Rahm says golf rankings not a ‘good system’ after LIV pulls out

Rahm says golf rankings not a ‘good system’ after LIV pulls out
Captain Jon Rahm of Legion XIII said that the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) was not “a good system” after LIV Golf formally withdrew its application to join. (File/AFP)
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Updated 06 March 2024
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Rahm says golf rankings not a ‘good system’ after LIV pulls out

Rahm says golf rankings not a ‘good system’ after LIV pulls out
  • Jon Rahm: I’m going to go back to what I said two years ago. I didn’t think it was a good system back then
  • Norman said LIV players have been snubbed for so long that it would be difficult for them to be properly rated

HONG KONG: Masters champion Jon Rahm said Wednesday that the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) was not “a good system” after LIV Golf formally withdrew its application to join.

LIV Golf Commissioner Greg Norman on Tuesday sent a letter to players, seen by AFP, saying the Saudi-funded breakaway circuit had ended its efforts to be accepted for world rankings recognition that began in July 2022.

“It’s now clear that the best way forward for LIV as a league and you as LIV golfers is not through the current ranking system,” Norman said.

“A resolution which protects the accuracy, credibility and integrity of the OWGR rankings no longer exists.”

The OWGR, whose rankings are used to decide exemptions into golf’s four major championships, denied LIV Golf’s bid last October.

“I’m going to go back to what I said two years ago. I didn’t think it was a good system back then,” Rahm told reporters ahead of LIV Hong Kong, which begins on Friday.

“If anything, the more time goes on, the more it proves to be wrong,” added the Spaniard, who only left the PGA Tour for LIV in December and is still ranked world No. 3.

Fellow major champion Bryson DeChambeau said it was incumbent on everyone running the game to find common ground.

“The way I think about it is we need to find a collective way,” said DeChambeau. “We should focus on having the best players in the majors.

“All the governing bodies, everybody, come together, sit down and figure this out. Because we need to do this for the fans.”

With LIV Golf players getting no points from the circuit’s 54-hole events, many of the big names that defected from the PGA Tour have tumbled down the rankings.

Only four of LIV’s 54-player roster are in this week’s OWGR top 50, led by Spain’s Rahm.

The OWGR denied LIV’s application citing concerns that included limited paths to joining the tour and the aspect of simultaneous team and individual competition.

LIV made adjustments, Norman wrote, but “the OWGR has shown little willingness to productively work with us.”

Norman said LIV players have been snubbed for so long that it would be difficult for them to be properly rated even if OWGR began assigning points now for LIV events.

LIV and PGA Tour players compete against each other at majors, with many LIV players having earned their way into the fields at golf’s four top events based on previous achievements.

The majors can make exceptions and issue their own invitations, as has been done this year with Joaquin Niemann.

The Chilean is arguably the hottest player in golf currently, having won two out of the first three LIV tournaments this season.

He also won the Australian Open in December to earn a spot in the British Open and has been given special invitations into next month’s US Masters and the US PGA Championship in May.

“Now they’ve given one player a chance before you know it there will be a solution,” said Rahm. “I think it’s opening the door slightly.

“If anybody in this world doesn’t think ‘Joaco’ (Niemann) deserves to be in the top 10 or doesn’t know that he’s a top player in the world, I don’t know what game you’re watching.”

DeChambeau had a concrete suggestion for a way forward.

“Just invite a certain amount of players on our points list (to the majors) based on how they did the year before,” said the 2020 US Open champion.

“They do it with (the PGA) Tour Championship, right? Very simple.”


Nelly Korda faces her toughest test at US Women’s Open

Nelly Korda faces her toughest test at US Women’s Open
Updated 30 May 2024
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Nelly Korda faces her toughest test at US Women’s Open

Nelly Korda faces her toughest test at US Women’s Open
  • The 79th edition of the Women’s Open gets started on Thursday, and Korda is as big an attraction as the course itself
  • Among those who could challenge is Rose Zhang, the decorated amateur at Stanford who won in her LPGA debut as a professional last year

LANCASTER, Pennsylvania: No matter how easy Nelly Korda has made golf look over the last two months, not even the best player in her sport can expect an easy time at the US Women’s Open.

The biggest and richest event in women’s golf prides itself on being the toughest test, and Lancaster Country Club has all the trappings with its hilly, tree-lined terrain, partially blind shots into some of the greens and a routing in which holes constantly change direction.

“A beast,” Korda called it.

Whether the toughest test identifies the best player is up for debate.

Since the women’s world ranking began in 2006, only two players at No. 1 captured the US Women’s Open — Annika Sorenstam in 2006 at Newport (an 18-hole playoff win over Pat Hurst) and Inbee Park in 2013 at Sebonack Golf Club on Long Island, the year Park won three straight majors.

Now it’s Korda’s turn, and she arrived at Lancaster on a stretch of winning not seen since Lorena Ochoa in 2008, the last person to have six victories before the calendar turned to June.

“It just tests every aspect of your game,” Korda said. “It’s tight off the tee. Visually it looks so much shorter than it is. There’s bunkers that visually you see that you think you’re going to carry that you end up maybe 10 yards short.

“If you’re in the rough and you miss fairways, the greens are very small and very slopy, and the rough is thick around the greens, too.”

The 79th edition of the Women’s Open gets started on Thursday, and Korda is as big an attraction as the course itself, which previously hosted the Open in 2015.

Korda tied an LPGA record by winning five straight tournaments, a streak capped off at the Chevron Championship in the first major of the season. She is coming off a win in her most recent tournament — that makes six wins in seven starts — at the Mizuho Americas Open at Liberty National in New Jersey.

“Right now I think Nelly is just in a league of her own,” said Allizen Corpuz, the defending champion who picked up her first major — and first LPGA title — last year at Pebble Beach.

There has been plenty of buzz around Lancaster beyond Korda. The purse is $12 million, and the USGA decided to follow the model of the PGA Tour’s elevated events by paying 20 percent of the purse to the winner — $2.4 million.

This also figures to be the last US Women’s Open for Lexi Thompson, who is playing it for the 18th time and she still is only 29. Thompson said she is retiring from a full schedule after this year. Barring a high finish, she won’t be eligible next year and is unlikely to get a special exemption because she has never won.

Among those who could challenge is Rose Zhang, the decorated amateur at Stanford who won in her LPGA debut as a professional last year, and then ended Korda’s winning streak with a victory at the Cognizant Founders Cup.

Zhang just turned 21 and has not even spent a full year as a pro. She still can appreciate what Korda is doing, and how tough the 25-year-old American will be to beat.

“I’m witnessing some crazy history, and it’s really, really inspiring to see her,” Zhang said. “She’s almost looking unfazed. ... Even though she’s not acting like a human being right now — or playing like it — I think she has a lot of pressure on her. And that’s why I’m saying she’s so incredible, because she’s able to handle all that pressure.”

Korda has two majors among her 14 titles on the LPGA, the other coming in 2021 at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship that first elevated her to No. 1 in the world.

In the two years that followed, there was a revolving door at No. 1 among five players. Korda had a health scare with blood clot in 2022. She now is back to full strength and dominating.

“Nelly is almost what we are trying to aim for, because if you beat her you’re probably going to have the trophy in your hands,” said Hannah Green, the only other multiple winner on the LPGA Tour this year.

But the Women’s Open can have a mind of its own, and there have been plenty of surprises over the years, from Corpuz at Pebble Beach last year to A-lim Kim at Champions in Houston during the COVID-19 pandemic in December 2020, even back to Hilary Lunke in 2003.

Korda has only two top 10s in the Women’s Open — a tie for 10th at Shoal Creek in 2018 and a tie for eighth at Pine Needles in 2022. Both times, she finished 11 shots out of the lead.

The US Women’s Open doesn’t discriminate. It’s tough for everyone.

“It’s important not to get ahead of yourself and just think, ‘Oh, I have to beat Nelly.’ You’ve got a lot more people out here who are really just as driven,” Zhang said. “Because to get to the US Open, it doesn’t just take a lucky chance. It requires a lot of years of playing and being able to practice for this moment. I mean, Lancaster is a difficult place.”


Davis Riley grabs two-shot lead at Colonial tournament

Davis Riley grabs two-shot lead at Colonial tournament
Updated 25 May 2024
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Davis Riley grabs two-shot lead at Colonial tournament

Davis Riley grabs two-shot lead at Colonial tournament
  • Riley is seeking his second PGA Tour title, having teamed with Nick Hardy to win the 2023 Zurich Classic two-man team event in New Orleans

LOS ANGELES: Davis Riley made six birdies in a 6-under par 64 on Friday to take a two-shot lead in the US PGA Tour’s Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.

The 27-year-old ranked 250th in the world was 10-under and in the lead but facing a par putt at his final hole when play was halted for more than an hour because of thunderstorms in the area.

“Luckily, it was a three-footer straight up the hill, so (there) wasn’t too much to stress about,” Riley said. “I knocked in about five three-footers before walking over there to cap off the round — hit it center cut and made it.

“It was nice to finish the day and made for a good, pretty stress-free six-under.”

Hayden Buckley returned from the delay to card the fifth of his five birdies at the sixth — his 15th hole of the day — posting a five-under par 65,

He was tied for second, two shots back on 8-under 132 alongside Pierceson Coody.

Coody had an eagle and six birdies in his 5-under 65, surging to his share of second with three straight birdies to end his round.

South Korea’s Im Sung-jae had seven birdies in his 6-under 64 to join a group sharing fourth on 134. He was joined by American Keegan Bradley and Austrian Sepp Straka, who both shot 66.

Riley is seeking his second PGA Tour title, having teamed with Nick Hardy to win the 2023 Zurich Classic two-man team event in New Orleans.

One off the lead to start the day, he teed off on 10 and rolled in birdies at 15 and 16 before launching a run of three straight birdies at the 18th.

He got up and down from bunkers for birdies at both the first and second, and rolled in a 10-footer for birdie at the sixth to reach 10-under.

Reigning Open champion Brian Harman headlined a group on 135 and former US Open champion Gary Woodland, back on tour this season after surgery for a brain lesion, was in a group on 136 after a six-under 64.

“I just put everything together,” said Woodland, who said he doesn’t have the same debilitating symptoms he had last year but is “still battling, still on medication.”

World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler was a further stroke back on 137 after a 5-under par 65 that featured five birdies — four in a row from the 18th through the third.

Scheffler was in danger of seeing his cuts made streak end at 36 after his two-over opening round.

But a week after his arrest in a traffic incident before the second round of the PGA Championship in Louisville, Kentucky, Scheffler turned things around.

Scheffler, who put together a run of four wins in five events — including a second Masters title in April — is still facing multiple charges in Louisville that include felony assault of a police officer after allegedly trying to go around a traffic jam as police investigated an earlier fatal road accident.

Scheffler has called the incident “a huge misunderstanding,” with his lawyer saying he “did not do anything wrong but was simply proceeding as directed.”


Olympics hopefuls Hull and Hall set to play Aramco Team Series in London

Olympics hopefuls Hull and Hall set to play Aramco Team Series in London
Updated 25 May 2024
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Olympics hopefuls Hull and Hall set to play Aramco Team Series in London

Olympics hopefuls Hull and Hall set to play Aramco Team Series in London
  • Georgia Hall aims to retain her 2023 team title in Britain
  • World No. 8 Charley Hull gearing up for potential gold at 2024 Paris Olympics

LONDON: The Aramco Team Series presented by PIF – London in July is shaping up as a preview for the 2024 Paris Olympics, with Great Britain’s Charley Hull and Georgia Hall leading the early field announcements.

The two are sure to be a hit with the home crowds, and with further announcements set to follow on a strong field, both are looking to build on outstanding 2023 outings at the tournament.

Last year, Hull came up just short to American Nelly Korda in the individual competition, while Hall was able to captain her team to victory in extremely difficult conditions, edging out Hull’s team by just one stroke.

Now England’s dynamic duo, who are also long-time best friends, are aiming to secure their places at the 2024 Paris Olympics and become the first to win a medal for Team GB in a women’s golf event.

The golf at the Olympics, where Korda is set to defend her gold medal from Tokyo 2020, tees off a little over a month after the Aramco Team Series London event, and the Major-like event at Centurion Club will provide the pair the perfect opportunity to prepare for the grand stage of the sport.

Hull has recently achieved a career-high Rolex Women’s Golf World Ranking of seventh following her impressive T2 finish at the Aramco Team Series presented by PIF – Tampa in March 2024.

Reflecting on her preparations for the summer, Hull commented: “At the start of the season I sat down and thought about how I wanted this year to pan out. I knew that there would be an important summer of golf ahead with the Olympic Games, Solheim Cup and chasing down my first Major title.

“I’m in the best place I’ve ever been in my career, mentally and physically. Sticking to the gym in those early hours and achieving 5 km personal bests was a way to ground myself and clear my head, and this is really helping me out on the course.

“To have the Aramco Team Series at home is the best way to open the intense summer ahead. Playing in a field with some of the players I’ll face in Paris, and at a tournament like this that has that Major-like feel, will be a great dress rehearsal for me to aim for that gold medal.”

Hall, looking to defend her Aramco Team Series London team title, sees the event as a crucial step in her 2024 campaign, which could well feature the Solheim Cup in September.

“The Aramco Team Series in London will be my first appearance in the event this year and I’m buzzing to get back into playing with a team which will hopefully be a great transition to the Solheim Cup in September,” Hall said.

“Competing against Charley as a team captain again, so close to home, will add an extra layer of excitement, especially with friends and family cheering us on. I’ve played my fair share of Majors and outside of those, the Aramco Team Series matches the energy and field the best. It’s always a great competition with the top players out there.”

Joining Hull and Hall will be a competitive Ladies European Tour field, including Anne Van Dam of the Netherlands, Singapore’s Shannon Tan, and India’s Diksha Dagar — all using the event as a platform to fine-tune their skills ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics.


2024 LIV Golf Team Championship heads to Dallas

2024 LIV Golf Team Championship heads to Dallas
Updated 22 May 2024
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2024 LIV Golf Team Championship heads to Dallas

2024 LIV Golf Team Championship heads to Dallas
  • Fans throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex will welcome LIV Golf’s star-studded teams for the season finale
  • LIV Golf CEO: ‘Our LIV Golf players are looking forward to playing in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with its great golf tradition’

LONDON, NEW YORK, WEST PALM BEACH: LIV Golf announced on Wednesday the details for the league’s 2024 Team Championship, scheduled to take place Sep. 20-22, 2024, at Maridoe Golf Club in Carrollton, Texas.
Fans throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex will welcome LIV Golf’s star-studded teams for the season finale, with the excitement of head-to-head competition featuring both match play and stroke play that will determine the 2024 LIV Golf League Team Champions.
“Our LIV Golf players are looking forward to playing in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with its great golf tradition,” LIV Golf Commissioner and CEO Greg Norman said in a media statement.
“Texas is legendary for producing and hosting great golfers who set a high bar while competing for championships. Our LIV Golf Team Championship at Maridoe Golf Club will be a great experience for our players and all the fans in attendance,” added Norman.
“This year’s Team Championship at Maridoe Golf Club holds special significance for me as we make our Dallas debut and our team strives to defend our title in front of a home crowd,” said Bryson DeChambeau, Crushers GC captain.
“I’m excited to play this course and compete in front of Texas fans for our closing event and can’t wait to bring LIV Golf’s electrifying energy and fierce competition to Dallas,” DeChambeau added.
Meanwhile, Maridoe Golf Club founder Albert Huddleston, said: “Maridoe has been honored to previously host the Southern Amateur, Trans-Mississippi Amateur, East West Cup Matches, USGA Women’s Four-Ball Championship as well as two 2020 COVID tournaments won by Scottie Scheffler and Brandon Wu.”
Maridoe is designed to be an enjoyable but demanding member’s club, according to Huddleston, while always ready to provide a great test for elite golfers to entertain golf enthusiasts.
Maridoe Golf Club, located just 20 miles from downtown Dallas, was ranked by Golf Digest among the top three new private courses in 2018. Built on the site of the old Columbian Club and designed by Steve Smyers, the course is considered among the most difficult in the Metroplex, tipping out at 7,817 yards, and will be the host for LIV Golf’s 2024 finale — a three-day, survive-and-advance tournament featuring team match play and stroke play.
For the LIV Golf Team Championship, teams will be seeded 1-13 based on the final regular season team standings following the 13th event, LIV Golf Chicago, taking place Sep. 13-15 at Bolingbrook Golf Club. Adjustments to the Team Championship format have been implemented to enhance the competition across the three days at Maridoe.
In addition to hosting world-class competition, the LIV Golf Team Championship will feature live music entertainment and family-friendly fun for all ages. Fans can secure the ultimate tournament experience with LIV Golf’s renowned hospitality packages, each delivering an array of amenities.
Tickets for the Team Championship are on sale now at LIVGolf.com


Xander Schauffele scores major breakthrough, wins PGA Championship in a thriller at Valhalla

Xander Schauffele scores major breakthrough, wins PGA Championship in a thriller at Valhalla
Updated 20 May 2024
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Xander Schauffele scores major breakthrough, wins PGA Championship in a thriller at Valhalla

Xander Schauffele scores major breakthrough, wins PGA Championship in a thriller at Valhalla
  • Schauffele: I told myself this is my opportunity — capture it
  • Schauffele became the first player since Phil Mickelson in 2005 at Baltusrol to win the PGA Championship with a birdie on the last hole to win by one

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky: Xander Schauffele cashed in at just the right time Sunday, swirling in a 6-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win the PGA Championship for his first major with the lowest score in major championship history.

The Olympic gold medalist got something even more valuable in silver — that enormous Wanamaker Trophy after a wild week at Valhalla.

Schauffele closed with a 6-under 65 to beat Bryson DeChambeau, entertaining to the very end with a 10-foot birdie of his own on the par-5 18th for a 64.

Schauffele became the first player since Phil Mickelson in 2005 at Baltusrol to win the PGA Championship with a birdie on the last hole to win by one. And this took all he had.

He already had mud on his golf ball on two key holes along the back nine that kept him from attacking the flag. His drive on the 17th bounced back into a bunker, forcing him to scramble for par and stay tied with DeChambeau, who had finished two groups ahead of him. And then his tee shot rolled just far enough toward the edge of a bunker to present another problem.

Schauffele had to stand with his feet in the sand, gripping well down on the 4-iron, aiming out to the right and hoping for the best. He drilled a beauty, some 35 yards short but with a good angle. He pitched to 6 feet and was never closer to finally winning a major.

“I told myself this is my opportunity — capture it,” Schauffele said.

The putt broke just enough left to catch the left edge of the cup and swirled around before disappearing. Schauffele, who exudes California chill, raised both arms above his head with the biggest smile before a hard hug with Austin Kaiser, his caddie and former teammate at San Diego State.

DeChambeau was on the range, staying loose for a potential playoff, watching Schauffele from a large video board. He saw the winning putt fall, and walked all the way back to the 18th to join in with so many other players wanting to congratulate the 30-year-old.

“I gave it my all. I put as much effort as I possibly could into it and I knew that my B game would be enough,” DeChambeau said. “It’s just clearly somebody played incredibly well. Xander’s well deserving of a major championship.”

Viktor Hovland, the FedEx Cup champion who wasn’t sure he even belonged at Valhalla while trying to work his way out of a slump, also had a 10-foot putt after DeChambeau hit his to tie for the lead. He missed the birdie, then missed a meaningless par putt and shot 66 to finish third.

Schauffele, who began this championship with a 62 to tie the major championship record, finished at 21-under 263 with that winning birdie. That beats by one shot the major record previously shared by Brooks Koepka in the 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive and Henrik Stenson in the 2016 British Open at Royal Troon.

And so ended another memorable week at Valhalla.

Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, who arrived five days after the birth of his first child, was arrested and briefly jailed on Friday morning for not following directions of police investigating a fatal car crash involving a pedestrian an hour earlier.

He got out of jail and to the course in time to play the second round and shot 66. But it caught up with him on the weekend. Scheffler fell out of contention with a 73 on Saturday — his first round over par since last August. He closed with a 65 to tie for eighth.

Two players — Schauffele on Thursday and Shane Lowry on Saturday — tied the major record with a 62. Scoring records seemed to fall just about every day on a rain-softened course.

All that, and it came down to one putt that Schauffele will never forget.

“I really didn’t want to go into a playoff with Bryson,” he said.

In so many ways, this time was overdue. He had gone nearly two years since last winning at the Scottish Open. Schauffele had eight consecutive finishes in the top 20 at majors coming into Valhalla. He already had a pair of runner-up finishes and six top 5s.

And in the last two months alone, he lost 54-hole leads when he was chased down by Scheffler’s 64 at The Players Championship and by Rory McIlroy’s 65 last week at the Wells Fargo Championship.

The victory was his eighth on the PGA Tour — that doesn’t include his Olympic gold from the Tokyo Games in 2021. This one moves him to a career-best No. 2 in the world, still a long way from Scheffler but assuring Schauffele of qualifying for the US team in the Olympics.