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  • Out of the Woods: Tiger returns in style at Albany
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, November 30, 2017

    Tiger Woods' return went about as well as he could have hoped.

    • Playing in his first competitive tournament since the Dubai Desert Classic last February, Woods carded a 3-under-par 69 Thursday in the opening round of the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Course in The Bahamas.

      Woods had five birdies against two bogeys during the round.

      The former longtime world No. 1 and 14-time major champion shot a 1-under 35 on the front nine with a birdies at the par-5, 572-yard No. 3 and par-3, 216-yard No. 8 holes opposite a bogey at No. 9.

      Woods opened the back nine with a birdie at No. 10 and rolled in back-to-back birdies at Nos. 13-14 before bogeying No. 15. He finished with three straight pars, placing him three shots behind leader Tommy Fleetwood of England.

      "I didn't know what I could do," Woods told Golf Channel after his round. "I've been playing golf, I've been playing a lot of holes at home, but it's still different when you've got to tee it up in a tournament.

      "I had a lot of adrenaline going there. I was hitting balls a little bit longer than I normally do and had to dial it back a little bit. Those are the internal struggles that I just haven't been through as a player in a while."

      Woods, now ranked 1,199th in the world, shot an opening-round 77 before withdrawing in Dubai in his most-recent appearance. He underwent his fourth back surgery since 2014 last April.

      On May 29, 2017, Woods was arrested near his Jupiter, Fla. home for driving under the influence. It was later revealed he had a plethora of drugs in his system, including prescription pain killers.

      Woods pled guilty to reckless driving on Oct. 27 and received one year of probation, a $250 fine, 50 hours of community service and regular drug testing. A violation of his probation would result in a 90-day jail sentence and a $500 fine.

  • Woods addresses back, medicine, sleep issues
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, November 28, 2017

    Tiger Woods said on Tuesday that he was attempting to "go away from the pain" when he was charged with driving under the influence six months ago.

    • Speaking before his latest comeback bid ahead of Thursday's first round of the Hero World Challenge, Woods discussed the events that left him asleep at the wheel of his running Mercedes-Benz at 2 a.m. on May 29.

      While breathalyzer tests showed no presence of alcohol, a toxicology report later revealed that Woods had Vicodin, Dilaudid, Xanax, Ambien and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in his system. The 41-year-old Woods entered a program a month later to help him manage back pain, his medications and a sleep disorder.

      "I was trying to go away from the pain and I was trying to sleep, which I hadn't done in a very long time because of the things I've been dealing with," Woods said Tuesday at Albany Golf Course in Nassau, Bahamas.

      "I've come out the other side and I feel fantastic. I didn't realize how bad my back was. Now that I'm feeling the way I'm feeling, it's just hard to imagine that I was living the way I was living, with my foot not working, my leg not working, and then the hours of not being able to sleep at all because of the pain.

      "So as my back improved, I've been able to start sleeping again because I don't have the nerve pain going down my leg, I don't have my leg twitching all over the place. So yeah, I'm loving live now."

      The 14-time major champion hasn't competed professionally since withdrawing after the first round of the Dubai Desert Classic in February due to a back injury. Woods underwent a fourth back surgery on April 19.

      "This surgery was about quality of life because I didn't really have much," Woods said. "I've been in bed for about two years and hadn't been able to do much. People ask me, why don't you go out to dinner? I can't, I can't sit. So to be able to have the ability to go out and do things like that, and on top of that to be able to participate in my kids' sports again.

      "As you know, I love sports, I like playing sports and I grew up doing it, so to be able to play with them again, man, I've missed it."

  • Love lost: Veteran Love III has hip replacement surgery
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, November 21, 2017

    PGA Tour veteran Davis Love III was undergoing hip replacement surgery on Tuesday and is facing a recovery time of three to four months.

    • Love, who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame earlier this year, expects to return to the Tour by March.

      "I had a hip problem the last few years, and I had a hip resurfacing trying to avoid hip surgery because I'm a chicken," Love said after missing the cut in last week's RSM Classic. "But after playing (in some recent tournaments), I realized it was an uphill battle."

      Love, 53, said his doctors told him he would likely be able to start chipping in three to four weeks. He is looking forward to returning to golf as a healthy player.

      "Now I'm excited that I've crossed that bridge," Love said. "Once I get over that, I can go right back to the Tour. I won after a spine fusion (at the 2015 Wyndham), and now I'd like to win with a new hip.

      "That's the reason I'm doing it, so I can get back to golf and keep up."

      Love has won 21 events on Tour, including the 1997 PGA Championship.

  • Golf notebook: PGA Championship to return to Valhalla GC
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, November 13, 2017

    The PGA Championship will return to Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky. in 2024, it was reported by the Louisville Courier Journal.

    • The newspaper said a formal announcement will be made on Thursday.

      Justin Thomas, a native of Louisville who captured his first major title in the PGA in August by two strokes over Patrick Reed, Francesco Molinari of Italy and Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa at Quail Hollow, welcomed the news.

      "Can't put into words how much this excited me to hear," Thomas wrote in a Twitter post. "The @PGAChampionship is coming to the 502 (area code) again!! #louisvilleproud."

      This will be the fourth time the PGA will be played at Valhalla, which has been at least partially owned by the PGA of America since 1993. The organization acquired full ownership in 2000.

      The Jack Nicklaus-designed course at Valhalla first hosted the PGA Championship in 1996, when Mark Brooks defeated Kentucky native Kenny Perry in a playoff.

      The PGA returned in 2000, when Tiger Woods beat Bob May in a playoff, and Rory McIlroy claimed the final major of the year by one stroke over Phil Mickelson in 2014.

      McIlroy's victory was memorable because it came in semi-darkness, but that probably will not happen in 2024 because the PGA Championship will be moved from August to May beginning in 2019.

      --Robert "R.J." Harper, who worked at Pebble Beach Golf Links for 32 years and rose from course marshal to vice president and head of golf operations, died after a 14-month battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 61.

      Harper, whose first job at Pebble paid $5 an hour, eventually became known as "Mr. Pebble Beach."

      "R.J. had a lasting impact on Pebble Beach, and his smile, vibrant personality, and positive attitude and outlook on life will be missed by all, and never forgotten," Pebble Beach Company CEO Bill Perocchi said.

      Harper grew up in Memphis, Tenn., graduated in 1978 from Rhodes College in Memphis, where he played football and baseball, and is a member of the school's Athletic Hall of Fame. He received his Masters degree in Education at from East Stroudsburg University (in Pennsylvania).

      After teaching English and coaching football and girls' basketball at a high school in Miami, Harper showed up at Pebble Beach in 1985 looking for a job.

      Harper was head golf pro at Pebble during the 1992 U.S. Open, championship director of the 2000 U.S. Open and general chairman for the 2010 and 2019 U.S. Opens.

      During his final months, he helped Pebble Beach land the U.S. Women's Open for the first time in 2023.

      Harper is survived by his sons, Tucker and JT; his grandsons, Caden and Hudson; his former wife, Kelly (Yost) Harper; and his sister, Cathy Carr.

      --Sung Hyun Park of South Korea became the first rookie in LPGA Tour history to reach the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings, but it lasted for only a week.

      Shanshan Feng of China took the top spot from Park on Saturday by winning for the second straight week in the Blue Bay LPGA on Hainan Island, China, but it doesn't minimize what Park has done in her first season on the LPGA Tour.

      Park tied for third behind Feng, posting her ninth top-10 finish of the season and 18th in the top 25 on the circuit this season. She has made the cut in all 22 tournaments she has played.

      "It is a great honor to me and my family," Park said of moving to No. 1 a week earlier. "There won't be any changes because of the ranking. I believe my future play is more important than the fact that I moved up in the ranking."

      The 24-year-old Park moved past fellow South Korean So Yeon Ryu, who held the position for the previous 19 weeks and she became the fourth golfer from her country to lead the rankings, joining Ryu, Inbee Park (who held the spot for 92 weeks) and Jiyai Shin (25 weeks).

      Park, who clinched the points-based Rookie of the Year award with five events remaining on the schedule, claimed her first LPGA Tour victory in the U.S. Women's Open Championship in July by two strokes over amateur Hye-jin Choi of South Korea at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.

      She followed that in August with a two-stroke victory over Mirim Lee, also of South Korea, at the Canadian Pacific Women's Open.

      Park has a chance to join LPGA legend Nancy Lopez (1978) as the only players to win the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards in the same season.

      --Henrik Stenson of Sweden, defending champion in the Race to Dubai who is 13th in the point standings this season, withdrew from the Nedbank Golf Challenge last week in South Africa, next-to-last event of the European Tour season.

      Stenson, who lost two spots in the ranking by not playing, has been resting and receiving treatment for a bone bruise in his rib cage and hopes to play this week in the season-ending DP World Championship-Dubai, which he has won twice.

      "I'm disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, as I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour," said Stenson, who also won the Race to Dubai in 2013.

      "At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point."

      There has been speculation that Stenson sustained the injury while being hoisted in a harness to simulate Superman for a TV commercial to promote the WGC-HSBC Champions a few weeks ago in China.

      Stenson denied the claim, even though when he first announced the injury he said: "I'm not Superman, even though certain people thought I was Superman."

      In announcing his withdrawal from the Nedbank Golf Challenge, he said: "My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them.

      "I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event, and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal.

      "The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100 percent."

      Stenson captured the finale in Dubai in 2013 and 2014.

      --When Tiger Woods returns to competitive golf next month for the Hero World Challenge at Albany Resort on the Bahamas, Joe LaCava will be back on the bag.

      Woods, returning from his fourth back surgery in recent years, tried to line up LaCava for a few other jobs since he hasn't been able to play since February.

      "I told him, 'Hey, if you want, I can go out and get you a bag, get one of these young, upcoming guys, and you can go out and caddie for them," Woods said. "'Hopefully you enjoy it and love it, but when I come back, I hope that I can call you up and maybe pry you away from that bag for a little bit.'

      "And (LaCava) said, 'No, no, I'm committed to you. I'm committed to your return and you playing golf again.' ... I know how much he misses being out there; I miss being out there, too."

      According to the Golf Channel, Woods has continued to pay LaCava his full salary, even though Woods has not played much since 2015.

      --Steve Williams of New Zealand confirmed that 2018 will be his final year as a caddie, ending a career that began in 1979.

      Williams was on the bag for Woods during the heart of his career from 1999 to 2011, and also caddied for golf greats Peter Thomson, Greg Norman and Adam Scott, all from Australia, and Raymond Floyd.

      Woods was No. 1 in the world for much of their time together and he claimed 13 of his 14 majors titles in that span.

      "Next year will probably be, certainly be, absolutely my last year of caddying," the 44-year-old Williams told ISeekGolf. "The only reason I'd like to caddie next year is that it's sort of a personal milestone: It'll be 40 years next year.

      "I'll caddy a few tournaments. I'm not sure who for yet, but I'll just caddie a handful of tournaments next year and that'll be it."

      In the last few years, Williams has caddied part-time for Scott, who claimed his only major title with the Kiwi alongside in the 2013 Masters.

      However, Scott plans to hire a full-time caddie.

      Williams has been playing more golf with his buddies at home in Auckland, and has lowered his handicap to 6.9, and also didn't rule out a new career as an on-course golf commentator.

      "You don't say no to anything," Williams said. "It's a possibility."

      Jim "Bones" Mackay has been a hit on the Golf Channel since he ended his career as Phil Mickelson's caddie last season.

  • Golf glance
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, November 13, 2017

    COMING UP

    • PGA TOUR: RSM Classic on the Seaside Course at Sea Island Resort in Sea Island, Ga., Thursday through Sunday.

      TV: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 1:30-4:30 EST, on the Golf Channel.

      LAST YEAR: Rookie Mackenzie Hughes of Canada claimed his first PGA Tour victory by sinking an 18-foot putt from the fringe on the third playoff hole to defeat Blayne Barber, Henrik Norlander of Sweden and Camilo Villegas of Colombia. After Hughes sank his putt, the other three players all missed from about 10 feet closer to the hole. Billy Horschel dropped out of the playoff with a bogey on the first extra hole. Hughes, playing in only his ninth PGA Tour event, was at the top of the leaderboard all the way after opening with a 9-under-par 61, and closed with a 69. Norlander sank a 5-foot birdie putt on the last hole to shoot 65, while Barber had a 66, and Villegas and Horschel both closed with 68s.

      PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS: 2017 season complete.

      NEXT EVENT: Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai Golf Course in Ka'upulehu-Kona, Hawaii, Jan. 18-20.

      LPGA TOUR: CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla.,

      Thursday through Sunday.

      TV: Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 4:30-6:30 p.m. EST on the Golf Channel; Sunday, 1-4 p.m. EST on NBC.

      LAST YEAR: Charley Hull of England won her first title on the LPGA Tour, shooting a bogey-free 6-under-par 66 to beat So Yeon Ryu of South Korea by two strokes. Hull, whose only other pro victory came in the 2014 Lalla Meryem Cup on the European Tour when she was four days short of her 18th birthday, held a one-stroke lead entering the final round. She stayed ahead with three birdies on the first seven holes, and when Ryu caught her on the back nine on her way to a 67, Hull added birdies on the 14th and 17th holes. Hull's total of 19-under 169 broke by two shots the tournament record set by Cristie Kerr in 2015. Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand tied for fourth to capture the season-long Race to the CME Globe.

  • RSM Classic concludes autumn portion of 2017-18 slate
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, November 13, 2017

    The year is winding down, but for the PGA Tour, the RSM Classic this week is only the end of the beginning.

    • The RSM on the Seaside Course at Sea Island Resort in Sea Island, Ga., is the seventh and final tournament of the fall portion of the 2017-18 schedule. It follows stops in California, Malaysia, South Korea, Mississippi, China, Las Vegas and Mexico.

      There will be a six-week "offseason" before the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua in Hawaii on the first week of January, which for years was the traditional start to the season.

      When the PGA Tour introduced the wraparound schedule in 2013-14, many of the top players in the world didn't bother to play in any of the early events, but times have changed.

      "(In past years), I've felt like it has gotten to January or early February and I'm way too far behind on the FedExCup list, and from there it is an uphill battle," said Australian Marc Leishman, who got his season off to a strong start with a runner-up finish in the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges in South Korea last month, losing in a playoff to Justin Thomas.

      "We've still done OK, made the playoffs every year, but if you want to be up with the elite I think you need a big start."

      Last season, Thomas claimed his second career victory by repeating in the CIMB Classic, but he was only getting started.

      Thomas started the new year by winning the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua after opening with a 59. He went on to win five times overall, including the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow.

      When Thomas finished second in the Tour Championship, he claimed the FedExCup and locked up the Player of the Year Award.

      "I felt like after (winning early), I learned a lot to where I could kind of ride that momentum out for the year," said Thomas, who started his new season by winning the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges and is taking a break before defending his title in Hawaii.

      It was similar for Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, who claimed his third PGA Tour victory in the 2016 WGC-HSBC Champions in China during the early portion of the season. He then added the Waste Management Phoenix Open and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

      Matsuyama led the FedExCup standings for much of the season before fading at the finish and wound up eighth in the standings.

      Not only the young guns have used the Fall events to kick-start a big season.

      Pat Perez resurrected his career at the age of 40 while coming off left shoulder surgery last year. He wasn't planning to play in the early events, but received a sponsors exemption from the CIMB Classic and tied for 33rd.

      Perez felt so good that he moved on to the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas, where he tied for seventh, before earning the second victory of his PGA Tour career by winning the OHL Classic at Mayakoba.

      His only previous victory came in the 2009 Bob Hope Classic and his second while playing on a major medical extension give him back his tour card.

      "I played good on the weekend in Malaysia, and I carried it over," said Perez, who again got off to a great start when he won the CIMB Classic last month and followed that with a tie for fifth in the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges and a tie for 24th in the WGC-HSBC Champions.

      "I really can't explain it; it's been an amazing 12 months," Perez said after returning to Malaysia and winning where he started his comeback a year ago. "I can't explain it, but I hope it continues. "I'll be here every year. Every year of the tournament, I'll be here. It's been very good to me. The tournament's been fantastic."

      Perez, who was No. 333 in the Official World Golf Ranking when he came back from surgery, had risen to No. 18 last week.

      Actually, the players who perform well in the Fall to kick-start their seasons are following a similar game plan that others followed under the old schedule.

      Top-ranked Greg Norman once said: "The PGA Tour really doesn't start until Doral (the first event of the Florida Swing."

      In those days, many of the top players lived in Florida and didn't play much on the West Coast Swing, giving up-and-comers more of a chance to shine early in the season.

      "Before, you could take advantage of the West Coast and set your year up, and now you can take advantage of the Fall and set your year up," said David Duval, the former No. 1 player in the world who won the 2001 Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, and now is a commentator for the Golf Channel.

      Davis Love III, another major champion and resident of Sea Island, is host of the RSM Classic this week. He has lined up a field that includes veterans Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen of South Africa and Vijay Singh of Vijay, Stewart Cink and Bill Haas.

      Among the youngsters looking for early-season FedExCup points are reigning Players champion Si Woo Kim of South Korea, Jamie Lovemark, Patrick Rodgers, Cheng Tsung Pan of Taiwan, Nick Taylor of Canada, J.J. Spaun, Beau Hossler, Aaron Wise and Roberto Diaz of Mexico.

      The tournament ends four days before Thanksgiving, so the winner will get an early start on his holiday celebration, and most likely receive a jump-start on the new year.

  • Goydos takes one-stroke lead at Charles Schwab Cup
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, November 11, 2017

    Paul Goydos escaped with a three-way tie after the opening 18 holes to gain sole possession of a one-stroke lead on Saturday after the second round of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

    • Goydos, who is the tournament's defending champion, broke free from majors winners Lee Janzen and Fiji's Vijay Singh to shoot a 5-under-par 66 on Saturday to reside at 12-under 130 at the Phoenix Country Club. He owns a one-shot lead over Janzen (67) and a two-stroke advantage over Kevin Sutherland (63) and former Arizona State player Billy Mayfair (65).

      South African David Frost (65), David Toms (67) and Glen Day (68) reside in a three-way tie for fifth place.

      Bernhard Langer, who is trying to finish off a sweep of the three PGA Champions Tour playoff events, shot a 68 on Saturday and sits in a tie for 22nd place. The 60-year-old German is vying to win the Charles Schwab Cup season points title for the fourth straight year and fifth overall.

      After collecting seven birdies on a bogey-free first round, Goydos recorded his sixth birdie on Saturday by sinking a 7-foot putt on the par-4 16th hole to move into the lead.

      Goydos emerged victorious last year at Desert Mountain in Scottsdale, about 35 miles northeast of downtown Phoenix. The 53-year-old is bidding to join Mike Hill, Jim Thorpe and John Cook as the only players to win the season finale in consecutive years.

      Janzen, who is a two-time U.S. Open champion, moved into sole possession of second place after sinking a birdie putt on the par-5 18th. He is looking for his second career Champions title after winning in 2015.

      Sutherland highlighted his stellar second round with an eagle on the 18. The 53-year-old is the lone player to shoot 59 in senior tour history.

      Mayfair remained in the thick of it with six birdies during his bogey-free round on Saturday.

      Singh, who shot a 64 in the opening round, fell out of favor with double-bogeys on the second and fourth holes to finish with a 72 on Saturday. He resides in a tie for 13th place.

  • Fowler tied for lead at OHL Classic
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, November 11, 2017

    Rickie Fowler finished three holes early Saturday morning and then was forced to wait out a five-hour rain delay only to see play at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico halted by darkness.

    • After waiting out the rain, Fowler shared the lead with Patrick Rodgers and Patton Kizzire at 10-under 132 heading into Sunday.

      "We deal with weather every once in a while on the PGA TOUR, around the world, really," Fowler said. "You kind of just learn to play when you get to play, relax when you get to relax. Rest when you can, tee it up when you can."

      Fowler saved par on the 18th hole to record a 4-under 67 while Rodgers settled for a 65 after firing his first bogey of the tournament on No. 17.

      Kizzire, who hasn't taken stroke since Friday, finished the second round with a 70.

      The trio is part of a 36-hole finish on Sunday, but it is contingent on cooperative weather. Thunderstorms and heavy downpours are forecasted for the next two days.

      Before finishing, Fowler escaped with pars while contending with mud on his golf balls. Rodgers missed the green on the par-3 No.8 but saved par on the next hole.

      Due to the inclement weather projected for Sunday, players can lift, clean and place their golf balls throughout the green.

      John Oda, Brandon Harkins and Brian Gay didn't hit a shot Saturday but remained one stroke behind. Oda and Gay fired 65s while Harkins finished with a 68.

      Charles Howell III began the third round and was 4-under through six holes before darkness halted play.

      Overall, 79 players made the cut at 1-under 141 but it is not a 54-hole cut since groups will remain the same in the next two rounds whenever they get played.

  • Kizzire off to torrid start in OHL Classic
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, November 9, 2017

    Patton Kizzire shot a 9-under-par 62 to grab the first-round lead on Thursday in the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

    • Kizzire ripped off 10 birdies and had his only blemish with a bogey at the 18th hole to leave him with a two-shot lead over fellow American Vaughn Taylor.

      A non-winner on the PGA Tour, Kizzire entered the tournament after finishing tied for fourth last week in Las Vegas, closing with a final-round 64 that included birdies on four of the last five holes.

      Kizzire charged up the leaderboard Thursday with six consecutive birdies from Nos. 8 to 13 and needed 25 putts in his career-low round. He tied the tournament record held by Fred Funk for the lowest first-round score.

      Taylor had five birdies and an eagle in his bogey-free round to grab sole possession of second place. He is one stroke ahead of Rickie Fowler and Brandon Harkins.

      Fowler, competing for the first time since the Presidents Cup, had three birdies on each side in his bogey-free round, while rookie Harkins closed with four birdies over his final six holes.

      Retief Goosen of South Africa, a two-time U.S. Open champion, headed a group of six players in a tie for fifth place at 5-under 66. Goosen is winless since the 2009 Valspar Championship.

      Among the players bunched with Goosen was rookie Keith Mitchell, who started his day with a flourish with a hole-in-one on his first shot of the day at the par-3 10th hole.

      Defending champion Pat Perez opened with a 67 and was in a 10-player logjam five shots off the pace. John Huh, the 2012 tournament winner, also carded a 67.

  • Win in Mexico sparked Perez's comeback season
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, November 6, 2017

    When Pat Perez headed for Mexico last November, he wasn't going on vacation.

    • Perez, who turned 40 earlier last year, was trying to resurrect what had been a solid yet unspectacular PGA Tour. He was trying to regain his playing privileges on a medical extension after undergoing left shoulder surgery.

      Even Perez has difficulty processing what has happened since.

      Not only did he win the OHL Classic at Mayakoba at the El Camaleon Golf Club in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, he made it all the way through the playoffs, finished 15th in the FedExCup standings and last month claimed his third PGA Tour victory in the CIMB Classic at TPC Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

      "I really can't believe what's gone on basically a year from this tournament last year because Todd (Rhinehart, executive director of the CIMB Classic) gave me a spot (last year), and I was so excited to come over and play to try and further my career," said Perez, who hasn't slowed down since his victory in Malaysia.

      He tied for fifth in the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges in South Korea and tied for 24th in the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in his last two events to take the early lead in the 2017-18 FedExCup standings.

      "And I played pretty good (in Malaysia), I think I finished like 33rd, and I finished seventh in Vegas and then I won Mexico. But if he hadn't given me the spot, the funny thing is I don't know if I would have started the tour until January.

      "So, all those chain of events might not have happened. I really can't explain it. It's been an amazing 12 months. I can't explain it, but I hope it continues."

      Perez, No. 333 in the Official World Golf Ranking before beginning his comeback last year, was up to a career-high 18th as of last week.

      Not only did he win in Mexico last year, but he also recorded five other results in the top 10, including a tie for second in the Wells Fargo Championship, a tie for third in the SBS Tournament of Champions and a tie for fourth in the Farmers Insurance Open near his childhood home in San Diego.

      "I guess I'm just one of those late-maturers," said Perez, whose only other PGA Tour victory came in the 2009 Bob Hope Classic. "I know I was sort of a punk and all that early on, but I think I learned a lot about myself in the last nine, 10 months, and it paid off. I couldn't be more excited about what's going on.

      "When you hit 40 and then you have surgery, it's like, 'Oh God,' you know, 'What are we going to do?' I had sleepless nights, I had a lot of sleepless nights wondering, 'What are we going to do? How are we going to do this? What's going to happen here? What would happen here?' Because all you do is sit around and think. That's all you have time is to sit around. You're just sitting in a sling doing nothing and you can't hit balls for five months. I had a lot of time to think about a lot of things."

      Whatever he thought about, it paid off.

      In his third start since returning to the PGA Tour following his surgery, Perez closed with a 4-under 67 in Mexico, after shooting 62 in round three, to claim a two-stroke victory over Gary Woodland on the Greg Norman-designed El Camaleon course, finishing at 21-under 263.

      "I had an attitude that I can't really repeat, but I had a lot of thoughts going on," said Perez, who became the first player on the PGA Tour to win on a medical extension since Harrison Frazar at the 2011 St. Jude Classic. "The main one was I wanted to stay aggressive. I knew if I just stayed aggressive, I was seeing the line great on the putting green. ... This type of grass and these greens, if you can get it on line, you can make them.

      "I just saw the line, I thought I could make them all and I just had a confidence. I had an entirely different attitude than I wouldn't have had a few years ago. It was definitely a different win than last time. Last time, I was a little more scared coming down the stretch. I didn't really believe and this and that. This time, I really had like this calmness, kind of like a madness to get it done."

      Perez has always worked hard at his game and played hard off the course, which led to speculation he might have had a more successful career had he been in better physical condition.

      He's not going to change now.

      "Everything is just going unbelievable," said Perez, who played at Arizona State and lives nearby in Scottsdale. "It's been a lot of work, and a lot of dedication, and it's just coming together. I'm not getting ahead of myself, I'm not going to look in the past.

      "I'm still not going to work out. I will still enjoy myself, have a bad diet. I've got my group of friends, and I'm not going to change anything."

      It simply took awhile for his approach to pay off.

  • Golf glance
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, November 6, 2017

    COMING UP

    • PGA TOUR: OHL Classic at Mayakoba at El Camaleon Golf Club in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, Thursday through Sunday.

      TV: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 1-4 p.m. EST on the Golf Channel.

      LAST YEAR: Pat Perez, playing on a major medical extension, regained his PGA Tour card when he claimed his second career victory on the circuit by posting a 4-under-par 67 to beat Gary Woodland by two strokes. Perez, who was playing his third event since returning from left shoulder surgery at the age of 40 earlier in the year, took the lead when he shot 62 in the third round. He solidified his control with five birdies in the first eight holes in the final round en route to earning his first victory since the 2009 Bob Hope Classic. Perez, playing the best golf of his career, captured the CIMB Classic in Malaysia three weeks ago and also tied for fifth in the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges in South Korea in his last start.

      PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS: Charles Schwab Cup Championship, third and final tournament in the Charles Schwab Cup playoffs, at Phoenix Country Club, Friday through Sunday.

      TV: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 4-7 p.m. EST on the Golf Channel.

      LAST YEAR: Paul Goydos went virtually wire to wire to earn his fourth victory on the senior circuit, and Bernhard Langer of Germany won the season-long Charles Schwab Cup chase for the third straight year and fourth time overall. Goydos, who added the 3M Championship to his victory total earlier this season after winning twice during his career on the PGA Tour, opened with an 8-under-par 62 and followed with scores of 67 and 66 on the Cochise Course at Desert Mountain Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. Langer, who won four times during the season, finished with a 64 and was two strokes behind Goydos in second.

      LPGA TOUR: Blue Bay LPGA at Jian Lake Blue Bay Golf Club in Hainan Island, China, Wednesday through Saturday.

      TV: Tuesday through Friday (in the United States), 11 p.m.-3 a.m. EST, on the Golf Channel.

      LAST YEAR: Minjee Lee of Australia won for the third time on the LPGA Tour, sinking a 3-foot birdie putt on the last hole to complete a 2-under-par 70 for a one-stroke victory over Jessica Korda. Lee, who was 20 at the time, got up and down from short of the 18th green by chipping her ball close to the hole to wrap up her second victory of the season after winning the Lotte Championship in Hawaii in April. Korda, who tied for the lead by shooting 66 in round three, closed with a 71 and missed an 18-foot eagle putt from the back fringe that would have forced a playoff.

  • Golf notebook: Olympic Club lands two huge events
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, November 6, 2017

    --The Olympic Club in San Francisco will host the 2028 PGA Championship and the 2032 Ryder Cup on its famed Lake Course, it was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.

    • The PGA of America sent out media invitations for a "special announcement" at the Olympic Club on Wednesday.

      According to the story, the Olympic Club was in line to host the 2027 U.S. Open until the United States Golf Association learned of the club's negotiations with the PGA of America. Instead, the 2027 U.S. Open was awarded to Pebble Beach.

      The PGA Championship will be contested in San Francisco for the first time in 2020 at TPC Harding Park, down the street from the Olympic Club.

      The Olympic Club has hosted the U.S. Open five times, most recently in 2012, when Webb Simpson beat Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland by one stroke.

      In the other U.S. Opens held at Olympic, little-known club pro Jack Fleck beat Ben Hogan in one the greatest upsets in golf history in 1955, Billy Casper rallied to defeat Arnold Palmer in a playoff in 1966, Scott Simpson edged Tom Watson by one stroke in 1987, and Lee Janzen beat Payne Stewart by a stroke in 1998.

      Pebble Beach, Harding Park and the Olympic Club are scheduled to host eight professional majors or team match-play events in the next 15 years.

      --The University of Southern California claimed the women's championship in the third East Lake Cup last week with a 3-2 victory over Stanford. The Trojans' Robynn Ree earlier took the individual title in the stroke-play portion of the tournament.

      Vanderbilt swept the men's titles with a 4-1 victory over Illinois after Will Gordon took the individual title.

      The college match-play championship is held at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, the course that hosts the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour.

      The East Lake Foundation also presented the Tom Cousins Award to Gordon and Divya Manthena of USC. The award recognizes outstanding male and female golfers who exemplify the values of the East Lake Cup Foundation by excelling in academics, engaging in his or her community and overcoming adversity.

      The East Lake Foundation was founded in 1995 by developer and philanthropist Tom Cousins.

      --Nick Price, a three-time major champion and a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, was nominated for and accepted a spot on the U.S. Golf Association Executive Committee.

      Price becomes the most prominent professional to serve on the committee.

      Amateur greats Francis Ouimet and Bill Campbell served on the executive committee, as did former LPGA journeywoman Mary Bea Porter.

      "I wasn't sure at first where I might fit in," said Price, who considered the offer for several months before accepting. "But I became convinced I could help make a difference given my experience in the game and given their interest in having me serve.

      "I asked Mike (Davis, USGA executive director), 'Is this going to be a PR role?' and he was adamant that it was not. He wants to take the USGA down a more player-friendly path."

      The 60-year-old Price, who won the PGA Championship in 1992 and 1994 and the British Open in 1994, has 48 victories as a pro, including 14 on the PGA Tour. He was the top-ranked player in the world for 43 weeks.

      A native of Zimbabwe who lives in Hobe Sound, Fla., Price served as captain of the 2015 and 2017 International Team for the Presidents Cup. In 2005, the USGA selected Price to receive its highest honor, the Bob Jones Award for sportsmanship.

      "Price brings skills to the table beyond playing, including course design and setup, equipment, rules, turfgrass and a passion for the game," said Jim Hyler, chair of the USGA nominating committee and former two-term president of the association (2010-2011).

      The appointment, Hyler said, will serve as a bridge between the USGA and players on the professional tours.

      --Kevin Na withdrew from the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, his hometown event, because of an undisclosed illness shortly before his first-round tee time last week at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas.

      Na was replaced in the field by Rick Lamb, who missed the cut.

      The 34-year-old Na, who was born in South Korea but grew up in Southern California, claimed his only PGA Tour victory in the 2011 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open by two strokes over Nick Watney.

      Na also withdrew from the tournament in 2013 after 12 holes in the first round because of soreness in his right wrist and forearm.

      --Jason Day of Australia announced his withdrawal from the upcoming Hero World Challenge the Bahamas in order to spend time with his family. The tournament is scheduled for Nov. 30-Dec. 3.

      Day, 29, said his wife, Ellie, recently learned that she is pregnant with the couple's third child, which is due in June.

      "I am thrilled we are having a third child and want to be a part of the journey as much as possible, just like I was for Dash and Lucy," Day told pgatour.com.

      "I have always said family first, and given I really wanted to support Australian golf this year and play in the Australian Open (later this month), that unfortunately means I can't join Tiger (Woods) and the others at the Hero World Challenge this time around."

      Day was ranked No. 1 in the world at the start of this year but has fallen to No. 11 after a season in which he was occupied by his mother's battle with cancer. He has not win a tournament in 2017 for the first time since 2012.

  • Woods to return to competition at Hero World Challenge
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, October 30, 2017

    Tiger Woods announced on Monday that he will return to competitive golf at the upcoming Hero World Challenge on Nov. 30-Dec. 3.

    • Woods joked during his Twitter announcement that he'd like to "thank the committee of 1" for receiving one of the two sponsor's exemptions into the 18-player tournament for which he has served as the host.

      The 14-time major champion hasn't competed professionally since withdrawing after the first round of the Dubai Desert Classic in February due to a back injury. The 41-year-old underwent a fourth back surgery one month later.

      "I am excited to return to competitive golf at the Hero World Challenge," Woods said in a statement. "Albany is the perfect setting and it will be great to join this outstanding field."

      Woods was medically cleared to resume golf activities, his agent told ESPN on Oct. 16. Woods received the go-ahead to resume swinging a club at the end of August, although it was restricted to hitting balls with a pitching wedge at the time.

      That came just 2 1/2 weeks after toxicology reports revealed that Woods had five drugs in his system when he was arrested for driving under the influence near his home in Florida on Memorial Day.

      Woods was arrested around 2 a.m. on May 29 when officers found him unconscious in his Mercedes-Benz about 15 miles from his home in Jupiter, Fla. The car was awkwardly parked on the side of the road and the driver's side of the vehicle was damaged.

      He told officers he was taking the painkiller Vicodin and the anxiety medicine Xanax to deal with pain from April back surgery.

      Woods attempted a comeback earlier this year after a 17-month absence, and it didn't go well. He missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open in late January.

      Woods held out hope he could play in the Masters in early April but eventually announced he was unable to play.

      He originally underwent microdiscectomy surgery to remove a fragment that was causing a pinched nerve in the spring of 2014. He later underwent another microdiscectomy surgery in September 2015 and a follow-up procedure the following month.

  • Golf glance
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, October 30, 2017

    COMING UP

    • PGA TOUR: Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas, Thursday through Sunday.

      TV: 4:30-7:30 p.m. ET each day on the Golf Channel.

      LAST YEAR: Rod Pampling of Australia claimed his third victory on the PGA Tour, but the first in 10 years, by two strokes over Brooks Koepka. The then-47-year-old Aussie, who also won the 2004 International and the 2006 Bay Hill Invitational, sank a 30-foot birdie putt on the final hole to clinch the victory and cap a 6-under-par 65. Koepka, who would go on win he U.S. Open in June at Erin Hills, closed with a 67. Lucas Glover, seeking his first victory in five years, was tied for the lead with Pampling before making birdies on the last two holes. Glover shot 69 to finish three shots back in third.

      PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS: Charles Schwab Cup Championship, third and final tournament in the Charles Schwab Cup playoffs, at Phoenix Country Club, Nov. 10-12.

      TV: On the Golf Channel each day, times TBA.

      LAST YEAR: Paul Goydos went virtually wire to wire to earn his fourth victory on the senior circuit, and Bernhard Langer of Germany won the season-long Charles Schwab Cup chase for the third straight year and fourth time overall. Goydos, who added the 3M Championship to his victory total earlier this season after winning twice during his career on the PGA Tour, opened with an 8-under-par 62 and followed with scores of 67 and 66 on the Cochise Course at Desert Mountain Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. Langer, who won four times during the season, finished with a 64 and was two strokes behind Goydos in second.

      LPGA TOUR: Toto Japan Championship on the Minori Course at Taiheyo Club in Omatama, Japan, Thursday through Saturday.

      TV: Thursday, 11 p.m.-2 a.m. ET; Friday, 11:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m. ET; and Saturday, 10:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. ET; on the Golf Channel.

      LAST YEAR: Shanshan Feng of China, who captured the LPGA Sime Darby Malaysia a week earlier to end a two-year victory drought on the LPGA Tour, held on to win by one stroke over Ha Na Jang of South Korea despite making a double-bogey 6 on the final hole. Feng, who added her seventh LPGA Tour title earlier this season in the LPGA Volvik Championship, took the lead for good with three consecutive birdies through No. 11 and added another at No. 17 on her way to a closing 2-under-par 70. Jang made it close at the finish with birdies on the 16th and 17th holes to shoot a third straight 68.

  • Moore aims for 2nd win in home event at Las Vegas
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, October 30, 2017

    Ryan Moore left Puyallup, Wash., in 2001 and headed for Las Vegas to play golf for UNLV.

    • He still feels right at home in Sin City.

      Moore will be the hometown favorite this week in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin on the outskirts of Las Vegas.

      "I mean, obviously it's one I look forward to a lot every single year, my one opportunity to be at home," said Moore, who is playing in the tournament for the 12th time. "I've had some success here, having won the event (in 2012) and had a few other decent finishes here.

      "This is the one tournament I would've played forever until I won it, the one I wanted to win almost as much as any other. I think any of us UNLV guys feel that way about it."

      Moore, 34, has five victories on the PGA Tour, including the CIMB Classic in Malaysia in 2013 and 2014, with his last title coming in the 2016 John Deere Classic.

      Perhaps his career highlight was scoring the winning point for the United States in the Ryder Cup last year at Hazeltine Golf Club in Chaska, Minn. He came from behind with birdie-eagle-par on the last three holes to beat Lee Westwood of England, 1 up.

      Moore did not know he scored the clincher until his wife, Nicole, told him right before he was mobbed by his American teammates. He gave the U.S. team its first victory in the biennial event since 2008 at Valhalla in Louisville, Ky.

      "I was not paying attention at all to that being the clinching point," Moore said at the time. He was one of three captain's picks by Davis Love III. "I didn't want to get distracted. I thought, 'Oh, really? That's pretty cool.' ...

      "I don't even know. I mean, this is unbelievable right now. To actually get the point that clinched it for us. Obviously, we had some great play going on behind me. I was able to relax and play those last couple of holes and able to sneak a win out there."

      None of his teammates, several of whom lobbied Love to pick Moore, were surprised.

      Neither were the Europeans, especially Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who only two weeks earlier had to go four playoff holes before shaking off Moore and winning the Tour Championship and the FedExCup with a birdie.

      "He's a fantastic player," McIlroy said after winning the season finale at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. "He's been playing well for a long time. He's just such a gritty competitor. He even showed with the putts he held coming down the stretch. That putt he holed on the fourth playoff hole to at least make me hole mine. ...

      "You look at his match-play record in amateur golf as well and some of the stuff he's done and he's accomplished, I mean, he's a great player. He's gritty. He's a competitor. He doesn't quite have the length that some of us do, but he definitely makes up for it in different areas of his game. I was really impressed with him today."

      Moore came out of UNLV with superstar written all over him in 2004 after he captured the U.S. Amateur, the Western Amateur, the U.S. Amateur Public Links, the Sahalee Players Championship and the NCAA Championship in addition to earning the Ben Hogan Award as College Player of the Year.

      The only other players to win the U.S. Amateur and the NCAA individual title in the same year were Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau.

      "It's kind of funny in that I played with Tiger at the final round of the (2013 Deutsche Bank Championship) and he was asking about my amateur days," said Moore, who opened the 2017-18 season with a tie for 17th in the Safeway Open last month.

      "'Man, did you win this one? Did you win that one, too?' To have someone like that who noticed and remembers that 10 years later, that means you had a pretty spectacular year. Obviously, it's hard for me to live up to it professionally, unless I have a year in which I win a couple of majors and a few other tournaments."

      Moore understands that even though he is enjoying a solid pro career, he hasn't lived up to the promise of his amateur days, in part because of wrist and shoulder injuries.

      After his big finish to 2016, it was thought he might be ready for a really big year, but a shoulder injury hampered him for part of the season. He had to miss the U.S. Open at Erin Hills because of the injury last June after tying for ninth in the Masters.

      Healthy again, Moore will have positive memories this week at TPC Summerlin, where he shot 10-under-par 61 in the first round five years ago and made a birdie on the 16th hole of the final round to beat Brendon de Jonge of Zimbabwe by one stroke.

      He knows the value of home cookin'.

  • Golf notebook: Pebble Beach attracts more major events
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, October 30, 2017

    --The United States Golf Association announced that Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, Calif., will host the U.S. Open for the seventh time in 2027. It was announced a few years ago that the 2019 U.S. Open would be played in the famed course on the Monterey Peninsula.

    • In addition, it was announced that Pebble will be the site of the Women's U.S. Open for the first time in 2023.

      "The USGA is committed to bringing our championships to golf's greatest venues, and the opportunity to have the best players in the world, female and male, compete at this iconic course will provide a fantastic showcase of the game," USGA president Diana Murphy said.

      The U.S. Open will be played on several classic courses in the coming years, including Shinnecock Hills (2018 and 2026), Winged Foot (2020), Pinehurst No. 2 (2024) and Oakmont (2025).

      Winners of the third major of the season at Pebble Beach include Jack Nicklaus in 1972, Tom Watson in 1982, Tom Kite in 1992, Tiger Woods in 2000 and Grahame McDowell of Northern Ireland in 2010.

      --Emily Nash, a junior at Lunenburg High, finished four strokes ahead of the field in the Central Massachusetts Division 3 Boys' Golf Tournament at Blissful Meadows Golf Course in Uxbridge, Mass., but didn't go home with the trophy.

      Because she is a girl.

      Nash shot 3-over-par 75 while playing from the same tees as the boys, but MIAA rules prohibited her score from being included in the individual tournament, yet it still counted toward her team's total. Lunenburg finished fourth and did not qualify for the state tournament.

      The MIAA regulations also cost Nash, who said she wasn't aware of the rules until after the event, a spot in the state tournament.

      "We don't make the rules, we just enforce them," tournament director Kevin Riordan said. "(Emily) is the story of the day."

      Nash, who finished fourth in the girls state tournament last spring, was offered the first-place trophy by Nico Ciolino of Advanced Math & Science Academy in Marlboro, who shot 79 and finished second to Nash, but she declined.

      Lunenburg High he plans to buy Nash her own trophy.

      --Jordan Spieth, the second-ranked golfer in the world, recently played a round of golf with former President Barack Obama and All-Star guard Stephen Curry of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors.

      Curry and the Warriors were in town to play the Dallas Mavericks, while Obama was in the Lone Star State with Presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton for an event to benefit victims of Hurricane Harvey.

      Spieth later claimed in an appearance on the "Late, Late Show" that Obama tried to psyche him out. He said Obama told him that aliens exist, and as president he got to see them for himself.

      "He goes, 'They're freaking crazy looking,'" Spieth said. "And then he walks up, makes his putt, turns back, walks off the green, leaves it at that and gives me a wink."

      Also in what turned out to be a sixsome were Curry's brother Seth, who plays for the Mavericks, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank and Jonnie West, son of NBA legend Jerry West and a Warriors employee.

      --The European Tour, which has made a commitment to end slow play, announced the addition of a new event on its 2018 schedule, the Shot Clock Masters, in which players will be timed on every shot.

      The inaugural event will be played June 7-10 at Diamond Country Club in Atzenbrugg, Austria.

      The first golfer in each group on every hole will have 50 seconds to plan and play his shot, while each subsequent player will receive 40 seconds.

      "Not only will it help us combat slow play and reduce round times, it is also further evidence of our desire to embrace innovation," said Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour.

      "Not only will it help us combat slow play and reduce round times, it is also further evidence of our desire to embrace innovation. ... Faster, different, surprising and dramatic is where golf needs to head."

      Large shot clocks will accompany each group. If a golfer fails to hit his shot in time, he will be charged a one-stroke penalty. Every player will have two chances per round to double his allotted time to accommodate more difficult shots.

      Penalties for slow play have long been on the books on the major pro tours, though the rules are rarely enforced.

      Top-ranked Dustin Johnson said he is in favor of a shot clock.

      "Yeah, absolutely," Johnson said when asked if he would like to see shot clock on the PGA Tour. "I think it would be very interesting. You'd see a lot of guys getting penalties on our Tour.

      "Yeah, that would be quite fun, actually. I'd have plenty of time, but there's a lot of guys that wouldn't. They would be getting a penalty on every hole."

      The hope is that the time for a round will be reduced to between three and four hours, and three hours and 15 minutes for a twosome.

      Rounds on the PGA Tour sometimes approach six hours.

  • Langer wins PowerShares QQQ Championship in playoff
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 29, 2017

    Bernhard Langer birdied the second playoff hole to edge Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez and win the PowerShares QQQ Championship on Sunday in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

    • The 60-year-old German earned a second consecutive win in the first two weeks of the PGA Tour Champions playoffs. Next up is the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix, Nov. 10-12.

      Jimenez and Langer each parred the 18th hole to open the playoff. On the second playoff hole, Langer sank a 30-foot birdie putt and pumped his fist.

      It was the 36th career PGA Tour Champions win for Langer, second only to Hale Irwin's total of 45. Langer has seven wins this year, including three majors (the Regions Tradition, the Senior PGA Championship and the Senior Open Championship).

      He is also leading the season-long Schwab Cup points race.

      Both Langer and Jimenez closed with a 5-under-par 67 at Sherwood Country Club to leave them at 11-under 205. On the 54th hole, Langer's long birdie putt circled the edge of the rim but didn't drop.

      The other co-leader heading the final round, David Toms, shot a 69 on Sunday and took third place at 207. He is second in the Schwab Cup standings heading to the finale.

      Scott McCarron carded a 69 to wind up at 208 in fourth place. Fred Funk (final-round 68), Doug Garwood (70) and Billy Andrade (71) shared fifth place at 210.

      Jerry Kelly (69), Gene Sauers (69), England's Paul Broadhurst (69) and Jeff Maggert (72) tied for eighth place at 211.

      Heading to Phoenix, the top seven in the Schwab Cup standings are Langer, McCarron, Kenny Perry, Jimenez, Kevin Sutherland, Kelly, Scotland's Colin Montgomerie.

      Perry shared 12th place at 212. Sutherland and Montgomerie tied for 27th at 217.

  • Langer in three-way tie for PowerShares QQQ lead
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, October 28, 2017

    Bernhard Langer assumed his usual spot atop the leaderboard in a Champions Tour event by shooting a 3-under-par 69 on Saturday to grab a share of the lead heading into Sunday's final road of the PowerShares QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

    • Tied with Langer with two-day totals of 6-under 138 are first-round co-leader David Toms, who had an even-par 72 on Saturday, and Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain, who carded a 70 at Sherwood Country Club.

      Langer, a 60-year-old from Germany, is the Schwab Cup points leader and has virtually assured himself of his ninth Champions Tour money title in 10 seasons.

      The top 36 in points after Sunday's final round will advance to the Charles Schwab Cup Championship at Phoenix Country Club.

      Langer had an uneven round. He had a double-bogey on the third hole and a bogey at No. 10, but recorded an eagle at No. 5 to go along with four birdies.

      He found the conditions challenging.

      "It wasn't easy out there," Langer said, according to the Ventura County Star. "Some of the greens are very firm, the ball doesn't stop very easily."

      Jimenez had a bogey and three birdies to complete his round, while Toms had three bogeys and three birdies.

      "I'm trying to do the best I can at this point," Jimenez said per the Star. "I'm trying to play, enjoy the game, that's the main thing. It's not about (what you shoot), it's about fighting the golf course, fighting the things on the golf course, and enjoying yourself."

      Jeff Maggert, who was tied for the lead after the first round, had two birdies, but took a bogey on No. 8 and a double-bogey on No. 9 to finish with a 73. He is still in contention, just a stroke off the lead and tied for fourth with Billy Andrade (70) and Scott McCarron (69), who was pleased with his round.

      "I did a lot of good things today," McCarron said. "I made some mistakes, but I've got to focus on the good stuff and try to clean up the rest of the stuff a little bit."

      Another stroke back at 140 are Kenny Perry (68), Doug Garwood (69), Wes Short Jr. (70) and Scott Dunlap (72).

      Jesper Parnevik, who was one shot off the lead after the opening round, had a 74, leaving him three shots off the lead. He is tied with Vijay Singh and Jeff Sluman.

      John Daly had a first-round 69 but he withdrew Saturday with a knee injury.

      Daly collapsed on the ninth hole, and he had to be helped off, unable to put any weight on his right leg.

      The 51-year-old Day was 4 under at the time he withdrew, which would have put him in contention for his second win on the senior tour.

      Andrade was Daly's playing partner, and Daly's withdrawal left Andrade to play the rest of the round alone.

      "It was kind of weird," Andrade told the Star. "I've got Bernhard ahead of me, so I've got to take my time. I can't play my pace, which is different, even though John's pace is so fast. Now I've got the back nine and I've got to take my sweet time."

  • Toms, Maggert tied for PowerShares QQQ lead
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, October 28, 2017

    David Toms had a hole-in-one while shooting a 6-under-par 66 on Friday to share the lead with Jeff Maggert after one round of the PowerShares QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

    • Toms hit his ace on the 188-yard third hole at Sherwood Country Club.

      "I hit a cut 5-iron, just hit a great shot, never left the flag," Toms said, according to the Ventura County Star. "Hit about 12 feet short, rolled right in. Those are always a bonus when you get those."

      Toms has played the course several times, and likes it.

      "It's a good test of golf," Toms said. "You really have to place your ball well all day, whether it's on the tee shot or second shot."

      Toms, 50, is winless in his first season on PGA Champions Tour and sits 30th in the Charles Schwab Cup points standings.

      This tournament is the second of three Schwab Cup Playoffs events.

      Maggert, 53, hasn't won in more than two years, but he had a bogey-free round of 66 despite battling a head cold to tie for the lead.

      "I just tried to be patient today and take what the course would give me," Maggert said, according to the Star. "Obviously, I need to play well here to move on to Phoenix, but I'm just trying to take it one day at a time."

      Maggert needs to finish in the top three in this tournament to advance to the finals.

      "My ball striking's good and really my putting's been holding me back, but I felt really good with the putter today," Maggert said.

      Jesper Parnevik was one shot behind the leaders, and Miguel Angel Jimenez and Scott Dunlap were one stroke behind Parnevik.

      Parnvik surprised himself with a run of five straight birdies.

      "I haven't done three in a row for a long time," Parnevik said, according to the Star. "I hit balls for about seven hours in pure desperation (Thursday) trying to find something that resembled a swing thought, but I couldn't find it."

      He probably needs a top-five finish to advance to the finals.

      Schwab Cup points leader Bernhard Langer shot a 69.

      The 60-year-old German got his sixth victory of the year in the playoff opener last week in Richmond, Va. He is virtually assured of getting his ninth money title in 10 seasons on the Champions tour.

      John Daly, Billy Andrade and Joey Sindelar were tied with Langer with rounds of 69.

  • Tiger pleads guilty to reckless driving, enters diversion program
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, October 27, 2017

    Tiger Woods pleaded guilty Friday to reckless driving and will enter a diversion program that will resolve a driving under the influence charge from the May 29 incident.

    • Woods, 41, made his plea in a court hearing in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and received one-year probation in addition to a $250 fine plus court costs.

      Woods was required to attend DUI school, perform 20 hours of community service and attend a workshop where victims of impaired drivers discuss how their lives were damaged. Judge Sandra Bosso-Pardo said Woods has met each of those duties.

      Woods will also undergo regular drug tests because he was intoxicated with marijuana and prescription drugs at the time of his early morning arrest.

      He was warned by Bosso-Pardo to stay out of trouble.

      "This particular plea agreement has no jail time on it," Bosso-Pardo said to Woods. "However, if you violate your probation in any significant way, I could revoke your probation, and then I could sentence you to jail for 90 days with a fine of up to $500. Is that understood?"

      Woods nodded to indicate he understood.

      Woods was arrested at around 2 a.m. on May 29 when officers found him unconscious inside his Mercedes-Benz about 15 miles from his home in Jupiter, Fla. The vehicle had damage to the driver's side and was parked in an awkward fashion.

      Woods was unable to tell officers where he was and he stumbled and had balance issues while taking field sobriety tests. Woods told officers he was taking the painkiller Vicodin and the anxiety medicine Xanax to deal with pain from April back surgery.

      A toxicology report released in mid-August found that Woods had Vicodin, Dilaudid, Xanax, Ambien and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in his system when he was arrested.

      Dilaudid is a painkiller, Ambien is a sleeping medicine and THC is a muscle relaxant that increases effects of marijuana and can cause hallucinations and impair driving.

      Woods has said he was using the painkillers to deal with his fourth back surgery.

      Woods has won 79 PGA Tour events, including 14 majors, but last played in February.

      His last major victory was in 2008 when he won the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines by outlasting Rocco Mediate in a memorable 19-hole playoff.

  • Johnson, Matsuyama highlight field at WGC-HSBC Champions
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, October 25, 2017

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, defending champion Hideki Matsuyama of Japan and England's Tommy Fleetwood, the leader in the European Tour's Race to Dubai standings, highlight a stellar roster of competitors this week at the WGC-HSBC Champions.

    • The tournament begins play on Thursday at the Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, China.

      Five of the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking, including No. 5 Jon Rahm of Spain, No. 8 Jason Day of Australia and ninth-ranked Henrik Stenson of Sweden, will compete this week as part of the select 78-player field on the par-72, 7,266-yard course.

      The lineup boasts 18 of the top 25 in the world rankings and also features nine major championship winners, including Americans Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, Justin Rose of England and Australian Adam Scott, as well as seven of the top 10 players from the final 2016-17 FedExCup standings.

      Of the 78 players teeing it up at the HSBC Champions, 57 are from outside the United States. Twenty-three nations will be represented in the event. They will all be playing for a combined purse of $9.75 million, with the winner of the 72-hole, no-cut event capturing $1.66 million and 550 FedExCup points on the PGA Tour.

      Matsuyama captured last year's event by seven shots, the largest margin of victory in HSBC Champions history. He began the final round with a three-shot lead over Russell Knox of Scotland and birdied six holes on Sunday against no bogeys to defeat runners-up Stenson and Daniel Berger by seven shots. Matsuyama played his final 45 holes without a bogey.

      Matsuyama became the first Asian winner in 18 years of WGC competition and admits the pressure is on for a repeat performance in front of the Asian faithful.

      "It is different coming back as defending champion," said Matsuyama, who is now ranked fourth in the world. "I don't want to put a lot of pressure or expectation on myself, I just want to let the tournament come to me, like it did last year.

      "All I can do is try to play my best, and hopefully I will play well. One of my goals and one of the things that I'm working on now is to be able to stay on top of my game. I am still learning how to do that."

      Fleetwood took last week off to spend with his newborn son. He was sixth in the Italian Open in his previous start and will have the advantage of contesting all four remaining events this season in his attempt to win the European Tour Order of Merit.

      "It's difficult toward the end of the year to try and not look at the Order of Merit too much," the 26-year-old Fleetwood said. "You can't control what your rivals are doing, you've got so many good players up there you are kind of expecting them to win one.

      "My goals and mindset are always the same -- I want to win the week that I'm playing, and this one would be a great one to win. I'll go out there and do my best and then there's three more events after this."

      The HSBC Champions was created in November 2005 and became an official European Tour and Asian Tour event beginning in 2006. In 2009, the event was granted World Golf Championships status but was an unofficial event on the PGA Tour.

      Beginning in 2010, the HSBC Champions counted as an official PGA Tour victory and offered a three-year exemption on the PGA Tour, provided the tournament was won by a PGA Tour member. Prize money, however, did not count toward the official PGA Tour money list, even if a PGA Tour member won the event.

      In 2013 the event became a part of the PGA Tour's FedExCup schedule, awarding official money and FedExCup points.

      The WGC-HSBC Champions is one in a series of four World Golf Championships events including the Mexico Championship (Mexico City), the Dell Technologies Match Play (Austin, Texas) and the Bridgestone Invitational (Akron, Ohio).

  • Take 5 with Jenny Shin
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, October 24, 2017

    South Korea's Jenny Shin has been a constant presence among the Top 50 in the world since she turned professional in 2010. Shin has one victory on the LPGA Tour -- in the 2016 Volunteers of American Texas Shootout -- 24 top-10 finishes and career earnings of more than $3.3 million.

    • Shin finished tied for 14th last week at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship and took a few minutes to answer a few questions as she prepares to compete in this week's Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur.

      Q: Who got you started in golf and how did that person influence you?

      A: My father got me started in golf (when I was 9-years-old) and he's taught me a lot about being patient, because he's not a very patient person. I think through golf my personality changed a little bit, so that's been good and bad, but you know about fathers (laughs).

      Q: What's your favorite memory about golf whether as an amateur or as a professional?

      A: That would be winning the U.S. Girls Amateur when I was 13. That's been my most exciting thing to happen to me because I was the underdog in that event, nobody expected me to win. (Shin beat American Vicky Hurst in the finals, winning in 37 holes.)

      Q: What's your favorite thing to do when you are not playing golf, practicing golf or watching golf?

      A: I love to play games -- I'm a huge fan of League of Legends (a multiplayer online battle arena video game). I like Netflix, I love reading books. I love shopping -- I just don't have enough time to do all I want to do.

      Q: What's the best shot you ever hit?

      A: That is the hardest question ever, because I've hit so many great shots. You know what? I'll just go with my shot from off the green on the 18th hole when I won in Texas last year. It was a really tough; I decided to putt it rather than chip it, and I got it to about a foot from the hole, so that was a really good decision. It was the right thing to do at the right time.

      Q: Who are your closest friends on Tour?

      A: Probably Na Yeon Choi and Minjee Lee -- I've got quite a few, really. Oh, and Marina Alex; she's very funny. I actually have a lot of fun with the other players out here.

  • Matsuyama defends title at 'Asia's Major'
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, October 23, 2017

    Hideki Matsuyama was the best player on the PGA Tour for much of last season, winning three times and leading the FedExCup standings heading into the playoffs before fading after playing close to 30 events around the world.

    • Matsuyama is back where he started his 2016-17 run, defending his title this week in World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai.

      "Sheshan has some very special memories for me," said Matsuyama, who became the first player from Japan to capture a World Golf Championships event and added the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational to his dossier in August.

      "It was a great honor to become the first Japanese winner of a World Golf Championships and to do it against such a world-class field was very special. I believe the confidence I gained with such a big victory there has really helped me with my performances."

      Matsuyama, who is No. 4 in the Official World Golf Ranking, started the new season with a tie for fifth in the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, has a much bigger career goal, which seems to be well within his reach.

      The 25-year-old wants to become the first player from Japan to win a major championship.

      Isao Aoki recorded the best result by a Japanese golfer in one of the Grand Slam events when he finished second in the 1980 U.S. Open at Baltusrol. Aoki entered the final round tied with Jack Nicklaus and finished two strokes behind the Golden Bear after closing with a 70.

      Matsuyama equaled that feat when he closed with a 66 to tie for second, four shots behind Brooks Koepka, last June in the U.S. Open at Erin Hills.

      "All I can do is my best," said Matsuyama, who has finished in the top 10 on seven times in the majors, including solo fifth in the 2014 Masters, a tie for fifth in the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow and a tie for sixth in the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield. "I know a lot of us have tried from Japan to win majors. Hopefully someday it will happen. ...

      "I did play well at the PGA. I had a chance. Unfortunately, Justin Thomas played better than I did, and it was a bitter defeat for me. I was really hoping and praying and doing my best to win the PGA. But hopefully I can take that experience, what I learned there, to play better in majors to come, and hopefully someday, that first major will show itself."

      Matsuyama was tied for the PGA Championship lead with Kevin Kisner after shooting 64 in round two at Quail Hollow in August, and he was tied for second, one shot behind Kisner, entering the final round.

      However, after opening with 70-64, he played the weekend in 73-72 and finished three strokes behind Thomas.

      When Matsuyama appeared to gain a measure of revenge by defeating Thomas, 3 and 1, in Sunday singles at the Presidents Cup early this month, he told reporters that it wasn't about revenge.

      "I'm not sure about that, but I look forward to battling Justin at more majors in the future," who collected eight birdies and an eagle in the first 12 holes against Thomas, the PGA Tour Player of the Year and FedExCup champion.

      "Both of us were out there fighting. Neither one of us wanted to lose, and I'm happy I came out on top and got a point for our team. It's been a long time since I shot a good round like today, and hopefully this will be a steppingstone to better rounds in the near future."

      Matsuyama, who claimed three other victories around the world in the last year and has 14 titles in his pro career, still is not comfortable with interviews in English and always speaks through an interpreter.

      So reporters often seek out his peers.

      "It just looks like that guy right now has his priority set on playing good golf," said Jason Day of Australia, who was Matsuyama's teammate on the International team in the Presidents Cup.

      "He's (always) on the range and he's the last guy to leave. He's always putting. He's always doing something. He's working hard. And I feel like he's the hardest worker out here right now, just because he wants to win."

      Added Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland: "Once he gets going, he just keeps the hammer down and keeps it going. It's very impressive. He's played very impressively over the past 18 months with a lot of wins and a lot of good finishes. ... That's sort of the caliber of player he is."

      Matsuyama will make another bid this week to win the tournament known as "Asia's Major."

      One of these days, he figures to win one of the real majors.

  • Golf glance
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, October 23, 2017

    COMING UP

    • PGA TOUR: WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan Golf Club in Shanghai, Thursday through Sunday.

      TV: Wednesday and Thursday (in the United States), 10 p.m.-2 a.m. EDT; Friday and Saturday, 11 p.m.-3 a.m. EDT; on the Golf Channel.

      LAST YEAR: Hideki Matsuyama earned the first of his three victories in the 2016-17 season, coasting to a seven-stroke victory over Daniel Berger and Sweden's Henrik Stenson to become the first player from Japan to win one of the World Golf Championships. The 25-year-old Matsuyama, who has won six times around the world in barely more than a year, ran away from the field by posting scores of 65-66-68-65--265, 23 under par, to earn his third PGA Tour victory. Later in the season, he captured the Waste Management Phoenix Open for the second straight year and also won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational to lead the FedExCup standings heading into the playoffs.

      PGA TOUR: Sanderson Farms Championship at the Country Club of Jackson in Jackson, Miss.

      TV: Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 2:30-5:30 p.m. EDT, on the Golf Channel.

      LAST YEAR: Left-hander Cody Gribble claimed his first PGA Tour victory, shooting a bogey-free 65 to win by four strokes over 2011 Sanderson Farms champion Chris Kirk, Luke List and Greg Owen of England. Gribble, who bounced back from an opening 73, became the third straight first-time winner and fourth in the last six years at the Country Club of Jackson. Gribble got back into contention with a 63 in round two. After posting a 67 in the third round, he started the final round two shots behind co-leaders List and Kirk. He took control with birdies on the 11th, 13th, 15th, 16th and 17th holes to play the back nine in 5-under 31. Owen closed with 68, while Kirk and List both shot 70.

      PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS: PowerShares QQQ Championship, the second of three tournaments in the Charles Schwab Cup playoffs, at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif., Friday through Sunday.

      TV: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 5:30-8 p.m. EDT, on the Golf Channel.

      LAST YEAR: Tom Pernice Jr. won the tournament last season when it was the first event of the inaugural Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs, claiming a one-stroke victory over Colin Montgomerie with a two-putt par on the final hole. Pernice, who played at nearby UCLA, closed with a 2-under-par 70 in wind and rain, sinking an 8-foot birdie putt on the 14th hole and adding a 15-footer one hole later to hold off Montgomerie, who also finished with a 70. Pernice won for the fifth time on the PGA Tour Champions after claiming two victories during his career on the PGA Tour.

      LPGA TOUR: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia on the East Course at TPC Kuala Lumpur in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday through Sunday.

      TV: Thursday, 6-9:30 p.m. EDT; Friday and Saturday, 8-10:30 p.m. EDT; and Sunday, 9 p.m.-midnight EDT; on the Golf Channel.

      LAST YEAR: Shanshan Feng of China ended a two-year victory drought on the LPGA Tour, shooting 64-67 on the weekend to beat Suzann Pettersen of Norway by three strokes. It was her first victory since winning at TPC Kuala Lumpur two years earlier, and she also finished second there in 2013 in addition to tying for second in 2015. Feng was tied for the lead before sinking an 18-foot birdie putt at No. 14, and she added a 15-footer on the 15th. Pettersen couldn't catch her despite shooting 66. Feng, who earned the bronze medal in the Olympic Games two months earlier in Rio de Janiero, went on to win the Toto Japan Classic a week after winning in Malaysia. She added the LPGA Volvik Championship earlier this year to give her 20 titles in her pro career, including seven on the LPGA Tour.

  • Golf notebook: New chairman steps in at Augusta
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, October 23, 2017

    --Fred Ridley took the reins as chairman of Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., replacing Billy Payne, who announced in August that he would step down.

    • Ridley became the seventh chairman at the club that hosts the Masters.

      "Throughout my life, (club founder and golf great) Bobby Jones has been my idol and role model," said Ridley, the first person who played in the Masters to hold the position. "I remember meeting (club chairman) Clifford Roberts during my first visit to Augusta National as an amateur invitee more than four decades ago.

      "I stand ready to embrace the responsibilities that come with this important position, strengthened by the lessons the sport teaches and the example of those who have provided leadership to me over the years."

      Ridley, 65, a resident of Tampa, Fla., is a business lawyer and partner at the international law firm of Foley & Lardner LLP, where he is the national chair of the real estate practice.

      He played in the Masters as an amateur from 1976-78 and has been a member at Augusta National since 2000.

      The only other chairmen at Augusta were Roberts (1931-1976), William Lane (1976-1980), Hord Hardin (1980-1991), Jackson T. Stephens (1991-1998), Hootie Johnson (1998-2006) and Payne (2006-2017).

      --The PGA Tour announced that the Champion Trace Course at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky., about 10 miles from downtown Lexington, will be the new host venue of the Barbasol Championship from July 19-22, 2018.

      The first three editions of the Barbasol were played at the Grand National course in Opelika, Ala., on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. Grayson Murray claimed his first victory on the PGA Tour in the tournament this July.

      "We are excited to bring the PGA Tour and our players to Lexington in 2018," said Andy Pazder, the PGA Tour's chief tournaments and competitions officer. "We have been looking for the right opportunity to return to the area as it has been 20 years since we last held a PGA Tour Champions tournament in Lexington.

      "With the Bluegrass Sports Commission as the tournament's host organization and Global as the tournament operator, having a great facility and, of course, Barbasol as the title sponsor, we have a strong partnership in place that will make the 2018 Barbasol Championship a tremendous success."

      It will be the first PGA Tour event held in Kentucky since the Kentucky Derby Open was contested in Louisville from 1957-59. Gary Player claimed his first PGA Tour victory in the 1958 event.

      The PGA Tour Champions held the Bank One Classic in Lexington from 1983-97.

      The tournament is expected to have an economic impact in excess of $20 million for the Lexington area.

      --The LPGA Tour announced that 24-year-old Sung Hyun Park of South Korea mathematically clinched the 2017 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award with five events remaining on the season's schedule.

      Park, who captured the 2017 U.S. Women's Open Championship for her first LPGA Tour victory, had a 798-point lead over Angel Yin, which would mark the third-largest margin of victory in the history of the award.

      In Gee Chun of South Korea won by 778 points last year, trailing only Karrie Webb of Australia, who won by 1,030 points in 1996, and Se Ri Pak of South Korea, who had a 929-point margin in 1999.

      "I am honored to receive this award which was one of my goals from the beginning of the season," Park said. "This is really special because you only get one chance in a lifetime. Taking this opportunity, I want to be a better player."

      Park earned her second PGA Tour victory in the Canadian Pacific Women's Open. She has six additional top-10 finishes in 2017. She finished in the top 20 at four of the season's five major championships.

      A 10-time winner on the Korean LPGA Tour, Park will receive the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award at the 2017 Rolex LPGA Awards ceremony on Nov. 16 during the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

      There are 10 winners of the award in the LPGA and World Golf Hall of Fame: Joanne Carner (1970), Amy Alcott (1975), Nancy Lopez (1978), Beth Daniel (1979), Patty Sheehan (1981), Juli Inkster (1984), Annika Sorenstam (1994), Karrie Webb (1996), Se Ri Pak (1998), and Lorena Ochoa (2003).

      --Derek Sprague, who was managing director at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J., the past two years, was named general manager at TPC Sawgrass, the home of the PGA Tour in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

      Sprague replaces Bill Hughes, now the regional director of operations for the TPC Network. Hughes served as general manager at TPC Sawgrass for 11 years.

      "I'm grateful ... for two great years at Liberty National," Sprague said of the New Jersey course, which recently hosted the Presidents Cup. "It's a special place, and hosting a successful Presidents Cup was the perfect capstone to my experience there.

      "The opportunity to lead a talented team at the PGA Tour's flagship property and help host the Players Championship each year is an extraordinary one, and I'm eager to get started."

      Sprague came to Liberty National from Malone Golf Club, in his hometown of Malone, N.Y., where he was general manager/director of golf for 27 years. He served a two-year term as the 39th PGA of America president through 2016.

      --Seung-Yul Noh of South Korea announced that he will be the latest PGA Tour player from his country to serve a mandatory two-year military commitment, beginning next month.

      The 26-year-old Noh, whose only PGA Tour victory came in the 2013 Zurich Classic of New Orleans, leaves soon after Sangmoon Bae, a two-time winner on the U.S. circuit, returned from his two-year commitment that began after he played in the 2015 Presidents Cup.

      The conscription applies to all South Korean males between the ages of 18 and 35.

      K.J. Choi, South Korea's greatest men's golfer who has eight PGA Tour victories, including the 2011 Players Championship, began his service at the age of 22.

      Sung Kang, another of South Korea's young stars, received an exemption from military service by winning the gold medal in the men's team golf competition at the 2006 Asian Games.

      Noh finished inside the top 125 (at No. 110) of the FedExCup point standings during the 2016-17 season, and he had his membership status secured for this new season.

      It is expected that the PGA Tour will honor that under the Major Mandatory Obligation extension for the 2019-20 season when he returns, as it did for Bae this season.

      In his final event before beginning his service, Noh finished in a tie for 36th in the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges on Sunday at Nine Bridges in Jeju Island, South Korea, shooting 7-under-par 65 in round two.