Tuesday, November 21

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



JON RAHM IS ECSTATIC.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The young lions are roaring louder and louder.

Thursday, November 16

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


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

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

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


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

From a Golf Channel press release.

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

EUROPEAN TOUR

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

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

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

LPGA TOUR

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

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

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

PGA TOUR

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

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

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

Monday, November 13

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



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

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

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

Friday, November 10

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



From a Golf Channel press release.

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

PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS

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

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

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

LPGA TOUR

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

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

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

EUROPEAN TOUR

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

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

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

PGA TOUR

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 8

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

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

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

By John Coyne


Copyright © John Coyne. Used with permission.


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

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

All of this had a direct benefit for tour caddies. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Earning Their Keep

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 3

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



From a Golf Channel press release.

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

PGA TOUR

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

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

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

EUROPEAN TOUR

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

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

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

LPGA TOUR

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 1

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

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

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

By John Coyne


Copyright © John Coyne. Used with permission.


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

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

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

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

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

Birth of the APTC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Benefits, Lawsuits and Sponsorships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TO BE CONTINUED.

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