ATLANTA (AP) — Some 20 years ago, there was a feeling that the PGA Tour didn’t really get going until Florida.
It might feel like that next year, too.
Among the contributing factors — the busy end to the FedEx Cup season that forces players to pace themselves during the year, the start of a new season and moving the Match Play Championship to the first weekend in May.
Tiger Woods doesn’t know what his schedule will be in 2015. Except for the Match Play, he has played only one event on the West Coast (Torrey Pines) since 2007. He did play Pebble Beach in 2012, but that was a one-time agreement with AT&T.
Adam Scott is contemplating such a big winter break he likely will skip Kapalua.
“My schedule is going to start on the East Coast,” Scott said last week. “That’s just the way I want to do it. I’ve got some things I want to do in the offseason to get ready for next year and do better than this year.”
Scott said it would be “a bit of a heart-breaker” to skip Kapalua. He said he’s not 100 percent sure he will miss the Tournament of Champions, though it sounded that way. The Australian PGA ends Dec. 14 and “I’ll get 10 full weeks” off before resuming at the Honda Classic.
Of the six Europeans from the top 20 in the world, three played one West Coast event before the Match Play. Graeme McDowell was at Pebble Beach, but only because his father played with him. Justin Rose played Riviera because he missed the Middle East swing because of injury; and Martin Kaymer played Phoenix, where he lives.
The rest showed up at Match Play, which will not be at the end of February in Arizona next year.
Rory McIlroy left Atlanta on Sunday. Odds are it will be five months before he next plays an official PGA Tour event in America.
TECHNIQUE AND FEEL: Tiger Woods is in no hurry to look for a new swing coach, not until he’s finished restoring his “explosiveness.”
Does he even need a coach?
Woods has been playing since he could walk. If he’s not talking about owning his swing, he’ll say how important it is to be able to fix it in the middle of a round. That led to a question Monday at Isleworth: Has he ever had coaches who didn’t know as much as about swing as he did?
“I would have to say on the technical side, I probably don’t know as much as some of them,” Woods said without singling out Butch Harmon, Hank Haney or Sean Foley. “But from a feel standpoint, which is something I think is innate because of what we’re able to do at such an elite level, yeah, I think I know a lot more than they do. Because they’ve never played down the stretch of a major championship. What do the hands feel? What does the body feel?”
Woods is known to take only what he wants of the instruction offered.
“You have to understand your practice sessions,” he said. “Will they work on the back nine on a Sunday of a major? Either yes or no. And I think that’s one thing I’ve always tried to tell all my coaches. Will it work or not work? And if it’s not going to work, then we’re not going down that road.”
DRIVING SPIETH: Jordan Spieth revealed at the Tour Championship that he has been looking for the right driver for the last four months.
He said the driver he had used the last two years cracked on Wednesday of The Players Championship, where he shared the 54-hole lead with Martin Kaymer. He said he has tried a couple of new heads and can’t seem to get the right combination. And he said he hasn’t had time to try the latest driver from Titleist.
Spieth, who makes his Ryder Cup debut next week, said he has lost 20 percent in driving accuracy since May.
“I’m not driving the ball worse than anyone else, but it’s a strength of mine,” he said. “When your strength becomes average, something has to make up for it. And the rest of my game hasn’t made up for it.”
PGA TOUR BALLOT: The PGA Tour has sent out its year-end awards ballot to the players. Voting closes Sept. 25, and the awards are to be announced the week after the Ryder Cup (a week before the 2014-15 season begins).
Rory McIlroy figures to be a lock with his two majors. The others on the ballot are U.S. Open and Players Championship winner Martin Kaymer, Masters champion Bubba Watson, FedEx Cup champion Billy Horschel and three-time winner Jimmy Walker.
The rookie ballot features only three players. Chesson Hadley was the only rookie who won, though it was an opposite-field event in Puerto Rico. The other two candidates didn’t even become members until midway through the season — Victor Dubuisson and Brooks Koepka.
TRINGALE’S RETURN: Cameron Tringale heard about the changes to Masters criteria, such as cutting back on the number of players from the previous year’s majors who were invited. So when he was runner-up at The Barclays — in effect assuring him a spot in the Tour Championship — it didn’t register until later he was going to Augusta.
The field from the Tour Championship gets in the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open.
“I didn’t think this got you in,” Tringale said last week. “I really didn’t think that was the case.”
It will be his first appearance at the Masters, though certainly not his first trip to Augusta National. Tringale played at Georgia Tech and says the Yellow Jackets were invited to play the course once a year.
“I’ve played there four times,” he said. “I haven’t broken par.”
He said he shot 73 the first time, and that was about as close as he got. No matter. The course changes from Wednesday to Thursday during the Masters, much less from one year to the next. Besides, Tringale said he was busy taking pictures.
“I was thinking, ‘I might never make it back here,'” he said.
DIVOTS: Michelle Wie is the inaugural winner of the Rolex Annika Major Award for the LPGA player who accumulates the most points in the majors. Wie won the U.S. Women’s Open and was runner-up in the Kraft Nabisco Championship. … Davis Love III, who rarely passes on a chance to play golf in Hawaii, is making his Champions Tour debut this week in the Pacific Links Hawaii Championship at Kapolei Golf Club on Oahu. … Tiger Woods didn’t go the entire year without a trophy. His foundation received the Steve Patterson Award for Excellence in Sports Philanthropy. It will be honored Thursday in Princeton, New Jersey, by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. … The BMW Championship will return to Crooked Stick in 2016.
STAT OF THE WEEK: There are five Americans in the top 25 in the world ranking who are not playing in the Ryder Cup — Billy Horschel (14), Tiger Woods (15), Dustin Johnson (17), Chris Kirk (22) and Steve Stricker (25).
FINAL WORD: “As a TV spectacle, it’s far better than the Super Bowl. Only one comes close — the 100 meters in the Olympics. Maybe. And it only lasts 10 seconds. Golf generally is not amazingly suspenseful on TV, but that is off the charts.” — Geoff Ogilvy, on the Ryder Cup.
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