The PGA Tour has small circuits in Latin America, Canada and China. Commissioner Tim Finchem spoke in 2010 about golf heading toward a ”world tour,” even though he wasn’t sure what it would look like or when it would all come together.
It’s worth paying attention to the activity of players over the last month.
Brandt Snedeker was in Japan for the Bridgestone Open. Jordan Spieth was in Japan last week at the Dunlop Phoenix, and he’s at the Australian Open this week. Webb Simpson was in Japan. Jason Dufner went to Thailand.
Finchem wants to see golf get through the 2016 Olympics – and the schedule problems that will present – before looking too far ahead.
”We need at least two and maybe three years of looking at the schedule in this environment with the wraparound,” he said earlier this month in Shanghai. ”We need that experience before we start tinkering. In terms of fundamental schedule, we’re at least another year away from starting to think about that.”
But when asked about a world tour, Finchem made it sound as though the three satellite tours could be part of a larger, global picture.
”I think what we’re going to do – and are doing – is watching carefully not just this tour in China, but also South America and Canada,” he said. ”And we’re spending more time evaluating the other core tours – the Asian Tour, Australia, South Africa – understanding more about co-sanctioning between Europe and some of these other tours. We’re just asking ourselves, overall, what’s the best mix?”
”Those two things dovetail,” he said. ”We need to get a better sense of what the Olympics are going to do on the weeks it’s played and the weeks around it. And then that kind of feeds into the world schedule.”
Finchem said it was a ”possibility” of co-sanctioning an event in Australia, though it didn’t sound as if the PGA Tour was headed in that direction.
Australia now has four big events on world schedule – the Masters, Open and PGA, along with Perth on the European Tour. This week in Sydney features Nos. 1 and 2 in the world with Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott, along with Spieth.
”We’ve got more big events around the world that are linked to the PGA Tour,” Scott said. ”I think the ball is really in their court as to what direction we want to go. It certainly has got the power to dictate to tournaments when they are and where they are. … If I was the Australian Open or one of the other tournaments, I’d be knocking on Tim Finchem’s door and trying to make it a World Golf Championship.”
HE’LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS: U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer is looking forward to the holidays, and for good reason. The German will be home for Christmas for the first time since 2006.
Kaymer also has a place in Arizona, and for the last seven years, he felt the need to stay in the desert to make sure he was prepared for a new season. After winning a second major, and The Players Championship, it’s time to celebrate.
”The last seven years I’ve been in Phoenix on my own. I don’t want to do that again,” Kaymer said. ”I always went in the beginning of December and stayed four or five weeks. It was difficult to have Christmas, your birthday (Dec. 28) and New Year’s Eve in a different country, with not many friends. You know what’s happening at home. But for me, it always was important to prepare for tournaments. I wanted success. Now, I have success.
”But that time of the year, you should enjoy it more, especially when you’ve had a year like that.”
There are significant differences between Christmas in Arizona and Christmas in Germany.
”It’s so weird when they put lights on the cactus,” Kaymer said. ”It’s not cold. I like that hot wine we drink on the Christmas market in Germany. In Phoenix, we drink ice cold water. It doesn’t feel like Christmas. I didn’t really have Christmas the last seven years, and I do miss it. And I really want to go home this year.”
EUROPEAN ROOKIE: The Americans have cornered the market when it comes to rookie of the year on the European Tour.
The tour announced Tuesday that Brooks Koepka won the Sir Henry Cotton award as Europe’s top rookie. Koepka finished at No. 8 in the Race to Dubai, helped immensely by his victory in the Turkish Airlines Open. He also had four other top 10s, including the U.S. Open.
Koepka won the award over Tyrell Hatton of England.
Peter Uihlein was European Tour rookie of the year last season. Uihlein and Koepka often traveled together and are roommates when both are home in Florida.
”I’ve worked so hard this year, and to see the results is fun,” Koepka said. ”To cap the year off with a win in Turkey has made this year special, and it’s a goal I’ve been working for since I was able to come out on tour, and that was the goal starting the year.
”To win rookie of the year, you look at all the guys who have won it, especially last year – Pete Uihlein – so at least we can keep it in the house.”
ROAD TO ST. ANDREWS: The Australian Open already has the top two players in the world in Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott. It also marks the start of British Open qualifying, with the leading three players from the top 10 on Sunday exempt into St. Andrews.
Only six players at The Australian Golf Club already are exempt to the British Open – McIlroy and Scott, Jordan Spieth, John Senden, Geoff Ogilvy and U.S. Amateur champion Yang Gunn of South Korea.
The Australian Open is the first of 14 tournaments in nine countries on five continents that comprise the Open Qualifying Series, offering a total of 44 spots.
DIVOTS: The LPGA Teaching and Club Professionals said Tuesday that Shirley Englehorn of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Donna White of West Palm Beach, Florida, will be inducted into its Hall of Fame next year. … Tiger Woods has lost more world ranking points this year (341.927) than all but two players – Rory McIlroy (565.132) and Bubba Watson (390.961) have earned. … Americans have 26 players in the top 50 in the world, up from 22 at this time last year.
STAT OF THE WEEK: For the first time, the LPGA Tour had three players top $2 million in earnings for the season.
FINAL WORD: ”I always say just have fun. That’s a big key, I think, to having a long career.” – Lydia Ko, who already has five LPGA Tour wins at age 17.