Notebook: Start to the new PGA Tour unusual in several different ways

By Doug Ferguson
Published on
Notebook: Start to the new PGA Tour unusual in several different ways

The new PGA Tour season already is unusual because both winners were rookies.
Also worth noting is the strength of the fields.
Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose were at the Open as the trade-off from playing a Turkey exhibition three years ago. Their presence, along with Brooks Koepka, meant 46 world ranking points to the winner, up from 36 a year ago. Rickie Fowler and Koepka were among those in Las Vegas, and the ranking points to the winner went from 38 last year to 44.
Look for the CIMB Classic in Malaysia to get a bump from last year with the addition of Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson.
The Open field was equal or stronger than 13 PGA Tour events from January to September this year.
SCORECARD RAMIFICATION: Starting next year, players will not be disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard if the wrong score is a result of penalty strokes they didn't know about when they finished their rounds. They will be penalized for the violation (one or two strokes), and docked an additional two shots for the scorecard error.
So what happens if the additional three or four strokes causes a player to miss the cut?
"If it were to happen in a USGA championship, our position would be to remove the player if that penalty would have resulted in them missing the cut," said Thomas Pagel, the USGA's senior director of rules.
Tyler Dennis, the senior vice president of competitions for the PGA Tour, said the same would apply in a full-field event with a cut.
There could be a case where 70 players make the cut, but one of them is discovered to have violated a rule and the new penalty causes him to miss the cut. The other players who would have made the cut are simply out of luck.
"Once the cut has been made, we do not recalculate the cut," Dennis said.
While a penalty wasn't involved, Dennis recalls the Wyndham Championship when Erik Compton made the cut, and then the next morning was too ill to play and withdrew. If he had withdrawn on Friday before the end of play, an additional 18 players would have made the cut. Instead, the weekend featured 69 players.
Dennis said the tour was happy to see the limited exception of Rule 6-6d.
"It's good for professional golf," Dennis said.
DEFINITION OF A ROOKIE: According to the PGA Tour, Emiliano Grillo ( Open) and Smylie Kaufman (Las Vegas) were the first rookies to win back-to-back since Charl Schwartzel (Masters) and Brendan Steele (Texas Open) in 2011.
That led to a question: How was Schwartzel a rookie?
The South African had played 37 events on the PGA Tour before his "rookie" season in 2011, including 16 majors and nine World Golf Championships. Patrick Rodgers, on the other hand, is not considered a rookie this year even though he has played 10 times and no majors going into this season.
The definition was changed not long after Schwartzel's rookie season. Now it's a player who in his first year as a member plays 10 tournaments or finishes in the top 125 in the FedExCup or the money list. Also, a player is not a rookie if he has played in more than seven PGA Tour events in any prior season.
Vijay Singh was rookie of the year in 1993 at age 30 and in his 11th year as a professional.
Schwartzel, meanwhile, won the Masters and wasn't rookie of the year in 2011. That went to Keegan Bradley, whose two wins included the PGA Championship.
DIVOTS: The Dell Match Play is moving to Austin, Texas, next year and already has sold out. It will be played March 23-27 at Austin Country Club. Rory McIlroy is the defending champion. ... Patrick Rodgers and Daniel Berger are among the newcomers in the 24-man field for the Franklin Templeton Shootout on Dec. 10-12 at the Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida. The tournament will end on Saturday, with Fox Sports televising the final round. Jason Day and Cameron Tringale are the defending champions. ... Smylie Kaufman was the seventh PGA Tour winner this year to be outside the top 200 in the world ranking.
STAT OF THE WEEK: The last six winners on the PGA Tour were all in their 20s -- Smylie Kaufman (23), Emiliano Grillo (23), Jordan Spieth (22), Jason Day (27), Rickie Fowler (26) and Day. The streak dates to Davis Love III, who won the Wyndham Championship at age 51.
FINAL WORD: "I've been to the No. 2 spot before. I've been to the No. 1 spot before. Both don't feel that bad." – Inbee Park.
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