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  • NBC confirms Azinger to replace retiring Miller
    By Field Level Media / Monday, October 22, 2018

    NBC officially confirmed on Monday that Paul Azinger will replace Johnny Miller as the network's lead golf analyst in 2019.

    • Miller announced last week that he will retire after 30 years in the booth, with his final tournament scheduled to be the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February.

      Azinger, who currently works as an analyst for FOX Sports, will appear on telecasts on NBC and The Golf Channel in addition to contributing to "Live From the Masters" coverage on Golf Central.

      "I have great admiration for both the quality of NBC Sports' Coverage and commitment to great storytelling, as well as the network's deep commitment to the game I love," Azinger, 58, said in a release. "It is a great honor to cover a tremendous slate of PGA Tour and marquee events, including The Players, The Open, Ryder Cup and Tokyo Olympics. Additional opportunities to contribute to instructional and historical projects, as well as Golf Channel's top-notch news platforms, makes this the role of a lifetime."

      Azinger will begin in his new role beginning Feb. 21 with the WGC-Mexico Championship. He will continue to call the Masters for the BBC and work the 2019 U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open on FOX.

      Miller, 71, began his analyst role in 1990 after a Hall of Fame playing career, and will hang up his microphone in his 30th season.

      "It just seemed like a nice round number," Miller told GolfDigest.com last week. "I've been on for 50 years with no break. I had my 24th grandchild yesterday. All my friends were retiring and it got to the point where I was like, 'Hey, how come I'm not retiring?' It's been a great run. I've done everything I can do announcing wise."

      Miller has called 20 U.S. Opens, 14 Ryder Cups, nine Presidents Cups, three Open Championships and the 2016 Olympics. As a player, Miller was a two-time major champion and won the 1964 U.S. Junior Amateur.

      "The call of being there for my grandkids, to teach them how to fish. I felt it was a higher calling," Miller told GolfChannel.com. "The parents are trying to make a living, and grandparents can be there like my father was with my four boys. He was there every day for them. I'm a big believer that there is a time and a season for everything."

      --Field Level Media

  • Wie undergoes season-ending hand surgery
    By Field Level Media / Friday, October 19, 2018

    Michelle Wie underwent season-ending surgery to repair an avulsion fracture in her right hand on Thursday.

    • The 29-year-old Wie made the announcement on her Instagram account and posted a picture from her hospital bed.

      Wie said doctors also discovered a bone spur as well as a trapped nerve in the hand.

      "I cannot wait to start my rehab so that I can come back stronger and healthier than ever," Wie wrote.

      Wie made the decision to have surgery after playing in last week's KEB Hana Bank Championship.

      Wie missed approximately two months earlier this season because of the injury. She withdrew from the Women's British Open and returned in September.

      In March, Wie won the HSBC World Championship for her fifth career LPGA Tour victory. It was her first victory since winning the 2014 U.S. Women's Open.

      --Field Level Media

  • Trump course to host PGA Tour Latinoamerica finale
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, October 18, 2018

    Trump National Doral will host its first professional golf tournament since 2016 when the PGA Tour Latinoamerica season finale takes place on the grounds later this year.

    • The event, the Latinoamerica Tour Championship-Shell Championship, will be held Nov. 29-Dec. 2. It is the first PGA Tour event held at the venue since the WGC-Cadillac Championship was played on the Blue Monster Course in March 2016.

      "We are looking forward to welcoming the best talent on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica to Trump National Doral when they take on the Golden Palm for their final event of the season," said Eric Trump, executive vice president of The Trump Organization, in a statement. "The golf course is in impeccable shape and ready to challenge many of the best players in the world. As to the spectator experience, there is nothing like the hospitality of the famed Trump Doral."

      Trump National Doral, located in Doral, Fla., was home to the PGA's Doral Open from 1962-2006.

      President Donald Trump purchased what was the Doral Resort & Spa in 2012.

      --Field Level Media

  • Bowditch to undergo spinal fusion surgery
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, October 17, 2018

    Two-time PGA Tour winner Steven Bowditch announced that he will undergo spinal fusion surgery, the same procedure Tiger Woods had in April 2017.

    • Bowditch, 35, played for Australia in the 2015 Presidents Cup, but has seen his game crumble since. He has made only two cuts in 35 events over the past two years, with his best finish being a tie for 58th at the 2017 CareerBuilder Challenge.

      Bowditch did not reach the weekend in any of his seven tournaments this year and has plummeted to 2,027 in the world golf rankings.

      "I spent much of the last two years dealing with lower back pain, leg numbness, sciatic pain, loss of control of my right side and tingling in my toes," Bowditch said in a statement Tuesday. "I had exhausted everything I could think of to diagnose the source of my pain... several MRIs, multiple injections, chiropractic adjustments, physical therapy and massage. It would appear to calm down and then flair right back up as soon as I resumed golf activity.

      "But over the last year, the pain has become a constant in my everyday activity with no relief."

      Bowditch said an X-ray revealed two stress fractures and spinal slippage, which led doctors to a diagnosis of Pars Defect and Spondylolysis.

      "Fingers crossed, I will once again sit and sleep without any lower back pain," Bowditch said, "and ultimately be able to return to golf activity in late 2019."

      Spinal fusion surgery allowed Woods to return to the PGA Tour this season. While Bowditch said he has no timetable, he hopes to return to competition by late 2019.

      "I haven't slept in my own bed for eight months. I need to sleep on a couch with my legs in the air to keep my back straight," he told PGATour.com

      "It is just such a relief to know what's going on and hopefully this will ensure a pain-free future and a return to golf."

      --Field Level Media

  • Tiger admits fatigue a factor in winless Ryder Cup
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, October 17, 2018

    Tiger Woods admitted that fatigue played a role in his 0-4 record during the United States' loss to Europe in last month's Ryder Cup.

    • Woods, 42, was coming off his first victory in five years at the Tour Championship, just five days before the start of the team event in Paris. That had completed a stretch of four grueling playoff events in five weeks, which came just weeks after the 100th PGA Championship.

      Woods admitted that his body simply was not conditioned for that much golf after recovering from a fourth back procedure in 2017.

      "It was just a cumulative effect of the entire season," Woods said during a Q&A at his annual Tiger Woods Invitational at Pebble Beach on Tuesday, per the Golf Channel. "I was tired because I hadn't trained for it. I hadn't trained this entire comeback to play this much golf and on top of that deal with the heat and the fatigue and the loss of weight."

      At the Ryder Cup, Woods lost all three of his group sessions and then dropped his singles match against Spain's Jon Rahm.

      Outside of the pay-per-view "The Match" against Phil Mickelson on Thanksgiving weekend and his Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas in December, Woods said he is mapping out his future schedule.

      "I'm still figuring that out," Woods said. "Flying out here yesterday trying to look at the schedule, it's the first time I've taken a look at it. I've been so focused on getting through the playoffs and the Ryder Cup that I just took a look at the schedule and saw how packed it is."

      Woods added that his 80th career victory was still sinking in, and that he's already looking forward to next year's Masters. There's also next year's Presidents Cup, where he hopes to be a playing captain.

      "God I hope so," said Woods, per Golf Digest. "I really hope to be a playing captain, I really do."

      --Field Level Media

  • Golf Glance
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, October 16, 2018

    PGA TOUR

    • LAST WEEK: CIMB Classic (Marc Leishman)

      THIS WEEK: CJ Cup, Oct. 18-21

      Nine Bridges, Jeju Island, South Korea (Par 72, 7,005 yards)

      Purse: $9.5 million (Winner: $1.71M and 500 FedEx Cup points)

      Defending champion: Justin Thomas

      FedEx Cup leader: Kevin Tway

      Television: Wednesday-Saturday, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. (All times on Golf Channel)

      The 78-player no-cut event is open to players from top 60 in last season's FedEx Cup standings, down to the 125th spot, along with five players designated from the KPGA, two players from the Asian Tour, the top three available players of Korean nationality from the world golf rankings and eight sponsor exemptions. ... Thomas won last year's inaugural event on the second playoff hole against Leishman. ... This is the third of eight events during the PGA Tour's fall wraparound schedule before a seven-week break. ... Former World No. 1 Jason Day and Adam Scott of Australia, and Japan's Hideki Matsuyama are among those making their first PGA Tour starts since last month's Tour Championship.

      NEXT WEEK: WGC-HSBC Championship, Shanghai, China; Sanderson Farms Championship, Jackson, Miss.

      LPGA TOUR

      LAST WEEK: LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship (In Gee Chun)

      THIS WEEK: Buick LPGA Shanghai, Oct. 18-21

      Qizhong Garden Golf Club, China (Par 72, 6,729 yards)

      Purse: $2.1 million (Winner: $315,000)

      Defending champion: Inaugural event

      Race to CME Globe leader: Ariya Jutanugarn

      Television: Thursday, 12:30-4:30 p.m.; Friday-Sunday, 12:30-2:30 p.m. (All times on Golf Channel)

      Thailand's Jutanugarn continues to lead the official money list ($2.36 million) and leads the LPGA Tour in scoring average (69.384) this season.... The top 62 players in the LPGA Money List qualified for the event, followed by 15 players from the China Ladies Professional Golf Association (CLPGA) and four sponsors invites. ... Shanshan Feng, who became the first player from China to claim the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Rankings last year, enters this week at No. 9. She is one of three Chinese players in the field (Xiyu Lin and LPGA Tour rookie Yu Liu). ... Paul Creamer will play on a sponsor's invite, as will three amateurs.

      NEXT WEEK: Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan, Taipei

      Champions Tour

      LAST WEEK: SAS Championship (Bernhard Langer)

      THIS WEEK: Dominion Energy Charity Classic, Oct. 19-21

      The Country Club of Virginia (James River Course), Richmond, Va. (Par 72, 7,025 yards)

      Purse: $2 million (Winner: $305,000)

      Defending Champion: Langer

      Charles Schwab Cup leader: Langer

      Television: Friday-Sunday, 2:30-5 p.m. ET (Golf Channel)

      This marks the start of the three-event Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs, with each dollar earned worth two points in the standings. Players begin the playoffs with a point total equivalent to their money earnings during the season. The top 54 players after this week will advance to the Invesco QQQ Championship, with the top 36 players after that event qualifying for the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship. ... Langer regained the No. 1 spot with his victory last week and is the Champions tour all-time leader with five wins at age 60 or older. ... A tour-record seven players have led the Cup standings at some point this season. ... Fifty-one players have qualified for the playoffs all three years.

      NEXT WEEK: Invesco QQQ Championship, Thousand Oaks, Calif.

      --Field Level Media

  • Azinger to replace Miller as NBC's lead golf announcer
    By Field Level Media / Monday, October 15, 2018

    Johnny Miller will retire as NBC Sports' lead golf analyst following the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February and be replaced by Paul Azinger.

    • The decision comes on the heels of Miller indicating this year that he believed it would soon be time to move on. Miller, 71, began his analyst role in 1990 after a Hall of Fame playing career, and will hang up his microphone following his 30th season.

      "It just seemed like a nice round number," Miller told GolfDigest.com on Monday. "I've been on for 50 years with no break. I had my 24th grandchild yesterday. All my friends were retiring and it got to the point where I was like, 'Hey, how come I'm not retiring?' It's been a great run. I've done everything I can do announcing wise."

      Azinger is currently working for FOX Sports, but will change networks after working the 2019 U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open next summer, according to Golfweek.

      Miller has called 20 U.S. Opens, 14 Ryder Cups, nine Presidents Cups, three Open Championships and the 2016 Olympics. As a player, Miller was a two-time major champion and won the 1964 U.S. Junior Amateur.

      "The call of being there for my grandkids, to teach them how to fish. I felt it was a higher calling," Miller told GolfChannel.com. "The parents are trying to make a living, and grandparents can be there like my father was with my four boys. He was there every day for them. I'm a big believer that there is a time and a season for everything."

      --Field Level Media

  • Molinari plagued by back injury at Ryder Cup
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, October 11, 2018

    You wouldn't know it from the way he played, but Italian Francesco Molinari was dealing with a back injury during his historic run at the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National.

    • Molinari, who became the first European ever to go 5-0 at the three-day event, revealed Wednesday ahead of the British Masters that the injury surfaced before his four-ball match alongside England's Tommy Fleetwood on the morning of Sept. 29.

      "At that stage it wasn't enough to really compromise my golf, so I just started taking some anti-inflammatories," said Molinari, who said he believes the injury was the result of his busy summer. "It's a week that you're sort of pumped up with adrenaline, anyway, that you could probably play on one leg."

      Molinari didn't tell European captain Thomas Bjorn of Denmark about the injury, and he felt the worst of it the day after the event ended.

      "On Monday, I couldn't do my shoelaces," said Molinari, 35. "I'm not a kid like Tommy. I need to manage my energies and my body."

      Molinari won twice in 20 events last season, including at The Open Championship in July. He had five top-10 finishes.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Public can't buy tickets to Tiger-Phil match
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, October 11, 2018

    Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are accustomed to playing before a loud and huge gallery at each stop on the PGA Tour. But when they meet in "The Match," their $9 million winner-take-all, pay-per-view event in Las Vegas on Nov. 23, things reportedly will be markedly different.

    • The Las Vegas Review-Journal, citing multiple sources, reported Thursday that there won't be any tickets sold to the event. Instead, only a small group of sponsors and VIPs will be allowed on the course when the two veterans meet at Shadow Creek, which is owned by MGM Resorts International.

      Others present will be broadcasters and camera crews. The event is believed to be the first pay-per-view golf event; WarnerMedia holds the broadcast rights.

      The newspaper also reported that Woods and Mickelson will face off during daylight hours and not under the lights, as Mickelson had implied in comments to ESPN.com in August.

      "It's an opportunity for us to bring golf to the masses in prime time during a period where we don't have much going on in the world of golf," Mickelson said at the time.

      Organizers have not announced either the time of the event or the cost to watch on TV. WarnerMedia previously said fans could watch on a number of on-demand platforms. HBO Sports will report on the golfers in advance of the match, and Bleacher Report's "House of Highlights" also will provide behind-the-scenes content.

      Since the match was confirmed in August, Woods has been the better of the players.

      Woods, 42, ended the season with a win in the Tour Championship and had seven top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour this year. He is ranked 13th in the world.

      Mickelson, 48, won the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship in March for his only win in 2018. He had six top-10 finishes in 2018 and is ranked No. 25.

      Both competed for the United States in the Ryder Cup last month and combined to finish 0-6.

      The first official hype video was released last week.

      "I will win," Woods said in the video. "This is something that people will remember. We are going to beat each other's brains in."

      "Tiger and I both desperately want to win," Mickelson said.

      --Field Level Media

  • Burgoon claims first opening-round lead at CIMB
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, October 11, 2018

    Bronson Burgoon is about to find out what playing in front is all about on the PGA Tour.

    • Burgoon claimed the opening-round lead at the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Thursday, firing a 63 to grab a one-shot lead over Austin Cook.

      "I drove it well and I putted pretty good, so it was kind of boring golf, but that's always a good thing," said Burgoon.

      Burgoon, who is 8-under-par, started on the back nine and played the final 14 holes of his round at 10-under in his first career appearance at the CIMB Classic.

      The highlight of his round was a chip-in for eagle on his ninth hole (18th).

      Burgoon's best career round was a 62 at the John Deere Classic.

      On Thursday, he hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation, tied for the best in the tournament field.

      Scott Piercy, Billy Horschel and Taiwan's C.T. Pan are tied for third at 7-under.

      Justin Thomas, who won the event in 2015 and 2016, opened his bid to become the only player in CIMB Classic history to win the event three times with a 6-under 66. Thomas is in an eight-way tie for sixth entering the second round.

      He birdied four of his final five holes after opening the day on the back nine. Thomas was the first-round leader in 2016 when he went on to claim the title.

      Defending champion Pat Perez shot 70, as did last week's Safeway Open champion, Kevin Tway.

      Piercy has three top-10 finishes in four appearances in the CIMB Classic.

      --Field Level Media

  • Hataoka, 19, opens with 65, up two in Korea
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, October 11, 2018

    Nasa Hataoka shot an opening-round 65 to grab a two-stroke lead at the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship in Incheon, Republic of Korea.

    • Winds gusting to 25 mph made for challenging conditions at the SKY72 Golf & Resort Ocean Course but the 19-year-old from Japan carded eight birdies and finished at 7-under-par, two strokes better than Danielle Kang and Charley Hull on Thursday.

      Rolex Rankings No. 1 Sung Hyun Park and four-time LPGA Tour champion Minjee Lee trail by three strokes at 4-under.

      "I was hitting very solid, so I gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities ... and that really helped my game today," Hataoka said, speaking through an interpreter. "As a professional golfer, I believe that we need to be able to play solid under any conditions, including very strong winds. Until the 17th hole, I managed the wind very well, but at the 17th I kind of slipped in managing the wind."

      Hull finished in a tie for sixth place at the Hana Bank Championship in 2017, her best finish in three previous appearances in the event.

      Hataoka, in her second full LPGA season, has eight top-20 finishes in 20 starts.

      Kang bogeyed the par-4 second, but said she got a push from knowing "everyone knows me" in Korea. She has a large contingent of friends and family on hand this week and said she was elated with her first round since missing the cut at the Evian Championship.

      Park closed the round with a fortuitous bounce -- using a ricochet off the cart path to advance well down the fairway after pulling her tee shot on the 18th -- to end with a birdie.

      "I didn't see it hit the road," she said. "When my ball went flying and it landed, I heard the gallery cheer and I didn't know where it landed up until then. Then I was walking along the fairway and I saw it and my caddie and I were really relieved to see it, where it was. So of course I felt really good about that shot."

      --Field Level Media

  • Goosen, Stephenson selected to World Golf Hall of Fame
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, October 10, 2018

    Two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen and controversial former LPGA star Jan Stephenson were among the five people chosen for induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame, the entity announced Wednesday.

    • The 16-member panel also selected former Augusta National chairman Billy Payne, late player and teacher Peggy Kirk Bell and paralyzed golfer Dennis Walters, who were all nominated under the lifetime achievement category.

      The Class of 2019 will be formally inducted June 10 during the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

      Goosen, from South Africa, won 33 worldwide events, including the 2001 and 2004 U.S. Opens. He also was in the top 10 for more than 250 weeks between 2001-07.

      Fellow South African Gary Player broke the news of Goosen's induction during a phone call on Tuesday night.

      "I got a phone call from Gary Player last night saying congrats, well done, you've made it. I didn't sleep all that great last night," Goosen told Golf Channel. "It was a little bit of a shock. You sort of forget what you've done in the game over the years. I'm glad that what I've done for the game worldwide has put me in this position."

      Stephenson won three major championships, including the 1983 U.S. Women's Open, and posted 20 victories worldwide. The Australian's golf game was somewhat overshadowed by her becoming one of the sport's first sex symbols. She took part in many revealing photo shoots, including posing nude inside a tub of golf balls in 1986.

      "Back then I got paid a lot more money than the tour was worth," Stephenson told Golf Channel. "I look back now and in some ways I do regret it, but it did help the Tour."

      Payne was chairman at Augusta from 2006-17. The club admitted its first female members during his tenure.

      Bell, who died in 2016, was a member of the LPGA when it began in 1950. She received the PGA of America's First Lady of Golf Award in 2007 after a long tenure as golf teacher and instructor.

      Walters was paralyzed in a freak golf cart accident in 1974 at age 24. He has spent the past 40-plus years conducting golf exhibitions in which he gives motivational speeches and performs trick shots using a specialized golf cart.

      --Field Level Media

  • Golf Glance
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, October 9, 2018

    PGA TOUR

    • LAST WEEK: Safeway Open (Kevin Tway)

      THIS WEEK: CIMB Classic, Oct. 11-14

      TPC Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Par 72, 7,005 yards)

      Purse: $7 million (Winner: $1.26M and 500 FedEx Cup points)

      Defending champion: Pat Perez

      Television: Wednesday-Thursday, 10:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 p.m.-3 a.m. (All times on Golf Channel)

      The 72-player field is open to players from top 60 in last season's FedEx Cup standings, down to the 125th spot, along with the top-10 available money leaders from the Asian Tour Order of Merit and eight sponsor exemptions. ... Venezuela's Jhonattan Vegas withdrew due to visa issues and was replaced by Sam Ryder. ... Perez is seeking to become the third repeat champion of the event (Ryan Moore in 2013-14, Justin Thomas in 2015-16). He earned 56 percent of his FedEx Cup points last year during the three-event Asian swing. ... This is the second of eight events during the PGA Tour's fall wraparound schedule before a seven-week break. ... Thomas (262 in '16) holds the tournament scoring record, while Nick Watney (71 in '12 fourth round) holds the 18-hole record. ... Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat will make his first start as a member of the PGA Tour. ... Moore and Brandt Snedeker, who lost to Tway in the three-way Safeway Open playoff on Sunday, are in the field.

      NEXT WEEK: CJ Cup, South Korea

      LPGA TOUR

      LAST WEEK: UL International Crown (South Korea)

      THIS WEEK: LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship, Oct. 11-14

      SKY72 Golf & Resort, Ocean Course, Incheon, Korea (Par 72, 6,316 yards)

      Purse: $2 million (Winner: $300,000)

      Defending champion: Jin Young Ko

      Television: Thursday, 1:30-5:30 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 12:30-3 p.m.; Sunday, 12:30-3 p.m. (All times on Golf Channel)

      Top-ranked Sung Hyun Park is one of two members of the winning South Korean team from last week in the field (In Gee Chun). Park has finished second in the event two of the past three years. ... This marks the official start of the LPGA Tour's "fall swing" in Asia. ... Park and No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn are the only three-time winners on Tour this season. Jutanugarn continues to lead the CME Race to the Globe with 3,512 points, well ahead of No. 2 Minjee Lee (2,538). ... Ko will be paired with 2015 champion Lexi Thompson and 2016 champion Carlota Ciganda in Thursday's opening round.

      NEXT WEEK: Buick LPGA Shanghai, Shanghai, China

      Champions Tour

      LAST WEEK: OFF.

      THIS WEEK: SAS Championship, Oct. 12-14

      Prestonwood CC, Cary, N.C. (Par 72, 7,237 yards)

      Purse: $2.1 million (Winner: $315,000)

      Defending Champion: Colin Montgomerie

      Television: Friday-Sunday, 3-5:30 p.m. ET (Golf Channel)

      This is the final event before the start of the third annual Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs. The top 72 players in the rankings will make next week's field, along with anyone who finishes within the top 10 this week who is not otherwise qualified. ... Nick Faldo will make just his second start of the season. ... Montgomerie won last year's event by three shots over Vijay Singh and defending champion Doug Garwood. ... Scott McCarron enters the event leading the Charles Schwab Cup standings for the first time in his career with $1,749,908 in season winnings, just $3,040 ahead of Miguel Angel Jimenez.

      NEXT WEEK: Dominion Energy Classic, Richmond, Va.

      --Field Level Media

  • Vegas withdraws CIMB Classic over passport issue
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, October 9, 2018

    Jhonattan Vegas was forced to withdraw from this week's CIMB Classic in Malaysia because of passport issues, the second time that the Venezuelan has been affected by problems with documentation.

    • The 34-year-old Vegas posted on Twitter Monday that because his passport is about to expire and amid difficulties in his home country to getting it renewed promptly, he would have to cancel his scheduled plans to play this weekend.

      "Súper disappointed not going to @CIMBClassic this week in Malaysia due to my passport expiring in a 2 months," Vegas tweeted. "Unfortunately my country is having some horrible issues and renewing your passport is one of them. Thanks everyone @CIMBClassic for trying to make this happen."

      Replacing Vegas in the field of 78 competitors will be Sam Ryder, who comes off finishing tied for fourth in the Safeway Open last weekend. Vegas finished tied for 53rd last week.

      Vegas came close to missing The Open in July -- and actually had to arrive via helicopter shortly before his first-round tee time -- due to an expired visa.

      Vegas comes off a season in which he ranked No. 95 in the FedEx Cup standings.

      --Field Level Media

  • Koepka named PGA Tour Player of the Year
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, October 9, 2018

    Brooks Koepka was named PGA Tour Player of the Year after successfully defending his U.S. Open title and then claiming the PGA Championship in August.

    • "It's a cool trophy to have," Koepka said of the Jack Nicklaus Trophy in an interview with Dan Patrick. "Anytime you can get something with Jack Nicklaus' name on it is pretty cool."

      After being sidelined early in the 2018-19 season with a wrist injury, Koepka became the first player since Tiger Woods in 2000 to take both majors in the same season and fourth in PGA history.

      "On behalf of the PGA TOUR, our congratulations to Brooks Koepka on being voted PGA TOUR Player of the Year by his peers," said PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan via statement. "Brooks has brought a new brand of athleticism to the PGA TOUR, and we saw the results this year with his historic season at the major championships and a top-10 finish in the FedExCup. These feats were accomplished despite missing significant time due to injury, a testament to his work ethic and perseverance throughout the season."

      Any PGA Tour member who played in 15 FedEx Cup events was eligible to vote for the honor, with finalists Dustin Johnson, Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose, Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau.

      Koepka said Tuesday he did not vote -- "too lazy" -- but would have voted for "Bryson, or maybe Dustin," he told Patrick.

      Koepka cleared the air with Patrick regarding the alleged fight with good friend Dustin Johnson. Reports surfaced after the Ryder Cup that Koepka and Johnson nearly came to blows at a party in the European team's room in France.

      "I have no idea -- we went in there to go congratulate the Europeans and say 'Hey,'" Koepka said. "I don't know how this started. I was texting him before this even came out. ... I saw him this morning. The 20 people who were here can vouch for me, nothing happened. ... It was far from the truth."

      Koepka joked that it could be a "good fight" if he and DJ did duke it out.

      "Maybe not as good as the McGregor fight, or the fight after the fight," Koepka said jokingly.

      Koepka finished ninth in the FedEx Cup standings. Beyond two major victories, Koepka took second place at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions and Charles Schwab Challenge and had four other top-10 finishes.

      --Field Level Media

  • Furyk discusses Ryder Cup: 'It'll always bother me'
    By Field Level Media / Monday, October 8, 2018

    In the wake of the United States' loss to Europe in the Ryder Cup, a disgruntled Patrick Reed said he was "blindsided" by team captain Jim Furyk's decision not to pair him with Jordan Spieth.

    • On Monday, in an interview with the Golf Channel, Furyk discussed his decision to team Reed and Tiger Woods in the fourball matches, and he said the pairings were known well ahead of the Ryder Cup team's travel to Le Golf National outside Paris.

      "When I started looking at who [Tiger] would pair well with, I kept coming back to Patrick Reed," Furyk told Golf Channel. "There was always the idea that we could go Tiger and [Justin Thomas], and Patrick and Jordan, but ultimately they knew going into the week, weeks in advance, they knew they would start the Ryder Cup with Patrick and Tiger being partners."

      Reed told the New York Times last week that he took the pairing with Woods personally.

      "The issue's obviously with Jordan not wanting to play with me," Reed told the Times. "I don't have any issue with Jordan. When it comes right down to it, I don't care if I like the person I'm paired with or if the person likes me as long as it works and it sets up the team for success. He and I know how to make each other better. We know how to get the job done."

      Furyk said he didn't hear that Reed, the 2018 Masters champion, was unhappy until after the Ryder Cup. The Woods-Reed partnership finished 0-2-0, and Furyk sat Reed during two sessions.

      "I talked about [the decision to break up Spieth and Reed] with the vice captains," Furyk told Golf Channel. "Discussed it. Is this something we really want to do? I really felt like we got two great pairings out of it. It was my call. Ultimately I'm the one that made that decision, but it's a decision I stand by.

      "We got Jordan and J.T. out of it. They played very well and won three of their four matches. I'll stand by it. I think Tiger and Patrick make a great pair. They went 0-2 playing against a formidable team both times, but I still think they make a good pair."

      Furyk also addressed a reported spat between Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka that was said to have occurred at a post-Ryder Cup gathering.

      "Whatever altercation started, or what happened, it was very brief. It was very short. Neither one of them really took anything out of it," Furyk said. "They're like brothers. Brothers may argue, brothers get into it. But they're as close as they've ever been, and it really had no effect on either one of them."

      As for himself, Furyk said he continues to feel the sting of the 17 1/2 to 10 1/2 loss to captain Thomas Bjorn and his European team -- and will feel it for some time.

      "It's been tough," he said. "I was the leader of that team, and it didn't go the way we wanted. It'll always bother me."

      Still, he said he had a tremendous team on his side.

      "I'd take those 12 players into the fire any day, on any course. And I still would," Furyk said. "Last week didn't work out the way we wanted, but I love those guys and I love what we had together in the team room. And I'd do it all over again."

      --Field Level Media

  • Norman warns of too much 'Tiger talk'
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, October 7, 2018

    The entire golf world has reveled in the surprising comeback of Tiger Woods.

    • But Greg Norman warns golf fans against the dangers of going overboard with all-Tiger, all-the-time mania.

      The retired 20-time PGA Tour champion Norman, while being interviewed on a Yahoo Finance podcast, complimented Woods' impressive return to form that culminated in him winning the Tour Championship last month. But Norman also sounded an alarm to the golf community to avoid an all-encompassing Tiger beat.

      "I think he's done an excellent job of going from where he was over a year ago, saying, 'I may never play the game of golf again,' to where he is today," Norman said. "Massive leap, quite honestly, in 12 months. God bless him. He did everything right, stepped up to the plate and won. It's good for him, there's no question. It's good for the game of golf, no question.

      "But I hope they [media and fans] don't put all their eggs in one basket again and be all Tiger and forget about all this other wonderful, fantastic talent even coming out of Korea and Japan and South Africa and Australia. There is an unbelievable amount of talent bubbling up around the world, and I'd hate to see them get lost again in that Tiger talk."

      Woods has risen from No. 1,199 in the world rankings to begin 2018 to his current No. 13, thanks to a string of promising top-10 finishes that also helped the 14-time major champion become a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup.

      Norman's cautious tone recalls other similar concerns about Woods receiving too much attention at the perceived expense of others, something the two-time major champ complained about in February when Norman said he was "disappointed" about the extra focus on Woods -- adding at the time that "golf doesn't need Tiger Woods."

      Norman argued the heightened golf ratings since Woods' recent success has more to do with other players raising their games.

      "TV ratings are up because of what Tiger Woods does to every other player," Norman told Yahoo's Midday Movers show. "It's not just about the one player, it's about all the supporting cast who are equal if not better than him. He's just pulling them along to make them more standout."

      --Field Level Media

  • Mickelson rips Ryder Cup course setup
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, October 6, 2018

    Phil Mickelson lost both of his Ryder Cup matches last week, including the clinching singles showdown against Francesco Molinari.

    • Back on home soil, Mickelson quietly licked his wounds, until Thursday.

      Following the first round of the Safeway Classic in Napa Valley, Mickelson pulled no punches as he described the "almost unplayable" rough at Le Golf National in Paris and vowed he wouldn't bother playing courses like that in the future.

      "The fact is they had brutal rough, almost unplayable, and it's not the way I play," Mickelson said, per Golf Digest. "I don't play like that. And here (at the Safeway Classic) I can miss the fairways, I can get shots out of the rough up on the green and it's playable."

      Mickelson teamed with Bryson DeChambeau for a foursome match against Sergio Garcia and Alex Noren, losing 5 & 4 in a match that had threatened to be even more of a blowout.

      In singles play, he conceded to Molinari after hitting his tee shot into the water on the 16th hole. That gave the Europeans the clinching point in the biennial event.

      "I'm 48," Mickelson said. "I'm not going to play tournaments with rough like that anymore, it's a waste of my time. I'm going to play courses that are playable and that I can play aggressive, attacking, make a lot of birdies, style of golf I like to play."

      Mickelson opened with a 65 in the first round of the Safeway Classic, the first event of the 2018-19 season. He followed it with a 3-under 69 on Friday to head into the weekend in a three-way tie for second at 10-under.

      --Field Level Media

  • Koepka 'heartbroken' over errant shot, denies fight
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, October 3, 2018

    Brooks Koepka said he was "all messed up inside" to learn a woman lost her eyesight in one eye when she was struck by his errant shot during Ryder Cup play.

    • In wide-ranging comments to reporters Wednesday at the Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland, Koepka also denied he fought with Ryder Cup teammate Dustin Johnson during festivities after the match.

      Koepka, 28, learned that 49-year-old spectator Corine Remande lost the sight in her right eye. His drive Friday on the sixth hole at Le Golf National near Paris hit her in the face. He spoke to her at the time of the incident and said he is trying to contact her.

      "It's a tragic accident, I'm heartbroken. It will definitely be the one shot I regret in my career," he said, adding Tuesday was "one of the worst days of my life" when he learned her diagnosis.

      "I'm torn up about it. She's not going to be able to see out of her eye again and I hit the golf ball. It's upsetting."

      Koepka also was upset to learn of reports that he and Johnson fought at a Ryder Cup after party.

      "This Dustin thing, I just don't get," Koepka said Wednesday to reporters at the Dunhill Links Championship. "There was no fight, no argument. He's one of my best friends. I love the kid to death. We talked on the phone Monday and yesterday, so you tell me how we fought."

      Koepka, a three-time majors winner, and Johnson partnered in Saturday afternoon play at the Ryder Cup, losing to Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose, 2&1.

      "As far as camaraderie, it was fine, it was perfect," Koepka said. "The problem is you guys (the media) try to find a reason why we lost and the simple reason is we just didn't play good enough."

      --Field Level Media

  • John Daly withdraws from Safeway Open
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, October 2, 2018

    John Daly has withdrawn from this week's Safeway Open due to a back injury that he told tournament organizers will require surgery.

    • Daly, 52, received a sponsor's exemption into the season-opening PGA Tour event in Napa, Calif. He has been playing regularly on the Champions tour since turning 50, but also withdrew from this year's U.S. Senior Open and British Open due to knee issues.

      Fred Couples, who has played a limited Champions tour schedule this year due to his ongoing back problems, is slated to make a rare start on the PGA Tour this week. Former Oakland A's pitcher Mark Mulder is also in the field as organizers attempted to spur interest in an event that comes after the FedEx Cup Playoffs and the Ryder Cup.

      Patrick Cantlay (No. 22) is the highest-ranked player in this week's field. Phil Mickelson is also playing on the heels of the Ryder Cup since his company runs the tournament at the Silverado Resort.

      --Field Level Media

  • Golf Glance
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, October 2, 2018

    PGA TOUR

    • LAST WEEK: Ryder Cup (Team Europe)

      THIS WEEK: Safeway Open, Oct. 4-7

      Silverado Resort and Spa North, Napa, Calif. (Par 72, 7,166 yards)

      Purse: $6.4 million (Winner: $1.151M and 500 FedEx Cup points)

      Defending champion: Brendan Steele

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

      The Safeway Open is the first event of the "wraparound" schedule and marks the official start of the 2018-19 PGA Tour season. Four of the eight winners from the fall calendar last year qualified for the 2018 Tour Championship (Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Patrick Cantlay, Patton Kizzire). ... Steele is the two-time defending champion of the event, beating Tony Finau by two strokes last year. Steele is a combined 53-under par in his last three starts at the Safeway Open. ... All 21 members of the rookie class are in the field this week. The youngest is 20-year-old Sungjae Im of Korea, with 42-year-old Chris Thompson the oldest. Im posted two victories and three runner-up finishes while leading the Web.com Tour money list ($534,326) last season. ... Phil Mickelson, whose management company runs the tournament, will make his fourth start in the event after going 0-2-0 at the Ryder Cup last week. ... Former Oakland A's pitcher Mark Mulder is playing on a sponsor's exemption. ... Former Stanford star and top-ranked amateur Maverick McNealy will play on a sponsor's exemption after making his first start as a professional in last year's event.

      NEXT WEEK: CIMB Classic, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

      LPGA TOUR

      LAST WEEK: OFF.

      THIS WEEK: UL International Crown, Oct. 4-7

      Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea, Incheon, South Korea (Par 72, 6,508 yards)

      Defending champion: United States (2016)

      Television: Wednesday, 8 p.m.-3 a.m. ET (Golf Channel); Thursday-Saturday, 9 p.m.-3 a.m. (Golf Channel)

      The UL International Crown consists of eight teams determined by the combined top four players from each country as of the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings on June 4. Pool A: No. 1 South Korea, No. 4 England, No. 5 Australia, No. 8 Chinese Taipei; Pool B: No. 2 United States, No. 3 Japan, No. 6 Thailand, No. 7 Sweden. ... The competition consists of four-ball matches Thursday-Saturday, with teams playing each of the other countries in their pool and points awarded per match -- two for a win, one for a tie and zero for a loss. The top two teams in each pool will advance to Sunday's singles competition, with the third-place teams playing a sudden-death four-ball match to determine the wild-card team. ... Countries will be re-seeded Nos. 1-5 for the singles competition, with the pairings determined by a semi-blind draw. If countries are tied after the singles matches, one player from each country will be determined for a sudden-death playoff. ... Spain won the inaugural event in 2014, with the United States winning in 2016. ... Inbee Park was the top-ranked player from South Korea, but opted not to play in the event. ... American Michelle Wie will compete after taking nearly two months off to recover from a hand injury. ... South Korea's So Yeon Ryu (6-2-0) has the most points in ULIC history.

      NEXT WEEK: LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship, Incheon, South Korea.

      Champions Tour

      LAST WEEK: PURE Insurance Championship (Ken Tanigawa)

      THIS WEEK: OFF.

      NEXT WEEK: SAS Championship, Prestonwood CC, Cary, N.C.

      --Field Level Media

  • Reports: D.J., Koepka nearly came to blows Sunday
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, October 2, 2018

    Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson, good friends and training partners, nearly became opponents in a reported scuffle at the end of the Ryder Cup in France on Sunday.

    • On Tuesday, Golf Channel and The Guardian reported details of the entanglement, which came not long after the European Ryder Cup team buried the United States squad in a 17 1/2 - 10 1/2 victory on Sunday.

      The American golfers nearly came to blows, The Guardian reported, and were separated by others nearby. Reports indicate the exchange occurred in the European team room.

      According to reports, Johnson's fiancé, Paulina Gretzky, and Koepka's girlfriend, Jena Sims, were also involved in the incident.

      The source of the friction was not known.

      French outlet L'Equipe reported Monday night that Johnson and Koepka also had an argument on the team plane to Paris.

      Johnson and Koepka are good friends who work out together at trainer Joey Diovisalvi's Joey D Golf Performance Center in Jupiter, Fla.

      Johnson and Koepka partnered in the Saturday afternoon foursomes, losing to Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Koepka's shot costs spectator an eye
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, October 2, 2018

    An errant tee shot hit by Brooks Koepka at the Ryder Cup on Friday hit a female spectator who said she lost sight in her right eye.

    • "It happened so fast, I didn't feel any pain when I was hit," Corine Remande, 49, told AFP. "I didn't feel like the ball had struck my eye and then I felt the blood start to pour. The scan on Friday confirmed a fracture of the right eye socket and an explosion of the eyeball."

      The incident occurred on the first day of competition at the par-4 sixth hole at Le Golf National near Paris. Remande went to the hospital for treatment, and Koepka, 28, a promising player on the PGA Tour who has already won three majors, apologized and signed a glove for the injured spectator.

      "You don't want to hit anybody in the face, especially not a woman, and it's not a good feeling," Koepka said.

      Doctors initially said the injury was not serious. After winning the morning four-balls Friday with partner Tony Finau, Koepka said, "I felt terrible. I just wanted to get out of there, so I'm glad Tony was able to chip in and leave. At first I didn't know, but someone shouted, 'You hit someone,' and I turned around and you're thinking, 'Oh, (bleep), I did it again.'"

      Koepka has had his share of accidentally hitting fans with errant shots.

      "It's not a fun feeling, and I probably do it way more than I should," he said. "It seems just about every week we're hitting somebody and, you know, it's unfortunate because you're never trying to. It's hard to control a golf ball and especially for 300 yards. A lot of times, the fans are very close."

      Remande might pursue legal action to help cover medical costs, she told AFP.

      --Field Level Media

  • Reed criticizes breakup with Spieth at Ryder Cup
    By Field Level Media / Monday, October 1, 2018

    Patrick Reed blasted decisions made by captain Jim Furyk and others in the wake of the weekend Ryder Cup loss suffered by the ballyhooed U.S. team.

    • In an interview with the New York Times after the U.S. lost to Europe 17½-10½ on Sunday, Reed said he was "blindsided" when he found out he wouldn't be paired with previous partner Jordan Spieth at Le Golf National.

      Reed, the Masters champion, said decisions were made via the "buddy system" and that only a few players were consulted about the pairings.

      The Times said that Reed implied that meant Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods had Furyk's ear instead of the younger golfers; the two Ryder Cup veterans are on a Ryder Cup committee formed four years ago.

      Spieth, 25, was paired with Justin Thomas while Reed played with Woods. The Spieth-Thomas partnership finished 3-1, while Woods and Reed went 0-2. Reed, 28, won his singles match over Tyrrell Hatton on Sunday.

      "The issue's obviously with Jordan not wanting to play with me," said Reed, who added, "I don't have any issue with Jordan. When it comes right down to it, I don't care if I like the person I'm paired with or if the person likes me, as long as it works and sets up the team for success.

      "He and I know how to make each other better. We know how to get the job done."

      Reed also didn't play every match, perhaps in part because of his more recent struggles. Since the U.S. Open in June, he cracked the top 20 on the PGA tour only once.

      "For somebody as successful in the Ryder Cup as I am, I don't think it's smart to sit me," he said.

      Two years ago at Hazeltine, the Reed-Spieth grouping produced a 2-1-1 record. At Gleneagles in 2014, they were 2-0-1. They also have finished 8-1-3 in Presidents Cup play.

      But Reed occasionally has made comments that could have irked Spieth. A few times, Reed seemingly has joked that he "carried" Spieth in their prior victories.

      In a news conference on Sunday, Spieth praised Furyk and his communication with the golfers.

      "We were totally involved with every decision that was made," Spieth said. "Jim allowed it to be a player-friendly environment. And we were involved, and we thought that the (top) teams came out of our four-man squad [Reed, Spieth, Woods and Thomas]. We had two potentially fantastic teams, and we went out and tried to play our best."

      --Field Level Media

  • Tiger: I'm a 'contributing factor' in Ryder Cup loss
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, September 30, 2018

    No media fingers could be pointed at partners who didn't live up to their end of the bargain on Sunday.

    • With an opportunity to build on the United States' early momentum in singles on Sunday, Tiger Woods never led against Jon Rahm, and the Americans' hopes for a dramatic comeback were all but dashed when Spain's young star closed out his match with a clutch putt on No. 17.

      With Europe holding significant leads in several matches left on the course, it was only a matter of time until the U.S. had officially lost its sixth consecutive Ryder Cup on foreign soil. Woods, 42, has never been a part of a victorious American team in Europe.

      He did manage to square the match up after No. 12, but Rahm quickly took the momentum back by winning the next two holes and putting Woods on the ropes.

      "The tee shot on 14 was big," Woods lamented. "I didn't put it in play, and I just made the - just got the match to all-square. Made eagle at 9 and birdied 12. So it was important to get the ball in play. Didn't do it. Made back-to-back bogeys and consequently the matched slipped into his favor."

      Woods entered the day 4-1-2 in his Ryder Cup career in singles, but with only a 9-19-1 record overall after going 0-3-0 in group play over the first two days at Le Golf National in Paris.

      He was the more solid player in each of his group pairings, but Sunday was an individual letdown while sitting in a critical position for the Americans, who had pulled within one point of the Europeans after winning 3 1/2 of the first four points.

      "Well, it's disappointing because I went 0-4, and that's four points to the European Team," he said. "And I'm one of the contributing factors to why we lost the Cup, and it's not a lot of fun.

      "It's frustrating because we came here, I thought we were all playing pretty well, and I just didn't perform at the level that I had been playing, and just got behind early in the matches and never got back."

      --Field Level Media