Tour notes: Norman forgets all about Donald
SYDNEY — The only two continents where the Presidents Cup has not been played are Asia and South America, which is likely to change when the next one goes overseas in 2015. And while Asia appears to have more appeal, South America might be more critical.
A record four Asian players are on this year’s International team — K.J. Choi, Y.E. Yang, K.T. Kim and Ryo Ishikawa — and PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said Asia is “becoming a bigger part of what the Presidents Cup is all about.”
“We are looking hard at Asia,” he said.
But when pressed about which Asian country might be best suited to host the Presidents Cup, Finchem had his eyes on another event — the Olympics in Brazil in 2016.
“When you look at the Olympic date sitting there in ‘16, and everybody is gearing toward that, you’ve sort of got to draw some conclusions as to where we’ll be in 2015,” he said.
Golf’s return to the Olympics is not guaranteed to be for long. The sport gets only one chance to shine before the next International Olympic Committee vote on whether to keep golf in the games, so it’s important that it is received well in Brazil.
There had been some discussion about taking a World Golf Championship to South America ahead of the Olympics, such as the Cadillac Championship at Doral.
“We’ve discussed that a little bit as a possibility,” Finchem said. “There are some other things we could do down there as well. We were hopeful we’ll see some daylight here in terms of when the golf course will be ready so we know we’ll have a place to play, and by ‘15. Once we know that’s going to happen, then we can start to work on real options.”
Finchem said if the golf course — the architect is to be chosen in late December — is not ready before 2016, then the first event would be the Olympics. Ideally, it could be ready in time for another event.
“We need it ready by ‘15, which means it needs to get going,” he said.
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OVERLOOKED: Luke Donald has been No. 1 in the world since the end of May. He has won four times around the world, and he likely will be voted PGA Tour player of the year.
Apparently, that’s still not enough to get on Greg Norman’s radar screen.
Norman was asked Monday who he thought was the best player in the world regardless of the world ranking.
“I’m going through three or four players right now. That’s how tough it is,” Norman said. “I don’t think there is one guy out there like Tiger used to be out there, and that’s again a testament of the validation of why I think the game of golf is so good right now.”
He mentioned Martin Kaymer, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Ryo Ishikawa.
“I’m going down the list and I’m missing out on guys,” Norman said before going on to mention the swing of PGA champion Keegan Bradley. “You go down this list and all of a sudden now I’m at 10 players.”
He never once mentioned the guy at the top — Donald.
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NO COMEBACK: The PGA Tour awards ballot are now in the mail, though they might be shorter than previous years. Tour officials have decided not to submit any candidates as comeback player of the year.
The Players Advisory Council is responsible for suggesting names on the awards ballot. However, there’s an exception with the comeback player nominees decided by PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and the four players on the tour policy board.
“We just thought it originally was an award that focused on a player who had an unusual injury, an injury that was career-threatening and he comes back from it,” Finchem said in Shanghai. “And that morphed into having three or four players on the ballot that had some minor situations occur. We were asking players to decide who should be the bigger comeback.”
Finchem said a few years ago, the PAC and the policy board decided to leave the award up to him and his staff.
It will be the second time in three years there is no comeback player of the year. Stuart Appleby won the award a year ago, and the thought was he’d came back from poor play. Steve Stricker won the comeback award two years in a row.
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WORLD-CLASS WINNERS: Perhaps no other tournaments in the world offer better odds of getting a high-ranked winner than the World Golf Championships. They usually invited the top 50 players, although three of them also have lesser-known players from other tours. Even so, Martin Kaymer strengthened the trend by winning the HSBC Champions.
In the 13-year history of the series, only four players ranked outside the top 50 have won a World Golf Championship.
Geoff Ogilvy was No. 53 when he won the Match Play in 2006 at La Costa.
Kevin Sutherland was No. 65 when he won the 2002 Match Play at La Costa. Steve Stricker was No. 91 when he won the Match Play Championship in 2001 in Australia, the event where some two dozen top players stayed home.
Craig Parry is the only player outside the top 100 to win a WGC, at No. 118 when he captured the 2002 NEC Invitational at Sahalee.
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MATCH PLAY CROWD: The Match Play Championship is trying to give fans a better view of the final match in Arizona by allowing fans to walk in the fairway behind the players.
It’s a practice often seen at the U.S. Amateur, Walker Cup and Curtis Cup matches. When Tiger Woods played the Australian Masters, officials allowed the overflow of fans to line the fairways some 75 yards from each green, creating a stadium feeling.
At Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz., marshals will hold ropes that keep the fans 40 feet behind the players down the fairway, though they will be kept away from greenside bunkers.
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DIVOTS: The Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico, held opposite the Match Play Championship, has extended its title sponsorship through 2018. ... Mark Calcavecchia has his own special “cocktail” to deal with an ailing hip. He takes one Celebrex before he leaves his hotel room and one Vicodin on the practice range. That gets him through 15 holes, and he just toughs out the last three. “That’s only on tournament days,” he said. “Pro-ams and practice rounds I tough it out.” ... With so much success by European players this year, the cover of its media guide will stick to the major champions. Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy and British Open champion Darren Clarke recently posed for a photo. Left out is Luke Donald, the No. 1 player in the world.
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STAT OF THE WEEK: Europeans will have held the No. 1 ranking for an entire season for the first time since Nick Faldo in 1993. Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Luke Donald all have been at No. 1 in the world this year.
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FINAL WORD: “Maybe it’s just I’m so used to hitting so many bad shots.” — Tiger Woods, when asked about controlling his temper on the golf course.