PGA Golf

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  • Scott looks for 2016 form at Honda Classic
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, February 20, 2017

    Adam Scott won the first two events of the Florida swing on the PGA Tour last year and appeared to be on a fast track back to the No. 1 spot he held in the Official World Golf Ranking for 11 weeks in 2014.

    • Instead, the Australian enters his title defense this week in the Honda Classic at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., at No. 7.

      Scott captured the WGC-Cadillac Championship the following week, and although he has placed in the top 10 in seven tournaments since, he has not been able to find his way back to the winner's circle.

      "I would love to know what it is and how to keep that momentum going, because I only managed to do it three weeks," said Scott, who tied for second in the Northern Trust Open a week before winning the Honda Classic. "My game just rounded into nice shape over the weekend (at Riviera) ... and sniffing a victory really motivated me to go to Honda and take advantage of my game.

      "My swing was working and everything was feeling very easy, which doesn't happen in golf very often. And then you get a win and I just tried to get out of my own way the next week and keep swinging the same way and not think about it too much. But after that, when I took a week off, it was very hard to replicate that, and the magic kind of disappeared."

      Scott, 36, has 29 victories in his career, including 13 on the PGA Tour, highlighted by the 2013 Masters -- where he became the first and still only Aussie do don the Green Jacket.

      There were those who believed, including Scott, that more major titles would follow. However, even though he has finished in the top 10 in six of the Grand Slam events since, Scott has not been able to win another.

      "It's hard for me to think that anything I achieve will be bigger than that moment (winning the Masters) in my career," said Scott, whose best finishes last year in the big four were ties for 18th in the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship after he finished in the top 10 in at least two majors for five consecutive years.

      "But that doesn't mean I'm not striving to win other Masters tournaments or any other big championships. I don't want it to be the one major that I win.

      I want to win a handful of majors in my career. I need to get my skates on because it's getting tougher and tougher every year. ...

      "I've really focused on winning majors the last few years, and it hasn't quite happened. Last year, I played poorly in the majors, which was disappointing."

      And Scott can hear the clock ticking.

      Of course, if he doesn't, all he has to do is look at the first three players who held the No. 1 ranking since he gave it up -- Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day of Australia -- all in their 20s.

      On Sunday, Dustin Johnson, 32, took the top spot from Day by winning the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

      Scott, who Down Under was the heir apparent to Greg Norman, tied for 11th at Riviera. He isn't even the highest-ranked Aussie any more.

      "There are only a few players who have been very dominant over 40 years old, and it's probably going to be harder, too, as the young 20-somethings are better and better," said Scott, who was 21 when he claimed his first professional victory in the 2001 Alfred Dunhill Championship on the European Tour, two years before he broke through in the Deutsche Bank Championship on the PGA Tour.

      "My window might not be closing, but it's not wide open, either. ... I'm putting a focus on getting back to world No. 1 at least once more in my career."

      Scott's victories last year were his first two after switching to a conventional putter when his anchored long wand was outlawed by golf's governing bodies, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club and the United States Golf Association.

      He admits his new stroke is still something of a work in progress.

      "I really went to it with a lot of optimism and enthusiasm and embraced the challenge of changing back to a different style of putting," said Scott, whose priorities changed when he married Marie Kojzar in 2014, and their daughter, Bo Vera, was born a year later.

      "I putted fairly well straight away and then very well at the start of (2016) and not very well since."

      Scott, a great ball-striker, knows putting often is the key to winning, especially in the majors.

  • Golf glance
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, February 20, 2017


    • PGA TOUR: Honda Classic on the Champion Course at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Thursday through Sunday.

      TV: Thursday and Friday, 2-6 p.m. EST on the Golf Channel; Saturday and Sunday, 1-3 p.m. EST on the Golf Channel and 3-6 p.m. EST on NBC.

      LAST YEAR: Adam Scott of Australia claimed his first victory on the PGA Tour since 2014, closing with an even-par 70 to hold off Sergio Garcia of Spain by one stroke. Scott, who also won the WGC-Cadillac Championship a week later for his 13th PGA Tour victory but has not won since, took a one-stroke lead with a birdie on the 12th hole, where he hit his approach shot from 149 yards to within 2 feet. The Aussie survived a bogey on the 16th hole because Garcia also made the same score there, and the Spaniard added another bogey on the next hole before sinking a 12-foot birdie putt on the last to close out a 71. Scott took the lead by playing the middle rounds in 65-66.

      PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS: Tucson Conquistadores Championship Classic at Omni Tucson National in Tucson, Ariz., March 17-19.

      TV: Friday, 9:30-11:30 p.m. EDT; Saturday and Sunday, 5-7 p.m. EDT; on the Golf Channel each day.

      LAST YEAR: Woody Austin won for the first time on the Champions Tour in his 28th start, salvaging a bogey after hitting his tee shot into the water on the final hole to beat Jim Carter by one stroke. Austin, who added two victories later in the season on the senior circuit after winning four times in his PGA Tour career, took the lead in his closing 7-under-par 65 when he holed his third shot for an eagle on the 15th hole. He also opened with a 65 and had a 70 in round two. Carter, still looking for his first Champions Tour victory after winning once on the PGA Tour, shot 63 in round two, but his closing birdie in a final-round 68 left him one shot short.

      LPGA TOUR: Honda LPGA Thailand on the Pattaya Old Course at Siam Country Club in Chonburi, Thailand, Thursday through Sunday.

      TV: Thursday through Sunday, 1-5 a.m. EST, on the Golf Channel each day.

      LAST YEAR: Lexi Thompson became the first American to win in the 10-year history of the tournament, shooting 4-under-par 68 in the final round to beat In-Gee Chun of South Korea by six strokes for her seventh LPGA Tour victory at the age of 21. Thompson took the lead with a first-round 64 but fell back with a 72 before building a four-shot lead heading to the final round with another 64 in round three. Chun cut into Thompson's lead by making birdies on the first three holes of the final round, but she eventually finished with a 70. The American regained control by making two birdies and an eagle in a span of five holes beginning at No. 6.

  • Golf notebook: Co-hosts selected for Arnold Palmer Invitational
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, February 20, 2017

    --Peter Jacobsen, Graeme McDowell, Annika Sorenstam and Curtis Strange will serve as hosts for the 39th Arnold Palmer Invitational from March 16-19 at Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, Fla.

    • Tom Ridge, former Secretary of Homeland Security and a friend of the Palmer family, also will help fill the roles of Palmer, who died last Sept. 26 at age 87.

      "Arnold was a force of nature, on and off the course," said McDowell, the 2010 U.S. Open champion. "We can't fill his shoes, but we can carry on his passion for helping others.

      "I live with my family in Orlando and my children were born at Winnie Palmer Hospital, so I've been a direct beneficiary of Arnold's charitable legacy. I'm honored to be part of such a remarkable event."

      The group will step into traditional roles held by Palmer throughout the tournament -- greeting players and guests, hosting Pro-Am parties and presenting the championship trophy on Sunday.

      They also will take part in events planned to honor Palmer's legacy, including a ceremony the day before the tournament starts.

      "Part of my dad's legacy was to inspire others to care about things he thought were important," said Palmer's daughter, Amy Saunders, chairman of Arnie's Army Charitable Foundation. "With the help of his many friends, fans and followers, we intend to keep that light shining brightly."

      Palmer's iconic golf cart and clubs will be on display throughout the week overlooking the 16th green, where Arnie most frequently watched the tournament and greeted players and fans.

      All proceeds from the tournament support Arnie's Army Charitable Foundation.

      --Michelle Wie, who has struggled with injuries and inconsistency the last few years, abandoned her "table-top" putting style after missing the cut in the season-opening Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic on the LPGA Tour.

      Wie, who once was No. 2 in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings but was down to No. 182 last week, worked for a week with instructor David Leadbetter in her transition to "The Claw" putting grip used by Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and others.

      And, after bending over to putt, Wie is back in a normal upright stance.

      "It may take a while for her to get comfortable with it, but she's excited about it," Leadbetter said. "I told her the 'table-top' was well past its sell-by date."

      Wie has posted only five top-10 finishes since winning the 2014 U.S. Women's Open, her fourth LPGA victory. She did not finish in the top 10 in 2015, and a tie for 10th in the Blue Bay LPGA was her only to-10 result in 2016.

      Not only that, but she also missed the cut 12 times in 25 events after she missed the weekend 18 times in 2015 and on 19 occasions in 2014.

      In her first event with the new putting style, Wie tied for 30th last week in the Women's Australian Open.

      --Tony Aarts was looking at a 10-foot birdie putt on the fifth hole at Magnolia Landing Golf & Country Club in Fort Myers, Fla., recently, when suddenly he faced another 10-footer.

      An alligator came out of a lake alongside the green, grabbed the 75-year-old Aarts by the right foot and dragged him into the water.

      Aarts escaped by hitting the gator on the head with his putter.

      "My ball was about 10 feet from the pin, and all I could think about was making a birdie," Aarts said. "As I was walking about 5 to 6 feet away from the water, I heard a splash, and as soon as I heard that splash, I knew it was an alligator, and he got me.

      "I remember having a club in my hand, and as soon as he had me in the water up to my waist, I started hitting him over the head. I seen (sic) the size of him, you know you can just see the claws as he was pulling me back, and I'm heeling in trying to go the other way, and he's just looking at me and I'm looking at him.

      "So I started hitting him in the eye socket. I hit him three times and he let go of my foot, so I crawled back and by that time the guys (his playing partners), they were there."

      An ambulance took Aarts to a hospital, where he was treated for multiple puncture wounds to his left foot, while Florida State wildlife officials captured the alligator and put it down.

      Aarts had some advice for golfers, especially in Florida: "I guess a golfer should always keep a club in his hand. ... It's a good, solid, heavy putter."

      --The European Tour announced the addition of the innovative GolfSixes tournament to its schedule on May 6-7 at the Centurion Club in St. Albans, England, to the northwest of London.

      The event will feature two-man teams from 16 countries, with the top players from the Euro's Tour 2017 Exemption Category List on March 13 being eligible.

      The top player from each country will pick a compatriot with European Tour membership for his teammate.

      "We want to broaden the appeal of our sport to the millennial demographic, and I think this format will do that, not only through the quick and exiting style of play, but also with the interactive digital experience fans will enjoy on site and the innovative television coverage people will enjoy at home," said European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said.

      "We are also delighted to have brought a country versus country element to the fore. There is no question that the greatest atmosphere in golf comes every two years at the Ryder Cup, and we are keen to try and emulate that national fervor in this format. We are in the entertainment content business with golf as our platform, and GolfSixes is the perfect illustration of that."

      The teams will be bracketed into four groups of four on the first day, with each country playing six-hole matches under the greensomes match-play format against the other three teams.

      In the group stage, three points will be awarded for winning a match, with one point given for a draw.

      The top two teams from each group will advance to the quarterfinals, followed by the semifinals, a consolation match and the final on the second day.

      --The LPGA Tour announced that the travel risk management firm Global Rescue will serve as its Official Travel Risk and Crisis Management Provider.

      The agreement highlights the LPGA Tour's continued commitment to safety and security for players, caddies and officials when traveling to international tournaments.

      The program went into effect last week for the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open in Adelaide, Australia.

      "Providing the highest level of safety remains a top priority for the LPGA," said Heather Daly-Donofrio, the LPGA Tour's chief communications and tour operations officer. "Our partnership with Global Rescue provides an additional layer of security for our Tour abroad."

      Global Rescue will provide medical aid, security, evacuation and travel risk management.

      The program focuses on medical advisory services, medical transport, security evacuations and travel intelligence through the company's GRID platform, which provides a travel intelligence system on up-to-date information for each destination.

      The 2017 LPGA Tour season consists of 35 tournaments, including 13 at destinations outside of North America.

  • Couples claims first victory since 2014
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, February 19, 2017

    For the first time in 2 1/2 years, Fred Couples posted a PGA Tour Champions victory.

    • Firing a bogey-free, 5-under-par 67 on Sunday in the final round at TwinEagles Golf Club' Talon Course in Naples, Fla., Couples emerged with a three-shot win in the Chubb Classic.

      Couples finished at 16-under 200 for the three-round events. Miguel Angel Jimenez, who was on top after two rounds, closed with a 71 to take second place at 203.

      Jerry Kelly (final-round 66), Jeff Sluman (68) and Canada's Rod Spittle (69) shared third place at 205.

      In a tie for sixth place at 206 were Scott McCarron (67), Jerry Smith (69), Germany's Bernhard Langer (69) and Kevin Sutherland (73).

      Six players, including Larry Mize, wound up tied for 10th at 207.

      Couples earned his 12th Champions title, his first since the Shaw Charity Classic in August 2014. He also won the Naples event in 2010 when it was called the Ace Group Classic and was played at The Quarry. The 57-year-old Seattle native won 15 times on the PGA Tour, with his only major championship coming at the 1992 Masters.

      Last year, Couples appeared just three times on the Champions tour, finishing in the top 25 each time and winding up as runner-up in the Chubb Classic behind Langer, who won for the third time.

      Jimenez was on top by one stroke entering play Sunday but gave that shot away with a bogey on the first hole. Couples birdied the second hole, then added to his lead with birdies at No. 6 and No. 8.

      Jimenez carded three birdies before closing with a bogey at No. 18. Couples birdied No. 14 and No. 17.

  • Rain leads to second-round suspension of play at Genesis Open
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, February 17, 2017

    Sam Saunders never got a chance to hit a shot but still held a share of the lead when rain suspended second-round play at the Genesis Open on Friday at Pacific Palisades, Calif.

    • Tournament officials halted play for the day at 12:18 p.m. local time due to a dangerous weather situation. The second round will resume Saturday morning at 7 a.m. PT, although the forecast calls for winds of 25 to 35 mph with gusts up to 60 mph.

      Saunders, who held a two-shot lead after carding a 7-under-par 64 on Thursday, is tied atop the leaderboard with Jhonattan Vegas, who managed to squeeze in 14 holes Friday.

      Vegas carded four birdies on his opening nine Friday but a bogey at the par-5 11th dropped him back into a tie with Saunders.

      Jason Kokrak is alone in third place at 6-under. The 36-hole leader here a year ago, Kokrak carded three birdies and a bogey in 10 holes before played was stopped.

      Jordan Spieth, who won last week at Pebble Beach and has yet to start his second round, is among six players at 5-under.

  • Spieth vies for California double at Riviera
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, February 15, 2017

    PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- This is a place of stars, Riviera, far out Sunset Boulevard, a country club where Hollywood's greatest stars would hang out and play, Humphrey Bogart, Howard Hughes, Dean Martin, Katharine Hepburn.

    • A place a golfing star named Jordan Spieth understands and appreciates.

      He won last weekend at Pebble Beach. Now he is down the coast, the suburbs of Los Angeles, looking for a double, as it were, while golf, a sport without team loyalty, a sport built on individual recognition, continues looking for the next Tiger Woods.

      The tournament that began in 1927 as the Los Angeles Open, most recently was the Northern Trust Open and is now the Genesis Open, begins Thursday at Riviera.

      Woods made his debut here at age 16, in 1992. Now 41, with back pain, he is not playing. He is not even talking, cancelling a scheduled press conference -- the tournament benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation -- "advised by doctors to limit all activities." Cynics wondered if he injured his vocal cords.

      But if Woods remains a question, Spieth, 23, very well could be the answer.

      The man knows how to play. The AT&T triumph was his ninth in 4 1/2 years since turning pro. Two of those wins were majors, the 2015 Masters and the 2015 U.S. Open.

      The man knows how to communicate. He's intelligent. He's a fan. He's not Tiger. There's never going to be another Tiger. But Spieth is the next best thing, someone who understands himself, his talent and his responsibility.

      After the Pebble win, Spieth received texts from Tom Brady, "which was cool," said Spieth. "I texted him right after the Super Bowl, obviously saying that was inspiring, what he was able to do."

      Spieth also heard from Steph Curry, who as Spieth is under contract with Under Armour.

      "It's kind of cool that these other athletes are going through ups and downs and recognizing, kind of knowing what's going on in the head on a day like Sunday (final round of the AT&T) and trying to protect the lead and how that can be a different challenge than starting tied for the lead and winning the tournament."

      Spieth is a Texan, as was Ben Hogan, who won so often at Riviera -- the 1948 U.S. Open and two L.A. Opens -- they put a statute of him alongside the practice putting green and nicknamed the course "Hogan's Alley." That label is also used for Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, where Hogan won five times and Spieth won last year.

      "Riviera is a golf course where it's really nice to have some course knowledge," Spieth said. He has plenty, helping the University of Texas to the NCAA championship held here in 2012 just before he became a pro and playing in this open five times, once as an amateur.

      "It's obviously special for me," Spieth said. "I feel very confident where my game's at, and I love coming back to this track. I would call it a top-five favorite track in the entire world. It's just beautiful, well-designed, and it's in phenomenal shape right now."

      If Spieth has a fault, it is slow play.

      "The end of last year I tried to speed things up," he said, "and I was not real content with my swing, and that's a bad combination. I've tried to anticipate when I'm hitting this year and therefore be ready. Even if I spend the same amount of time over the ball, I'm at least ahead of the time getting the numbers.

      "Right now, I feel real loose, just feel free-flowing. It's awesome the week after a win. That kind of burdened over, just to grab one and free me up. It just changes the mental approach, but at the same time, it's also very cool walking through, and the guys on the Tour saying congrats and the caddies saying congrats.

      "It's a good feeling, but now it's time it's forgotten and time to go for the next one."

      At Riviera, where the stars always have congregated.

  • Golf notebook: Policy might prompt move of Tokyo Olympic venue
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, February 13, 2017

    --Kasumigaseki Country Club neat Tokyo, designated as the site of the golf competition in the 2020 Olympic Games, failed to reach a resolution ending its policy restricting women from becoming full members.

    • Ty Votaw, vice president of the International Golf Federation, told that the club's decision could lead to the IGF moving the golf to a different course in the area.

      "The IGF has clearly stated to both Tokyo 2020 and Kasumigaseki C.C. our requirements that the golf competition be delivered according to the Olympic Charter," Votaw said in a statement. "If the club does not change its rules, then we cannot support holding the events at this venue."

      According to Reuters, Kasumigaseki board of directors met following pressure from the public, the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee and the IGF.

      Members of the board were expected to take a vote on a proposal to allow women, but the vote was postponed after the resolution failed to garner the necessary unanimous support of its 15 members.

      Board chairman Kiichi Kimura later complained to reporters that the increased scrutiny accompanying such a high-profile international competition has put him and his fellow members in a difficult situation.

      "That this situation has developed is a nuisance for us; it's really perplexing," Kimura said.

      The club's policy bars female members from playing on Sundays and certain holidays.

      The Japan Golf Council is leading an effort to relocate the event to Wakasu Golf Links, a public course.

      --Kevin M. Hall, who plays on the SwingThought Pro Golf Tour and the Advocates Pro Golf Tour, was awarded the Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption into Genesis Open this week at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades.

      The 34-year-old Hall, who lost his hearing due to a form of meningitis before his third birthday, became the first African-American to earn a golf scholarship at Ohio State, where he was team captain as a junior and senior.

      "It is with great pleasure that I accept the invitation in honor of Mr. Sifford," said Hall, who led the Buckeyes to the Big Ten championship and captured the individual title by 11 strokes as a senior in 2004.

      "I had the privilege to spend time with Mr. Sifford early in my golf career and I am very aware of his history. I am very excited for the opportunity to tee it up with the best players in the world and compete in such a prestigious event as the Genesis Open on behalf of the late Charlie Sifford."

      Hall, who has competed in five PGA Tour events and 11 Tour events, met Tiger Woods, in his first year as tournament host of the Genesis Open, at a golf clinic in Cincinnati when Hall was 16.

      That meeting in 1999 inspired him to get serious about golf, Hall said.

      "Tiger told me to have a wider extension on the takeaway," Hall recalled. "It helped me hit the ball farther and straighter. Tiger then looked at me and said, 'See you on Tour someday.'"

      The PGA Tour event at Riviera has given an exemption to a golfer representing a minority background since 2009 and this year named it after Sifford, who won the tournament in 1969.

      Previous exemption recipients were Vincent Johnson (2009), Joshua Wooding (2010), Joseph Bramlett (2011), Andy Walker (2012), Jeremiah Wooding (2013), Harold Varner III (2014), Carlos Sainz Jr. (2015) and J.J. Spaun (2016).

      --Ernie Els was supposed to make his 2017 debut on the PGA Tour last in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but he withdrew before the start of the tournament because of a neck injury.

      Els hopes to play this week in the Genesis Open at Riviera.

      Els called the tournament last Monday night from his home in Florida to tell officials that he was withdrawing.

      "You have to be mindful of what your body is telling you and at times such as this, basically do the right thing," said Els, who finished second to Tiger Woods in the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

      "And I've been advised that the right thing this week, a diet of rest and recuperation, is making sure I get the proper treatment on my neck."

      Els added that he would miss playing the three tournament courses on the Monterey Peninsula with surfing great Kelly Slater, who has become a close friend.

      "The Big Easy," as Els is known, began the year by playing in events in his native South Africa, Singapore and Qatar, where he tweaked his neck while working out in a gym.

      --Michael Block, head pro at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo, Calif., shot 2-under-par 69 at El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana in the Club Car Aggregate Series and earned an exemption into the Genesis Open.

      Block, who won the 2014 PGA Professional National Championship, will play in his ninth PGA Tour event, including three majors. He made the cut at Riviera in 2013 before finishing 76th.

      Kenny Pigman of Goose Creek Golf Club in Mira Loma, Calif., finished second at El Caballero with a score of 71, followed by Paul Holtby of Tierra Rejada Golf Club in Moorpark, Calif., at 73.

      --Maverick McNealy of Stanford is one of 28 golfers named to the Ben Hogan Award watch list by the Friends of Golf, the Golf Coaches Association of America and Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.

      McNealy, a senior from Portola Valley, Calif., claimed his 11th victory for the Cardinal in the Nike Golf Collegiate Invitational, tying Tiger Woods and Patrick Rodgers for the school record.

      Others on the watch list include Sam Burns of LSU, Cameron Champ of Texas A&M, Wyndham Clark of Oregon, Sean Crocker of Southern California, Jared du Toit of Arizona State, Jorge Garcia of Florida, Doug Ghim of Texas, Gavin Hall of Texas, Nick Hardy of Illinois, Rico Hoey of Southern California, Sam Horsfield of Florida, Viktor Hovland of Oklahoma State, Will Long of Auburn, Patrick Martin of Vanderbilt, Dylan Meyer of Illinois, Collin Morikawa of California, John Oda of UNLV, Chandler Phillips of Texas A&M, Doc Redman of Clemson, Scottie Scheffler of Texas, Matthias Schwab of Vanderbilt, Greyson Sigg of Georgia, Jimmy Stanger of Virginia, Sam Stevens of Oklahoma State, Braden Thornberry of Mississippi, Alejandro Tosti of Florida and Will Zalatoris of Wake Forest.

      The Ben Hogan Award selectors obviously got it right the last two years, each time choosing Jon Rahm of Arizona State, who three weeks ago claimed his first PGA Tour victory in the Farmers Insurance Open.

      Other winners since the inception of the award have been D.J. Trahan (Clemson, 2002), Ricky Barnes (Arizona, 2003), Hunter Mahan (Oklahoma State, 2003), Bill Haas (Wake Forest, 2004), Ryan Moore (UNLV, 2005), Matt Every (Florida, 2006), Chris Kirk (Georgia, 2007), Rickie Fowler (Oklahoma State, 2008), Kyle Stanley (Clemson, 2009), Nick Taylor (Washington, 2010), Peter Uihlein (Oklahoma State, 2011), Patrick Cantlay (UCLA, 2012), Chris Williams (Washington, 2013) and Patrick Rodgers (Stanford, 2014).

      --Tiffany Joh, who plays on the LPGA Tour, reported that she is cancer-free after a melanoma scare.

      The 30-year-old from San Diego, a four-time All-American at UCLA, had an irritation on her scalp that tested positive for melanoma. She told Golfweek she considered the spot only a nuisance for almost a year until a friend and melanoma survivor advised her to have it checked while they were surfing.

      Joh said the doctors were surprised by the positive diagnosis because melanoma is not prevalent among people of Asian descent.

      "You know I've always suspected I had a little Caucasian in me," Joh quipped. "I don't turn red when I drink alcohol, I'm not lactose-intolerant, I'm surprisingly bad at math and decent at parking. ...

      "Somewhere between that dark period spent deep in the throes of Google/WebMD searches and now, I started to think about how I would go about tackling a really difficult golf course.

      "I'd try to find humor in the (bad) situation, chip out into the fairway, and continue to stick to the game plan. Because ultimately, the most important shot isn't the first one or the last one, it's the one that's right in front of you."

      After the melanoma was removed from Joh's scalp, skin was stretched out and stapled back into place. After 10 days, Joh was told tests showed the melanoma had not spread.

      Joh, whose two pro victories came in the 2010 ING New England Golf Classic and the 2011 South Shore Championship on the Futures Tour, is surfing again and plans to play for the first time in 2017 on the LPGA Tour at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup in Phoenix from March 16-19.

  • Course Source: Angeles National, Ojai
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, February 13, 2017

    IN THE PUBLIC EYE: Angeles National Golf Club in Sunland, Calif.

    • THE LAYOUT: An area that previously was an eyesore in the Big Tujunga Wash alongside Interstate 10 east of Los Angeles now boasts the only Nicklaus Design course in Los Angeles County.

      Even though the area was a dumping ground, the course was created after a 15-year battle with bureaucrats and environmentalists.

      The project, which at various times was called Los Angeles International Golf Club, Red Tail Golf Club and Canyon Trails Golf Club, has been recognized as one of the best golf experiences in Southern California since its opening in 2004.

      Angeles National, with the basic design created by Steve Nicklaus -- son of the greatest golfer of all time -- plays to a par of 72 and measures 7,140 from the back (the Nicklaus Tees).

      However, there are four sets of tees to make the course playable for golfers of all abilities.

      Golfers must receive permission from the golf shop to play the Nicklaus Tees. Club officials prefer that only single-digit handicappers play from the tips but are willing to be flexible for those who want to get the full experience at Angeles National -- as long as they do not slow the pace of play.

      Players who receive permission to play from the Nicklaus Tees receive a special introduction from the course starter similar to what you hear on the PGA Tour.

      The stunning Spanish-style clubhouse, which includes a full-service restaurant and bar, opened in May 2009 and offers a panoramic view of the course.

      HEAD PRO: Ben Krug

      LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: Tom Addis, first general manager at Angeles National and a former president of the PGA of America, called the layout "the best golf course in the Los Angeles area."

      Judging from the response of golfers in the area who have flocked to the course at the base of the Angeles National Forest since it opened, that might not be far from the truth.

      There are three lakes that come into play to one degree or another on five holes, and the course is dotted by large boulders, some of which were moved for strategic reasons, and native vegetation and trees.

      Despite the landscape, there is ample driving room at Angeles National, and there is some undulation on the greens -- but they are not over the top. Golfers find the test challenging yet fair.

      The first five holes are a lot of fun and have a nice feel to them, allowing the golfer to get comfortable with the course before hitting the meat-and-potatoes of the front nine on Nos. 6 through 9.

      Bookending the final four on the front side are two exceptional par 4s, the 459-yard (from the Nicklaus Tees) sixth hole, called "Hollow," and the 486-yard ninth hole, which is known as "Oak Tree." They are the most difficult holes on the front, requiring approach shots over a barranca, and perhaps the most challenging on the entire course.

      The seventh hole is a 176-yard par 3 called "Roller Coaster," featuring the most contoured green on the course, which invites a three-putt. No. 8 is a 530-yard par 5 called "Fortress," in what is probably the most scenic spot on the property, with a large lake waiting for any long tee shot down the left side and the mountains providing a backdrop in the distance.

      On the back side, the 130-yard 12th hole, called "Valley," is deceptive because the narrow green is 42 yards from front to back and is surrounded by bunkers. The 494-yard 13th, known as "Wasteland," is a reachable par 5 with a waste bunker that juts out into the fairway from the right.

      And the finish is something else.

      The well-bunkered 16th hole, a 537-yard par 5 that is dubbed "Domino," is followed by two strong par 4s. The 406-yard dogleg 17th, "Tujunga," tempts golfers to cut the corner over a large bunker, and the 416-yard finish, known as "Creek," is a slight dogleg left with a large lake fed by a creek to the left of the tiered green.

      Keep an eye out for some of the regulars, including baseball greats Fernando Valenzuela and Frank Robinson, actors Don Cheadle and Will Ferrell plus Shigeki Maruyama, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour.

      OTHERS COURSES IN THE AREA: Angeles National is one of several courses that opened in the foothills and valleys north of Los Angeles in a span of 10 years or so. Among the others are the Valley Course designed by Ted Robinson at Robinson Ranch in Santa Clarita; TPC Valencia in Stevenson Ranch, which had two-time major champion Mark O'Meara on the design team; Rustic Canyon Golf Course, a unique links-style course in Moorpark designed by Gil Hanse and Geoff Shackelford; Moorpark Country Club, designed by Peter Jacobsen and Jim Hardy; Sterling Hills Golf Club in Camarillo, designed by Robert Muir Graves; and Tierra Rejada Golf Club in Moorpark, designed by Robert Cupp.

      Also not far are several fine muni courses in the Los Angeles City chain, including Hansen Dam Golf Course in Pacoima, the Harding and Wilson courses at Griffith Park in Los Angeles, Woodley Lakes Golf Course in Van Nuys, and the Encino and Balboa courses at the Sepulveda Golf Complex in Encino.

      WHERE TO STAY: The best hotels in downtown Los Angeles -- including the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Los Angeles Downtown, Omni Los Angeles Hotel at California Plaza, the Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles, the Hilton Checkers Los Angeles and the Courtyard Los Angeles L.A. Live -- are about a 20-minute drive from Angeles National during non-commute hours. The Sheraton Universal Hotel, adjacent to the theme park in Universal City, also is about 20 minutes away.

      ON THE WEB:

      THE LAST RESORT: Ojai Valley Inn and Spa in Ojai, Calif.

      THE LAYOUT: Humphrey Bogart and some of his Hollywood cronies commissioned the great George C. Thomas Jr. -- who designed Riviera, Bel-Air and Los Angeles North among other notable layouts -- to create this golfing treasure in the Topatopa Mountains above the beach community of Ventura in 1923.

      Another noted designer, Billy Bell, assisted Thomas, who said his goal in designing the course was "that the average golfer could enjoy his round without too great a penalty, and that a test must be afforded requiring the low-handicap man to play fine golf in order to secure pars."

      This classic course, which measures 6,292 yards and plays to a par of 70 with a rating of 71.0 and a slope of 132, was retooled in 1988 by noted modern designer Jay Morrish, who paid particular attention to the greens.

      Ojai hosted the Senior PGA Tour, now the PGA Tour Champions, for seven years during the 1980s and 1990s, in addition to hosting the EMC Skills Challenge and the Michael Douglas and Friends Celebrity Tournament, two made-for-television events.

      DIRECTOR OF GOLF: Mark Greenslit

      LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: Doug Sanders and three-time Masters champion Jimmy Demaret once represented Ojai on the PGA Tour.

      Winners of the FHP Health Care Classic, which was played at Ojai from 1989-96, included Walt Zembriski, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Bruce Crampton, Al Geiberger, Jay Sigel, Bruce Devlin and Walter Morgan.

      In 1999, two holes of Thomas' original layout that were dormant for more than 50 years were restored. The U.S. Army took over the hotel during World War II to house officers returning from overseas, and Quonset huts were placed on the back nine. When the course was handed back after the war, two of the holes had been replaced.

      One of the new-old holes is a 203-yard, downhill par 3 to a green guarded in front by a massive bunker complex, a gaping arroyo on the left and out of bounds right -- but the green area is like a giant catcher's glove, funneling balls toward the hole. It is a replica of a hole Thomas grew up playing at famed Pine Valley.

      Two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw, a golf historian and a fan of George C. Thomas courses, has called the tee shot on this hole "one of the great shots in golf."

      Next is a gorgeous par 4, 403 yards uphill with a panoramic view of the mountains.

      Several years ago, Ojai finished a multimillion-dollar renovation of the inn that includes a new clubhouse. The course was reconfigured, with the two "lost" holes leading to the No. 1 handicap hole, a 442-yard uphill par 4 that now is No. 18, giving Ojai one of the most beautiful and challenging finishes anywhere.

      The picturesque par-4, 358-yard second hole requires two shots over barrancas and was selected as one of the "500 Greatest Golf Holes" by Golf magazine.

      The two-story, 1,645-square-foot pro shop is designed in the Spanish Colonial style of architecture with a red tile roof and white plaster walls, arches and terra cotta floor tiles.

      OTHER COURSES IN THE AREA: Right down the street in Ojai is a terrific municipal layout, Soule Park Golf Course.

      It is only a short drive from Ojai to the Buenaventura and Olivas Links courses in Ventura, Elkins Ranch Golf Course in Fillmore, River Ridge Golf Club in Oxnard, Rustic Canyon Golf Club in Moorpark, Moorpark Country Club, Tierra Rejada Golf Club in Moorpark, Sterling Hills Golf Club in Camarillo and the nine-hole Saticoy Regional Golf Course in Ventura.

      Also not far are Robinson Ranch in Santa Clarita and TPC Valencia.

      WHERE TO STAY: The Ojai Valley Inn and Spa was rated among the top 10 hotel spas in the United States by USA Today, Travel and Leisure magazine, National Geographic Traveler magazine and Town & Country magazine.

      Ojai once was a hideaway for Hollywood stars such as Bogart, Jack Benny, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Ronald Reagan, Walt Disney, Clark Gable, Rita Hayworth, Hoagy Carmichael, Judy Garland, Paul Newman, Lana Turner and Loretta Young.

      Other fine accommodations in the quaint village of Ojai include the Casa Ojai Inn, Ojai Rancho Inn, Emerald Iguana Inn, Lavender Inn and Spa, and the Pepper Tree Retreat.

      ON THE WEB:

  • Under any name, L.A. event maintains exalted status
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, February 13, 2017

    It is the beginning of a new era for the tournament that started out as the Los Angeles Open in 1926, when "Lighthorse" Harry Cooper claimed the title at Los Angeles Country Club in what evolved into one of the PGA Tour's iconic events.

    • Hyundai bought the sponsorship rights and renamed it after one of its models, so the 91st edition of the tournament will be played beginning Thursday as the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades.

      Tiger Woods is now the tournament host and the Tiger Woods Foundation will be the primary charity organization, but he won't be playing because of ongoing back spasms following three back surgeries in recent years.

      However, he will be a presence this week not far from where he grew up.

      "It feels like we're coming back home," said Woods, who opened the first TGR Learning Lab in 2006 down Highway 5 in Anaheim. "To have all those years we played at Sherwood (former home of his Hero World Challenge), but now to come back to a golf course of this magnitude that's hosted big events and has been doing it for so long, it just feels even bigger for us.

      "For me personally, to come back to where it all started? That to me, to come full circle, it's incredible."

      Woods and Jack Nicklaus, the two best golfers of all time, are tied to the lore of Riviera and the old L.A. Open, even though surprisingly neither has won on the famed course designed by legendary George C. Thomas.

      Nicklaus earned his first pro paycheck of $33.33 at Rivera when he tied for 50th in the 1962 Los Angeles Open. The Golden Bear closed with a 66 in the 1983 PGA Championship at Riviera and finished one stroke behind champion Hal Sutton.

      Woods played at Riviera in his first pro tournament as a 16-year-old student at Western High in Anaheim, missing the cut in the 1992 Nissan Los Angeles Open.

      In nine appearances as a pro, Woods' best finishes in the tournament were second in 1998, losing in a playoff to Billy Mayfair at Valencia Country Club when the tournament was moved because Riviera was hosting the U.S. Senior Open that year, and a tie for second behind Ernie Els a year later at Riviera.

      Ben Hogan played so well at Riviera, a shot-maker's course, that they still call the place "Hogan's Alley."

      Hogan, considered by many to be the greatest ball-striker of all-time, won three times on the course in a span of 18 months, capped by the 1948 U.S. Open. His other two victories in that sequence at Riviera came in the L.A. Open, which he also captured in 1942.

      The tournament also has been played at Los Angeles Country Club, El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana, Wilshire Country Club, Hillcrest Country Club, Fox Hills Country Club in Culver City, Rancho Park Golf Club, Inglewood Country Club, Brookside Golf Club in Pasadena, Griffith Park Golf Course and Valencia Country Club.

      The event moved to Riviera in 1973, and the only year it has not been played there since was the aforementioned 1998.

      In addition to Hogan, the tournament's illustrious champions list includes Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Jimmy Demaret, Arnold Palmer, Charlie Sifford, Tom Watson, Lloyd Mangrum, Gene Littler, Ken Venturi, Billy Casper, Hale Irwin, Lanny Wadkins, Johnny Miller, Tommy Bolt, Bob Goalby, Dave Stockton, George Archer, Phil Rodgers, Nick Faldo, Fred Couples, Craig Stadler, T.C. Chen, Corey Pavin, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, Mike Weir, Steve Stricker and Els.

      Defending champion Bubba Watson has won the Los Angeles-area PGA event twice in the past three years.

      Riviera has been the host of four major championships, the first in 1948, when Hogan captured the U.S. Open by two strokes over Demaret.

      In the 1982 PGA Championship, Sutton held off Nicklaus by one stroke, giving the Golden Bear the last of his record 19 runner-up finishes in the major championships.

      The PGA returned in 1995, and Steve Elkington denied Colin Montgomerie, one of the best golfers never to win a major, by winning with a 20-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole.

      In the 1998 U.S. Senior Open, Irwin sank a 12-foot birdie putt on the famed 18th hole, with its natural amphitheater setting, to beat Vicente Fernandez of Argentina by one stroke.

      As if the list of champions at Riviera, located right off fabled Sunset Boulevard, isn't enough for name-droppers, among the club's members since it opened in 1926 have been Humphrey Bogart, Walt Disney, Dean Martin, Gregory Peck, Hal Roach, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Glen Campbell, O.J. Simpson, Vic Damone and Peter Falk.

      Campbell was celebrity host of the L.A. Open from 1971 to 1983.

      Rivera also is where boxing great Joe Louis, also a fine golfer, became the first African-American to play in a PGA-sanctioned event in the 1952 L.A. Open.

      Although it didn't happen at Riviera, in the 1938 L.A. Open at Griffith Park Golf Club, Babe Zaharias became the first women to play in a PGA Tour event.

      Riviera will only add to its legacy in August when the U.S. Amateur is played there for the first time.

      This week, with the likes of Watson, Scott, Els, Stricker, Mickelson, Jason Day of Australia, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker, Justin Thomas, Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, Sergio Garcia of Spain, Patrick Reed, Jimmy Walker and Justin Rose of England in the field, there figures to be more history made at Hogan's Alley.

  • Golf glance
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, February 13, 2017


    • PGA TOUR: Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif., Thursday through Sunday.

      TV: Thursday and Friday, 2-6 p.m. EST on the Golf Channel; Saturday, 1-2:30 p.m. EST on the Golf Channel and 3-6 p.m. EST on CBS; and Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m. EST on the Golf Channel and 3-6:30 p.m. EST on CBS.

      LAST YEAR: Bubba Watson shook off the effects of a kidney stone early in the week to win for the second time in three years at Riviera, making birdies on two of his last three holes to close with an 3-under-par 68 and defeat Adam Scott of Australia and Jason Kokrak by one stroke. Watson, who claimed his ninth victory on the PGA Tour, hit a 334-yard drive on the uphill, par-5 17th hole, ripped a 2-iron approach shot onto the green and two-putted for what proved to be the winning birdie. Scott, who won the tournament in a playoff over Chad Campbell in 2005 after it was shortened to 36 holes because of heavy rain, finished a 67 with two birdies including a chip-in eagle on No. 18, while Kokrak made a costly bogey on No. 15 in a 68.

      PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS: Chubb Classic on the Talon Course at TwinEagles Golf Club in Naples, Fla. Friday through Sunday.

      TV: Friday, 11:30-1:30 p.m. EST; Saturday, 3-5:30 p.m. EST; and Sunday, 3-5 p.m. EST; on the Golf Channel each day.

      LAST YEAR: Bernhard Langer of Germany led virtually wire to wire, opening with a 10-under-par 62 in the first of his four victories in 2016 en route to claiming the Charles Schwab Cup for the fourth time, including three in a row.

      Langer struggled a bit in a closing 73, but it didn't much matter since he held a seven-stroke lead heading into the final round and won by three shots over Fred Couples, who carded a 66. Langer also won the tournament in 2011 and 2013, finished second in 2012 and tied for second in 2014. He won this time in his third event since the ban on his anchored putter, as he now moves the long wand away from his chest before making his putting strokes.

      LPGA TOUR: ISPS Women's Australian Open at Royal Adelaide Golf Club in

      Grange, Australia, Thursday through Sunday.

      TV: Wednesday (in the United States), 9 p.m.-2 a.m.; Thursday and Friday, 11 p.m.-2 a.m. EST; and Saturday, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. EST; on the Golf Channel each day.

      LAST YEAR: Haru Nomura of Japan earned her first victory on the LPGA Tour, closing with a 4-under-par 68 to beat top-ranked Lydia Ko of New Zealand by three strokes. The 24-year-old Nomura, who won twice in Japan and added the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic in the U.S. later last season, carded three straight birdies through No. 17 and became the first Japanese winner on the LPGA Tour since Ai Miyazato claimed the 2012 Safeway Classic. Ko made her only bogey of the day on the final hole to finish at 67, while Karrie Webb of Australia shot 71 and was seven shots back in third while trying to win the tournament for the sixth time.

  • McCarron wins Allianz Championship with eagle on 18th
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, February 12, 2017

    Scott McCarron claimed the Allianz Championship on Sunday with a fantastic finish.

    • The 51-year-old eagled the par-5 18th hole to edge Kenny Perry and Carlos Franco by one shot on The Old Course at Broken Sound in Boca Raton, Fla.

      McCarron's 6-iron shot from 178 yards stopped 8 feet from the pin, and he dropped the eagle putt to finish the round at 5-under-par 67. The leader after the first and second rounds, McCarron finished at 17-under 199.

      The title was McCarron's third on the PGA Champions Tour. He won his first title in June at the Principal Charity Classic in Iowa and his second at the Dominion Charity Classic in November in Virginia.

      Earlier in the round, McCarron had another eagle, this one at the par-4 seventh hole. In addition to the two eagles, he had three birdies and two bogeys.

      Franco and Perry each birdied the 18th hole but came up one shot short. Franco posted a final-round 65 and Perry closed with a 66.

      Tied for fourth were Paul Broadhurst and Doug Garwood at 15 under. Broadhurst shot a final-round 64 and Garwood a 69.

      Fred Couples (69) and Colin Montgomerie (66) tied for sixth at 14 under with Kevin Sutherland (64), Esteban Toledo (66), Stephen Ames (67), Fred Funk (68) and Joe Durant (70).

      In their senior tour debuts, Jose Maria Olazabal (72) and Paul McGinley (69) tied for 41st at 6 under.

  • Tiger to skip next two events due to back spasms
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, February 10, 2017

    Tiger Woods announced Friday he will not compete in his next two scheduled golf tournaments due to back spasms.

    • Last week, Woods withdrew from the Omega Dubai Desert Classic because of back spasms -- one day after shooting an opening 5-over-par 77 -- in another setback after a long injury layoff.

      Woods will miss next week's Genesis Open and the Honda Classic, which is set to start Feb. 23.

      Woods, whose foundation is a part of the festivities at Riviera Country Club next week, is still expected to make an appearance at the Los Angeles tournament.

      "My doctors have advised me not to play the next two weeks, to continue my treatment and to let my back calm down," Woods said in a statement on his website. "This is not what I was hoping for or expecting. I am extremely disappointed to miss the Genesis Open, a tournament that benefits my foundation, and The Honda Classic, my hometown event. I would like to thank Genesis for their support, and I know we will have an outstanding week."

      Woods plans to determine his playing schedule after his back is reassessed.

      Woods, who turned 41 on Dec. 30, underwent multiple back surgeries in 2015 before returning to competitive golf last month after a 17-month injury hiatus. He played in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines but missed the cut.

      When the 14-time major winner dropped out of the European Tour event in Dubai, his agent, Mark Steinberg, said the back spasms were not related to nerve issues that resulted in three surgeries, the most recent coming in August 2015.

      Woods always turns his attention to the Masters, where he has not won in 12 years. He won the Masters in 2005 when he was 29.

      "I've been thinking about it," Woods said last month. "Once the season ends, typically, in the fall, I start thinking about what I need to do to get ready for Augusta. I've done it for 20 years. Whether it's equipment or it's swing or whatever it is, in the back of my head I'm getting ready for Augusta."

  • Rain expected to reign at Pebble Beach
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, February 8, 2017

    There are plenty of times that the shores of the Monterey Peninsula and the three courses used for competition at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am are the greatest places in the world to play golf.

    • That will not be the case for this year's tournament, at least on Thursday and Friday if the cool temperatures, gusting winds rolling hard off the Pacific Ocean and driving rain that have been forecasted continue their hold over the area.

      The 72-hole event is scheduled to be contested Thursday-Sunday but, because of the weather, everything is in flux. Due to the expectation of inclement weather, Round 1 tee times have already been moved up an hour.

      Around here, the locals call this "Crosby" weather after entertainer Bing Crosby and his affinity for playing in the cold, wet and rainy conditions that have long been one of the constants of this tournament. Founded in San Diego in 1937, the event moved up the California coast to Monterey in 1947 and rainy weather has been the norm.

      The starting field consists of 156 professionals and 156 amateurs paired together as a team. Each day the teams play on one of the three courses, Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill Golf Course and the Monterey Peninsula Country Club's Shore Course.

      Then on the final day, those professionals and pro-amateur teams making the 54-hole cut play their final round on Pebble Beach Golf Links, one of the world's most famous and iconic golf courses.

      The last time the AT&T had a serious disruption was in 2009, when the final round had to be canceled due to a Sunday windstorm and a Monday rainstorm. That year's event was claimed by Dustin Johnson, who had a four-shot lead after 54 holes.

      "We were due for a year of rain and bad weather, but it's still going to be a great week and a great tournament," said Johnson, who will be paired with his father-in-law and hockey great Wayne Gretzky.

      "It's going to be windy and rainy and it's going to make play more difficult," Johnson said. "The ball's not going to go very far and you're going to be out there for a long time and it's going to be cold and wet. A lot of it is going to be mental."

      For the PGA Tour pros, a purse of $7.2 million is in play, with $1.296 million and 500 FedExCup points going to the winner.

      Four of the top 10 players in the Official World Golf Rankings, led by world No. 1 Jason Day, are in the field. They include Johnson (4), Jordan Spieth (6) and Patrick Reed (10).

      For the amateurs -- an A-list of celebrities, athletes and CEO of some of the nation's top companies who ante up as much as $30,000 for the right to play in this event -- bragging rights among the Alpha males is in the offing.

      Things were so extreme on Tuesday that the weather wiped out play for all but a hearty few tour players and amateurs. By mid-morning, a number of bunkers had turned into lakes, numerous greens had puddles of standing water and no one was on the courses except greenskeepers.

      Tournament officials tweeted that spectators should just stay away from the courses and save their strength for the coming days of golf.

      The forecast currently calls for rain and rain and more rain -- a 100-percent chance for Thursday's opening round and a 60 percent chance for Friday's second round.

      The sunshine is supposed to return by the weekend, but by then the event could be looking to make up those first two rounds in a three-day window that might extend into a Monday finish. Three complete rounds -- a minimum of 54 holes -- must be contested in order for it to be an official PGA Tour finish.

      D.A. Points, the winner here in 2011, is paired, as usual, with comedian Bill Murray and will be under adder scrutiny because of Murray's popularity and antics on the course.

      Points said he's glad he isn't playing at Pebble Beach until Saturday, when the weather should calm down.

      "Thursday is looking pretty diabolical at Pebble," Points said. "Pebble Beach, honestly, is a pretty gettable golf course for us (pros) -- until the conditions come up. But I play Spyglass on Thursday, which is arguably the hardest course in the mix. With the toughest conditions, that could be a real challenge, too."

      Last year's champion, Vaughn Taylor, is back to defend his title. He trailed Phil Mickelson by six strokes after 54 holes but made consecutive birdies on holes 13-16 and fired a 5-under 31 coming in. Taylor made 108 feet of putts in the final round including a 28-foot, 11-inch bomb on the 16th hole for birdie to take the outright lead at 17-under.

      Taylor finished a stroke in front of Mickelson and two clear of Jonas Blixt of Sweden. Taylor and Gregg Ontiveros, CEO of Milan, Ill.-based company Group O, won the pro-am portion of the tournament by one stroke over Blixt and Jamie Williamson. It made Ontiveros a two-time amateur champion (he won with tour winner Brian Harman in 2012).

      Taylor said there are a unique set of challenges that accompany a pro-am competition.

      "There's been a lot of things happening with the amateurs on certain holes and you just have to sit back and let that happen," Taylor explained. "Someone's going to walk in your line a couple of times a day, but you just have to let that go and focus on what you have to do to win the tournament."

      Five of the nine different winners on the PGA Tour in 2016-17 are in the field: Cody Gribble (Sanderson Farms Championship), Rod Pampling (Shriners Hospitals for Children Open), Pat Perez (OHL Classic at Mayakoba), Mackenzie Hughes (The RSM Classic) and Jon Rahm (Farmers Insurance Open).

  • Golf glance
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, February 6, 2017


    • PGA TOUR: AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at Pebble Beach Golf Links, Monterey Peninsula Country Club and Spyglass Hill Golf Club in Pebble Beach, Calif., Thursday through Sunday.

      TV: Thursday and Friday, 3-6 p.m. EST on the Golf Channel; Saturday, 1-2:30 p.m. EST on the Golf Channel and 3-6 p.m. EST on CBS; and Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m. EST on the Golf Channel and 3-6:30 p.m. EST on CBS.

      LAST YEAR: Vaughn Taylor came from six strokes behind by shooting 7-under-par 65 in the final round to capture his third PGA Tour victory by one stroke over Phil Mickelson. Mickelson, who has won four times at Pebble Beach and 19 times on the West Coast swing, lipped out a five-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole that would have forced a playoff. Lefty opened the final round with a two-stroke lead, but could manage only a 72, including two bogeys on each nine. Taylor, who took the lead for good with a 29-foot putt on the 16th hole to cap a run of four straight birdies, ended an 11-year victory drought since he repeated as champion in the 2005 Reno-Tahoe Open.

      PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS: Allianz Championship on the Old Course at Broken Sound in Boca Raton, Fla., Friday through Sunday.

      TV: Friday, noon-2:30 p.m. EST; Saturday, 3-5:30 p.m. EST, and Sunday, 3-5 p.m. EST; on the Golf Channel each day.

      LAST YEAR: Esteban Toledo of Mexico sank a four-foot par putt on the third playoff hole to turn back Billy Andrade and claim his fourth victory on the PGA Tour Champions, three of them in playoffs. Toledo, who was winless in his career on the PGA Tour, shot 5-under-par 67 in the final round, while Andrade posted a 68, and missed a five-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole that would have given him his fourth victory on the senior circuit in 10 months. Andrade's six-foot birdie putt on the third extra hole lipped out before Toledo knocked in the winner. The Allianz was decided by a playoff for the fourth time in seven years.

      LPGA TOUR: ISPS Women's Australian Open at Royal Adelaide Golf Club in Grange, Australia, Feb. 16-19.

      TV: Wednesday (in the United States), 9 p.m.-2 a.m.; Thursday and Friday, 11 p.m.-2 a.m. EST; and Saturday, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. EST; on the Golf Channel each day.

      LAST YEAR: Haru Nomura of Japan earned her first victory on the LPGA Tour, closing with a 4-under-par 68 to beat top-ranked Lydia Ko of New Zealand by three strokes. The 24-year-old Nomura, who won twice in Japan and added the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic in the U.S. later last season, carded three straight birdies through No. 17 and became the first Japanese winner on the LPGA Tour since Ai Miyazato claimed the 2012 Safeway Classic. Ko made her only bogey of the day on the final hole to finish at 67, while Karrie Webb of Australia shot 71 and was seven shots back in third while trying to win the tournament for the sixth time.

  • Golf notebook: Garcia makes fan's dream come true
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, February 6, 2017

    --Sergio Garcia made a very persistent fan of his extremely happy.

    • The fan's 206-day long Twitter campaign, starting in July asking to become Garcia's caddie, finally succeeded with a tweet from the Spanish golfer inviting him to carry his bag later this year.

      Mark Johnson of England started sending Tweets to Garcia last summer, hashtagging each one with #Letmecaddieforyou. He told Garcia about his family and his golf trips, wished him happy birthday, and complimented him on his tournament play.

      "I noticed him the first time from the first tweet he posted at me," Garcia said. "I thought it was quite funny and it was very sincere."

      In December, Johnson said in a Tweet that he might be giving up on his dream -- but he kept going long enough to get the response he was waiting for:

      "Ok @markjohno6969 I think I found the perfect day for you to get a taste of carrying my bag & make your dream come true! Are you ready?"

      Responded Johnson: "@TheSergioGarcia As long as it's not today I'm ready Bud."

      Garcia came back with, "@markjohno6969 not today, don't worry!! Haha. It's going to be the Wednesday, Pro-am day of the British Masters, ok?"

      Said Johnson: @TheSergioGarcia Top man Sergio Wednesday 27th September its in the diary!"

      For his part, Johnson was thrilled to finally hear from his idol. He tweeted that he could hardly sleep and still couldn't believe his luck. Garcia said he was glad to be able to make a dream come true.

      Johnson obviously was even happier later in the week when Garcia captured the Dubai Desert Classic.

      --Tiger Woods' immediate future is in question.

      Woods, playing his second official tournament in 17 months following back surgery, withdrew from the Dubai Desert Classic before the second round on Friday because of back spasms, one day after shooting 5-over-par 77 in the first round.

      Mark Steinberg, Woods' manager, said Woods began experiencing back spasms after dinner on Thursday night.

      "Tiger Woods went into a spasm in his lower back fairly late last night ... got treatment done early this morning for 3 1/2 hours, but can't get it out," Steinberg said. "He says it's not the nerve, but back spasm, and he can't get the spasms to calm down. He can move around, but he can't make a full rotation in his swing."

      Woods shot 76-72 -- 148 and missed the cut a week earlier in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in his first PGA Tour event since he tied for 10th in the Wyndham Championship in August 2015.

      After taking next week off, Woods is scheduled to play in the Genesis Open at Riviera in Pacific Palisades and the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

      "I wasn't in pain at all," Woods said after his first round in Dubai. "I was just trying to hit shots and I wasn't doing a very good job."

      Woods has won 79 times on the PGA Tour, but not since the 2013 Bridgestone Invitational.

      --A federal judge in West Palm Beach, Fla., ordered a golf club owned by President Donald Trump to pay $5.77 million to former members who claimed the club wrongfully refused to refund their deposits after Trump took ownership in 2012.

      U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra ruled that Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., must repay $4.849 million plus $925,010 of interest to 65 former members for breach of contract.

      Marra, who presided over a non-jury trial in August, said the club had no right to keep the deposits after locking out members who declared their plans to resign before Trump's purchase was final in November 2012.

      Before Trump took over, the club permitted members who wanted to resign to keep playing golf until their replacements were found.

      But Trump changed the rules, declaring in a letter that "as the owner of the club," he did not want such members to use the club, and telling them "you're out."

      Marra said this deprived the plaintiffs of their "continuing right" to use the club until new members joined.

      "By categorically denying class members all rights to club access because they remained on the resignation waiting list as of December 31, 2012, defendant revoked or canceled their memberships," and should have refunded their deposits, Marra wrote in his ruling.

      The Trump Organization did not respond to requests for comment, but intends to appeal, according to media reports.

      "Our clients are thrilled that they are getting exactly what they deserve," said Brad Edwards, a lawyer for the plaintiffs. " ... I think President Trump is going to respect this judgment."

      Marra noted that Trump was a "private citizen" at all times relevant to the lawsuit, and that he would refer to Trump as such in the decision.

      "In doing so, the court means no disrespect to him or to the esteemed position he now holds," wrote Marra, an appointee of former President George W. Bush.

      --Steven Bowditch of Australia was arrested on suspicion of extreme DUI early Friday morning by Scottsdale Police after playing in the first round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale, according to The Arizona Republic.

      Media reports claimed someone called police around 1:10 a.m. and reported that an impaired driver was swerving all over the road in a white pickup truck.

      Police reported that the truck was later found at an intersection, where it sat through two green traffic signals without moving. Police officers had to wake up Bowditch, who was at the wheel, and he was removed from the truck.

      Bowditch posted this Twitter message on Saturday morning: "Life is about choices. Last night I made a very poor one. I'm very sorry to those I have disappointed. I must and will, do better."

      Extreme DUI in Arizona is a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or greater within two hours of driving.

      The Sydney Morning Herald reported through Sgt. Ben Hoster, a Scottsdale police spokesman, that Bowditch's BAC was .204 when he was taken into custody.

      A police spokesman said Bowditch was booked into Scottsdale City Jail "due to the fact that he is an out of state resident."

      The 33-year-old Bowditch, whose two PGA Tour victories came in the 2014 Valero Texas Open and the 2015 AT&T Byron Nelson, was bonded out of the Jail later in the morning and played in the second round of the tournament.

      Bowditch shot 74-74 -- 148 and missed the cut by seven strokes, the 11th time in his last 12 starts that he has failed to reach the weekend on the PGA Tour.

      --Pat Perez withdrew from the 2017 Waste Management Phoenix Open after seven holes in the first round because of soreness in his left shoulder, which required labrum surgery early last year.

      Perez's wife, Ashley, said his shoulder tightened up, so he withdrew as a precaution rather than risk a recurrence of the injury.

      "My phone has been blowing up all morning and everyone has the same question," Ashley Perez wrote in a message online. "What happened to @patperezgolf to clarify the situation -- his shoulder tightened up and he didn't want to push it without having it immediately looked at. Last thing we want is a setback since all the hard work and rehab he has gone through. He saw the PGA doctor after he WD and the Dr. confirmed nothing was torn it was just inflamed at the bicep and just needs ice and rest. All is good and he will be in Pebble next week. Thanks for all the concerned texts xox."

      The PGA Tour's medical staff confirmed that Perez's left shoulder area was inflamed at the bicep muscle, and that there was no other medical issue.

      Perez, who has finished in the top 10 four times since returning in October, including his second PGA Tour victory in the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, made five pars and a triple-bogey 7 on the fifth hole in the round at TPC Scottsdale before withdrawing.

      --Larry Dorman, a former New York Times sportswriter and golf industry executive, has been named the recipient of the 2017 PGA Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism by the Golf Writers of America.

      Dorman will be honored on April 5, the day before the start of the Masters, at the 45th GWAA Annual Awards Dinner at Savannah Rapids Pavilion in Augusta, Ga.

      Dorman, 66, is the 28th recipient of the PGA Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism, which honors members of the media for promotion of golf, both locally and nationally.

      "Larry's career is a remarkable journey of one of this country's most versatile sportswriters," President Paul Levy of the PGA of America. "He achieved success at the highest level in delivering the finest coverage of major events and didn't stop there. He also made an indelible mark upon our industry while spending a decade in public relations.

      "For over 40 years, Larry's quality work brought us closer to those who make golf the best game. We're proud that he now joins one of the most honored clubs in American sports journalism."

      Dorman, who was born in New York City and raised in Miami, Fla., didn't begin playing golf until he started college.

      After graduating from Loyola University in New Orleans in 1973, he began his newspaper career as a features writer for the Palm Beach Post, where he worked from 1973-75 and 1977-80.

      Dorman also wrote for the Albuquerque Tribune, the Miami Herald and was golf writer at National Sports Daily for the two years of its existence in 1990-91.

      Dorman wrote for the New York Times from 1993-97 and 2007-11, working for the 10 years in between at Callaway Golf. He was hired by the late Ely Callaway in 1997 to become vice president of Public Relations and Advertising at Callaway.

      "I'm thrilled to be recognized by the PGA of America for this award, and honored to be in the company of the distinguished past recipients," Dorman said. "I remember delivering the Herald as a 9-year-old kid in Miami and dreaming about one day working there. And the New York Times? Twice? Beyond my wildest dreams.

      "So many great writers and editors mentored me, challenged me, and encouraged me to get better at the craft. It's humbling to have worked alongside the giants of the business, to have met and written about athletes and coaches and entertainers and business leaders who were the best at what they did. I'm grateful beyond words."

      Dorman covered 98 major golf championships, eight Ryder Cups, 10 Super Bowls, the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games and two world boxing championship bouts.

  • Mickelson aims for 20th win on West Coast swing
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, February 6, 2017

    Phil Mickelson is undisputed King of the West Coast swing, with 19 victories in California and Arizona, and this week he gets another chance to make it an even 20.

    • Lefty tees it up on Thursday in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which he won for the fourth time in 2012, when he played alongside Tiger Woods and shot 65 to blow away his longtime rival by nine strokes.

      "I love this tournament ... I love the golf courses," said the 46-year-old Mickelson, who ended a run of 20 consecutive years in the tournament on the Monterey Peninsula two years ago because of a family vacation. "I've developed some traditions here over the years. Whether it's the restaurants where I eat breakfast, lunch or dinner, or if it's the people I have dinner with.

      "We've had those little traditions that have been going on for many years. When I missed it last year, it was a lot more than just the golf and tournament that I missed. I missed the whole environment.

      "I missed it a lot. Especially when we get great weather. But even in bad weather, it's great. There's so many people here I enjoy hanging with and spending time with. I went to dinner and had some drinks with friends that I really missed last year. We've made it kind of a tradition every year of getting together. So, it's more than just the golf at this tournament, it's special, and I really missed it."

      When he returned last year, Mickelson seemed headed for a fifth victory, which would have tied Mark O'Meara for the tournament record. He took a two-stroke lead into the final round at Pebble, where his maternal grandfather, Al Santos, was one of the first caddies in 1919.

      However, Lefty closed with a 72 and lipped out a five-foot birdie putt on the final hole that would have put him in a playoff with winner Vaughn Taylor.

      "It never crossed my mind that one on 18 wouldn't go in," said Mickelson, who has 42 victories in his PGA Tour career, but none since the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield to give him three legs of the Career Grand Slam, missing only the U.S. Open.

      Mickelson has won every tournament that has been part of the West Coast swing, including his first PGA Tour victory as a 20-year-old amateur at the 1991 Northern Telecom Open on the other side of the state while he was attending Arizona State.

      That was the first of his three victories in Tucson, and he also has won three times in the Phoenix Open, most recently in 2013; twice in the old Los Angeles Open at Riviera, most recently in 2009; twice in the old Bob Hope Classic in the California desert, most recently in 2004; and three times in his hometown event at Torrey Pines, most recently in 2001.

      Lefty also captured the Mercedes Championship, now the SBS Tournament of Champions, twice at La Costa in Carlsbad, Calif., before the tournament moved to Kapalua in Hawaii.

      "I love the West Coast, and those are some of my favorite tournaments," said Mickelson, who tied for fourth in the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. "I'm excited to play golf, and I practice very hard on the West Coast when the season is coming around and I haven't played for a while. I've got a lot of energy, and I'm excited to get back out.

      "I think all of these things, plus the fact that I grew up here and used to walk these fairways on the outside (of the ropes), I just have a great love for the West Coast. I've been fortunate to play well here."

      Mickelson started the 2016-17 season with a tie for eighth in the Safeway Open in October, but then was sidelined by two hernia surgeries and has been solid but a little inconsistent since he returned.

      After he opened the new year with a tie for 21st in the CareerBuilder Challenge, the old Bob Hope, he tied for 14th in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines and last week faded in the final round to a tie 16th in the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

      "We didn't have a lot of work to do nor the opportunity to do it this offseason, because I was out with surgery and didn't swing a club," said Mickelson, who was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2012. "The one day out of the three months I swung, I got another hernia and had to do it again.

      "What I attribute the start to, and again, it's not the start I hoped for, but knowing that I wasn't going to be 100 percent to play the way I have the last couple of weeks.

      "The game is closer, it's not far off from where I want it to be and I'll just continue working on fine tuning and touch, distance control, driving, and all these things that will, hopefully, help me play my best."

      The injury took away the advantage Lefty usually has on the West Coast, but he's got one more shot.

  • Garcia completes wire-to-wire win at Dubai Classic
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, February 5, 2017

    Sergio Garcia shot a 3-under 69 to complete a dominant wire-to-wire win on Sunday at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

    • The Spaniard set the tone with an opening 65 at Emirates Golf Club on Thursday and never looked back, finishing with a bogey-free final round to get to 19 under and beat British Open champion Henrik Stenson (69) by three shots.

      The 37-year-old Garcia claimed his 12th European Tour title. He is expected to move up to No. 9 from his current 15th place when the world golf rankings are released Monday.

      Denmark's Lasse Jensen shot a 65 for the low round of the day to finish tied for third with England's Tyrrell Hatton (67) at 14 under.

      "I'm very happy to play the way I played, " Garcia said after the win. "The way I handled some of the key moments and to beat Henrik, we all now how great a player he is.

      "I've been fortunate to have some really good ball-striking tournaments. This definitely was one of them. I felt like my iron play was really, really good. Obviously my driver was very good, a couple of shots here and there. But you know, on a course of 72 holes, it's going to happen. Nobody can go without missing a shot but this week was definitely a week where I felt very comfortable with my game. I felt like I was in good control of what I wanted to do with my ball flight and stuff. So I guess it showed up."

      American Peter Uihlein carded a 69 to finish 12 under, tied for fifth with England's Matthew Fitzpatrick (67).

      Tiger Woods withdrew from the tournament on Friday because of back spasms -- one day after shooting an opening 77 -- in another setback to his return to golf after a long injury layoff.

  • Garcia leads by 3 shots in Dubai
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, February 4, 2017

    Even with Tiger Woods having gone home because of back spasms, there was plenty of star power to light up the third round of the Dubai Desert Classic on Saturday at Emirates Golf Club.

    • Sergio Garcia of Spain finished a 4-under-par 68 in near darkness to take a three-stroke lead over Henrik Stenson of Sweden and finish a long day after the second round was halted by high winds on Friday.

      Garcia put the finishing touches on a second-round 67 before carding five birdies on the back nine in round three and had a 54-hole total of 16-under 200.

      One threesome was still on the course when darkness halted play and will finish the third round Sunday morning.

      "At the end it was very, very dark, I'll tell you that," said García, who has 11 victories on the European Tour, but none since the 2014 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. "When we were walking on 17, I thought, well, it will probably be a little dark but not too bad. But it gets dark very, very quickly here.

      "We couldn't really see much on the last three shots. I pretty much couldn't see the ball land and the last putt was a little bit of a feel and a little bit of the read that George (Coetzee) gave me (putting before him), and I'm very fortunate to be able to make it.

      "I played nicely again and made some nice putts, so I'm very happy with where I am."

      Stenson, who claimed his first major title in the Open Championship last July at Royal Troon, finished his 67 with a birdie on the last hole as darkness closed in.

      Ian Poulter of England birdied three of the last four holes to also shoot 67 and was five behind in a tie for third with Prom Meesawat of Thailand, who had a bogey-free 68.

      American Peter Uihlein carded a 69 with birdies on the last two holes and was six down in a tie for fifth with Coetzee of South Africa, who wound up at 70.

  • Tiger pulls out of Dubai due to back spasms
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, February 3, 2017

    Tiger Woods withdrew from the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on Friday because of back spasms -- one day after shooting an opening 5-over-par 77 -- in another setback to his return to golf after a long injury layoff.

    • Woods' manager, Mark Steinberg, said the 14-time major champion had back spasms after dinner on Thursday night.

      "Tiger Woods went into a spasm in his lower back fairly late last night ... got treatment done early this morning for 3 1/2 hours, but can't get it out," Steinberg said at Emirates Golf Club. "He says it's not the nerve, but back spasm, and he can't get the spasms to calm down. He can move around, but he can't make a full rotation in his swing."

      Woods had five bogeys and no birdies during his first round at the European Tour event in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

      The 41-year-old Woods, who dismissed his health issues for the reason of his poor play on Thursday, was playing in his second official tournament following a 17-month layoff due to multiple back surgeries in 2015.

      "No, I wasn't in pain at all," Woods said when asked about it after his opening round. "I was just trying to hit shots, and I wasn't doing a very good job."

      Woods was paid a seven-figure appearance fee to play in the tournament, the first time he traveled to the Middle East for an event in three years.

      Steinberg told ESPN the hope is that Woods can still play in the Genesis Open (Feb. 16-19) -- which benefits Woods' foundation -- at Riviera Country Club in two weeks.

      "Spasms are a funny thing; I'm certainly no doctor, but they come and go," Steinberg said. "And again, the fact that he feels as though it's not the nerve pain, that's very encouraging for him. He's had spasms before. He's got to get the spasm to calm down, from what I gather. He has his trainer here, which is good, and that's who has been working on him for the past several hours."

      Meanwhile, the second round of the tournament on Friday was suspended due to strong winds that brought down some trees.

      George Coetzee of South Africa was at 9 under after eight holes and overnight leader Sergio Garcia of Spain was at 8 under after five holes.

      Martin Kaymer of Germany and Rafael Cabrera-Bello of Spain shot 69s and had the lowest scores after two full rounds, tied at 4 under.

  • Lincicome jumps up 15 spots in Rolex Rankings
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, January 30, 2017

    American Brittany Lincicome, who won the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic over the weekend, moved up 15 spots to No. 33 in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings released Monday.

    • Lincicome beat U.S. Solheim Cup teammate Lexi Thompson with a birdie on the first hole of a playoff in the tournament held at Paradise Island, Bahamas. Lincicome and Thompson finished at 26-under 266 on Sunday, and the victory was Lincicome's seventh on the LPGA Tour.

      Lydia Ko of New Zealand remains atop the Rolex Rankings for the 67th consecutive week while Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn holds the second ranking for the 27th straight week.

      South Korea's Ingee Chun remains No. 3 while China's Shanshan Feng and Thompson round out the top five.

      American Stacy Lewis moved up one spot to No. 13 after she finished one stroke behind Sunday.

  • Golf glance
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, January 30, 2017


    • PGA TOUR: Waste Management Phoenix Open on the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale in Scottsdale, Ariz., Thursday through Sunday.

      TV: Thursday and Friday, 3-7 p.m. EST on the Golf Channel; Saturday and Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m. EST on the Golf Channel and 3-6 p.m. EST on CBS.

      LAST YEAR: Hideki Matsuyama of Japan claimed the first of his two victories on the PGA Tour in 2016, making a par on the fourth playoff hole to defeat Rickie Fowler. Fowler held a two-stroke lead, but he hammered his drive on the 317-yard 17th hole over the green and into the water, leading to a bogey. Matsuyama pulled even with a 3-foot birdie putt on the same hole and momentarily took the lead with an 18-foot birdie putt on the last hole. Fowler forced the playoff by making a birdie putt from 10 feet at No. 18, and both players finished at 4-under-par 67. On the fourth extra hole, Fowler pulled his drive into the water and missed his par putt from 10 feet before Matsuyama two-putted from 6 feet to win.

      PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS: Allianz Championship on the Old Course at Broken Sound in Boca Raton, Fla., Feb. 10-12.

      TV: Friday, noon-2:30 p.m. EST; Saturday, 3-5:30 p.m. EST; and Sunday, 3-5 p.m. EST; on the Golf Channel each day.

      LAST YEAR: Esteban Toledo of Mexico sank a 4-foot par putt on the third playoff hole to turn back Billy Andrade and claim his fourth victory on the PGA Tour Champions, three of them in playoffs. Toledo, who was winless in his career on the PGA Tour, shot 5-under-par 67 in the final round. Andrade, who posted a 68, missed a 5-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole that would have given him his fourth victory on the circuit in 10 months. Andrade's 6-foot birdie putt on the third extra hole lipped out before Toledo knocked in the winner. The Allianz was decided by a playoff for the fourth time in seven years.

      LPGA TOUR: ISPS Women's Australian Open at Royal Adelaide Golf Club in

      Grange, Australia, Feb. 16-19.

      TV: Wednesday (in the United States), 9 p.m.-2 a.m.; Thursday and Friday, 11 p.m.-2 a.m. EST; Saturday, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. EST; on the Golf Channel each day.

      LAST YEAR: Haru Nomura of Japan earned her first victory on the LPGA Tour, closing with a 4-under-par 68 to beat top-ranked Lydia Ko of New Zealand by three strokes. The 24-year-old Nomura, who won twice in Japan and added the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic in the U.S. later last season, carded three straight birdies through No. 17 and became the first Japanese winner on the LPGA Tour since Ai Miyazato claimed the 2012 Safeway Classic. Ko made her only bogey of the day on the final hole to finish at 67, while Karrie Webb of Australia shot 71 and was seven shots back in third while trying to win the tournament for the sixth time.

  • Golf notebook: DeChambeau's putter ruled out of bounds
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, January 30, 2017

    --Bryson DeChambeau, the 23-year-old highly touted pro on the PGA Tour, was told by the United States Golf Association that a putter he planned to use does not conform to the Rules of Golf.

    • DeChambeau, the 2015 NCAA champion from SMU who employs an unorthodox putting style similar to the one used by the great Sam Snead, is not happy about it.

      "I was very disappointed with the way they handled it," DeChambeau told Adam Schupak of the Morning Read, a golf newsletter. "They've said to me, too, that they don't like the way I'm (putting). But it's within the rules, and I don't know why they don't like it.

      "They say I'm potentially taking skill out of the game. Anything that helps shoot lower scores or makes golf more fun and grows the game, that's what I'm all about."

      Janeen Driscoll, a USGA spokesperson, told Schupak that "the circumstances surrounding the club's non-conformance are confidential and between the USGA and Bryson DeChambeau," and said the USGA would not comment on what prevented the club from passing inspection.

      DeChambeau started using a side-saddle putting style at the Franklin Templeton Shootout in December but has been practicing the method for years.

      At the CareerBuilder Challenge two weeks ago, he used a same putter head but a shaft that was placed toward the back of it -- not the center.

      "Every week, they've been inspecting it," DeChambeau's instructor, Mike Schy, told Schupak. "It's bad. It's really bad. I'm telling you, they do not want him putting this way. For some reason, they think it is an enormous advantage, and it is not."

      According to a spokeswoman for the USGA, DeChambeau submitted multiple versions of his face-on putter on Jan. 4, and on Jan. 11 he was informed by the association had concerns about that particular submission.

      DeChambeau received a "Duration of Competition" ruling from the PGA Tour to play the putter at the Sony Open, but he was warned at the CareerBuilder Challenge by the PGA Tour there might be a problem with that version of the putter.

      Last week, he was officially informed by the USGA the putter was non-conforming.

      Before the Sony Open in Hawaii earlier this month, PGA Tour officials told DeChambeau that he could use the putter in competition.

      --Golf great Bernhard Langer of Germany was caught up in the controversy after President Donald Trump continued to claim that 3 million to 5 million people voted illegally in the November election.

      The New York Times reported that Trump told a story involving Langer at a gathering of leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives.

      "(Mr. Langer) was standing in line at a polling place near his home in Florida on Election Day, the president explained, when an official informed Mr. Langer he would not be able to vote," The Times story quoted Trump as saying.

      "Ahead of and behind Mr. Langer were voters who did not look as if they should be allowed to vote, Mr. Trump said, according to the staff members -- but they were nonetheless permitted to cast provisional ballots. The president threw out the names of Latin American countries that the voters might have come from.

      "Mr. Langer, whom he described as a supporter and friend, left feeling frustrated, according to a version of events later contradicted by a White House official. The anecdote, the aides said, was greeted with silence, and Mr. Trump was prodded to change the subject by Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, and Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas."

      A senior White House staffer, who claimed to have heard Trump recount that story before, told The Times that Langer met Trump in Florida in November and that's when he relayed the story.

      Although Langer lives in Florida, he is a citizen of Germany and is not eligible to vote in the United States.

      "He is not a friend of President Trump's," said Langer's daughter, Christina. "I don't know why he would talk about him."

      The 59-year-old Langer won the Masters in 1985 and 1993, and has claimed 30 victories on the PGA Tour Champions, including the Mitsubishi Electric Championship two weeks ago.

      Langer said in a statement issued by the PGA Tour Champions: "Unfortunately, the report in the New York Times and other news outlets was a mischaracterization by the media. The voting situation reported was not conveyed from me to President Trump, but rather was told to me by a friend. I then relayed the story in conversation with another friend, who shared it with a person with ties to the White House. From there, it was misconstrued.

      "I am not a citizen of the United States, and cannot vote. It's a privilege to live in the United States, and I am blessed to call America my home. I will have no further comment at this time."

      Langer reportedly said he has met Trump once.

      Despite Langer's claim that the story was "mischaracterized" by the media, the Times stood by its story that Trump said he heard of the incident from Langer.

      --The PGA Tour and its tournaments set a record by donating more than $166 million to charitable causes in 2016.

      The total includes donations made by tournaments on the PGA Tour, PGA Tour Champions, Tour, Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada, PGA Tour China and PGA Tour Latinoamerica.

      "The record-breaking charitable donations are due to the hard work and selfless efforts of many and will ensure that numerous lives continue to be positively impacted in the communities where we play," PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

      "PGA Tour fans, tournaments, players, sponsors and volunteers together all helped make this possible."

      The PGA Tour has generated $2.46 billion for charity since the first charitable contribution of $10,000 was made after the 1938 Palm Beach Invitational.

      Of that total, more than $1.4 billion has come since the PGA Tour surpassed the $1 billion mark in 2005. The $2 billion plateau was passed in January 2014.

      In 2016, the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Valero Texas Open, Dean & DeLuca Invitational and the John Deere Classic raised more than $10 million for charity, and the Waste Management Phoenix Open generated more than $9 million.

      The Players Championship, the PGA Tour's flagship event, raised more than $8.5 million, a large portion of which benefits local children's charities in and around Ponte Vedra Beach. Fla., as part of the tournament's commitment to generate $50 million for youth-related charities over 10 years.

      Since that commitment was made in April 2011, more than $38 million has been raised.

      --Greg Eason of England had a miserable start to the 2017 season on the Tour, causing a sensation on Twitter, before finally finding his game.

      Eason, who played college golf at Central Florida, made headlines when he shot 91-95--196 to miss the cut by a whopping 31 strokes and claimed he lost 32 golf balls in the brutally windy conditions in the season-opening Bahamas Great Exuma Classic on the Sandals Emerald Reef Course.

      Eason again was struggling in the second event even before he recorded a decuple-bogey 15, a Tour record, on the par-5 18th hole of the Bahamas Abaco Classic at the Abaco Club on Winding Bay to close out an opening-round 90.

      However, he turned it around in the second round with a bogey-free 68 but still missed the cut by 13 strokes. His 22-stroke differential marked the largest turnaround ever in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event.

      Eason finally had an answer for all the negative comments he read on Twitter and responded with a Tweet of his own that read: "I don't tweet much... but recently I've been under much scrutiny upon my scores on the course...but today, (the heck with) you all. #68 #bogeyfree."

      --Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland pulled out of the Dubai Desert Classic, which he won in 2009 and 2015, because of a rib injury and said he probably won't play again until March.

      McIlroy played through the injury while finishing second in the South African Open three weeks ago and also missed the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship because of the injury. He was scheduled to start his PGA Tour season next week in the Genesis Open at Riviera and also play the Honda Classic a week later at PGA National, but he expects to miss both of those events.

      It looks as if he will return for the WGC-Mexico Championship in the first weekend of March.

      "I'd like to sort of ease my way in gently, so Mexico is the perfect time to return," McIlroy said. "It's four rounds, there's no cut, I can see how everything feels. I have a week off after that, so Mexico, all signs point toward Mexico being the one where I could come back to and be 100 percent comfortable at. Hopefully it works out that way.

      "I can't even run at the minute because if my feet hit the ground hard at all, the vibration in my rib cage sort of hurts."

      McIlroy believes he might have sustained the rib injury in December as he tried new equipment and made adjustments to his swing.

  • Rahm returns to Arizona as a PGA Tour winner
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, January 30, 2017

    Jon Rahm figured to get a raucous reception this week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open on the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale in Scottsdale, Ariz.

    • Now the 2016 graduate of nearby Arizona State in Tempe will be welcomed as a conquering hero after claiming his first PGA Tour victory by three strokes on Sunday in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

      Of course, golf fans in the Valley of the Sun knew the Spaniard had this in him.

      Two years ago as a college junior, Rahm made a run at becoming the first amateur to win on the PGA Tour since Phil Mickelson, another Sun Devil, captured the 1991 Northern Telecom Open.

      Rahm was in the hunt most of the way before finishing in a tie for fifth in the Phoenix Open. He will be back in front of his Arizona fans this week for the first time as a pro in what is known as "The Greatest Show on Grass."

      "It showed me what I was capable of," said Rahm, whose 11 victories at Arizona State left him behind only Mickelson's total of 16. "I was a junior in college, competing against the best in the world, and I finished fifth after a bad front nine on the last day. After that, everything I did was not only to win collegiate events and the national championship, but to get me ready to turn pro. ...

      "All my friends came out to watch me play (in Scottsdale). It was unbelievable. It was just great to hear so many Sun Devils cheering me up."

      As if his stellar play weren't enough, Rahm endeared himself to the Sun Devils faithful even more during the first round at the Stadium Course when he came out of the tunnel on the stadium-like 16th hole wearing an Arizona State football jersey with the name "Rahmbo" on the back.

      The No. 42 on the jersey was a tribute to Pat Tillman, the Arizona State football legend who gave up a career in the NFL to join the U.S. Army Rangers and was killed in Afghanistan in 2004.

      "Every single hole there were three or four guys yelling 'Go Devils,'" Rahm said. "It was amazing.

      "I was really, really, really nervous. What changed the dynamic of the week was I turned my mind and changed, instead of being nervous, to, 'Just enjoy what you're doing, just go play golf, enjoy doing what you want to do.' So that mindset actually helped me a lot."

      The 22-year-old Rahm also has had help before and after turning pro from Spanish star Sergio Garcia and Mickelson.

      The Garcia connection obviously began back home, where Rahm captured the 2010 Spanish Junior Boys Championship and several other amateur events. As for Mickelson, his brother Tim was Rahm's coach at Arizona State.

      "He's more than just a good young player, I think he's going to be one of the best players in the world," Phil Mickelson said Sunday at Torrey Pines. "Every part of his game is a strength; he has no weaknesses.

      "He knows he can win and wants to be in that situation. Not every player has that, but he does. He's a tough competitor."

      Earlier, Mickelson told Tim Rosaforte of Golf Channel: "(Rahm) can be a top-10 player. ... He's one of the best young players I've seen come along in a long time."

      Rahm, who plays practice rounds with Lefty when they are in the same tournament, tied for 23rd to finish as low amateur in the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont before turning pro.

      Then he impressed tournament host Tiger Woods in his pro debut by tying for third in the Quicken Loans National.

      After tying for 72nd in the Barracuda Championship and tying for 59th in the Open Championship at Royal Troon, the Spaniard locked up his PGA Tour card for this season by tying for second in the RBC Canadian Open, one stroke behind Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela.

      Rahm joined Gary Hallberg, Scott Verplank, Mickelson, Justin Leonard, Ryan Moore, Woods and Bud Cauley as the only players to earn their PGA Tour cards right out of college.

      Tim Mickelson resigned as coach at Arizona State to become an agent, and his only client is Rahm, who earned his second consecutive Ben Hogan Award and the Golfweek College Player of the Year awards after claiming four tournament titles as a senior.

      When he turned pro, Rahm was No. 1 the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings and the World Amateur Golf Rankings.

      "He trusts what I think, and there's a mutual respect between he and I, and I thought it'd be a really good match and a really good career change," said Tim Mickelson, who is on the staff at Lagardere Sports.

      Said Rahm: "It's great. I mean, I don't know if I told him personally before, but I always said that while I was in the States those four years he was pretty much my dad.

      "He was the guy I went to when I needed help and the guy I went to when I needed guidance. For years he's helped out a lot to become the player I am today."

      Tim Mickelson admits that he had his doubts about Rahm being successful at Arizona State when he arrived in Tempe, sight unseen, at the age of 17.

      For one thing, he didn't speak much English.

      "Language problems were affecting his game a lot," Tim Mickelson said. "He played badly in the first two tournaments. I'd ask him things and he'd take too long to respond. I thought that it doesn't matter that he could be World No. 1 because if he didn't learn the language he'd fail at school, so we were looking for another golfer for the scholarship for the next year.

      "But four months later, after the end of the semester, he took a 3.6 average out of college and started playing very well, and I thought this guy is going to be very good."

      Both Mickelsons were right, of course.

      Although Rahm learned the language, he lets his golf do much of the talking.

  • Tiger (72) misses cut at Farmers
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, January 27, 2017

    Tiger Woods' return to competitive golf after a 17-month injury hiatus won't include a weekend on the links.

    • The 41-year-old Woods shot even-par 72 on the Torrey Pines North Course on Friday to complete two rounds of the Farmers Insurance Open with a 4-over total of 148, four shots over the projected cut.

      Woods has won eight professional tournaments on the course in La Jolla, Calif. -- including the 2008 U.S. Open -- but was unable to get into a groove in his return from multiple back surgeries.

      He shot a 4-over 76 on Thursday while playing the tougher South Course. That round included five bogeys and one double bogey.

      Woods made fewer hitting mistakes on Friday when he limited the bogeys to two. But he had just two birdies and couldn't put together a run at reaching the projected cut.

      Woods' birdies were both on par-5 holes -- Nos. 5 and 10.

      Woods' star playing partners, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson, also missed the cut.

      Day shot 74 for a 3-over 147. The Australian had three bogeys and one birdie. Johnson had five bogeys and three birdies while shooting 74 for a 2-over 146 total.

      England's Justin Rose, who is still on the course, is the leader at 9-under. Rose shot a 65 in Thursday's opening round.

      Defending champion Brandt Snedeker, who also was still playing, stood one shot behind Rose.

  • Tiger shoots 76 in his first round back
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, January 26, 2017

    Tiger Woods was back hitting shots on a PGA Tour course on Thursday and that was the more positive development.

    • His play wasn't so stellar and his 4-over-par 76 on the Torrey Pines South Course in the Farmers Insurance Open at La Jolla, Calif., was the highest season-opening score of his career.

      Woods struggled on the back nine in his first tournament in 17 months after multiple back surgeries. He had four bogeys and one double-bogey during the second half of his round and stands 11 shots behind leader Justin Rose of England.

      "I was fighting out there all day," Woods said afterward. "I didn't really hit it all that good. The greens were a little tough out there with some of the putts and I had a round in which I let it slip away a bit in the middle of the back nine."

      The tone was set when Woods bogeyed his first hole of the day. He notched three birdies during the round, including knocking in a 12-foot birdie putt on 18.

      Woods hit just four of 14 fairways and nine of 18 greens in the round at a course in which he has won eight times, including the 2008 U.S. Open.

      "It was tough out there, period," Woods said. "I was in the rough most of the day. It was tough, it was wet."

      Woods received a loud round of applause at the start of his day but said he wasn't able to pay much attention.

      "To be honest with you, I was just so focused on hitting the ball on that right side," Woods said. "I know the ovations were awfully generous and they were very nice but I was so focused on hitting the ball at that right side. ...

      "I know the people were being very nice. They were cheering but I was grinding so hard to put that ball on the right side of the fairway."

      Woods said he is hoping for better conditions in Friday's second round. He also said there were positives to his performance.

      "I fought my tail off out there, I fought hard," Woods said. "It was nice to put together a round when I wasn't hitting that great early. I was 1-under through 11 and was in a good spot to shoot a good round today and I didn't have my best stuff early but I got through there.

      "That's one of the positives I'm going to take out of it."

      Woods played in a threesome with top-ranked Jason Day and third-ranked Dustin Johnson. Day finished with a 73 and Johnson shot 72.

      Phil Mickelson, who recently underwent two hernia surgeries, shot 71.

      Rose shot a 7-under 65 on the easier North Course.

      Canada's Adam Hadwin was one shot off the lead. Americans Gary Woodland, Charles Howell III, Beau Hossler and Trey Mullinax and Canadian Brad Fritsch were at 5-under.

      Defending champ Brandt Snedeker was among a group at 4-under 68.

      Rose recorded eagles on holes 5 and 9. He also had six birdies and three bogeys.

      "I drove the ball well today," Rose said. "With the rough being really think and wet, it was really important to drive in it the fairway.

      "In all the important holes, I drove it in the fairway. I missed a couple fairways here and there but those are normally tough ... so I was able to get away with it there."

      Rose feels the strong opening round gives him a little bit of a cushion as he switches to the tougher South Course for Friday's round.

      "You have some in the bank now, so to speak, and you kind of can afford to be patient, which is what the South Course requires," Rose said. "My game plan won't really change but I will have that ability to be extra patient around there. It is such a great golf course. I really enjoy the South. It is one of my favorite golf courses on Tour.

      "... It's going to be breezy tomorrow, which should make it even more interesting."