NAPLES, Fla. – Jordan Spieth's first round of the year was a pre-qualifier to get into the Monday qualifier at Torrey Pines. His last round will be at Sherwood Country Club, as a last-minute alternate to the Christmas holiday bonus known as the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge hosted by Tiger Woods.
Spieth was selected as an alternate Tuesday to replace Brandt Snedeker, who is being extra cautious in recovering from a slight knee surgery from when he lost his balance on a Segway during a corporate outing in Shanghai.
The World Challenge is Dec. 5-8.
Spieth never needed that qualifier for the Farmers Insurance Open. He got in on a late sponsor's exemption, missed the cut, and then headed off to the Web.com Tour. His plans shifted to the PGA Tour in March, and the results were amazing – enough money to secure a card, a win at the John Deere Classic to instantly get his card, No. 7 in the FedExCup standings and a spot in the Presidents Cup.
Sherwood will be a bonus.
INKSTER TO THE BOOTH: Juli Inkster's closest friends in golf have always worried about whether she could ever retire. This might be a step.
Inkster is one of three additions to the Golf Channel's cast of on-air talent for the 2014 season. The others are Karen Stupples, already a strong voice of golf for the BBC, and Paige Mackenzie.
Inkster, the 53-year-old Hall of Famer, is not giving up on golf. She will work five events for Golf Channel, starting with the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic in May.
Stupples will work at just over a dozen tournaments as an analyst and on-course reporter. Mackenzie will be the co-host on "Morning Drive" and contribute to news programming while continuing to play.
DIVOTS: Nick Price has added a tournament to his schedule, all because his son (Greg) took up golf eight months ago. They will play the PNC Father-Son Challenge for the first time on Dec. 12-15 at The Ritz-Carlton Club in Orlando. "I just want him to enjoy it," Price said. "If he enjoys it, he'll want to do it again." ... Charles Howell III, who had five top 10s a year ago, already has three in five tournaments this year. ... The Players Championship raised $7.1 million for local charities, beating last year's record $6.5 million.
STAT OF THE WEEK: The Official World Golf Ranking board has approved ranking points for the new PGA Tour China series next year. The winner of the China events will get six points, or the equivalent of 19th place at The Players Championship.
FINAL WORD: "You're witnessing the best player on the planet at the minute, for sure. I don't think there's anybody to go up against him." – Ian Poulter on Henrik Stenson, who won three of his last seven events to claim the FedExCup and Race to Dubai.