October 22, 2014 - 8:52am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Zach Johnson
USA Today Sports Images
For Zach Johnson and many other PGA Tour players, this week is a home game.

The 2014-15 PGA Tour season rolls on this week in Sea Island, Ga., with the McGladrey Classic at the Seaside Course.

Chris Kirk, who resides right next door on St. Simons Island, returns as the defending champ. Kirk was one of the hottest players on the PGA Tour at the end of the 2013-14 season, winning the Deutsche Bank Championship and eventually finishing second to Billy Horschel in the FedExCup Playoffs.

RELATED: McGladrey Classic tee times | Ortiz paving way on Tour | Golf Beer

There are many players in this week's field, including tournament host Davis Love III, with ties to Sea Island. That local knowledge will come in handy for some.

Here's a look at five players to keep an eye on in the McGladrey Classic.

5. Harris English
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T16 at Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
Reason to watch: English is one of many players in the field who has familiarity with the course. He resides in Sea Island. A home game is a double-edged sword. Sure, you have the local knowledge most don't, but there's also a little more pressure. PGA Tour pros don't have an issue playing in front of large crowds, but when those crowds include a lot of family and friends, there could be a tendency to press and try a little too hard. English is a rising star on the PGA Tour and a home win would be extra special.

4. Bill Haas
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
First start
Reason to watch: This will be the first start of the new season for Haas, who ended last season on a high note. Along with his tie for second at the Wyndham Championship, Haas finished no worse than a tie for 16th in his final five starts of the 2013-14 season. He was also recently inducted into the Wake Forest Hall of Fame -- a high honor for any student-athlete, but particularly a golfer at a school that boasts the likes of Arnold Palmer, Curtis Strange, Lanny Wadkins, Jay Haas, Darren Clarke and more. I'm expecting a big year for Haas coming off his first winless season on the PGA Tour since 2009.

3. Webb Simpson
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T4 at Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
Reason to watch: When the PGA Tour initiated its wraparound schedule a year ago, it paid quick dividends for Simpson, who collected five of his nine top-10 finishes on the season in his first six starts, including a T7 at the McGladrey Classic. Last week, in a title defense at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Simpson tied for fourth. Nice showing. He'll keep the momentum going this week in Sea Island.

2. Zach Johnson
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
First start
Reason to watch: After another solid PGA Tour season, Johnson is ready to get a new season underway at home in Sea Island. Over the last few years, Johnson has a couple of top-20 finishes at the McGladrey Classic. He's a great putter and a player who rarely misses the cut. For those two reasons, he's virtually always a factor. If he can get everything clicking on a course where he's got more experience playing than most, he could be tough to beat this week.

1. Chris Kirk
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
First start
Reason to watch: Kirk -- you guessed it, a local -- is collected the first of his two wins in the 2013-14 season a year ago at the McGladrey Classic. It was the first multiple-win season of Kirk's career. Kirk's consistent play throughout the last season along with a strong push at the end, helped him to finish second in the FedExCup. Based on his success over the last 12 months, there's no doubt Kirk's expectations and goals are higher than past years. It's got to be nice to be able to start a new season at a place where you've had recent success. 

2014 McGladrey Classic | Five players to watch
October 21, 2014 - 6:18pm
Posted by:
PGA.com
john.holmes's picture
Chris Kirk
USA Today Sports Images
Chris Kirk is the defending champion this week at the PGA Tour's McGladrey Classic.
 
Here's a look at the tournaments on tap this week:
 
PGA Tour: McGladrey Classic
Site: St. Simons Island, Georgia 
Schedule: Thursday-Sunday 
Course: Sea Island Resort, Seaside Course (7,005 yards, par 70) 
Purse: $5.7 million. Winner's share: $1,026,000 
 
Last year: Chris Kirk beat Briny Baird and Tim Clark by a stroke. Kirk lived at Sea Island for six years before moving to Atlanta a few months before his victory. 
 
Last week: Ben Martin won in Las Vegas for his first PGA Tour victory. He made a 45-foot eagle putt on the 16th hole and birdied the 18th for a two-stroke victory. 
 
Notes: The tournament is the third in the 2014-15 wraparound season. Sang-moon Bae won the opener two weeks ago in Napa, California. ... U.S. Ryder Cup players Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson are in the field along with fellow area residents Davis Love III, Harris English, Brian Harman, Lucas Glover, Jonathan Byrd and Hudson Swafford and part-time resident Charles Howell III. ... In 2012, Tommy Gainey won his lone tour title, closing with a course-record 60 to overcome a seven-stroke deficit. ... The CIMB Classic is next week in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 
 
European Tour/PGA Tour of AustralAsia: ISPS Handa Perth International
Site: Perth, Australia 
Schedule: Thursday-Sunday 
Course: Lake Karrinyup Country Club (7,143 yards, par 72) 
Purse: $1.54 million. Winner's share: $256,960 
 
Last year: South Korea's Jin Jeong beat England's Ross Fisher with a par on the first hole of a playoff. 
 
Last week: Finland's Mikko Ilonen won the Volvo World Match Play Championship in England, beating Henrik Stenson 3 and 1. ... Australia's Scott Hend won the Hong Kong Open, topping Angelo Que with a par on the first hole of a playoff. ... New Zealand's Ryan Fox won the Western Australia Open, finishing at 23 under for a six-stroke victory. 
 
Notes: The top 110 on the European Tour money list after the event will advance to the four-event Finals Series that starts next week in China. ... American Jason Dufner is making his first start since withdrawing during the first round of the PGA Championship because of a neck injury. Fellow major champions Geoff Ogilvy and Charl Schwartzel also are in the field along with Victor Dubussion. ... Ernie Els won the 2003 Johnnie Walker Classic at Lake Karrinyup at 29-under 259, the lowest score in relation to par in European Tour history. 
 
LPGA Tour: Blue Bay LPGA 
Site: Hainan Island, China 
Schedule: Thursday-Sunday 
Course: Jian Lake Blue Bay Golf Course (6,817 yards, par 72) 
Purse: $2 million. Winner's share: $300,000 
Last year: Inaugural event 
 
Last week: Kyu Jung Baek won the LPGA KEB-HanaBank in South Korea in her first tour start, beating fellow South Korean player In Gee Chun and American Brittany Lincicome with a birdie on the first hole of a playoff. Baek is 19. 
 
Notes: Chinese star Shanshan Feng tops the field along with Michelle Wie, Lydia Ko, Lexi Thompson, Anna Nordqvist, Jessica Korda, Mirim Lee and Mo Martin. Wie tied for fifth last week in her first start since withdrawing from Evian in September after reinjuring a stress reaction in her right hand. Lee won the Reignwood LPGA Classic on Oct. 5 in Beijing. ... The tournament is the fourth stop on the six-tournament Asian Swing. The Taiwan Championship is next week, followed by the Mizuno Classic in Japan. 
 
OTHER TOURNAMENTS 
MEN 
Champions Tour: AT&T Championship
Schedule: Friday-Sunday
Course: TPC San Antonio, AT&T Canyons Course
Site: San Antonio, Texas
 
Asia Pacific Golf Confederation: Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship
Schedule: Thursday-Sunday
Course: Royal Melbourne Golf Club
Site: Melbourne, Australia
Note: Winner earns a spot in the 2015 Masters
 
Japan Golf Tour: Bridgestone Open
Schedule: Thursday-Sunday
Course: Sodegaura Country Club, Sodegaura Course
Site: Chiba, Japan 
 
Asian Tour: Macau Open
Schedule: Thursday-Sunday
Course: Macau, China
Site: Macau Golf and Country Club
 
OneAsia Tour: Korea Open
Schedule: Thursday-Sunday
Course: Woo Jeong Hills Country Club
Site: Cheonan, South Korea 
 
PGA Tour Latinoamerica: America's Golf Cup
Schedule: Thursday-Sunday
Course: Olivos Golf Club
Site: Buenos Aires, Argentina
 
European Challenge Tour: Foshan Open
Schedule: Thursday-Sunday
Course: Foshan Golf Club
Site: Foshan, China
 
WOMEN 
Japan LPGA Tour: Nobuta Group Ladies Masters
Schedule: Thursday-Sunday
Course: Masters Golf Club
Site: Hyogo, Japan
 
 
 
Pro golf around the world for the week of October 20-26, 2014
October 21, 2014 - 11:35am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Jason Dufner
USA Today Sports Images
Out of action due to a neck injury since the PGA Championship in August, Jason Dufner returns for the Perth International this week in Australia.

Jason Dufner, winner of the 2013 PGA Championship, will be teeing it up this week for the first time since August.

Back in August while defending the PGA Championship at Valhalla, Dufner was forced to withdraw due to a nagging neck injury.

RELATED: Jason Dufner -- major champ, runway model, pizza maker

This week he makes his return, playing in the Perth International in Australia.

Dufner hasn't played in 11 weeks, so he isn't expecting all that much out of his game this week.

"I wasn't too interested in golf or what was going on in the golfing world during that time period," Dufner told the Associated Press. "I didn't watch one minute of the Ryder Cup. I got into a lot of different things. It was disappointing that I was injured, but it wasn't miserable for me."

Dufner's main goal this week, he said, is to play pain-free.

"I feel like if I can play 18 holes without any pain, that'll be a good thing," he said. "Get rolling in the right direction again." 

Dufner returns for Perth International
October 21, 2014 - 11:20am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Henrik Stenson
Facebook
The children of Lake Nona are sure to have nightmares after seeing Henrik Stenson in his Halloween costume.

Henrik Stenson, winner of the 2013 FedExCup and the 2013 Race to Dubai, likes to have a good time.

On Tuesday, he took to Facebook to show off his Halloween costume.

Here's a sneak peek:

 

The children of Lake Nona have been warned.

Stenson reveals Halloween costume
October 21, 2014 - 10:02am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Graeme McDowell, Keegan Bradley, Freddie Jacobson
USA Today
Thanks to Keegan Bradley, Graeme McDowell and Freddie Jacobson, golfers will now have a new 19th hole beverage option.

Keegan Bradley, Graeme McDowell and Freddie Jacobson aren't just competitors at a PGA Tour venue near you. They're also friends -- and now -- partners in a new business endeavor... something called "Golf Beer."

According to a USA Today report, the threesome has joined forces , "to create some new options for the 19th hole."

From the report:

With the help of Florida-based brewer The Brew Hub, PGA tour members Graeme McDowell, Keegan Bradley and Freddie Jacobson are teeing up a line of new craft beers targeting golfers.

The three beers -- G-Mac's Celtic Style Pale Ale, Keegan Bradley's New England Style Lager and Freddie Jacobson's Scandinavian Style Blonde Ale -- will initially be available this month on draft at select Florida golf courses and on-site restaurants and country clubs. The beer will be available in cans in December and bottles during the first quarter of 2015. Distribution will expand to grocery stores, bars and other restaurants in Florida and then to other regions.

Here's a video about the three new brews:

 

According to the report, each of the beers is between 4.5 percent and 5 percent alcohol by volume. The Blonde Ale is a light ale made with European hops, while the New England lager uses North American hops. McDowell, a native of Northern Ireland who like the other two has a home in Florida, says his beer -- the Celtic Style Pale Ale -- is "the punchiest of the three. But it is very approachable and very conducive to drinking a few on the golf course or one in the clubhouse."

 

Bradley, McDowell, Jacobson introduce 'Golf Beer'
October 21, 2014 - 8:02am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Sandy Cross
Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America
Sandy Cross, Senior Director of Diversity & Inclusion for the PGA of America.

The third annual Sports Diversity & Inclusion Symposium is taking place this week at PGA National Resort & Spa, in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

The symposium provides a forum to discuss, evaluate and create tangible solutions that drive greater diversity and inclusion in today's sports culture. Designed to recognize, celebrate and encourage diversification in the world of sports, the forum will feature influential and prominent leaders from Olympic, Paralympic, professional and amateur organizations in expert panels, roundtable discussions and general sessions.

Before the start of the symposium, we had a chance to chat with Sandy Cross, Senior Director of Diversity & Inclusion for the PGA of America, and below is the e-mail Q&A.

PGA.com: Thanks for joining us, Sandy. Can you please tell our readers a little about the Sports Diversity & Inclusion Symposium?

Cross: Absolutely. The NFL and the United States Olympic Committee hosted years one and two respectively. Nearly 200 leaders from all levels of sport -- professional, Olympic, collegiate, amateur and recreational -- will gather to discuss, evaluate and create real solutions that drive greater diversity and inclusion in today's sport culture. We've got a great lineup of 38 speakers that will lead three general sessions and six expert panel discussions. Topics range from showcasing diversity and inclusion best practices, diversity and inclusion in sport media, multi-generational diversity, to the economics of diversity and inclusion and how to quantifying the return on investment and your supplier relations.

PGA.com: Can you talk about some of the programs or initiatives the PGA has in place to diversify participation in the game?

Cross: Sure. From a gender diversity standpoint, we've been leading the golf industry's signature program, Get Golf Ready, which provides a fun, fast and affordable introduction to the game, that really resonates with women.

For the next generation, our PGA Junior League Golf program has taken off like wildfire. Kids and parents are loving the team format that welcomes all backgrounds and skill levels. It's golf's version of Little League.

We're also quite focused on our supplier relations and increasing golf's spend with minority -- and women-owned businesses, which in turn brings those diverse business owners closer to our sport.

PGA.com: What strides have you seen made in the golf industry over the last several years in golf that promote diversity and inclusion?

Cross: Numerous strides have been made in recent years and continue to be made. While the alterations in the membership policies at places like Augusta National Golf Club and with the Royal and Ancient have been historical milestones garnering significant media attention, I think what's been taking place at PGA Professional-staffed facilities around America is tremendously impactful.

So many of our PGA Professionals have been making a concerted effort to ensure women are invited to, and feel welcome at, their golf facilities, and that the programs and services offered are truly tailored to meet a woman's value set. What women value out of a golf experience is very often different than what most men value. The advent of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship in June 2015 will be another big milestone as well, not only taking women's major championship golf to new heights, but bringing a really unique women's leadership summit component to the fore, which is being designed to assist women in advancing their career and business development through golf.

PGA.com: What would you say to someone who wants to pursue a career in golf, but might be reluctant because they fear acceptance?

Cross:
I'd tell them to go for it! Golf is such a gift; a gift that keeps on giving. It's a game of connections -- personal and business -- as well as gateway to better health. Grab a friend, family member or colleague and seek out an introductory program like Get Golf Ready that's very social in nature. It provides a very comfortable setting to ease your entry into the game and lifestyle that surrounds golf. From a career standpoint, there are a myriad of possibilities in this industry. It's a $68.8 billion dollar a year industry in the U.S. that offers real opportunity for talented, aspiring, career-minded professionals who want to help evolve the face of the game and enhance the delivery of the game to meet the needs of today's multi-faceted consumer demographics.

PGA.com: Who inspired you to become so involved in the game?

Cross: It's interesting because I wasn't a golfer when I began working for The PGA of America 18 years ago. Right away I recognized that I should learn how to play the game if I wanted to be successful in the business of golf. I was tremendously fortunate to have bosses early on in my tenure that took me under their wings and showed me the ropes on the golf course. It's really paid dividends for me professionally and personally as well. I even met my husband on the golf course! What really drives me now is making golf as welcoming and as inclusive as possible to people from all walks of life, backgrounds, ages and abilities. As I said previously, golf is a gift and I want to help share it with as many people as possible. 

Sports Diversity & Inclusion Symposium: A Q&A with Sandy Cross