewership grew, as did television ads and revenues. And likewise: purses for the pros.

All of this had a direct benefit for tour caddies. 

Today the majority of professional caddies earn a base weekly salary of between $1,500 and $2,500 and 7 to 10 percent of their player's winnings. If a caddie's player finishes in the top 10, that number could jump to 10 percent. These caddie contracts are all different and usually closed with a handshake.

Caddies also earn additional money from their own endorsement and appearance deals. They must wear bibs with names and logos of the tournament sponsors, but they can display their own logos on their hats or shirtsleeves. Caddies for players outside the top 30 only earn between $5,000 to $10,000 for this, but the caddies for the top players, who get most TV time, they can command between $30,000 to $50,000 a year from sponsors.

Then there is the FedEx Cup with its $35 million bonus structure, which means additional earnings for caddies. When the Cup was introduced in 2007, caddies did not have agreements for any sort of bonus. But an agreement was worked out by the Association of Professional Tour Caddies (APTC), and today the winner shares 10 percent with his caddie.

In 2013 when Henrik Stenson won the FedEx Cup, his caddie, Gareth Lord, bought himself a Ferrari after cashing his $1 million dollar share.

While all of this appears to be a lot of money, and it is, there are other realities of life that factor into the careers of caddies. Very few caddies have a player who is continually among the top 10 place finishers week after week on tour and their pros are only on tour an average of 20 to 35 weeks a year. It's a short earning season.

Caddies also are covering their own travel expenses, and increasingly with a majority of them having families back home, it is not an easy life. Bubba Watson, for one, is extolled in the caddie ranks as a tour pro who covers the travel expenses of his caddie, Ted Scott.

Earning Their Keep

That all said, are professional caddies worth the bother and effort? What do they bring to a player's game that a teenager—girl or boy—at the host club couldn't handle?

Well, what the PGA Tour pro gets from a professional caddie is more than just someone to lug his bag. The professional caddie arrives on Monday and walks the course before the event, aided by an up-to-date yardage book such as former pro caddie George Lucas started creating in the 1950s.

Today a dozen tour caddies produce books for every event as well as another book that maps the greens.

But what the professional caddie brings to the tour player is much more important than yardage knowledge. In conversations with those on tourcaddies, pros and administratorsthe key is the caddie's personality. While a tour player has a "team" behind him, a half dozen people from a swing coach to sports psychologist, the caddie is the only one out on the fairways with him, measuring his mood, easing his temper, giving advice in a calming voice and all the while responding to his needs, from cleaning his ball to assessing putts.

A caddie is the golfer's safe harbor. Tour pros know that. Their caddie is with him for just one reason, to bring him home a winner. 

John Coyne is a bestselling author who has written several books about golf. Learn more at John Coyne Books.

Friday, November 3

Golf on TV: Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Turkish Airlines Open, Toto Japan Classic



From a Golf Channel press release.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The PGA TOUR is in Las Vegas this week for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, where Charley Hoffman and Tony Finau headline the field. On the European Tour, Thorbjorn Olesen is set to defend at the Turkish Airlines Open, and will be joined in the field by Justin Rose – coming off a victory last week – along with Henrik Stenson. The LPGA Tour continues its Asia stretch as Shanshan Feng defends at the Toto Japan Classic.

PGA TOUR

Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
Dates: Nov. 2-5
Venue: TPC Summerlin, Las Vegas, Nev.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern)
Friday              4:30-7:30 p.m. (Live) / 8:30-11:30 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday          4:30-7:30 p.m. (Live) / 8-10:30 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday            3:30-6:30 p.m. (Live) / 7:30-10:30 p.m. (Replay)

Broadcast Notes:
Pampling defends: Rod Pampling finished two shots ahead of Brooks Koepka to claim his third PGA TOUR win, and first since 2006.
Headlining the field: Charley Hoffman, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson, Kevin Chappell, Ernie Els, Jimmy Walker, Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Maverick McNealy and Patrick Cantlay.

EUROPEAN TOUR

Turkish Airlines Open
Dates: Nov. 2-5
Venue: Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort, Antalya, Turkey

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Friday              5-10 a.m. (Live)
Saturday          5-10 a.m. (Live)
Sunday            3:30-8:30 a.m. (Live) / 1:30-6 a.m. (Monday replay)

Broadcast Notes:
Olesen defends: Thorbjorn Olesen finished three strokes clear of the field to earn his fourth European Tour victory.
Headlining the field: Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Tyrrell Hatton, Martin Kaymer, Thomas Pieters, Lee Westwood, Paul Dunne, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Tommy Fleetwood.

LPGA TOUR

Toto Japan Classic                                                  
Dates: Nov. 3-5
Venue: Taiheiyo Club (Minori Course), Ibaraki, Japan

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern)
Friday              11:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m. (Live) / 12:30-3:30 p.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday          10:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. (Live) / 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (Sunday replay)

Broadcast Notes:
Feng defends: Shanshan Feng finished a shot ahead of Ha Na Jang to win her sixth LPGA Tour title.
Headlining the field: In Gee Chun, Shanshan Feng, Lexi Thompson, Brooke Henderson, Ariya Jutanugarn, Danielle Kang, Lydia Ko, Stacy Lewis, Anna Nordqvist and So Yeon Ryu.

Wednesday, November 1

Looping, Part 6: PGA Tour Caddies Unite and Exert More Influence

Embed from Getty Images
Tiger Woods and caddie Joe LaCava during practice day at the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield.

Following is another installment in John Coyne's caddie series. Read Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4 and Part 5.

By John Coyne


Copyright © John Coyne. Used with permission.


ORGANIZING CADDIES INTO A CADDIE ASSOCIATION has proved to be just as difficult as organizing caddies in the country club caddie yard.

Joe "Gypsy" Grillo and Mike Carrick of the Professional Tour Caddies Association (PTCA) hired Dennis Cone, a sports agent, in the early 1990s. He got caddies hat and clothing deals and a contract with B.U.M. equipment.

Then Cone brought in Marriott Vacation Clubs as a sponsor of hats for the PGA Championship and other events, and with Marriott’s support Cone started the PCA (Professional Caddies Association Worldwide) in 1992 to provide members, caddies and their families with additional income opportunities and access to medical and retirement benefits. PCA also launched a world online caddie certification and educational programs that have been used at over 50 top clubs worldwide. More than 28,500 students (loopers) have learned the profession and golf through the eyes of a caddie as a result of Team PCA efforts. PTCA did not renew Cone’s contract as Grillo and Carrick wanted to keep the PTCA just for PGA Tour caddies.

Dennis and his wife, Laura, then, on their own, established the PCAF Foundation Board and in 1999 the Caddie Hall of Fame with the support of Marriott Vacation Club and others. In 2011 the PCA transferred the Caddie Hall of Fame to the Western Golf Association.

In the late '90s the PTCA would cease to exist and professional caddies were once again on their own. But by 2013 a new association emerged from the caddie ranks.

Birth of the APTC

The Association of Professional Tour Caddies (APTC) came about because of a rain delay at the 2013 Barclays when the caddies and a few family members had taken shelter in a club house during the storm and a club security guard began to hassle them, demanding their IDs and kicking the family members out into the rain.

Following that incident 35 of the 70 professional caddies organized a spontaneous meeting at the BMW Championship and voted to become an association.

The APTC was created, according to the president James Edmonsdon (who loops for Ryan Palmer), because of this humbling incident at the Barclays and other abuses by the PGA Tour.

"We realized we had two options," Edmondson said. "Go to the tour with our hands held out or empower ourselves by organizing, therefore expediting the process of the PGA Tour recognizing caddies as a profession like the rules officials. It seemed like because of the era we are in the timing was right."

Officers and board member were selected. Edmondson became president, Vice President Lance Bennett (Bill Haas caddie), Treasurer Jimmy Johnson (Steve Stricker caddie) and Secretary Adam Hayes (Russell Henley caddie). Also, Joe LaCava (Tiger Woods caddie), Brennan Little (Camilo Villegas caddie), and Kenny Harms (Kevin Na caddie) became board members.

There is now a new board of directors for the association that continues to grow in number and influence on the PGA Tour.

Today, 180 tour caddie members pay $300 to be a member. (The tour on the whole has about 250 U.S. and foreign caddies looping for pros.)

The APTC has also raised $41,000 for St. Jude last year, and over $70,000 this year. As Jason Case of ITR Management, who advises the APTC, says, "The caddies want to give back to causes they believe in as much as possible."

Benefits, Lawsuits and Sponsorships

It has not, however, been a smooth relationship between the PGA Tour and the caddie association, which continues to seek a health program and retirement plan for its members, better working conditions and a share in endorsements.

Recently a group of caddies—not associated with the APTClost a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the PGA Tour. They argued that the tour unlawfully compels caddies to wear logos and other insignia of corporate sponsors on bibs. Lawyers for the caddies had estimated that the value of the advertising was upwards of $50 million annually. A district judge dismissed the suit, saying that the caddies had signed contracts with the PGA Tour specifying a requirement to wear uniforms and identification badges prescribed by each tournament.

The suit also included claims that the tour interfered with the caddies' ability to compete in the market, alleged antitrust violations, breach of contract and violations of California state law. The judge did say that the caddies still have legal issues with the poor treatment they're afforded by the tour.

The APTC, however, has had successes. In 2016 the APTC signed with Jani-King towels. Head of Jani-King’s Sports Partnership declared, "The on-course television and digital media exposure has been phenomenal." By 2017, 147 caddies were carrying the towels at PGA Tour tournaments.

The caddie association also had an arrangement with Kentwool Socks. As part of the deal, Kentwool did provide its popular Men's Tour Profile and Men's Tour Standard socks to tour caddies to wear each week, but that sponsorship is no longer in effect. The APTC does have two programs with Hotels.com and Under Armour. 

APTC, in addition, has launched speaking engagements for caddies, featuring them as professionals having "first-hand knowledge about the PGA Tour." The association is offering their caddies to local golf clubs and hospitality tents during tournament events. As the APTC states, while "PGA players charge anywhere from $10,000 upwards to 6 figures. A caddie—with all the same inside informationcosts only $300."

The APTC also admits that their caddies at such events are much more forthright about life on tour than a pro golfer who is understandably protecting his brand in the professional world. 

And as all caddies know, it might rain on them today, but there's always another sunny day and another chance to make a loop.

TO BE CONTINUED.

John Coyne is a bestselling author who has written several books about golf. Learn more at John Coyne Books.

Monday, October 30

Justin Rose Is the Newest Comeback Kid



DUSTIN JOHNSON BLEW A SIX-SHOT LEAD in Shanghai. The 54-hole leader who had been a birdie machine threw a rod on a windy Sunday en route to a 77.

Meanwhile Justin Rose rallied from 8 shots back to win the WGC-HSBC Champions. Rose carded a 67 including a 31 on the closing 9 for a two-shot victory over Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Henrik Stenson.

No one saw it coming on Saturday night. World No.1 DJ had already won two World Golf Championship events this year and four titles overall. Put a fork in it. This tourney was done. Um, over. But late on Sunday people used words like "collapse," "shocking" and Rose himself uttered "unbelievable."

Rose's Sunday surge tied him with six others for the third-largest final-round comeback in PGA Tour history. Here are the greatest comebacks.

8 Shots
Mark Lye, 1983 Bank of Boston Classic
Hal Sutton, 1985 St. Jude Memphis Classic
Chip Beck, 1990 Buick Open
Scott Simpson, 1998 Buick Invitational
Craig Stadler, 2003 BC Open
Kyle Stanley, 2012 Waste Management Phoenix Open
Justin Rose, 2017 WGC-HSBC Champions

9 Shots
Stewart Cink, 2004 MCI Heritage

10 Shots
Paul Lawrie, 1999 Open (Carnoustie)