Categories
LPGA Tour

LPGA Tour: Lydia Ko Wins 2022 Rolex Player of the Year Award, Vare Trophy

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Nov. 10, 2022 ­– The LPGA Tour announced today that Lydia Ko earned the 2022 Rolex Player of the Year award with her win ­at the CME Group Tour Championship. Ko, who earned two additional victories this season at the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio and the BMW Ladies Championship, is the 15th different player to win the award at least twice.

The 25-year-old also won the 2022 Vare Trophy for recording the season’s lowest scoring average of 68.988. Her season-long scoring average is the second-lowest Vare Trophy-winning scoring average in Tour history, behind Annika Sorenstam’s 68.70 in 2002. Sorenstam and Ko are the only two players to win the Vare Trophy with a scoring average in the 68s. Ko is the 12th player in LPGA Tour history to win the award in consecutive seasons and the 15th player to win the trophy more than once.

With the CME Group Tour Championship victory, the Rolex Player of the Year honor and the Vare Trophy, Ko now has 25 points toward qualifying for the LPGA Hall of Fame, two points shy of the 27 needed to be inducted.

“It’s a dream come true” for Lydia Ko

“I feel like it’s really difficult to compare, like, when I won the Player of the Year in 2015 to now. I don’t even — I don’t do stats very much, so I don’t even know what it is actually by numbers, but this year has been special,” said Ko following her win at the CME Group Tour Championship. “To win again at the Gainbridge so early in the season after winning in LOTTE last year, especially when I didn’t feel like I was ready, it kind of came to me as a surprise. Winning in Korea was special at a place where I was born, and it was my goal to have won there once. And to kind of do that, it was like a bucket-list thing.

You know, coming into these two events in the Florida stretch because I had won in Korea, I wanted to not have too high expectations. And obviously I wanted to end the season on a high but, you know, know that whatever happens and even though there’s a lot of things on the line, just know that it’s been a great season. And to be the Player of the Year and to win the Vare Trophy again and to win the CME Group Tour Championship, it’s a dream come true. To be able to do it in front of family and my team, you know, it’s a very special one.”

Ko entered the week in Naples, Fla. as one of four players with a mathematical chance of winning Player of the Year, leading the standings with 150 points, one clear of Minjee Lee and 20 ahead of Brooke Henderson and Atthaya Thtiikul. She also led Thitikul by 0.386 of a stroke heading into the final event, meaning the Thai rookie would have needed to score 35 strokes better than Ko to have a chance at the Vare Trophy.

The Kiwi set herself apart from the first day of play, managing the windy conditions throughout the week better than anyone to earn her second wire-to-wire victory of the season and of her career. By the end of the second round, Ko had a five-stroke lead on the field, but Irishwoman Leona Maguire made the most of Moving Day to tie things up before the final day. A 2-under 70 was all Ko needed on Sunday to finish -17 overall, two strokes ahead of Maguire, and secure the three season-ending titles.

Ko won her first Rolex Player of the Year award in 2015 after earning five victories that season, including her first major championship title at the Amundi Evian Championship. She earned her first Vare Trophy last year with a season-long scoring average of 69.329. Her accolades include the 2021 Founders Award and the 2014 Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year honor.

Ko celebrates her 19th LPGA Tour win

Along with her three victories this season, Ko notched 11 additional top-10 finishes, including third-place finishes at the Palos Verdes Championship presented by Bank of America, the Amundi Evian Championship and The Ascendant LPGA benefiting Volunteers of America.

Ko is now a 19-time LPGA Tour winner (ranked T29 on the LPGA Tour’s All-Time Wins List), with major titles at the 2015 Amundi Evian Championship and the 2016 Chevron Championship. She is a former World No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, first achieving the top spot in February 2015 as the youngest player ever to be ranked No. 1 in professional golf. Ko is also the only amateur in history to win two LPGA Tour events, and officially joined the Tour as a 2014 rookie after petitioning for Membership in October 2013. Ko is a two-time Olympian representing New Zealand, winning the silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics and the bronze medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The prestigious Rolex Player of the Year award was introduced to the LPGA in 1966. LPGA Tour players are awarded points at each official LPGA tournament based on top-10 finishes with the top points earner taking home the prestigious honor each year. Points are doubled at each of the LPGA’s five major championships – The Chevron Championship, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the U.S. Women’s Open presented by ProMedica, the Amundi Evian Championship and the AIG Women’s Open.

The Vare Trophy was presented to the LPGA by Betty Jameson in 1952, in honor of the great American player Glenna Collett Vare. Vare Trophy scoring averages are computed on the basis of a Member’s total yearly score in Official Tournaments divided by the number of official rounds she played during a season.

(Text: LPGA)

Categories
Europe Travel

La Hacienda Alcaidesa Links Golf Resort – the new highlight on Andalusia’s Costa del Sol

Ambitious for the future

The US Millenium Hospitality Group has big goals. With La Hacienda Alcaidesa Links Golf Resort, it wants to become one of the leading and most luxurious golf resorts in Spain. It has entrusted this task to the Fairmont Hotels & Resorts Group, which is one of the most renowned luxury hotel brands worldwide.

The first steps have already been taken. The golf course, previously known as ‘Alcaidesa’, was rebuilt at a multi-million dollar cost and shines in a complete new splendour. The new, stylish clubhouse with its cool restaurant and the extraordinary beach club are already in place. The same goes for the huge driving range with new grass tees and the large putting, pitching and chipping area. Added to this is the already existing 18-hole Heathland Golf Course, so that the resort has two completely different golf courses.

By Easter 2024, a five-star hotel complex comprising 153 exclusive rooms and 51 villas is to be built on an area of 400 hectares.  Several more villas, all with private pools, will be available for purchase. Various restaurants and bars will be part of the complex as well as swimming pools, a spa and fitness centre and event facilities. A halfway house is under construction on the newly designed links course.

Millenium’s plan to become the flagship in Southern Europe with the resort seems to be working, because they have already been accepted as a member of the European Tour Destinations and are happy about this seal of quality.

All in white

As soon as you enter the white clubhouse of La Hacienda Alcaidesa Links Golf Resort, shining in the sun, you sense something special. The arc of tension is slowly built up, starting on the steps to the entrance. It continues as you cross the huge entrance hall and ends in front of an infinity pool with a view of the Mediterranean.

Unique: infinity pool at the clubhouse Terrasse (Photo: La Hacienda Alcaidesa Links Golf Resort)

The modern pro shop offers everything you need on a round. The rental clubs are of the best quality. The first tees of the two courses are in opposite directions. We first play the Heathland Course, which leads into the hinterland.

The Heathland Course

The 18-hole Heathland Course was designed by former Ryder Cup player Dave Thomas. The par-72 layout has a length of 6,373 m from the back tees and features different landscapes. While holes 1 to 5 and 17 and 18 are located on a plateau and resemble a heath landscape, the other courses wind their way down into the valley with magnificent views of the Mediterranean Sea, where several water hazards await.

This is also the case at the 13th, a par-5, where the tee shot has to be hit well in order not to land in the water hazard crossing the course head-on.

Challenging Par-5 on the Heathland Course (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Due to the sometimes considerable distances between the individual holes and the considerable differences in altitude, a buggy is highly recommended. Some of these are brand new and of course equipped with GPS.

Unique Links Golf Course

The next day we played the only links course in southern Spain. The origin of the course dates back to 1992 and was designed by Peter Alliss and Clive Clark. Its current redesign is due to the US-American Kurtis Bowman, who redesigned all greens and added several bunkers. The course was only opened this summer but is already in great condition.

The par-72 course has a sensational layout and is suitable for all handicappers. The course is teed off from four tees. Players with a handicap of less than nine are recommended to use the white tees. The course then has a length of 5,841 m. At the moment, there is no table of playing conditions. I play off the yellows and am looking forward to the 5.5 km journey ahead of me. I know of no other course in Spain that offers such sensational views. The Rock of Gibraltar, which is clearly visible on a clear day, keeps attracting attention on various courses and distracts from the game. We are lucky with the weather and after a short initial rainfall, we enjoy the sunshine on the rest of the round.

Tee off to enjoy (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The varied courses, the constant ups and downs and the great views over the course make the round of golf an unforgettable experience. Everything is extremely well-maintained and also perfectly matched visually.

The water hazards are impressively designed and interrupt the different shades of green of tees, fairways and greens with their brilliant blue. The course is not only great to play, but also meets the highest aesthetic standards. Some holes run directly along the sea.

Everything at its best (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Development is already encroaching on some of the holes. This will increase further with the Fairmont Hotel La Hacienda, which is being built in terraces level with the back end of the beach with the best views across the course to the sea.

Directly along the beach (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The palate will also be pampered

What could be better than finishing off a successful round of golf with a great meal and special drinks? The fact that this is possible at the resort is thanks to the Azotea Group. Behind it are the journalist Cristina Lasvignes and her husband José Manuel García. Among other things, they have founded various restaurants and bars in Spain under the Sal Verde brand that meet the highest standards.

Attractive location above the golf course (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

These include the Clubhouse Restaurant as well as the Arena Bar in the Beach Club, which is located directly below the golf course. Both combine a great ambience, the highest quality and outstanding creativity.

Arena bar at the beach club (Photo: Azalea)

Exceptional dishes and creative cocktails are created by the Michelin-starred Executive Chef Manuel Berganza and the renowned mixologist Luca Anastasio. The latter plays a special role in Sal Verde’s concept, because high-quality cocktails play an essential role in Sal Verde’s gastronomy concept.

Spectacular from the air as well (Photo: James Hogg)

Those who have a choice are spoilt for choice. Either you choose the Spicy Moscow Mule, the Senorita Margarita, the Amalfi Ten Tonic, the Galan or Paloma, or you try them all. With one exception, they were all new to me and impressed me as much as the menus of the latest Spanish star chef. The tuna tartare, popular in Andalusia, served here with truffles and spring onion dressing, melted in my mouth just as much as the mussels au gratin with spicy tomato sauce, to name just two of the various delicacies tasted.

As the Fairmont accommodation is still under construction, we are staying at the Aldiana Club near the golf courses while we get to know the new resort.

Adiós Aldiana Andalusia

The sun still rises every morning over the Aldiana Club Costa del Sol in Alcaidesa. But this will come to an end on 21 November 2022, because the resort will soon change hands. After the planned renovation, it will be called Sun Club Costa del Sol from next year and will continue as a four-star hotel under a new flag.

Sunrise at Aldiana Alcaidesa (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The current all-inclusive concept will then be replaced by an offer that includes a choice of breakfast, half board or full board. It remains to be seen whether the great barbecue in the beach restaurant, which is still part of the club, will be offered.

I enjoyed the freshly prepared Andalusian specialities and especially the extremely spicy chorizo sausages. These remain in my positive memory as well as the varied and high-quality offer in the entire club. The well-maintained facilities and the friendliness and attentiveness of all the staff contributed in equal measure to my feeling of well-being during my stay. Not to forget the bright and clean room with the extremely comfortable bed.

Spicy and extremely delicious (Photo Juergen Linnenbuerger)

I am convinced that the Millenium/Fairmont concept will work out and that their guests will be delighted with the high-quality offer. I already am and look forward to another round on one of the most impressive golf courses in southern Europe. Hasta luego. 

Categories
Highlights Tours

US Masters 2022: Million dollar prize – this is how much money is at stake in Augusta

The official prize money for the US Masters 2022 was raised to 15 million dollars. In 2021, the prize money totaled $11.5 million. The raise is making the Masters one of the top tournaments on the tour, also financially, and the second best endowed tournament in golf behind the Players Championship ($20 million). The US Open and the PGA Championship both payed $12 million in 2021. According to reports, the organizers and sponsors even wanted to raise the prize money a little this year to underline the importance of the tournament.

One thing is for sure, whoever makes the cut at Augusta National can already look forward to a tidy handout in any case. Since 2019, the winner has received just over two million dollars, 600 FedEx Cup points and 100 points for the world rankings. In addition, a win at Augusta secures a PGA Tour card for five years, lifetime playing rights at the US Masters, and a starting spot at all majors for the next five years.

US Masters 2022: Smaller field = more money for everyone

Nothing is left to chance when it comes to the distribution of prize money at the US Masters. Instead, a clear scheme is followed that regulates the payout to the individual placings on a percentage basis. According to this scheme, the Masters champion always receives 18% of the total prize money, the runner-up still gets 10%, the third place 6.8%. If two or more players share a place, the prize money is divided among the players, as in any other tournament.

Augusta National: How to play a round of golf at the world’s most exclusive course

One reason why it is still possible to cash in well on the back places at the US Masters 2022 is the significantly smaller starting field compared to the PGA Tour. In terms of the size of the field, the fewest number of players make the cut after 36 holes at the Masters. Only the top 50 players (and stroke ties) make it to the weekend and thus receive a slightly higher share of the total prize money. Even those who miss the cut still receive $10,000, with only amateurs going away empty-handed.

This is how much money the top 50 players receive at the US Masters

Win: Scottie Scheffler, -10, $2,700,000

2: Rory McIlroy, -7, $1,620,000

T-3: Shane Lowry, -5, $870,000

T-3: Cameron Smith, -5, $870,000

5: Collin Morikawa, -4, $600,000

T-6: Will Zalatoris, -3, $521,250

T-6: Corey Conners, -3, $521,250

T-8: Justin Thomas, -1, $450,000

T-8: Sungjae Im, -1, $450,000

T-10: Cameron Champ, E, $395,000

T-10: Charl Schwartzel, E, $395,000

T-12: Dustin Johnson, +1, $330,000

T-12: Danny Willett, +1, $330,000

T-14: Kevin Na, +2, $225,333

T-14: Matt Fitzpatrick, +2, $225,333

T-14: Min Woo Lee, +2, $225,333

T-14: Harry Higgs, +2, $225,333

T-14: Lee Westwood, +2, $225,333

T-14: Talor Gooch, +2, $225,333

T-14: Hideki Matsuyama, +2, $225,333

T-14: Tommy Fleetwood, +2, $225,333

T-14: Jason Kokrak, +2, $225,333

T-23: Robert MacIntyre, +3, $138,000

T-23: Harold Varner III, +3, $138,000

T-23: Sergio Garcia, +3, $138,000

T-23: J.J. Spaun, +3, $138,000

T-27: Jon Rahm, +4, $111,000

T-27: Seamus Power, +4, $111,000

T-27: Viktor Hovland, +4, $111,000

T-30: Russell Henley, +5, $93,150

T-30: Sepp Straka, +5, $93,150

T-30: Hudson Swafford, +5, $93,150

T-30: Lucas Glover, +5, $93,150

T-30: Marc Leishman, +5, $93,150

T-35: Joaquin Niemann, +6, $75,562.50

T-35: Tony Finau, +6, $75,562.50

T-35: Patrick Reed, +6, $75,562.50

T-35: Webb Simpson, +6, $75,562.50

T-39: Patrick Cantlay, +7, $63,000

T-39: Bubba Watson, +7, $63,000

T-39: Tom Hoge, +7, $63,000

T-39: Si Woo Kim, +7, $63,000

43: Billy Horschel, +8, $55,500

T-44: Christiaan Bezuidenhout, +9, $51,000

T-44: Kevin Kisner, +9, $51,000

46: Cameron Davis, +12, $46,500

47: Tiger Woods, +13, $43,500

T-48: Adam Scott, +14, $40,050

T-48: Max Homa, +14, $40,050

T-50: Mackenzie Hughes, +15, $37,350

T-50: Daniel Berger, +15, $37,350

Categories
Highlights Tours

US Masters 2022: Will Jon Rahm continue the Spanish tradition at Augusta?

We are in a week unlike any other in the entire year. When the gates of Augusta National Golf Club open in April, the entire golfing world goes into a trance for seven days, triggered by the uniqueness and simple beauty of this tournament. In Augusta, everything simply fits and the entire scenery seems perfectly coordinated, as if in a choreography that has been rehearsed for years. For this very reason – and because Augusta is Augusta – the US Masters is considered the most prestigious and important tournament of the year, even among players.

US Masters 2022 – Tee Times

That’s how Jon Rahm sees it, too. Although the Spaniard lost his first place in the world rankings to Scottie Scheffler a few weeks ago, the bookmakers still consider the 27-year-old to be the biggest contender for the title at the 2022 US Masters, and for good reason. For one thing, Rahm has always finished in the top 10 in his last four appearances at Augusta, and for another, this golf course has a very special Spanish aura about it. Seve Ballesteros, Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia have already won the Green Jacket, and now the next great Spaniard is to follow. But Jon Rahm is aware of the difficulty of this task, as he revealed at the press conference on Tuesday.

US Masters 2022: No major like any other


The Masters is unique. Not only because of its history, but also because it is the only major tournament that is played on the same course every year. Admittedly, the Augusta National Golf Club has made some minor changes to the course again this year, but anyone who has ever played the Masters can gauge exactly what to expect. Jon Rahm knows that, too: “It makes preparation a little easier. You can simulate the situations for different shots a little easier in practice than you can at the other three majors, when you play a new course every year,” says the world number two.

Based on this fact, but also on his strong results in recent years, the Spaniard considers himself well prepared for the coming week: “I know I can play well here and hopefully on Sunday I can be a little closer on the last nine holes than in recent years.”

Tiger Woods on US Master 2022: “I belive I can win!”

In addition to the beautiful golf course built by Perry Maxwell in 1937, it’s also the crowds of fans that make the tournament what it is today. For Rahm, the 2022 US Masters is unlike any other event. After limited crowds during the pandemic, they are returning to full capacity this year. And as if the anticipation wasn’t already high enough, Tiger Woods is also announcing his comeback for the same week. “We were on the 7 on Monday and Tiger was just playing the 2,” Rahm reports of his first impressions. “I’ve never seen such a big crowd on those two holes, even on a Sunday. There’s a lot more excitement in the air.”

Jon Rahm: “Justin Thomas is the only one who gets real tips from Tiger.”

If you want to hold your own at Augusta National Golf Club, you need a good mix of experience and your best golf game. Forty-two years ago, Seve Ballesteros became the first Spaniard to win the U.S. Masters, ushering in a small Spanish tradition that last continued in 2017 when Sergio Garcia won the Green Jacket. Jon Rahm knows about that tradition and would only be too happy to do his part:

“Since I’m the only Spanish player who is a Major champion but not a Masters champion, that would be something special. Hopefully I can be fourth on that list. There have been a lot of good Spanish stories here that I would like to add to.”

US Masters 2022: Hideki Matsuyama serves outrageous menu of Japanese cuisine

If Rahm can show his best game this week, he will undoubtedly be considered the top favorite. But the Masters wouldn’t be the Masters if even the best players in the world didn’t break a sweat in this setting. Experience is the be-all and end-all at Augusta. When Tiger Woods was about to play his first US Masters, then as an amateur, he got helpful tips from Seve Ballesteros about the condition of the greens and how best to master the difficult shots at Augusta. When asked if Rahm himself had ever asked Tiger for such tips, the Spaniard responded with a nice anecdote:

“Justin Thomas is the only one who gets real tips from Tiger. I asked him for tips once before, back in East Lake. He just turned around and said ‘it’s all about the feeling and just keep going’ and I stood there thinking ‘cool, thanks for that’. Then when I turned around he was standing next to JT telling him a whole dissertation.”

Even if Rahm can’t hope for any tips from Tiger, it should also be enough if he fully trusts his game; after all, it made him the best golfer in the world last year. And there’s one more thing to be hopeful about. Rahm has his biggest fan with him again this week for the 2022 US Masters. “My son Kepa was a lucky charm at the U.S. Open. He wasn’t there at the British Open, so I hope he makes it lucky again this time.”

Categories
Live Satellite Tours Senior Tours

Legends Tour announces initial part of 2021 schedule

The Legends Tour today announces the first part of its International Schedule for 2021, marking the return of over-50s professional golf in Europe following the cancellation of the Tour’s 2020 season.

It follows the ground-breaking joint venture between Staysure Group CEO Ryan Howsam and the European Tour earlier this year, when Howsam acquired a controlling stake in the Staysure Tour which was rebranded as the Legends Tour, placing golf’s most iconic names at the forefront of the brand. 

Some of those iconic names, including Major Champions, former World Number Ones and Ryder Cup Captains, will host Legends Tour events in 2021 where amateurs will be able to tee it up alongside their golfing heroes in the innovative Alliance Pro-Am format. 

The season will begin in Austria when the Riegler & Partner Legends takes place from May 7-9 at Golf Club Murhof, with the Tour returning to the venue for the second time after its first appearance on the schedule in 2019. The Italian Senior Open will take place a week later from May 14-16 at a venue to be confirmed, before the first Senior Major Championship of the year, the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club, Tulsa, Oklahoma, from May 27-30. 

June will begin with a return to Jersey for the first time since 2016 for the ICL Jersey Legends at La Moye Golf Club from June 4-6, before the Tour makes its first trip of the year to mainland Britain for the Farmfoods European Legends Links Championship at Trevose Golf & Country Club, England, from June 18-20. 

The U.S. Senior Open will take place at Omaha Country Club, Nebraska, from July 8-11, while the long-running Swiss Seniors Open at Golf Club Bad Ragaz, will return for its 24th edition at a date to be confirmed in July. 

The WINSTONgolf Senior Open returns to WINSTONLinks, Vorbeck, Germany, from July 16-18, one week prior to The Senior Open Presented by Rolex at Sunningdale Golf Club, England, from July 22-25. The Championship will be hosted at Sunningdale one year on from its original date following its cancellation due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. 

The prestigious Staysure PGA Seniors Championship will take place at Formby Golf Club, Southport, England, from July 29-August 1, moving from London Golf Club where it has been hosted since its return to the International Schedule in 2018. 

Former Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley will then welcome the Legends Tour to the island of Ireland for the first time since 2010 when the Irish Legends Presented by The McGinley Foundation takes place in Donegal at the stunning Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort from August 20-22. 

The Scottish Senior Open Hosted by Paul Lawrie will take place in September where the 1999 Open Champion will look to defend his maiden over-50s title which he picked up at Craigielaw in 2019. The date and venue for the event are still to be confirmed. The Farmfoods European Senior Masters will take place once again at Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel & Country Club, England, from October 1-3. 

Mark Aspland, Head of the Legends Tour, said: “We have been extremely excited to announce this schedule after the cancellation of our 2020 Schedule and we cannot wait to begin again next year. 

“We have used the time productively to strengthen our schedule for 2021 and give our members as many playing opportunities as possible. 

“I must place on record my thanks to all the partners, sponsors and federations who have made this schedule possible. We have a fantastic mix of old and new events and we are looking forward to visiting places we know well and venues and territories that are new to many of us. 

“We will be concluding the 2021 season with the Indian Ocean Swing Tour Championship events and we are working hard to add events through the season, particularly in the Autumn. Further announcements will be made early in 2021.” 

Ryan Howsam, Group CEO, said: “I would firstly like to say well done to Mark Aspland and his team for putting this schedule together. Following the announcement of the joint venture in September, we have been working together on the brand and marketing channels to improve the commercial value of the Tour and therefore enhance the playing opportunities for the Legends Tour members. We have identified several exciting projects that will enhance the Legends Tour over the coming years.

“There will be plenty of opportunity for amateur golfers to get involved in Legends Tour events, from playing in the Celebrity Pro-Ams, teeing it up in Alliance events and joining the Legends Club, our exclusive Membership Club for people who desire a more in-depth involvement in the Tour and our events.”

For anyone wishing to purchase playing spots in Celebrity Pro-Ams, Alliance events or to enquire about Legends Club Membership, please email Legends Tour concierge via: [email protected].

(Press release: Legends Tour)

Categories
Top Tours

European Tour: Major surge in viewing figures for Rolex Series events

The European Tour’s consecutive autumn Rolex Series events recorded a significant increase in viewing figures and engagement, continuing the recent surge in consumption of live golf in 2020.  

Sky Sports, the European Tour’s UK broadcast partner, reported the highest recorded viewing figures for European Tour events since data collection began, with the tournament average figures for the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open and last week’s BMW PGA Championship up 81 per cent compared to 2019.   

Englishman Aaron Rai defeated Ryder Cup star Tommy Fleetwood in a play-off at The Renaissance Club to win his first Rolex Series title at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open and a week later Tyrrell Hatton claimed his third Rolex Series victory, finishing four shots clear of Frenchman Victor Perez at Wentworth Club.  

Both tournaments were played without spectators as the European Tour continues to operate a tournament bubble as part of the Tour’s health strategy based on UK government guidelines.

Instead, fans have been turning to their TVs and digital devices to stay in touch with the European Tour’s events, with the back-to-back Rolex Series events providing a premium viewer experience through enhanced broadcast and digital coverage.

Innovations included the introduction of TopTracer4K, an overall increase in the use of TopTracer to a total of nine tees, alongside the popular TopTracer fairway, enhanced augmented graphics, integrated aerial coverage from drones and the plane cam, shot by shot live statistics and enhanced audio from players and caddies. Viewers also continued to be brought closer to the action through the Sky Cart, in-round interviews and tournament winners celebrating their victories with their family via greenside video calls.

Live Golf is booming

Furthermore, highlights of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open and BMW PGA Championship also proved popular on terrestrial television in the UK, with peak figures of more than 750,000 on the BBC.

In addition to bumper viewing figures, the fortnight of Rolex Series events also recorded the 2020 season’s highest social media impressions, collectively exceeding the totals from their respective 2019 editions by five per cent. 

The success of the two Rolex Series events further demonstrated the sustained boom in demand for live golf since the resumption of the 2020 European Tour season, with viewing figures for the six-tournament UK Swing in July and August 64 per cent higher than the Sky Sports 2019 average for European Tour events. 

Rufus Hack, the European Tour’s Chief Operating Officer and Managing Director of European Tour Productions, said: “It has undoubtedly been a significant operational accomplishment to stage these events in the current circumstances and we have made a substantial investment in our health strategy to create the safest possible environment to continue providing live golf. We are therefore delighted with the response from fans on our broadcast and digital platforms, both across the two Rolex Series events which have created a real festival fortnight of golf, but also since our resumption in July. 

“We all badly missed live golf when it was suspended in April and May and these figures certainly underline the demand that exists to watch and enjoy live coverage of our sport.  Although we dearly miss fans being able to attend our events in person, through the latest innovations and with the support of our key broadcasters and partners, we are able to offer the most insightful viewer experience possible.”

Jason Wessely, Sky Sports Director of Golf said: “We’re delighted to see the continued interest in Sky Sports Golf coverage and it’s fantastic to see how many people enjoyed the two recent Rolex Series events. 

“Our team continues to work hard in testing times to bring the best golf coverage to Sky Sports subscribers and we look forward to bringing our customers plenty more world class golf in the coming weeks.”

Following the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA won by Lee Westwood in January, the Rolex Series concludes with the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai at Jumeirah Golf Estates from December 10-13. 

Alongside broadcast and digital innovations, the European Tour’s 2020 season will also continue to be underpinned by its #GolfforGood initiative, which has been raising money for charities and rewarding the true heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, David Howell’s hole-in-one at the BMW PGA Championship secured a donation of £71,675 for the tournament’s official charity, the Alzheimer’s Society, from tournament title sponsor BMW. That took the overall amount raised by #GolfforGood so far to £902,091. 

(Text: European Tour)

Categories
Top Tours

US Open 2020 Tiger Woods: “I don’t see any reason why it won’t get harder and get more difficult.”

Tiger Woods talked to the media after his not so satisfying first round of 73 at the US Open 2020 at Winged Foot. He expects the course to become even tougher over the next few days.

Q. Tiger, talk about the round a bit.

TIGER WOODS: Well, it was a bit of ebb and flow to the round today. I did not finish off the round like I needed to. I made a bunch of putts in the middle part of the round. It seemed like most of my drives on the front nine landed in the fairway and ended up in bad spots, and I tried to stay as patient as possible, and unfortunately just did not finish off my round the way I needed to.

Q. Do you take any positives that you made five birdies, made a bunch of putts?

TIGER WOODS: No, but I needed to finish off the round better, and I didn’t. As I said, I made a few putts the middle part of the round. Seemed like I wasn’t getting anything out of my round early on, and it flipped, and unfortunately I just didn’t finish off the way I needed to.

Q. What did you think of the conditions of the golf course, and was it how you expected or a little bit different in any way?

TIGER WOODS: I thought the golf course was set up fantastic. I thought that what they did with the hole locations were very fair today. It gave us an opportunity to make some birdies, and you look at most of the scores, and the guys took advantage of it.

Q. Do you expect it to keep getting firmer as the week goes on?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I don’t see any reason why it won’t get harder and get more difficult. I just think that the golf course is there to be had. They gave us a lot of opportunities with the hole locations. Obviously they could have made it a lot more difficult if they wanted to, but I thought it was very fair.

Q. Is there any solace knowing it’s going to be such a grind this week that shooting a sub-par first round isn’t anything near —

TIGER WOODS: Well, we have a long way to go. This is a long marathon of a tournament. There’s a lot of different things that can go on. I just wish I would have finished off my round better.

Q. Given how little you’ve played this year, when you strung those birdies together in the middle of the round to kind of reel it back in and preserve it, isn’t that a pretty positive sign for you going forward?

TIGER WOODS: Well, the middle part of my round, a lot of things went my way. Beginning part of the round it seemed like things weren’t going my way. Good tee shots were ended up in the rough in bad spots, and I had a nice little hot run there in the middle part of my round, hit a really good putt at 12, thought it was going to go in and then I lipped it out, and then made two bogeys after that. Didn’t finish off my round the way I needed to.

Categories
Live

Tiger Woods: I miss the energy and the positiveness

THE MODERATOR: We are pleased to welcome three-time U.S. Open champion Tiger Woods to the interview area. Tiger, who has won nine USGA championships, is making his 22nd U.S. Open appearance.

Q. You haven’t played a ton of golf this year, but for your last victory at ZOZO, you were coming off a bit of a break then. How were you able to peak that week in particular, and what has been missing maybe since then?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I was kind of hopeful that I’d be able to play ZOZO because I had just had knee surgery, and everything was kind of rounding into form. I felt pretty good. My knee felt a hell of a lot better and all of a sudden I putted well that week and was able to go on to win.


This year I really haven’t putted as well as I wanted to, and the times I did make a few swing mistakes, I missed it in the wrong spots. Consequently, I just didn’t have the right looks at it. I’ve compounded mistakes here and there that ended up not making me able to make pars or a birdie run, and consequently I haven’t put myself in contention to win events.

Q. In the list of courses that maybe have been the most difficult, where would you rank Winged Foot?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think it’s right up there next to Oakmont and I think Carnoustie as far as just sheer difficulty without even doing anything to it. I think those three golf courses, they can host major championships without ever doing anything to them.


This one or Oakmont here is either one or two.

Q. Can you talk about your preparation for this golf course based on your previous performances here and the highest winning scores here in the past?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I was able to come up here right before I played in Boston, take a look at the golf course, and I was able to get my sight lines. This golf course is going to be one of the more difficult ones. The winning scores here have never traditionally been very low. I don’t see that changing this week.


The golf course is going to be hard. It depends on how difficult they want to set up these pins, give us a chance at it. But with the forecast, it’s going to be difficult no matter what.

Q. How much did a difficult venue like Olympia Fields in your last start help you prepare for Winged Foot?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, Olympia Fields was hard. It was fast, dry, which is unlike this golf course right now. It’s going to obviously dry out, but the rough is very sticky here and very thick and lush. Olympia Fields, the rough was high, but generally most of the lies we had in the rough were downgrain, and guys were able to get the ball up near the greens, but obviously the greens were difficult.


Most of the lies we’ve had so far this week, they’re not really downgrain, so it’ll be interesting to see how much the USGA will cut the rough down and allow us to try and be a little bit more aggressive and get the ball up around the greens.

Q. How will the experience be different for you at a U.S. Open without fans?

TIGER WOODS: It’s going to be — you know, it’s something that unfortunately this is our new reality. This is something we’re getting used to. It’s not something we like. We want the fans and we want the atmosphere out there, but safety is first.

Q. What is your health preparation like each week as you play in a tournament compared to your practice prep? Which takes more? Which is harder to get feeling good and feeling like you’re ready for a tournament compared to your health prep and feeling good with your body?

TIGER WOODS: Well, the health comes first. Whether or not I feel physically good enough where I can put in the practice, that’s my unfortunate reality. I’ve had four back surgeries. Trying to be healthy enough so that I can practice and I’m able to spend the time that I want, that I need to.

Q. Which takes more time?

TIGER WOODS: What’s that?

Q. Practice or just getting loose?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I have to train in order to practice, and I have to get my back loose enough to where I’m able to practice. That’s just the way it is.

Q. Gary Woodland was just in here telling us a funny story about you guys being at Liberty National and you had to get him straight on how many U.S. Opens you had won, but then you guys concluded that among your four, you don’t have one on a private course. Do you distinguish at all U.S. Opens on private courses versus public courses?

TIGER WOODS: You know, I think that USGA events — how can I put this? This year is unique. We don’t have a lot of qualifiers, and we don’t have access into the event like we’ve had in years past. Whether we play on a public course or private course is irrelevant. I think that the qualification is what makes this event so unique, is that we’re able to qualify for this event and have unique opportunities.


Unfortunately this year it’s not one of those.

Q. You grew up playing public courses; do you regard the Old Course as a muni?

TIGER WOODS: The Old Course?

Q. Yeah.

TIGER WOODS: I think the Old Course is unique in whatever you want to call it. I think that — it’s where the home of golf is, and the fact that everyone has a chance to play it, I think that’s what makes it so special.

Q. Coming off the tennis U.S. Open, Serena and Rafa are both in positions to tie some big records coming up, and you’re one of the few people who qualify to answer this. Does it get harder to win a major the closer you get to the all-time mark and why?

TIGER WOODS: You know, I think it gets harder to win as we all age. I think that when you’re in your prime, in your peak years, you have to take advantage of those opportunities so that when you get to the all-time marks, you have the opportunity.


I think that whether it’s Rafa or Fed or Serena, they’ve been so consistent and so dominant for such a long period of time, that’s how you get to — you can have those all-time marks. Consistency over a long period of time is the hallmark of those records.

Q. You’ve talked in the past about when you practice your putting, you go back a lot of times to what you and your dad used to work on. Is that still the case, or have you mixed up the routine over the years?

TIGER WOODS: I have changed the routine and some of the things that I’ve done over the years, but I still go back to what my dad always taught me, which is obviously putt to the picture. Whatever I’m working on at that particular time, once I get out there and I putt, just putt.

Q. I think ’06 here was the first tournament you played after your dad passed. How difficult was it for you that week, and then in the month that followed? Just talk about your mindset and getting ready to win one for him at Royal Liverpool.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, when I didn’t win the Masters that year, that was really tough to take because that was the last event my dad was ever going to watch me play. He passed not too long after that, and quite frankly, when I got ready for this event, I didn’t really put in the time. I didn’t really put in the practice, and consequently missed the cut pretty easily.


But after that I was able to do some practicing, did some — probably some pretty good grieving after this championship, played well at the Western and then went on to really play well at the British. I think it was just — I was not prepared to play and still dealing with the death of my dad.

Q. Only 15 players in the field played in the 2006 U.S. Open. Do you see that as an advantage?

TIGER WOODS: Well, the golf course has changed a lot since then. Obviously the greens, they’ve all been redone, and most of the holes are a lot longer than when we played in ’06. But technology has changed, and the golf ball is going further. Guys are hitting it further. So we’re playing from about the same spots. It’s just whatever — it seems like every green you have to walk back a little bit further.

Q. Can you describe what it meant to you after all the surgeries and the years of not winning majors to come back and win the Masters, and was there anything special that you felt that week that you can relate to this week? How do you rate your chances here?

TIGER WOODS: Well, when I won the Masters last year, it was — I was not feeling particularly well prior to that. My neck was bothering me. I didn’t play in Bay Hill. For some reason I felt physically better and my training sessions felt good. I changed shafts in my driver right before the event, and I was able to start turning the ball over.


Then all of a sudden I put myself in contention and I wasn’t really — I wasn’t leading but I was near the lead, and each day I progressively got a little bit better, and come Sunday, I put all the pieces together.

Q. Several players here have said that of all the people out on Tour, you feed off the fans more than anything. In that regard, I know you said you miss them, but in that regard, how much do you miss the fans?

TIGER WOODS: Well, for me in particular, I miss the energy and just the positiveness that the fans bring and just that electricity. But that’s something that I’ve been playing in front of for over two decades. That’s something I’ve been a part of, and I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of that.


What we’re dealing with right now is not what we all want, but it’s our reality, and it’s the energy that’s just not quite the same without the fans.

Q. Even without the fans, is there something special about coming back to the New York metropolitan area and playing?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I think that this area has some of the best golf courses on the planet, but also what makes coming up here and being a part of these events are the fans and the energy that this entire area brings. They love sports. It’s a shame that we’re not going to have that atmosphere out here this particular week, but obviously everyone will be watching and be supporting at home or wherever is the safest.

Q. Still meaningful to you that a lot of these fans will be rooting for you even if they’re home?

TIGER WOODS: Absolutely it is. It’s not the same without the fan experience, but as I said, this is our reality for right now.

Q. Are you using your standard Scotty Cameron?

TIGER WOODS: Yes, I am.

Q. A strategy question: With fairways this hard to hit and rough this penal, it seems like everyone is going to be missing a lot of fairways. Do you anticipate hitting a lot of drivers so you aren’t too far back, or do you anticipate laying back to keep it in the fairway?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, you know, I think a lot of that is dependent on which way the wind is blowing. The forecast three of the four days will be blowing out of the north, and I think that that will make a difference. Some of the tee shots that we hit today, slightly different wind than what we played on Sunday, and so I think that strategy-wise it’s ebb and flow.


For me in particular I’m trying to play to certain areas. Whatever club that is, could be 5-wood, could be driver or a 3-wood. I’m trying to play to a specific spot and then move on from there.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Tiger. Good luck this week.

Categories
PGA Tour

“DJs” winning interview after his FedExCup victory

MICHAEL BALIKER: Dustin, this was your 11th trip to East Lake this week. You’ve been chasing this trophy for a long time. How satisfying is it to finally get it done?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, it’s definitely very satisfying to be the FedExCup champion. Obviously coming in here I was in first with a two-shot lead, and I needed all those strokes that I could get. It’s a tough golf course, but I feel like I played pretty solid all week.

Obviously yesterday was a great round, and then obviously today was — I played — got off to a great start and I played really well coming down the stretch.

Yeah, it was a tough day, tough golf course, and I’m definitely excited it’s over and that I can celebrate a little bit now instead of — it was a grind out there. But I’m very proud to be the FedExCup champion.

Q.  What was the level of concern with your game leaving here last year and how does it feel to go from finishing last here last year to now winning this year?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: I don’t even remember what happened last year. That was a long time ago. I was playing a little better coming in this season.

“Being a FedExCup champion is something that I really wanted to do”

Q.  Were you nervous today?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: I was nervous. I always get nervous because it means something. Yeah, I mean, I get nervous on the first hole, kind of settled down a little bit, and then obviously the back nine definitely could feel it, just because there were a lot of really good players around me and they were playing well.

So I knew I was going to have to shoot a good score on the back nine if I wanted to win.

Q.  Paul Azinger said a long time ago that only two things would really rattle a player, playing for cash or playing for prestige. Which one meant more to you today?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: Probably the prestige for sure just because being a FedExCup champion is something that I really wanted to do. I wanted to hold that trophy at the end of the day. It was something that I wanted to accomplish during my career, and obviously I got one of them. Now I’m going to try to get me another.

Q.  There’s a lot of big names on the trophy. Were you kind of annoyed that yours wasn’t on it?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: A little bit, but like I said yesterday, I think a couple times there I didn’t really have control of what was going on just because of my play, but obviously today I was in control of winning the trophy or not.

If I played well, I was going to win; if I didn’t, I wasn’t going to. I like that situation a lot better.

Q.  Can you talk about how important that putt was on 13 and your emotions when you banged it off the back of the cup?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, obviously I hit my — obviously the drive went just in the left rough there and I hit a good shot right where I wanted to, just short right of the green.

But it was just one of those — my ball was sitting in the first cut. I thought I was going to catch it clean and didn’t and it came up short. Yeah, that putt was definitely kind of the turning point for me there on the back nine. You know, obviously it gave me the confidence and kind of kept the round going in the right direction.

Stepped up, hit a really nice drive on 14; hit some really quality shots really the rest of the way in. That was a big putt.

Q.  When you look at what you’ve done this post season, you’re exactly one shot away from being absolutely perfect, obviously, in the playoff which you didn’t really have much control over in that situation. Can you characterize this run compared to some of the other runs you’ve had in your career these last few weeks?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, feel like the game is in really good form, playing some solid golf, and obviously contending every week. I’m playing probably some of the best golf I’ve ever played.

Like I said, there’s plenty of room for improvement.

“It’s more about the trophy”

Q.  Obviously it’s a big amount of money and I’m sure it means a lot to you, but I’m just curious if you can think back to a time in your career when there was an amount of money that might have been a lot less that really changed your life, that really might’ve mattered in terms of whether it was your career or just whatever, paying back sponsors or anything that you might have — where that money would have really had a huge impact on you even if it might have been a lot less.

DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, absolutely. When I went through all three stages of Q-school and got my TOUR card I think they gave me like a $25,000 check. Yeah, I thought I was rich because I didn’t have but a couple hundred bucks in my bank account probably.

Then I went to the first tournament in Hawai’i, I think I finished 10th, and I don’t know, it was a hundred grand or something.

So yeah, that was big, and obviously that was a lot of money to me.

Now obviously I’m very thankful for FedEx and the amount of money they donate for us to be whoever is the FedExCup champion, but it’s not about the money for me. It’s more about the trophy.

Q.  Was there a time back say 10, 12 years ago where you had to get over the idea of thinking how much money a missed putt would cost? Is that an important part to being successful, to not think about the money even though it’s a lot?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: Well, at this stage of my career I’m fortunate enough where I don’t need to think about that. It’s more — it’s all about winning and the trophies. The money is not — I don’t really care about that. I want to win tournaments, and I want to win trophies.

Q.  Sounds like you talked to Wayne over the weekend; can you maybe share the insights of that conversation that you guys had?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: He was playing golf and I asked him how he was playing. He said he was hitting it pretty good but Janet was yelling at him because he wasn’t playing good enough that was about the extent of the conversation.

Q.  You addressed this a little bit, but was this maybe more important in some ways to you given the five strokes — obviously wanting to win the FedExCup and so forth, did it take on any greater significance in that regard to you?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: I didn’t really understand. Sorry.

Q.  Did you need this win in your eyes?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: Well, yeah, I needed the win. Last week I had the lead going into the final round. Played a really good solid round, made a great putt to get into a playoff, but ended up losing in the playoff.

Having a five-shot lead today, it’s something, yeah, I needed to finish it off, especially give myself a lot of confidence going into the U.S. Open here in — what, it starts in 10 days or something, or less.

Obviously got a couple days to celebrate with Paulina and the kids, and then got to get back to grinding again.

Q.  These last four weeks you and A.J. seem to have been especially dialed in in your routine on the greens, and I think there might have been a couple adjustments made in how you guys are going about things. I wonder if you could kind of explain that and just what role he really played in this run that you’ve been on here recently.

DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, A.J. is a big part of the game. Obviously he’s my brother. We’re a good team. He reads the greens well, and a lot of times, too, I know we’re doing well when — you know, because I started using the line at the PGA on the putter when I was putting, and so he’s been doing the AimPoint for a while.

So I know when I line it up and we’ve got it in the same vicinity that we’re doing a good job. He’s done a great job over the last four weeks, four tournaments, and I’m glad to have my brother on the bag with me.

“He’s going to be on my bag for a long time”

Q.  You talked about needing this win and things like that, but from him being an unproven guy out here who had never caddied on the TOUR until now, how much do you think he’s kind of validated himself as being worthy of being out here and being one of the top caddies in the game?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: I think from the first time he came out he was — he played golf growing up. He played basketball through high school and college, but he was always a decent player.

Yeah, I mean, it didn’t take him long to catch on. He’s a very good caddie and he would do well for anybody, but he’s going to be on my bag for a long time.

Q.  Have you played Winged Foot?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: I have not played it.

Q.  What have you heard about it if you have heard about it, if you’ve asked questions about it?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: That it’s a very good golf course, difficult but fair.

Q.  How would you compare the way you’re playing now with the spring of ’17 when you were blowing through Riv and Match Play and Mexico and things like that?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: It’s similar. It’s getting there. I think I was playing really good then. Obviously I’m playing very well now. Like I said, I feel like I can play better, though.

You know, at times I’m firing on all cylinders, but there’s times where I’m not. I’m playing good enough, though, to where I can keep it where I still can give myself a chance to win.

Compared to spring of ’17, almost there.

Q.  Kind of along those lines, it’s kind of exhausting to get through this stretch and have to do all these virtual interviews and stuff like that —

DUSTIN JOHNSON: But thanks for all your questions. (Laughter.)

Q.  But the fact that the U.S. Open is coming up, the fact that we still have the Masters, are you kind of excited now the way that fits into this weird season?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: I am. I am excited. Obviously I’m playing well. I’ve got a lot of confidence in the game, so I’m really looking forward to the next obviously couple months.

But then I’m also — after that I’m looking forward to some time off. It’s been a long stretch, but it’s made it a lot easier playing well, that’s for sure.

MICHAEL BALIKER: Thanks, Dustin. Congratulations.

(FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports)

Categories
European Tour

DP World Tour: Thriston Lawrence wins Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award

Thriston Lawrence has become the first South African to be crowned Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year, after a breakthrough season on the DP World Tour that included two wins, six further top tens and a Major debut.

DP World Tour: Lawrence celebrated two victories in debut season

A previous winner on the Sunshine Tour, the 25 year old made the perfect start to the 2022 season with victory in the opening tournament – and the first since the European Tour became the DP World Tour – at the co-sanctioned Joburg Open, where he is defending his title this week.

His breakthrough victory not only secured a DP World Tour exemption, it also led to his first appearance in a Major as part of The Open Qualifying Series, and he went on to finish inside the top 50 at the historic 150th Open at St Andrews.

A first professional victory on European soil followed in August when he secured the Omega European Masters title in a play-off triumph over England’s Matt Wallace at the iconic Golf Club Crans Montana in Switzerland.

That win led to another landmark, as he moved inside the top 100 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career.

“A dream come true”

Lawrence racked up six further top tens, including a tied second finish at the Magical Kenya Open presented by Absa and third place at the Horizon Irish Open, on the way to finishing 14th in the DP World Tour’s season-long rankings.

“It’s a dream come true. If you look at the names on the trophy, it’s incredible. A year ago I didn’t even have a category, so when I started off with a victory, it came to mind straight away to go for this award. To have accomplished it is an incredible feeling – I’m very grateful and honoured,” said Lawrence.

“It was very special to get the first win at the Joburg Open. This was where my life changing dream started, and I’m honoured to be defending here this week.

“That win opened up so many doors for me. It gave me a winner’s category, gave me the chance to play big events like the Rolex Series and my first Major at St Andrews, where golf started.

First South African as Rookie of the Year

“Winning twice was incredible, and it’s not where I want to end. It’s a balance between being strict on yourself, sticking to your routine, having good support behind you. It’s not just me, it’s a whole bigger team. Onwards and upwards from here.”

Keith Pelley, the DP World Tour’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “I would like to congratulate Thriston on being named Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year after a truly memorable debut season.

“Our Tour has been graced by many fantastic players from South Africa over the years, which makes it even more special that Thriston is the first of his countrymen to win this award and join the prestigious list of international winners. We look forward to watching his career unfold on the DP World Tour in the years ahead.”

“He didn’t take his foot off the gas”

David Howell, Chairman of the Tournament Committee, said: “Thriston is a worthy winner of the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award and, on behalf of the Tournament Committee, I would like to congratulate him on a fantastic season.

“Winning the first event of the season opened up so many doors for him, but he didn’t take his foot off the gas, and it was a great achievement to follow that up with another win in such a historic event just a few months later.

“I’m sure there is more to come, and I look forward to seeing Thriston on Tour in the coming seasons.”

(Text: Press release DP World Tour)

Categories
LPGA Tour

Lydia Ko: Despite mom’s insult, the former prodigy is better than ever at 25

Lydia Ko will probably have to put up a new wardrobe at home in Orlando – with all the trophies she brings home from the CME Group Tour Championship: the glass globe for winning the LPGA final tournament, the silver bowl of the Vare Trophy, the “Player of the Year” awards and everything else the 25-year-old was presented with at the Tiburon Golf Club in Naples. “The winner takes it all,” ABBA once warbled. But despite the record check for two million dollars and a total of 4,364,403 dollars for three victories and a total of seven top-five finishes since the Amundi Evian Championship in July, the most successful prize money season of all time didn’t work out. Lorena Ochoa was “better” by $591 in 2007.

“She’s made peace with herself”

But money, as we all know, isn’t everything. Especially when the “main prize” is standing on the edge of the 18th green: Ko’s fiancé Jun Chung. “He makes me smile, motivates and inspires me to become a better person and a better player,” says the New Zealander. “Since she met him, she has made peace with herself,” confirms her sister Sura.

Lydia Ko and Jun Chung have been a couple for almost two years, writing letters to each other for six months until the Corona pandemic allowed the first real date. Meanwhile, Chung, who lives in San Francisco, is the son of a Hyundai manager, works in the finance department of the Korean car company and first had to Google his new pen pal’s golf career, had taken up golf himself. On December 30, the two will marry in Kos and Chung’s native Seoul.

But after that, not much will change, says Chung, who likes to stay out of the camera’s focus: “She’ll keep playing. I don’t want to get involved in that. I want ‘Lyds’ to give all she can in the time she has ahead of her at this top level.” In turn, she says, “Since I’ve been with him, I want to make better use of the time I have to work on my game. To then be able to really enjoy the time off. I feel like that helps me train better and focus more.”

Three “meager” years already count as a crisis there


Time is the key word in every sense of the word for change, for the development of exceptional golfer Lydia Ko, who began as a teenage sensation, won her first professional tournament at 14, became the youngest tour winner in LPGA history at 15 years, four months and two days at the Canadian Open in August 2012, was number one in the world amateur rankings for 130 weeks and won her first professional tournament at the age of 18. Before the age of 20, she had already won two majors and the silver medal in golf’s Olympic comeback, and now has 19 LPGA victories to her name.

With such a golfing career, three years, the period between July 2016 and April 2021, with only one tournament title and a drop to 46th in the world rankings, can seem like a sporting crisis: “When you’re not playing so well, you have these weaker moments that feel so long. All too often, she has linked her existence exclusively to the numbers on the scorecard, identifying herself by her results on the golf course, Ko admits self-critically and unapologetically.

Interviewer rendered speechless

As bluntly as she spoke in June about her menstrual cramps and their effects on her back muscles (“It’s that times of the month”) after asking for medical help during the round – which literally left the interviewer from the “Golf Channel” speechless.

Equally candid, she says Jun Chung has given her “a new outlook on golf and life”: “How he perceives me doesn’t depend on my performance on the course.” And that’s precisely why “above all, I really wanted to win the BMW Ladies Championship last month in both our motherland, South Korea, with him by my side.” Mission accomplished. If Rosamunde Pilcher had written this plot, the whole world would have called it kitsch.

“You played better when you were 15”

So be it. From Ko’s point of view, the balance in her life has never been better. Without the period of the so-called form crisis, “I probably wouldn’t have the attitude I have today,” she says after her first season of multiple wins since 2016. “I feel like I matured a lot during that time.” And then isn’t fazed by a “You played better when you were 15” comment from her mother Tina: “What am I supposed to do with that information?” After nine years on the tour, you act differently, you’re simply more experienced, more familiar with the processes and conditions.

“Experience is the reason why some players play successfully on the tour for 15, 20 years. They hit their balls and know what’s going to happen. That comes naturally over time. Experience is like having a 15th club in the bag.”

Lydia Ko

On and off the court – starting with training on “more different types of grass than you can name in the same breath,” grins the new world number two behind Nelly Korda. “I used to play up liberated because I was young and clueless. Today I’m freer because I’ve learned to take things as they come and deal with them.”

Soon to be youngest Hall of Fame member

No question, the former child prodigy has grown up. And will probably soon become even the youngest member “ever” in the LPGA Hall of Fame. Until now, or since 2016, this privilege has gone to Inbee Park, who had to turn 27 to become a member. Ko, meanwhile, is only two points short.

Categories
Highlights Tours

Nicolas Colsaerts named as vice captain for the 2023 Ryder Cup

Luke Donald has named Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts as his third Vice Captain for the 2023 Ryder Cup which will be played at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome, Italy from September 26 – October 1, 2023.
 
Colsaerts was part of the most famous European victory in the annals of the Ryder Cup in the 2012 contest at Medinah; producing one of the most memorable debuts in the history of the event when he carded eight birdies and an eagle in partnership with Lee Westwood to help defeat Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker on the final green in the Friday fourball session.
 
Outside of the Ryder Cup arena, Colsaerts has won three times on the DP World Tour, previously known as the European Tour. His most recent was a dramatic triumph in the 2019 Open de France, where he entered the week battling to keep his Tour card and ended it style with a one shot victory. To date, he has played in 436 Tour events to lie 84th in the list of all-time appearances.
 
Colsaerts is a well-liked figure on Tour and will undoubtedly be a popular addition to Team Europe. The Belgian joins Dane Thomas Bjørn, the successful 2018 European Captain, and Italian Edoardo Molinari as Vice Captains for the 2023 contest; his appointment being the perfect belated birthday gift for him as he turned 40 only last week.
 
Colsaerts said: “My first reaction when Luke asked me was sheer joy. Every time I hear the words ‘Ryder Cup’, it takes me back to the edition I played in, how proud I was to wear the European colours and be part of such an unbelievable event. Of course, Luke was in that team too and when we spoke he mentioned how much he has always loved what the Ryder Cup means to me.
 
“Being a Vice Captain is a different role to being a player but, nevertheless, my mission in 2023 will be exactly the same as it was in 2012, namely, to make a contribution to the team in any way I can. Rest assured, whatever I am asked to do, I will do it.
 
“We already have two fantastic Vice Captains in Thomas Bjørn and Edoardo Molinari and we already have a special bond between us. We are all different personalities but that is interesting because when you put us all in a room together you will have different angles, and Luke will be able to take what is best from each of us.
 
“When you play team sport as a youngster you are told that the most important thing is to participate and while that is true then, when you are a professional golfer in the Ryder Cup, when you wear the colours and you step onto that first tee, the only thing you want to do is to win; not only for the other guys on the team, but also for the Continent you are representing. That is what we want to do in Rome.”
 
Captain Donald said: “Nico has been on my mind for a couple of months now to be honest. I played in the team with him in 2012 and you could just see how much it meant to him. He understands what it means to represent the European crest and what it means to be part of the Ryder Cup set-up. When I asked him, he literally had goosebumps – so I am very happy to have him as my third Vice Captain.
 
“Nico gets along extremely well with all the guys out here on the DP World Tour and he will be a great person to help keep an eye on things here in Europe in periods when I might be in the US. There is already great communication between us – myself, Thomas, Edoardo and Nico – and I couldn’t be happier with the way my backroom team is shaping up.”

Text: Team Europe/ DP World Tour

Categories
LPGA Tour

LPGA Tour Announces Record-Breaking 2023 Schedule

 In a breakthrough moment in the history of women’s sports, the athletes of the LPGA Tour, the world’s leading destination for female professional golfers, will compete for more than $101 million in official purses in 2023. The LPGA today announced that the 2023 schedule will comprise 33 official events, with a total official prize fund of $101.4 million, along with the biennial playings of the Solheim Cup and the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown.

“Because of our athletes, partners, volunteers and incredible fans, 2023 will be a banner year for the LPGA Tour,” said LPGA Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan. “The schedule features new events, elevated purses, unique formats and world-class golf courses. Our athletes are playing for more total prize money than any time in history, and we have over 500 hours of broadcast television. All those things combine to make the LPGA the leading women’s professional sports property in the world. The LPGA Tour has never had better or more committed partners who see the commercial value in investing in women’s sports and who understand how their partnerships elevate women and girls on and off the golf course. As the home to the world’s best female golfers, the LPGA provides a platform to inspire young girls and women to dream big.”

The 2023 global schedule will take the LPGA Tour to 11 states across the United States and 12 countries and regions. Starting with the annual season kickoff at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions, the Tour will visit Asia before heading to Superstition Mountain Golf Club in Gold Canyon, Ariz., for the fifth playing of the LPGA Drive On Championship. Superstition Mountain, the home club for numerous LPGA Tour stars, hosted the 2004-2008 Safeway International, with a Hall-of-Fame list of winners in Annika Sorenstam (2004, 2005), Juli Inkster (2006) and Lorena Ochoa (2007, 2008).

The Club at Carlton Woods in The Woodlands, Texas, will make its debut as host of The Chevron Championship, the first women’s major of the season, with a newly elevated purse of $5.1 million. The following week, the JM Eagle LA Championship presented by Plastpro will join the Tour schedule at Wilshire Golf Club in Los Angeles, boasting a $3 million purse.

New Jersey will host four events in 2023, starting with the Cognizant Founders Cup at Upper Montclair Country Club in Clifton, the LPGA Tour’s annual celebration of the past, present and future of the women’s game. The Mizuho Americas Open at Jersey City’s Liberty National Golf Club will include 24 elite female amateurs competing in a concurrent AJGA Invitational, playing alongside their professional heroes. The Bay Course at Seaview in Atlantic City will host the 35th playing of the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer, and the swing through the Garden State will end with a minimum $9 million purse at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, just the second elite women’s competition to be held on the Lower Course at the famed Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield.

Two weeks later, the U.S. Women’s Open presented by ProMedica will bring female professional golfers to Pebble Beach for the first time, adding a new page to a history book that includes seven men’s majors. Players will compete for at least $10 million at one of the country’s most popular venues.

In July and August, the Tour will make its usual swing through Europe, opening in France with the Amundi Evian Championship and its $6.5 million purse. The AIG Women’s Open, which will be contested with a purse of at least $7.3 million, will take place at Walton Heath, host venue for the 1981 Ryder Cup. The LPGA Tour will then compete across the United States and Canada before heading back to Asia for the month of October.   

2023’s competitive schedule will culminate with back-to-back events along the Southwestern Florida coast. THE ANNIKA driven by Gainbridge at Pelican, featuring a purse of $3.25 million, will welcome 72-time LPGA Tour winner Annika Sorenstam as the official tournament host. Finally, the season will end at Tiburon Golf Club for the CME Group Tour Championship, with the winner receiving $2 million, the largest single prize in the history of women’s golf.

The 2023 season will also feature two exhilarating team competitions. The Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown, a team match-play competition that showcases the best female golfers from the top eight countries across the globe, will return to the LPGA Tour calendar for the first time since 2018

and will be held at San Francisco’s famed TPC Harding Park on May 4-7. And on Sept. 22-24, the Solheim Cup, featuring the 12 best U.S. players versus the 12 best European players, will be held at Finca Cortesin in Spain.

Categories
European Tour

Rahm and Fitzpatrick presented with DP World Tour Honorary Life Membership

Jon Rahm and Matt Fitzpatrick, the last two U.S. Open Champions, have been presented with Honorary Life Membership of the DP World Tour ahead of the 2022 season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.

In 2021, Rahm became the first Spanish winner of the U.S. Open as he triumphed at Torrey Pines, birdieing the final two holes to finish one stroke ahead of Louis Oosthuizen. He returned to World Number One with his victory and became just the fourth Spaniard to win a Major Championship.

Earlier this year, Fitzpatrick completed a fairy-tale triumph at The Country Club, Brookline, winning the U.S. Open at the same venue he won the U.S. Amateur Championship nine years prior – joining Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win both Championships on the same course.

Keith Pelley, the CEO of the DP World Tour, presented the pair with their Honorary Life Membership cards ahead of the final Rolex Series event of 2022, becoming the 58th and 59th members to be conferred the honour.

He said: “Jon and Matt’s achievements over the last two years were truly special and we are delighted to present them both with Honorary Life Membership of the DP World Tour.

“Jon assumed the status of an Honorary Life Member of our Tour immediately after his win at Torrey Pines but with him not being here in Dubai last year, we were unable to make the official presentation – I am delighted to be able to put that right this year, alongside recognising Matt for his own magical U.S. Open moment in June.

“Jon’s victory was an incredible achievement, becoming the first Spaniard to win the U.S. Open and just the fourth Major winner from Spain. And for Matt to write his name alongside Jack Nicklaus in golf’s record books is something that few golfers in history can claim to do.”

Rahm said: “To join the list of icons that have earned this, it is truly an honour. Any time you can write your name in history next to some of the greatest players that have accomplished this before me is very unique. To keep doing things like this, it is a true honour to represent Spain and an honour to receive this.”

Fitzpatrick said: “I’ve been out on Tour seven or eight years now and I remember when Danny Willett received his and I thought at the time ‘I’d love one of those’. When I found out that I’d be presented with Honorary Life Membership by Keith and the Tour I was truly honoured. I’m very grateful.”

Categories
Ladies Tours

LPGA Tour: Tickets on sale for the 2023 AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath

The AIG Women’s Open will visit  the Surrey venue for the first time in 2023 with the renowned layout having previously hosted the Ryder Cup, British Masters and The Senior Open presented by Rolex.

Taking place just outside London, a number of new ticket offers have been launched to entice fans in to enjoying the most international major in women’s golf.

Fans will now be able to watch the players practising on Wednesday 9 August with Practice Day tickets available to purchase along with Thursday to Sunday Championship Day tickets.

Ticket prices will start at £30 for an adult on Championship Days and from £10 on Practice Days, with this launch offer available for a limited time only.

“Delighted to play at Walton Heath”

Zoe Ridgway, Championship Director – AIG Women’s Open at The R&A said, “We are delighted to be playing the AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath in 2023. As we return to the South-East for the first time in four years our goal is to make the Championship as accessible as possible for everyone.

“We are anticipating rising levels of interest and demand to attend the AIG Women’s Open and we have introduced Wednesday Practice Day tickets to offer fans even more opportunities to watch their favourite players in this world-class major championship.”

A number of offers are also available, including a £10 discount when booking a weekend bundle and a saving of £30 when booking the new five-day ticket offering.

Mastercard holders are also eligible for £10 off their ticket purchase when booking between 21-29 November 2022 as part of The R&A’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers.

To encourage children and young people to attend the AIG Women’s Open, The R&A will continue the successful ‘Kids go Free’ programme, which provides children under-16-years-old free entry to the Championship when accompanied by a paying adult. Half-price youth tickets are also available for 16-24-year-olds.

Hospitality packages are also on general sale, offering an unrivalled way to experience the Championship in which guests can enjoy over 10 hours of world-class action and fully inclusive hospitality. Visit www.aigwomensopen.com/hospitality/heathlandsuite for further information. 

For information on the AIG Women’s Open or to purchase tickets, please visit www.aigwomensopen.com

Text: R&A Media

Categories
Ladies European Tour

A star is born at the Aramco Team Series – Jeddah



Noja celebrates her first win on the tour

The Dubai-based high school senior matched the tournament low of 65 in the final round at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club to secure her place in the play-off while Hull produced four birdies in her last six holes to tie with Noja on 13-under-par in regular play.
Despite the pressure on the young schoolgirl, Noja played picture-perfect golf for unfaltering back-to- back birdies in the play-off, enough to secure the victory and the $75,000 first prize.

Following an invitation from the tournament organisers, Noja took a break from her mock GCSE’s to play and joked earlier in the week that “the goal is to win this week so I don’t need school anymore” after accidentally bringing the wrong books to study in Jeddah.
After the goal came to fruition, Noja said: “I don’t think it’s sunk in quite yet. I think the happiness will come later this evening. Before we went out, my Dad showed Charley a picture of me with her as a 10-year-old. It’s like a full circle, it’s a blessing.
“I’ve worked hard over a lot of years now to be able to not back out of shots and commit to everything that I do and not be afraid to fail.”
“I have no clue what the plan is next.” Noja added “I can’t even begin to fathom it, I’m just going to try and relax tonight. Maybe have a burger and sleep, probably the best night sleep I’m ever going to get and see how I feel.”

Nicole Garcia also pleased the crowd on 18 with an eagle from off the green to secure sole posession third place. She had a lot to celebrate this week as she led her team to victory here in Jeddah, her second team championship win as captain.

Another play-off in the team event


For the first time on the Aramco Team Series both the individual and team competitions were decided in play-offs with Team Garcia – Nicole Garcia, Cassandra Alexander, Tereza Melecka, and amateur Sonia Bayahya – claiming victory with a birdie in the first play-off hole against Team Wolf.
Garcia nominated teammate Alexander to take on the play-off against Christine Wolf, who was teamed up with Laura Beveridge, Alexandra Swayne, and Saudi-female Raghdah Alessawi, who was the teams
amateur.
Team Captain Nicole Garcia, who’s now captained her team to victory twice, commented after the win: “Cassandra and I have known each other for a long time and we’d spoken before we even knew we were in the play-off that she was in, so it was already decided yesterday.”
After hitting the winning shots down 18, Alexandra said: “It was a bit nerve-wracking but I kind of knew what I was going to have in from previous rounds so I went to the range and hit a couple of that shot
beforehand. I hit a 7-iron, and it was enough to get the job done.”
Amateur Sonia Bayahya played a significant part in her team reaching the play-off today and added to their comments, “It’s a really good experience. Really the playoff victory was so good. I really felt part of the team, the girls were so sweet with me – thanks to them and thanks to all of Aramco Team Series.”
Jeddah marks the end of the 2022 Aramco Team Series following events in Bangkok, London, Sotogrande, and New York. 2022 marks the second year of the $1 million team tournaments on the Ladies European Tour schedule.

(Text: Aramco Team Series)

Categories
Ladies European Tour Ladies Tours

Hull takes the lead in Round 2 at the Aramco Team Series Jeddah

The Aramco Team Series Jeddah is primed for an electric final day at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club as world number 17 Charley Hull takes a one-shot lead over defending champion Pia Babnik, Caroline Hedwall, and Virginia Elena Carta, while Team Garcia and Team Wolf will head to the 18th tomorrow for a play-off to determine the team victors. 

Hull made her seventh birdie of the day on the last to shoot a blemish-free 65 and take the lead as she sets her sights on her second win in the last three starts. 

Following the round, Hull commented: “It was a really really good front nine, I even missed a couple of putts but I’m not complaining…I’ve put some good work in this year and now it’s all coming together. I wasn’t massively confident coming into this week but I’m feeling much better now I’ve played some golf and just enjoying it out here.”

Babnik is looking at a repeat of last year’s Aramco Team Series Jeddah victory as she matched Hull’s low round of the day with just the one blemish and eight birdies enroute to finish one behind. The 18-year-old said after the round: “I’m really happy, I played really good today. There were some good shots I hit and then the wind stopped which was frustrating but overall, I am happy with the round I played. I really played well, gave myself a lot of chances.”

Virginia Elena Carta also sits in that second-place spot and accredits some of her strong form this week to the team format at the Aramco Team Series, she said after the round: “It’s much easier to play well when you have a good team and when you are able to enjoy yourself out there… I really played for the team today. I’ll take it one shot at a time tomorrow and see, there are birdie opportunities out there, it’s just a matter of giving myself some chances and trying to make some good putts.”

The team championship will be decided on the final days play with Team Wolf and Team Garcia tied on 29-under after 36-holes of play. The two teams will take to the 18th hole following the conclusion of the individual event tomorrow to decide the Aramco Team Series team champion.

Nicole Garcia, who is just two shots behind the individual lead, led her team of Casandra Alexander, Tereza Melecka, and amateur Sonia Bayahya to the top of the leaderboard and commented after the round: “My team was in great spirits, and we really tried hard out there. It was tough to make the putts on these greens, but my team managed to pull it off so I’m really proud.”

Christine Wolf will be joined in tomorrow’s playoff by teammates Laura Beveridge, Alexandra Swayne, and amateur Raghdah Alessawi.

Categories
Reports

Great Britain: Golf enthusiasm continues

Golf continues to prove popular in Great Britain, with ten percent more rounds of golf played in the first nine months of the year than in the equivalent period in 2021.

This is despite a small four percent drop in year-on-year play rates between July and September. It should however be remembered that the summer of 2021 was atypical, with rounds played experiencing an extended bounce after the lockdowns earlier in the year.

Continued strong participation in the UK

Contrasting against pre-lockdown years, Q3 2022 rounds were up 40 percent against 2019. Q3 was boosted by a drier than average July and August, but this alone does not account for the strong enduring appetite for golf.

The results can therefore be read as another indicator of strong ongoing participation. The North was the strongest performing region in 2022, recording one percent growth against the very strong third quarter of 2021.

“Golf continues to be a sport attractive across all levels of the game”

Richard Payne, Director at Sporting Insights, said: “This has been another good quarter for golf. The similarity in results between 2021 and 2022 suggests to us that golf is reaching a new normal baseline, which would be great news, because that normal is clearly a step up on where the game found itself before the pandemic. However, we are certainly not getting complacent because we know that the cost of living crisis is going to impact on leisure, putting pressure on memberships and green fee visits alike. What’s clear though is that golf is in a much better position to weather this storm thanks to the industry’s efforts over the last two years.”

Those efforts include work from The R&A to promote the links between golf and health. Phil Anderton, Chief Development Officer at The R&A, added, “It is again encouraging to see the positive data for rounds played in Great Britain for the third quarter of 2022.

“Golf was on the rise pre-pandemic and this latest data highlights how golf continues to be a sport attractive across all levels of the game through various formats. It is important for the sport to maintain this momentum and we are pushing initiatives such as the benefits of golf for your health strongly to continue to drive growth.”

Since 2000, Sporting Insights (previously known as Sports Marketing Surveys) has tracked rounds played at commercial golf courses across mainland Great Britain.

As part of Sporting Insights’ ongoing partnership with The Revenue Club, the Q3 report includes an additional section that looks at the booking channel trends from the 140 clubs that they work with.

(Text: Sporting Insights)