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  • Golf Glance
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, March 19, 2019

    Field Level Media's Golf Glance provides weekly news and storylines from each of the major North American golf tours.

    • PGA TOUR

      LAST TOURNAMENT: The Players Championship (Rory McIlroy)

      THIS WEEK: Valspar Championship, March 21-24

      Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead), Palm Harbor, Fla. (Par 71, 7,340 yards)

      Purse: $6.7 million (Winner: $1.206 million and 500 FedEx Cup points)

      Defending champion: Paul Casey

      FedEx Cup leader: McIlroy

      Television: Thursday-Friday, 2-6 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 1-3 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3-6 p.m. (NBC).

      This event is the anchor leg of the Florida Swing, with 87 of the 144 players from The Players Championship scheduled to be in the field. ... Copperhead has ranked as one of the two toughest par-71 courses among non-majors each of the past six years. ... Jim Furyk has made the cut in all nine attempts, with a win in 2010 among five top-15 finishes. ... Patrick Reed has made 15 consecutive cuts worldwide and has a 69.625 scoring average on Copperhead over the past four years. ... World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, the only player to post four sub-70 rounds at The Players, makes his first appearance since 2010. He missed the cut in both previous attempts. ... The three-hole closing stretch is known as "The Snake Pit," with none of the holes averaging under par since the tournament debuted in '10. ...

      NEXT WEEK: WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Austin, Texas; Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship, Dominican Republic

      LPGA TOUR

      LAST TOURNAMENT: HSBC Women's World Championship (Sung Hyun Park)

      THIS WEEK: Bank of Hope Founders Cup, March 21-24

      Wildfire Golf Club, Phoenix (Par 72, 6,656 yards)

      Purse: $1.5 million (Winner: $225,000)

      Defending champion: Inbee Park

      CME Globe leader: Nelly Korda

      Television: Thursday-Sunday, 6-9 p.m. ET (Golf Channel)

      South Koreans have won three of the first five tournaments of 2019 (Eun-Hee Ji, Amy Yang, Sung Hyun Park). ... Korda leads the Tour with four top-10 finishes. She also leads the official money list ($380,493) as well as the U.S. Solheim Cup Team Standings with 347 points. ... The average age of winners this year is 26.2. ... Inbee Park is one of six former event champions in the field. ... South Korea's Sei Young Kim holds the tournament scoring record of 261 set in 2016.

      NEXT WEEK: Kia Classic, Carlsbad, Calif.

      CHAMPIONS TOUR

      LAST TOURNAMENT: Hoag Classic (Kirk Triplett)

      THIS WEEK: OFF.

      NEXT TOURNAMENT: Rapiscan Systems Classic, Biloxi, Miss., March 29-31

      --Field Level Media

  • McIlroy jumps to No. 4 in world rankings
    By Field Level Media / Monday, March 18, 2019

    Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy jumped two spots to No. 4 in the official world rankings on Monday, a day after claiming his first win in more than a year at The Players Championship.

    • Dustin Johnson tied for fifth at TPC Sawgrass to maintain his slim margin at the top over England's Justin Rose, who managed to tie for eighth after rallying to make the cut. Brooks Koepka is No. 3, followed by McIlroy, who has steadily moved up since entering the year ranked eighth. He has yet to finish worse than a tie for sixth place in six events in 2019.

      No. 5 Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau both moved down a spot, and were followed by Italy's Francesco Molinari, Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele and Spain's Jon Rahm in the top 10.

      England's Tommy Fleetwood and Australia's Jason Day moved past Tiger Woods, who dropped to No. 13 following his T30 at The Players.

      Former No. 1 Jordan Spieth missed the cut and continued his slide, falling another five spots to No. 30. He has three missed cuts and has not finished better than T35 in nine events since the second leg of last season's FedEx Cup Playoffs.

      The top 50 features 23 Americans and eight Englishmen.

      --Phil Mickelson, who dropped a spot to No. 21 with his missed cut, has committed to the PGA Tour's new stop in at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minn., this summer. The July 4-7 event outside of Minneapolis takes place three weeks after the U.S. Open and two weekends before the British Open.

      In a statement, Mickelson said the event was a "perfect slot" for his schedule.

      --Field Level Media

  • Tiger feels 'close' after carding 69 in TPC final round
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, March 17, 2019

    Finishing his round just as the leaders were teeing off, Tiger Woods closed with a 3-under-par 69 at The Players Championship on Sunday.

    • It was his only sub-70 round of the week. He finished the tournament at 6-under par after rounds of 70, 71 and 72 the first three days at TPC Sawgrass Stadium in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

      "I felt like I was playing well," Woods said after his round Sunday. "My score didn't really indicate that going into the final day, but I was hitting the golf ball well and I'm frustrated at lipping more putts out than I think I have in a very long time. Just one of those weeks where just nothing really got rolling enough to get me going."

      Woods got his final round started in the right direction with a birdie on the par-5 second hole. He added two more birdies on Nos. 4 and 7, making the turn in 3-under 33. He picked up one more on the par-5 11th hole, but gave the shot back with a bogey on No. 14.

      He avoided another potential blowup on the famed 17th hole when his tee shot stopped on the front fringe of the island green. Woods, who put two balls in the water in posting a quadruple-bogey seven on the hole Friday, was able to get up and down to save par.

      "I was close to getting over the hurdle and getting things rolling, and unfortunately I made a seven over at 17 (on Friday)," Woods said. "I missed a few putts that I could have very easily got the momentum going that could have gotten me on a run."

      Woods also recorded a par on the final hole to close out his tournament.

      Woods said this week that the neck injury that forced him to skip the Arnold Palmer Invitational is no longer an issue and he will next play in the WGC-Match Play at Austin, Texas, in two weeks as he takes aim at The Masters on April 11-14.

      "I'm guaranteed to play three (rounds at the WGC-Match Play) instead of when I played it was only one guaranteed, so that's kind of nice knowing that I'll be able to get at least three good rounds in, possibly more if I play well, and that's basically like a tournament," Woods said.

      --Field Level Media

  • Woods' 7 at island green has him nearing The Players cut line
    By Field Level Media / Friday, March 15, 2019

    The 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., claimed another victim in Friday's second round of The Players Championship: Tiger Woods.

    • Cruising along in a tie for eighth place when he teed off on the famed hole, Woods took a quadruple-bogey 7 on the picturesque par-3 with the island green, his eighth hole of the day after starting on the back nine. His tee shot from 146 yards was long and left over the island green and his next shot from the drop zone was also long.

      After never scoring higher than a double-bogey 5 on No. 17, Woods plummeted to 57th place before he even moved on to the next tee.

      Instead of planning his attack for victory on the weekend, Woods was left hovering around the cut line in the PGA Tour's premier event.

      "I was pretty ticked, no doubt about that," Woods told reporters after the round. "I was bound and determined to get it all back and get it back to 5 under."

      After starting the day with birdies at Nos. 12, 13 and 16, Woods was at 5-under par. But his rough hole moved him to 1 under for the tournament. He rallied back with a 1-under 71 for the day, closing with a birdie on the par-5 second hole and another on the par-4 seventh. He is at 3-under par for the tournament through 36 holes.

      "I ended up getting back to 3 (under)," Woods said. "It was a good fight to get it back to that point."

      Immediately after his round, Woods was six strokes off the lead but still feeling confident, even though the leaders had started to widen the gap.

      "I just need to go out and put it together, because right now literally anybody who makes the cut has got a chance to win this tournament," Woods said of his approach to the weekend.

      --Field Level Media

  • Mickelson: Family not part of college admissions scheme
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, March 14, 2019

    Golfer Phil Mickelson said he paid the ringleader of a college admissions bribery scheme for college preparation for his children but nothing more.

    • Speaking Thursday after the opening round of The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra, Fla., Mickelson said he and his wife, Amy, hired William Singer's for-profit tutoring company. But, he added, he never made a financial donation to Singer's nonprofit group, Key World Foundation, in expectation of Singer's help of getting his children into a college they weren't qualified to attend.

      Singer admitted to using the foundation to illegally funnel bribes received from parents.

      "We, along with thousands of other families, hired he and his company to help guide us through the college application process," Mickelson told reporters. "We're as shocked as everyone the last few days."

      The Mickelsons have three children. Their 19-year-old daughter, Amanda, attends Brown University. Their younger daughter and son are in high school.

      On Tuesday, Singer pleaded guilty to numerous charges that had to do with his work in helping the children of well-to-do parents gain admission to top universities either by arranging to fix their scores on tests such as the SAT, or by building a profile of the students as recruited athletes and connecting them with coaches. Members of athletic staffs at several Division I universities, recruited by Singer, have been indicted in connection with the case.

      Singer published a testimonial letter from the Mickelsons on his company's website, which the golfer said his wife wrote as a thank you for assistance in the college-prep efforts for the children.

      "We're not a part of this," Mickelson said of the scheme. "Most every family that hired his company was not a part of it. I think that's why we're all so surprised."

      He said his children have both the academic and athletic prowess to be considered by leading colleges on their own.

      Amanda Mickelson was the captain of the lacrosse and tennis teams at Pacific Ridge School in Carlsbad, Calif. She also was on the basketball team.

      "Our kids, schools are like fighting to get them," Mickelson said. "I say that as a proud dad. Their grades and outside activities and worldly beliefs are things that have colleges recruiting them. [Singer and his company] helped us through the whole process because it can be confusing."

      --Field Level Media

  • Take 5: Dark horse bets for The Players Championship
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, March 13, 2019

    At around 7,200 yards depending on the day's setup, TPC Sawgrass is anything but a bomber's paradise by today's PGA Tour standards.

    • The primary reason no one has successfully defended at The Players Championship is that the course favors those who enter the week striking their irons well and displaying a great short game with a steady putter.

      The past two champions, Webb Simpson and Si Woo Kim, weren't on anyone's radar entering the tournament. But they found their form - and a steely mental demeanor - around the water-laced course.

      Kim won by three shots. Simpson by four.

      The 2019 Players will be played in March for the first time since 2006. That means TPC Sawgrass will play wetter, and longer, than most in the field have experienced. Here are five dark horse candidates to win the title.

      5. Ian Poulter, England (55/1 by sportsbook.ag): Poulter has four top-10s in seven events this year and has made the cut in 12 of 15 appearances at The Players. That includes a pair of runner-up finishes. He's not overly long, but he's extremely solid in every other facet of the game, which is exactly what it takes to be successful at TPC Sawgrass. He would be ranked higher on this list, but appeared to be battling his swing a bit during range and practice sessions this week.

      4. Sungjae Im, South Korea (100/1): The PGA Tour rookie is up to No. 71 in the world rankings after his tie for third at Bay Hill last week. He was also the overnight leader at The Honda Classic the previous week before fading on the weekend. Im dominated the Web.com Tour last season and has all the tools -- if he can handle the pressure of one of the game's marquee events for four days.

      3. Matthew Fitzpatrick, England (66/1): The 24-year-old rose 11 spots to No. 33 in the world following his second place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week. He was granted temporary PGA Tour membership through the end of the season on Wednesday. This is only his third start on American soil this year, but Fitzpatrick is a talented young player who posted consecutive top-5s in Asia just a few months ago and enters The Players in good form.

      2. Branden Grace, South Africa (150/1): Fellow South African Louis Oosthuizen would be a worthy pick here as well if not for missed cuts at the Genesis Open and Arnold Palmer Invitational. Grace hasn't played since tying for 33rd at the WGC - Mexico Championship in February, but he did take second at the Waste Management Phoenix Open earlier in the month. He has the bulldog mentality to handle the windy conditions forecasted throughout the tournament and tends to show up on the first page of the leaderboard in big events.

      1. Billy Horschel, United States (80/1): The 32-year-old enters with modest recent results -- no missed cuts but only one top-30 result in his past four starts. Horschel did finish eighth at Torrey Pines earlier this year and is another player who regularly rises to the occasion. The 2014 FedEx Cup champion came out of virtually nowhere to post three top-3 finishes in last year's playoffs.

      Horschel has tied for 37th and missed the cut in the past two Players, but he also the experience at TPC Sawgrass combined with the mental makeup to be a serious threat come Sunday.

      --Derek Harper, Field Level Media

  • Fitzpatrick earns Special Temporary Membership status
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, March 13, 2019

    Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick has accepted Special Temporary Membership for the rest of the 2018-19 PGA Tour season, the entity announced Wednesday.

    • The 24-year-old Fitzpatrick scored a runner-up finish at last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational to earn enough non-member FedExCup points to earn Special Temporary Membership. It is the second straight season in which he has done so.

      Fitzpatrick is the first player to reach Special Temporary Membership status this season. Last season he was one of three, along with Chile's Joaquin Niemann and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

      Fitzpatrick is ranked No. 33 in the World Golf rankings and he is the highest-ranked player who doesn't have full-time PGA Tour membership. Fitzpatrick has four Top-10 finishes in 46 career PGA starts.

      With Special Temporary Member status, Fitzpatrick is eligible for unlimited sponsor exemptions for the remainder of the 2018-19 season.

      Special Temporary Members are not eligible for the FedExCup Playoffs. However, Special Temporary Members or non-members who subsequently become regular PGA TOUR members by winning an official event during the season will be counted on the FedExCup points list, along with any FedExCup points earned as a non-member, and will thus be eligible for the FedExCup Playoffs.

      --Field Level Media

  • Golf Glance
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, March 12, 2019

    Field Level Media's Golf Glance provides weekly news and storylines from each of the major North American golf tours.

    • PGA TOUR

      LAST TOURNAMENT: Arnold Palmer Invitational (Francesco Molinari)

      THIS WEEK: The Players Championship, March 14-17

      TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra, Fla. (Par 72, 7,189 yards)

      Purse: $12.5 million (Winner: $2.25 million and 600 FedEx Cup points)

      Defending champion: Webb Simpson

      FedEx Cup leader: Xander Schauffele

      Television: Thursday-Friday, 1-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel); Saturday, 2-7 p.m. ET (NBC); Sunday, 1-6 p.m. ET (NBC).

      The event moves back to March after being played in May since 2007. The field features the top 50 players in the world golf rankings and the top 50 players in the FedEx Cup entering the week. ... There has never been a defending champion at The Players and more defending champions have missed the cut (seven) than posted a top-10 finish (five). The last to do so was Adam Scott (T-8, 2005). ... Tiger Woods is the only player to win the event in both March and May (2001, 2013). He is paired in the first two rounds with Simpson and Patrick Reed. ... Only 24 players in the 144-player field have competed at TPC Sawgrass in March, and Scott is the only other one to win the event in March. ... Jack Nicklaus holds the record with three Players victories. ... Brooks Koepka has never posted a top-10 in the event, while Jordan Spieth has three missed cuts in five tries. Koepka did tie the course record with a final-round 63 last year. ... Four Tour rookies are in the field: Cameron Champ, Sungjae Im, Adam Long, Martin Trainer. ... Since 1995, the scoring average in March is 73.40 compared to 72.48 in May. ... Fifty-four balls found the water last year at the par-3 17th hole featuring an island green, down from 69 in 2017. Kyle Stanley last year became just the second player (Paul Azinger, 1987) to birdie the 17th hole in all four rounds.

      NEXT WEEK: Valspar Championship, Palm Harbor, Fla.

      LPGA TOUR

      LAST TOURNAMENT: HSBC Women's World Championship (Sung Hyun Park)

      THIS WEEK: OFF.

      NEXT TOURNAMENT: Bank of Hope Founders Cup, Phoenix, March 21-24

      CHAMPIONS TOUR

      LAST TOURNAMENT: Hoag Classic (Kirk Triplett)

      THIS WEEK: OFF.

      NEXT TOURNAMENT: Rapiscan Systems Classic, Biloxi, Miss., March 29-31

      --Field Level Media

  • Tiger: Neck 'not painful' entering The Players
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, March 12, 2019

    Tiger Woods said the neck injury that forced him to skip last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational feels good entering The Players Championship.

    • Woods, 43, spoke after playing a nine-hole practice round Tuesday. He said he first started experiencing the neck pain during the Genesis Open at Riviera, and that it gradually increased to the point where he needed to take time off to let it heal.

      "It's not painful now," Woods said Tuesday. "It was getting to the point where it was affecting my setup, my backswing, my through-swing. Just gradually getting worse."

      Woods has undergone four back surgeries, the most recent one a spinal fusion procedure in 2017, and he continually has stated that he is learning what his body is capable of.

      "It's just the nature of the sport," Woods said. "The forces have to go somewhere. I have to stay fit, I have to stay on it, and I have to stay as loose as I possibly can for as long as I play out here.

      "In a repetitive sport, you're going to wear out something. It's just very important for me since the surgery to keep pliable."

      The Players being moved back to March was one of the key parts of the significant changes made to this season's schedule by the PGA Tour. Woods is the only player to win the event in both March and May (2001, 2013).

      "It's so familiar to some of us who have played in March," he said. "It's soft, it's wet with the rain last night. We were getting mud balls. It's back to how it used to play.

      "The course just plays so much shorter in May than it does in March. Knowing that I've been between 6-iron and 5-iron on 17 to hit the shot, not too many people can say that unless they've played in March."

      Woods has played in only three tournaments in 2019, but has placed in the top 20 in each of them: a tie for 20th at the Farmers Insurance Open, T-15 at the Genesis Open and T-10 at the WGC-Mexico Championship.

      He wouldn't commit to his schedule leading up to next month's Masters, saying only, "We'll see after this week."

      If healthy, Woods would be expected to play in at least one of the two lead-up events: next week's Valspar Championship or the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play the following week.

      Woods will be paired with defending champion Webb Simpson and Ryder Cup partner Patrick Reed for the first two rounds this week.

      "I've played three tournaments this year, and that's about right," Woods said when asked if he feels prepared for this week. "I'm right there where I need to be. I think that everything is on track heading towards April."

      --Field Level Media

  • Woods says he's ready for Players Championship
    By Field Level Media / Monday, March 11, 2019

    Tiger Woods arrived at TPC Sawgrass on Monday and declared himself ready for The Players Championship.

    • "I feel good, man," he told Golfweek at the course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

      Last week, Woods withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational, citing a neck strain.

      "I didn't want to push it. No need to," Woods said about his choice to drop out of the tournament he's won eight times. "Not at my age. Can't do that anymore."

      Woods, 43, said he took most of the week off and didn't touch a club until Saturday.

      "Everything is good," Woods said. "I feel good. I needed last week off."

      This will be the fourth tournament of the year for Woods. He has finished in the top 20 in each, with his best finish a tie for 10th place in the WGC-Mexico Championship three weeks ago.

      --Field Level Media

  • LPGA star Wie engaged to NBA legend's son
    By Field Level Media / Monday, March 11, 2019

    Just two months after revealing her relationship, Michelle Wie is engaged.

    • Wie, 29, shared the news that she had accepted the proposal of Jonnie West, 30, in an Instagram post.

      "My person for life!!!!!!!!!" read the caption, with the photo showing a kneeling West.

      West is the son of NBA legend Jerry West and currently works as director of basketball operations for the Golden State Warriors. Wie graduated from nearby Stanford in 2012.

      Wie is working her way back to the LPGA Tour, rehabbing from hand surgery she had in October. She returned from the HSBC World Championship last month, but was forced to withdraw during her opening round.

      Wie, who turned pro at 15, is a five-time winner on the LPGA Tour, including the 2014 U.S. Women's Open.

      --Field Level Media

  • Triplett cards eagle to win Hoag Classic in playoff
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, March 10, 2019

    Kirk Triplett drained a 12-foot putt for an eagle 3 on the second hole of sudden death to beat out Woody Austin at the Hoag Classic for his seventh Champions tour title.

    • The 56-year-old Washington state native shot a 3-under par 68 on Sunday at Newport Beach Country Club to put himself at 10-under 203 and tied atop the leaderboard with Austin, who also fired a final-round 68. Triplett balanced out two bogeys with five birdies, including a birdie 4 on the par-5 18th to set up the playoff.

      Both players parred No. 18 on the first playoff hole, before Triplett eagled it on the second.

      "You always want to play well early (in the season)," said Triplett, who finished tied for second last week in Tucson, Ariz. "But it never works that way, so when it does, you just roll with it."

      The $270,000 first-place prize money moved Triplett up to second place in the 2019 Charles Schwab standings, behind Germany's Bernhard Langer.

      Austin, who started the day tied with Triplett and two shots behind tournament leader Fran Quinn, carded a bogey-free round that was highlighted by an eagle 3 at the third and a birdie at the 10th.

      Quinn, who led the first two rounds and was seeking his first Champions victory, stumbled with four bogies and only one birdie en route to a 3-over 74 and finished tied for fifth at 8 under with Steve Flesch and Paul Goydos.

      Jeff Maggart, who moved into contention after shooting 63 on Saturday, followed up with a 65 on Sunday to finish tied for third with Scott McCarron, the Round 1 co-leader.

      Last year's champion, Vijay Singh of Fiji, skipped his title defense to play in the PGA Tour's Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he missed the 36-hole cut on Friday.

      --Field Level Media

  • Woods scheduled for Tuesday TPC Sawgrass presser
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, March 10, 2019

    One week after withdrawing from the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Tiger Woods is at least making an appearance at The Players Championship.

    • The PGA Tour announced Sunday that Woods will be on hand for a Tuesday press conference at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

      Woods cited a "neck strain that I've had for a few weeks" for pulling out of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, but he said at the time he still hoped to play the following week.

      "I've been receiving treatment, but it hasn't improved enough to play," he wrote. "My lower back is fine, and I have no long-term concerns, and I hope to be ready for The Players."

      Woods, 43, has played in three events in 2019, with three top 20 finishes, including a 10th-place finish in his most recent event, the WGC-Mexico Championship in Mexico City, which ended Feb. 24.

      The 14-time major winner won The Players Championship in 2001 and 2013.

      Woods already has set his sights on the April 11-14 Masters Tournament, saying he is trying to be careful to not play in too many or too few events leading up to the first major of the year.

      --Field Level Media

  • Day withdraws from Palmer Invitational with back issue
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, March 7, 2019

    Jason Day, the No. 11 ranked golfer in the world, withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Thursday because of a back injury he sustained after playing seven holes.

    • Day, who has a history of back issues, started his opening round on the back nine at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, Fla. He hit his second shot at the par-5 16th hole and then left the course on a golf cart. He was 2-over at the time he withdrew.

      Day, 31, said earlier this week that he strained his back Sunday, but he was trying to play through the issue, taking anti-inflammatory medication.

      His status for next week's Players Championship, the PGA Tour's signature event, remains unknown. Day won the Players Championship in 2016.

      Day's previous start on tour came when he tied for fourth at the Feb. 7-10 Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He is a 12-time winner on the PGA Tour.

      --Field Level Media

  • USGA clarifies tweet: Thomas never canceled meetings
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, March 5, 2019

    The simmering feud between Justin Thomas and the USGA apparently cooled, as the organization on Tuesday tweeted a retraction of an earlier tweet critical of the 2017 FedEx Cup champion.

    • "After further and more direct conversations with @JustinThomas34, we realize he did not avoid a discussion with the USGA nor cancel any meetings. We value his and all players' opinions and are committed to a productive dialogue as the golf world adjusts to the modernized rules," the tweet from the USGA's public relations Twitter account read.

      Shortly afterward, Thomas retweeted the @USGA_PR's tweet.

      The tweet came three days after a back-and-forth between Thomas and the USGA over rule changes that culminated with the organization accusing the fourth-ranked player in the world of "cancelling every meeting we've planned with you."

      On Saturday, golfer Adam Schenk received a two-stroke penalty for action on the 17th hole of Friday's round of the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The penalty was for Schenck's caddie standing behind him and was announced by the PGA Tour on Twitter.

      Schenk's bogey on the par-3 hole turned into a triple bogey.

      Thomas, 25, retweeted the post, adding a brief sarcastic comment directed toward the USGA, and then engaged with golf fans and explained what he thinks of the new caddie rule.

      "My problem with the rule is that unless a caddie is clearly lining a player up (which is very obvious), I don't see how there's any benefit to it. Doesn't make the game any better in my eyes. That being said, we know the rule and have to be careful to go by it," Thomas tweeted.

      Eventually, the USGA public relations account responded with this tweet:

      "Justin, we need to talk. You've cancelled every meeting we've planned with you, but we are reaching out again. We were at the first 5 events, and tournaments last year, and your tour has had a seat at the table for 7 years. We'd love nothing more than to give you a seat. Call us."

      Thomas responded that he agreed, adding he hopes that "the USGA starts communicating with the current players to better the game and the sport. The rules are rules, no getting past that. Just hoping going forward, communication is had and ALL GOLFERS benefit from any changes."

      --Field Level Media

  • Golf Glance
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, March 5, 2019

    Field Level Media's Golf Glance provides weekly news and storylines from each of the major North American golf tours.

    • PGA TOUR

      LAST TOURNAMENT: The Honda Classic (Keith Mitchell)

      THIS WEEK: Arnold Palmer Invitational, March 7-10

      Bay Hill Club & Lodge, Orlando, Fla. (Par 72, 7,419 yards)

      Purse: $9.1 million (Winner: $1.602 million and 500 FedEx Cup points)

      Defending champion: Rory McIlroy

      FedEx Cup leader: Xander Schauffele

      Television: Thursday-Friday, 2-6 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 12:30-2:30 p.m. (Golf Channel), 2:30-6 p.m. (NBC)

      Tiger Woods, an eight-time winner at Bay Hill, withdrew from the event on Monday due to a neck strain. ... It was announced this week that the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year will now receive the Arnold Palmer Award. ... McIlroy, who is paired with Patrick Reed and Australia's Marc Leishman for the first two rounds, has placed in the top five in each of his past four worldwide starts. He missed only one of 61 putts from inside 10 feet in winning last year's event by three shots. ... England's Justin Rose, who can reclaim the No. 1 world ranking from Dustin Johnson (idle) this week, makes his first start on Tour since winning the Farmers Insurance Open in January. ... England's Ian Poulter has played each of his past 12 rounds at even par or better, and has five top 25s in five tries in this event since 2011. ... Phil Mickelson is competing at Bay Hill for the first time since 2013. ... The late Payne Stewart holds the 72-hole tournament record of 264 set in 1987.

      NEXT WEEK: THE PLAYERS Championship, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

      LPGA TOUR

      LAST TOURNAMENT: HSBC Women's World Championship (Sung Hyun Park)

      THIS WEEK: OFF.

      NEXT TOURNAMENT: Bank of Hope Founders Cup, Phoenix, March 21-24

      CHAMPIONS TOUR

      LAST TOURNAMENT: Cologuard Classic (Mark O'Meara)

      THIS WEEK: Hoag Classic, March 8-10

      Newport Beach Country Club, Newport Beach, Calif. (Par 71, 6,575 yards)

      Purse: $1.8 million (Winner: $270,000)

      Defending Champion: Vijay Singh

      Charles Schwab Cup leader: Bernhard Langer

      Television: Friday, 6-8 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 5:30-8 p.m. (Golf Channel).

      Singh is not in the field to defend his title, opting to stay in Florida to compete in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. ... Langer will miss his second consecutive event due to a rib injury. ... John Daly is in the field on a sponsor exemption. ... Fred Couples will compete in his first event since playing in the Genesis Open on the PGA Tour last month. ... The event was previously known as the Toshiba Classic.

      NEXT TOURNAMENT: Rapiscan Systems Classic, Biloxi, Miss., March 29-31

      --Field Level Media

  • Tiger (neck) withdraws from Arnold Palmer Invitational
    By Field Level Media / Monday, March 4, 2019

    Tiger Woods will not play in this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational, citing a "neck strain that I've had for a few weeks."

    • Woods, who has eight victories at the event at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, Fla., made the announcement Monday on Twitter.

      "I've been receiving treatment, but it hasn't improved enough to play," he wrote. "My lower back is fine, and I have no long-term concerns, and I hope to be ready for The Players."

      "I'd like to send my regrets to the Palmer family and the Orlando fans. Its connection to Arnold makes it one of my favorite tournaments and I'm disappointed to miss it."

      Woods, who underwent spinal fusion surgery in April 2017, is hoping to be ready for The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., on March 14-17.

      Woods, 43, has played in three events in 2019, with three top 20 finishes, including a 10th-place finish in his most recent event, the WGC-Mexico Championship in Mexico City, which ended Feb. 24.

      The 14-time major winner won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2013.

      Woods made a charge in the event last year while in the early stages of his comeback from back surgery before settling for a tie for fifth. Woods has already set his sights on the April 11-14 Masters Tournament saying he is trying to be careful to not play in too many or too few events leading up to the first major of the year.

      --Field Level Media

  • Johnson, Park reclaim No. 1 world rankings
    By Field Level Media / Monday, March 4, 2019

    Dustin Johnson officially reclaimed the No. 1 spot from England's Justin Rose in the official world golf rankings released Monday.

    • Both players were idle this week, but Johnson moved 0.0008 points ahead of Rose based on the two-year rolling system. Brooks Koepka moved past Justin Thomas for the No. 3 spot following his tie for second at the Honda Classic.

      Rickie Fowler tied Koepka in the first event of the Florida swing, which allowed him to move past Xander Schauffele and Spain's Jon Rahm to No. 7.

      Koepka and Fowler were preparing for a three-way playoff at the Honda Classic until Keith Mitchell rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole. Mitchell's first career PGA Tour victory vaulted him 94 spots to a career-high 68th.

      Only three of the top 20 players were in last week's field. Tiger Woods, who has withdrawn from this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational due to a neck strain, remained No. 12.

      Kurt Kitayama won the Al Mouj Golf tournament for his second victory on the European Tour this season, which moved him to a career-high ranking of 105.

      --South Korea's Sung Hyun Park reclaimed the top spot in the Rolex Rankings following her victory at the HSBC World Championship in Singapore. She moved past Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn.

      Australia's Minjee Lee is followed by South Koreans So Yeon Ryu and Inbee Park in the top five. Japan's Nasa Hataoka moved up one spot ahead of Lexi Thompson, the top-ranked American at No. 7.

      --Vijay Singh has decided to stay in Florida and play in this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational rather than defend his title at the Hoag Classic on the Champions tour.

      Singh, 56, was in the final group at PGA National on Sunday, but his attempt to become the oldest winner on the PGA Tour fell short as he finished in sixth place. Singh won his first Champions event at the event in Newport Beach, Calif., last year, which then was known as the Toshiba Classic.

      "We are extremely disappointed the defending champion is not coming back to play this year," said Jeff Purser, executive director of Hoag Charity Sports and the Hoag Classic, per the Orange County Register.

      --Field Level Media

  • Thomas calls out golf organizations on social media
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, March 3, 2019

    The USGA has invited Justin Thomas to have a sit-down chat after the golfer criticized golf rules on social media.

    • On Saturday, golfer Adam Schenk received a two-stroke penalty for action on the 17th hole of Friday's round of the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The penalty was for Schenck's caddie standing behind him and was announced by the PGA Tour on Twitter.

      Schenk's bogey on the par-3 hole turned into a triple bogey.

      Thomas retweeted the post, adding a brief sarcastic comment directed toward the USGA, and then engaged with golf fans and explained what he thinks of the new caddie rule.

      "My problem with the rule is that unless a caddie is clearly lining a player up (which is very obvious), I don't see how there's any benefit to it. Doesn't make the game any better in my eyes. That being said, we know the rule and have to be careful to go by it," Thomas tweeted.

      Eventually, the USGA public relations account responded to the 25-year-old Thomas, who is No. 3 in the world golf rankings, via this Twitter post:

      "Justin, we need to talk. You've cancelled every meeting we've planned with you, but we are reaching out again. We were at the first 5 events, and tournaments last year, and your tour has had a seat at the table for 7 years. We'd love nothing more than to give you a seat. Call us."

      Thomas responded that he agreed, adding he hopes that "the USGA starts communicating with the current players to better the game and the sport. The rules are rules, no getting past that. Just hoping going forward, communication is had and ALL GOLFERS benefit from any changes."

      --Field Level Media

  • Woods: Masters grabbed my attention months ago
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, February 20, 2019

    The PGA Tour has not even reached the East Coast yet in 2019 and already Tiger Woods has one eye trained toward the April 11-14 Masters Tournament in Augusta, Ga.

    • In fact, Woods admitted Wednesday, in advance of this weekend's WGC-Mexico Championship in Mexico City, that the Masters grabbed his attention long before this week.

      "(It) started probably back in October, November," Woods at a Wednesday press conference in Mexico, of the major tournament he has won four times, including his most recent in 2005.

      With the PGA Tour having already roared through Hawaii, California and Arizona, it will reach Florida next week for the Honda Classic at Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Then there is the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, Fla., a tournament Woods has won eight times.

      With four consecutive Florida tournaments on the horizon, Woods is starting to realize there is too much of a good thing ahead. He wants to find the sweet spot between too many rounds before the Masters, and not enough.

      "From here on out, it's very complicated," Woods said. "That's what I'm trying to figure out; how much to play, how much is too much, how much is not enough."

      The 14-time major winner, whose last grand slam tournament victory came at the 2008 U.S. Open, was tied for 15th at last weekend's Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. He also finished tied for 20th at the Jan. 23-26 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, in La Jolla, Calif.

      Unlike at last year's Masters, when Woods finished tied for 32nd while just making his return from spinal fusion surgery, he sounds as if he has more confidence this time around.

      "Last year was different, and in previous years it was nonexistent," Woods said. "This year, to be able to ramp up a schedule and to be able to know what I can and can't do going into the event, is a lot more comforting than this has been in the previous years because it's been kind of an unknown going into that event."

      --Field Level Media

  • Lincicome announces pregnancy
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, February 20, 2019

    Brittany Lincicome and husband Dewald Gouws announced that the couple is expecting its first child Sept. 1.

    • "What a miracle," Lincicome wrote in an Instagram post.

      The 33-year-old also revealed to GolfChannel.com that the couple discovered during an ultrasound after the ANA Inspiration last spring that Lincicome was eight weeks pregnant. However, there was no heartbeat and she underwent surgery the next morning to have the baby removed.

      "We can talk about it (now)," she told GolfChannel.com. "We went from that awesome moment, going in for an ultrasound, to the surgery ... It took some time after, and there were a lot of tears, but God has a plan for us."

      This time, Lincicome heard the heartbeat during Tuesday's ultrasound. She is 12 weeks pregnant and expects to learn whether she and Gouws will be having a boy or a girl in about 10 days.

      "We would love to share the biggest blessing in life -- @brittany1golf and I are expecting our first child," Gouws wrote in an Instagram post Tuesday. "Most amazing experience hearing our baby's heartbeat for the first time today ... got to see the little one roll around and stretch out inside mommy's belly."

      Lincicome is not playing in the two-event Asia swing and will tee it up next at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup in Phoenix next month. How many events she plays this year remains to be seen -- she plans to play through at least the U.S. Open in June -- but the new LPGA Tour policy means that Lincicome will begin next season with the same status she has now.

      She said the couple attempted to time the pregnancy for the offseason, but "It's quite tricky."

      Her due date does mean that Lincicome will miss the Solheim Cup in September, and she received a text from captain Juli Inkster.

      "She's super excited and congratulated us, but she is super sad I won't be on the team," Lincicome told GolfChannel.com.

      --Field Level Media

  • Stricker named U.S. Ryder Cup captain
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, February 20, 2019

    Steve Stricker officially was named the captain for the 2020 United States Ryder Cup team on Wednesday, ending months of speculation that the Wisconsin native would head up the U.S. team at Whistling Straits next year.

    • At his pre-tournament press conference at the WGC-Mexico Championship, Tiger Woods said that Stricker was "the overwhelming choice for us on the committee."

      Stricker, who turns 52 on Saturday, will be the 29th U.S. Ryder Cup captain -- and the first without a major title on his playing resume. However, he has a wealth of Ryder Cup experience, having played in the event three times and serving as an assistant three others.

      Born in Edgerton, Wis., Stricker still calls Madison home. He has 26 career professional wins, including 12 on the PGA tour. His best finish in a major was runner-up in the 1998 PGA Championship.

      "I am truly humbled by this opportunity," Stricker said. "I'm very competitive. We want to win this more than ever and I'm here to help in any way I can. It's truly an honor."

      The Americans were dominated by Team Europe in Paris last year, losing 17 1/2 to 10 1/2 at Le Golf National. Stricker knows Whistling Straits intimately, and the U.S. side hopes that gives the team an edge.

      "It looks like an ocean out there, not one of the Great Lakes," he said. "It's challenging to the eye."

      Eight of the 12 spots on the U.S. team will be decided by points, with the final four captain's picks being announced three weeks before the start of the event on Sept. 1, 2020.

      Stricker also said that 2018 captain Jim Furyk will be among his vice captains.

      "Communication is my biggest thing," Stricker said. "Being up front with (the players) and knowing what I expect from them is the biggest thing."

      --Field Level Media

  • Golf Glance
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, February 19, 2019

    Field Level Media provides weekly news and storylines from each of the major North American golf tours.

    • PGA TOUR

      LAST TOURNAMENT: Genesis Open (J.B. Holmes)

      THIS WEEK: WGC-Mexico Championship, Feb. 20-24

      Club de Golf Chapultepec, Mexico City, Mexico (Par 71, 7,345 yards)

      Purse: $10.25 million (Winner: $1.745 million and 550 FedEx Cup points)

      Defending champion: Phil Mickelson

      FedEx Cup leader: Xander Schauffele

      Television: Thursday-Friday, 2-7 p.m. Saturday, noon-2:30 p.m. (Golf Channel), 2:30-6 p.m. (NBC); Sunday, noon-1:30 p.m. (Golf Channel), 1:30-6 p.m. (NBC).

      Tiger Woods, who holds the record with 18 World Golf Championships, will compete in Mexico for the first time as a professional. He is two wins shy of Sam Snead's all-time PGA Tour record of 82, and qualified for his first WGC event since 2014. ... Twenty-seven of the top 30 players in the world golf rankings are in the 72-player, no-cut event. England's Justin Rose is not in the field and could lose his No. 1 ranking this week depending upon who wins. Australians Jason Day (No. 11) and Adam Scott (30) also chose not to play. ... Holmes' victory at the Genesis Open vaulted him to No. 9 in the FedEx Cup standings and qualified him for this week's event, which includes the Top 10 in the standings. ... The lowest elevation at the Club de Golf Chapultepec is 7,603 feet above sea level, with the highest point being at 7,835 feet. ... Mickelson will make his 600th career PGA Tour start. ... Abraham Ancer is Mexico's top-ranked player at No. 61. He tied for 52nd in last year's event.

      THIS WEEK: Puerto Rico Open, Feb. 21-24

      Coco Beach Golf & Country Club, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico (Par 72, 7,506 yards)

      Purse: $3.0 million (Winner: $540,000 million and 300 FedEx Cup points)

      Defending champion: D.A. Points

      Television: Thursday-Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday, 2:30-5 p.m. (Golf Channel); Sunday, 1:30-4:30 p.m. (Golf Channel).

      The event returns after being canceled last year because of damage caused by Hurricane Maria. ... Puerto Rico's Rafa Campos, who won the Bahamas Great Abaco Classic on the Web.com Tour last month, will play in the event for the 11th time. ... The winner also receives at two-year exemption on the PGA Tour along with an invite to The Players Championship and select other tournaments, but does not receive one to the Masters. ... Two-time Tour winner Daniel Berger will make his debut in the event after missing the cut in his past two tournaments. At No. 72, he is the highest-ranked player in the field. ... Chesson Hadley (267 in 2014) owns the tournament scoring record.

      NEXT WEEK: The Honda Classic, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

      LPGA TOUR

      LAST TOURNAMENT: ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open (Nelly Korda)

      THIS WEEK: Honda LPGA Thailand, Feb. 21-24

      Siam Country Club Pattaya, Old Course, Chonburi, Thailand (Par 72, 6,576 yards)

      Purse: $1.6 million (Winner: $240,000 and 500 CME Globe Points)

      Defending champion: Jessica Korda

      CME Globe leader: Nelly Korda

      Television: Wednesday-Thursday, 11 p.m.-3 a.m. ET; Saturday-Sunday, 11:30 p.m.-3:30 a.m. (all times Golf Channel)

      The 70-player field features nine of the top 10 players in the Rolex Rankings, with No. 2 Sung Hyun Park and No. 3 So Yeon Ryu from South Korea making their 2019 debuts. ... Jessica Korda will not be able to defend her title due to a forearm injury. Korda set the tournament scoring record of 25-under-par last year. She also set the 18- (62), 36- (128) and 54-hole (196) records. ... All three 2019 winners Nelly Korda, Celine Boutier and Eun-Hee Ji are in the field. ... Top-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn is one of eight players from Thailand competing this week, along with sister Moriya. ... Nelly Korda (306.5 points) now leads the U.S. Solheim Cup Standings, followed by Lexi Thompson (283).

      NEXT WEEK: HSBC Women's World Championship, Singapore

      Champions TOUR

      LAST TOURNAMENT: Chubb Classic (Miguel Angel Jimenez)

      THIS WEEK: OFF

      NEXT TOURNAMENT: Cologuard Classic, Tucson, Ariz. (March 1-3)

      --Field Level Media

  • Romo to compete in AT&T Byron Nelson
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, February 19, 2019

    Tony Romo has received a sponsor's exemption to compete in the AT&T Byron Nelson in May.

    • The tournament will be played at Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas, which is the home course of the former Cowboys quarterback.

      "Golf is one of my greatest passions outside my family and football, and I am honored to have the opportunity to compete amongst the pros again in this year's AT&T Byron Nelson," Romo, now CBS' lead football analyst, said in a release from the tournament.

      Romo, 38, has tried but never qualified for the Nelson.

      This will be Romo's second pro tournament. He missed the cut last March when he shot a second-round 82 at the PGA Tour Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship event in the Dominican Republic.

      Last fall, Romo reached the second round of qualifying on the Web.com tour.

      That followed his July win at the American Century Championship in South Lake Tahoe, Nev.

      --Field Level Media

  • Thomas holds lead at Genesis Open
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, February 16, 2019

    Justin Thomas owns a 1-shot lead after play was suspended Saturday in the third round of the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

    • Thomas finished the second round in the morning by carding a 6-under 65 on the par-71 layout, then eagled the first hole and parred the second to start his third round before the siren calling play wailed just before 6 p.m. Pacific time. Thomas stands at 13-under par.

      Australia's Adam Scott trails Thomas by a stroke after matching his 65 in the second round, while Patrick Rodgers and J.B. Holmes are tied for third at 11-under. Rodgers carded a 67 in the second round, and Holmes followed up a first round 63 with a 69.

      Michael Thompson is three shots back of Thomas at 10-under after recording a 64 in the second round. He's followed on the leader board by Kyle Jones at 9-under. England's Paul Casey, Northern

      Ireland's Rory McElroy and Tony Finau are tied for seventh at 8-under, with the foursome of Kelly Kraft, Spain's Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth each at 7-under.

      Tiger Woods barely made the 36-hole cut, thanks in part to a birdie that finished his second round, but electrified the gallery by starting his third round with a birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie stretch. Woods, who went 6-under in a five-hole stretch for just the second time since 2003, is 6-under for the tourney.

      He began the third round on the back nine and will resume play on the 17th hole, his eighth of the round.

      Thomas posted eight birdies during his second round, including four in a row from 14-17 that were sandwiched by his two bogeys. Scott bagged seven birdies but bogeyed the par 5, 17th hole to keep him from tying Thomas through 36 holes.

      Rodgers' second round was highlighted by an eagle on the par-4 seventh hole, but he was all over the map. He also made six birdies but gave shots back by bogeying four holes, including both par 3s on the front nine.

      The third round will resume Sunday at 6:45 a.m. PST. PGA officials hope to have it finished by 11 a.m., followed by the final 18 holes.

      --Field Level Media