Oct 23

PGA Tour commissioner floats idea of Ryder Cup-style exhibitions

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem boiled down the Americans' loss in the Ryder Cup to a simple problem: getting smoked in the foursomes format.

"You can’t play foursomes down 7-1 (in eight foursomes matches) and think you’re going to win the cup," Finchem said Wednesday at the McGladrey Classic in Georgia. "Seven to one in the Friday and Saturday (matches); you’re climbing a mountain.”

It makes sense, then, that Finchem sees no sense in the 11-man task force charged with skeweriing all aspects of the American approach to the biennial matches with the hope of ending a three-match losing skid. Finchem wasn't invited to be part of the committee, but it also doesn't sound like he blessed it.

“They made more birdies they we did and that’s the reason we didn’t win the cup," he said, according to Golfweek. "It's not the first time it’s happened.”

The fix, then, is as simple as getting better in the foursomes format. The PGA of America can't do much to facilitate more alternate-shot golf, but Finchem and the PGA Tour, which has re-engaged the PGA of America more in the last two years than the prior two decades, can.

Finchem acknowledged the possibility of hosting a "side event" that'd essentially be an exhibition tournament in the foursomes format. With the extinction of the Tavistock Cup, the week of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March now has room for a unique exhibition that could stand to improve the Americans' chances in regaining the Ryder Cup for the first time since 2008.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Oct 23

Inbee Park takes the week off, will become No. 1 in Rolex Rankings

Stacy Lewis and Inbee Park are Nos. 1 and 2 in the Rolex Rankings, and neither are competing in this week's inaugural Blue Bay LPGA in China. However, when the rankings are released Monday, Park will overtake Lewis as the world's top-ranked female player. 

The ranking formula, which covers a rolling two-year period and devalues past performance over time, will swing in Park's favor because an event she played this week in 2012 will no longer count toward the number of event she has played in the last 104 weeks. Lewis' tally will not change. Already in a statistical dead heat for the top spot in the world -- separated this week by a miniscule 0.0062 points -- that small change in the formula gives the edge to Park.

Lewis' current reign will end after 21 weeks atop the rankings. She took over on June 2 after a win in Atlantic City, ending Park's reign of 59 weeks.

Meanwhile, 17-year-old Lydia Ko is helpless this week. Even if she wins the Blue Bay LPGA, she cannot overtake Park for the top spot. However, it may well be an inevitability Ko becomes No. 1 in the next year.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Oct 22

Photos: PGA Tour Wives And Girlfriends

You've seen them on TV. Maybe you've even seen them on the course. They're the better -- and often the better-looking -- halves of the PGA Tour stars you like to follow. Now here's your chance to get to know them better.
Posted in Uncategorized
Oct 22

Tiger Woods’ first golf course, El Cardonal, to open Dec. 16

You will soon be able to finally play a course designed by Tiger Woods.

Woods' El Cardonal, a project developed at the Diamante development in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, will open on Dec. 16. The 14-time major champion made the announcement on Twitter.

The course will play about 7,400 yards from the tips, but has been hinted that litany tee box options and locations will make the course playable for all lengths and skill levels.

The grand opening seems to have not been affected by Hurricane Odile rolling through the region in September, causing widespread damage and power outages.

This marks the first time a Woods design has been taken to completion. Woods was hired in 2006 to design his first course in Dubai, then a year later in the mountains of North Carolina and in Baja Mexico in 2008. None of those courses opened, all derailed for myriad reasons mostly related to the worldwide recession in 2008.

Woods is currently designing a course called Bluejack National, which will be an exclusive private club near Houston. El Cardonal won't see much foot traffic either, with only Diamante homeowners and resort guests able to play the course.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Oct 20

Tiger Woods back hitting full golf shots in preparation for Dec. return

Tiger Woods is taking full swings again with the hope of returning to competition at his annual Hero World Challenge in December. Woods' doctors have given him the go-ahead to take full swings, making his way through the bag.

"The doctors said he could hit golf balls again, and he's listening to his doctors and to his body," Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, said to USA Today. "He will keep listening to his doctors and body."

Woods has been dealing with back issues since 2013. At The Barclays that August, Woods blamed pain on a soft hotel bed. The problem worsened, leading to microdiscectomy surgery on March 31.

For what Woods admitted were somewhat political reasons, he returned at his Quicken Loans National in June, missing the cut. He finished 69th at the Open Championship three weeks later.

In August, Woods withdrew from the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in the final round after tweaking his back hitting from an awkward stance on the second hole at Firestone Country Club. Woods made a last-minute effort to play in the PGA Championship the following week, missing the cut. He then announced he was withdrawing his name from Ryder Cup consideration.

Woods intends to return at the World Challenge, which has relocated to Orlando, Fla., played Dec. 4-7.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Oct 20

McIlroy bows out of pair of China events to prepare for trial

Rory McIlroy has withdrawn from the BMW Masters and WGC-HSBC Champions, citing the need to prepare for an upcoming trial in his lawsuit against his former agent.

"I'm going to need time away from tournament golf to prepare for the trial over my legal dispute with Horizon Sports Management," McIlroy said Monday, accoridng to the Irish Independent

McIlroy split with, then sued Dublin-based Horizon Sports Management in late 2013, saying the company locked up the world No. 1 in 2011 with unfair contract terms, including fees McIlroy deemed unreasonable. McIlroy agreed to a contract extension in 2013 with revised terms and lower commissions on off-course earnings but reversed course later in the year. He now represents himself in a company called Rory McIlroy Inc.

Horizon, led by Conor Ridge, has countersued McIlroy, looking to recover commissions for deals it arranged with Nike, Bose and Omega, as well damage to its reputation.

In September, an Irish Commercial Court judge recommended mediation between the parties when McIlroy's lawyers made a motion seeking detailed documentation about friend Graeme McDowell's relationship with Horizon Sports. (It's also the source of Phil Mickelson's Ryder Cup joke about litigating against teammates.) McDowell, who essentially recruited McIlroy to join him under the Horizon banner, announced last month an amicable split from Horizon set to happen at the end of the year.

McIlroy and his lawyers met Horizon representatives in Dublin for mediation this past weekend, but told the court Monday they had failed to reach a settlement that would avoid a trial, according to The Telegraph.

The reigning Open and PGA champion may have to jettison more previously scheduled events in 2015, as well. With a trial set for early 2015 and McIlroy expected to spend up to two weeks giving testimony, he may have to cancel planned starts in the European Tour's two-event swing through the United Arab Emirates in the second half of January.

Preparation will be crucial for McIlroy, who will look to complete the career grand slam with a Masters win next April.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Oct 20

Ian Poulter slams Nick Faldo in last-minute add to new memoir

Ian Poulter had to get in the last word, literally. 

In his new book entitled "No Limits", the Englishman criticized six-time major winner and losing 2008 Ryder Cup captain Nick Faldo for saying teammate Sergio Garcia was useless during the matches at Valhalla six years ago.

“Sergio puts a brave face on it but the rest of the guys are fuming,” Poulter wrote. “I’m shocked that he has said it. It’s highly disrespectful. It’s a cheap shot and it’s the worst possible timing.

“It makes me laugh. Faldo is talking about someone being useless at the 2008 Ryder Cup. That’s the Ryder Cup where he was captain. That’s the Ryder Cup where the Europe team suffered a heavy defeat. And he was captain. So who’s useless?

“Faldo might need to have a little look in the mirror. I have always got on great with Faldo in the past and I have a great deal of respect for everything he has achieved but this feels like sour grapes. It feels like a guy who is still bitter that he lost in 2008."

Poulter revealed his peers have lost considerable respect for Faldo, who did apologize for the remarks made in reference to Garcia's emotional state after a break-up with Greg Norman's daughter prior to the '08 Ryder Cup. 

“Faldo has lost a lot of respect from players because of what he said," Poulter said. "There were plenty of things a lot of the players were unhappy with at Valhalla but none of us criticized him. He may find that begins to change now.” 

The section appears to have been a last-minute addition in a chapter dedicated to the Ryder Cup matches at Gleneagles. Whether or not the chapter was planned is unclear.

Poulter also joined the Monday morning quarter-piggy-backing on Tom Watson's decisions as captain.

"[Q]uite a few of us are surprised by Watson’s decision-making during Saturday's play," Poulter said. "Most of all I’m astonished he does not play Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley. He leaves them out of both sessions. It completely baffles me. It gives us a double boost because it tells us there are problems in the U.S team room. Watson’s choices mean seven of his players play 36 holes on Saturday. I find it hard to see the sense in that."

However, don't expect Poulter, who now resides in Florida, to give any counsel to the PGA of America's Ryder Cup task force.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Oct 20

Huge eagle propels Ben Martin to first PGA Tour win in Vegas

In Vegas, go big or go home. Ben Martin did just that to notch his first PGA Tour win on Sunday at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin.

Neck and neck with Kevin Streelman and defending champion Webb Simpson, Martin made a 45-foot eagle putt at the par-5 16th to regain a lead that was two shots at the start of the day and as high as four on the back nine. After a textbook tee shot and approach to 20 feet at the par-4 finisher, the Clemson product calmly drained the birdie putt for a two-shot win. 

"It was an awesome way to finish," said Martin, who also birdied the 15th hole in a fierce final stretch. "I didn't feel like I had much going all day. Four under on my last four to cap my first win was just awesome."

Not only did the eagle give Martin the advantage again, it may well have stymied Streelman's great run into contention. The Duke product has stuck his approach to the 18th to five feet as Martin hit a gutsy 6-iron over water from 197 yards. Martin drained his unexpected eagle putt from beyond the hole. Streelman missed his birdie putt.

"I saw I was 1 up on the 18th green, and then I saw I was 1 down," Streelman said.

Martin, who posted 20-under 264, gets a second trip to the Masters in April. He was last there in 2010 when he qualified as runner-up in the prior year's U.S. Amateur.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.