By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
MELBOURNE, Australia – The Presidents Cup will be played in the Pacific Rim for the first time in 2015 when the 10th renewal of the biennial matches are held in South Korea.
The venue will be announced in the first half of 2012. PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem said there are a number of options and the search is on-going.
Joining Finchem at Wednesday’s press conference were three members of the International Team – K.J. Choi, Y.E. Yang and K.T. Kim. This is the first year more than one Korean has been represented on the squad.
“I think when you look at K.J. Choi, Y.E. Yang and Kyung‑tae Kim, this is the future,” Finchem said. “This is the future of golf in Korea, certainly on the men's side, and it represents to a great degree what The Presidents Cup is all about: Allowing players who come from places outside the United States and Europe to showcase their skills in this unique team environment.
“So all of that adds up to very strong, compelling reasons to go to Korea, to take advantage of taking what The Presidents Cup is all about and sharing it with the Pacific region and particularly Korea and Asia.”
Choi, who is the reigning PLAYERS champion, said he is excited about the development.
"To be one of the players involved in such a prestigious event and hopefully in the prestigious event coming up in Korea in 2015, I'm very honored and very delighted,” Choi said. “It's an honor, still, just to have three players from the same country play at such an event, and it's a much bigger honor to have the event held in my home country.
“It's a good step and positive step in heading to globalization for golf in Korea, and I think everyone in here, including K.T., myself and Y.E., we will try and do our best to keep our a‑level games up until 2015. I know that a lot of my compatriots back home are going to target their goals towards the 2015 Presidents Cup, so I'm very delighted and thank you very much.”
Yang, who won the 2009 PGA Championship and is playing in his second Presidents Cup, echoed Choi's words.
"The first time I came to The Presidents Cup in San Francisco I was a bit awestruck,” Yang said. “Now I can actually absorb a little of what this is and what the meaning of The Presidents Cup is, and apart from it being competitive and a competition for two continents, it's also a golf festival for not just the host country but also for everyone involved, and all of the countries involved.
“So to have that kind of huge golf festival coming to Korea is a great honor, and it just adds to the delight that I chose right in my line of work. I'm very glad; it's one of the occasions where I feel proud that I picked up golf as a living.”
Before the three players left to join the International Team at its barbecue, Choi was asked whether he wanted to throw his name in as a potential captain. He said that he would rather play.
“I learned a lot from playing with the Aussie players this week, how they take pride in playing in their home country,” Choi said. “ would like to feel that, and feel that kind of feel back home, not as a captain but as a player.
“And it's a great stepping stone for a lot of Asian players, and it's a good target for a lot of Asian players to aim for participation in The Presidents Cup. So throughout the years, it was my role and I guess Y.E.'s role to sort of open up the windows for Asian players in Europe and in the U.S. It was quite predominately U.S. and European players in South African and Australian players, and I believe that we sort of trail-blazed that Asian players can compete at that level as well.
“I do believe that with The Presidents Cup coming into Korea and with a lot of Asian players growing up, it's going to be another endeavor for the younger generation to build upon what we opened up and maybe better it and try to compete at a high level in the bigger events.”
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
MELBOURNE, Australia -- The buzz in the media center could be felt as soon as the respective captains announced the pairings for Match 5.
With 20 players on the pairings board, just four players were left -- including Tiger Woods and Adam Scott.
As you might imagine, the post-pairings conversation Wednesday at Royal Melbourne was dominated by the Match 6 pairing of Woods-Steve Stricker vs. Scott-K.J. Choi. This will be the first time Woods and Scott will be in the same group since Scott's caddie Steve Williams made his controversial remarks about his former employee.
Although Williams has apologized for his remarks and has shaken hands with Woods in hopes of putting the issue to rest, interest about the final match will certainly be high on Thursday when The Presidents Cup begins with six foursomes matches.
"I think it's great for the tournament," International captain Greg Norman said. "It needed to be done. It played out the way it played out. There wasn't any premeditation by it.
"I think at the end of the day, the guys in that last group will be the consummate professionals and go out and play the game of golf representing their International Team and the U.S. Team the way they should do."
Couples made similar sentiments, saying there was no planning by both sides to make the match happen.
"I think it worked out awesome for everybody involved to have Adam and Tiger play," Couples said. "As we said all along, they are still very good friends, and I think it's an exciting match."
Australia’s Jason Day was in the team room with the rest of the Internationals when the pairings were announced. He said the players were all clapping when the pairings for the final match took shape.
“I think everyone is kind of pumped for it,” Day said.
American veteran Jim Furyk, when asked about Match 6, used the word “interesting.” Twice.
“I think it's probably a pairing that y'all have been talking about for two weeks now since we were in China,” Furyk said, “and it was probably a matter of time before it happened. So just want to get it out of the way right off the first.”
Couples did have the opportunity to avoid the pairing when he made his Match 5 announcement. Norman had already selected K.T. Kim-Y.E. Yang, and Couples could have countered with putting Woods-Stricker against the Korean duo.
Instead, he opted for Hunter Mahan-David Toms in Match 5, setting the stage for the final match of the day.
"There's more to this thing than where you slot the players," Couples explained. "Like Greg said, and we were right here, we were writing down cards and it's just the way it fell, and I think it would be worse if we hid this deal."
Most of the questions posed to the two captains centered around Match 6. Norman was even asked if he had a sense whether Williams wanted the pairing.
"I have not even had a conversation with Steve Williams," Norman said. "His job is to carry Adam Scott's bag and doesn't matter whether they are playing Tiger Woods or not."
Both Norman and Couples said they are hopeful that by getting the Woods-Scott pairing done early, the conversation will turn elsewhere.
"It's a dead issue as far as we are concerned," Norman said. "There's no animosity between any of the players or any of the issues have taken place.
"I know it's good fodder. People like to talk about it in the media. But from our perspective, it's dead and gone, and we would like to keep it that way going forward."
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
ATLANTA -- K.J. Choi usually spends about 30 minutes on the putting green before his round. On Friday, he pushed his practice session to 45 minutes.
The move paid off.
Choi, winner of THE PLAYERS Championship earlier this year, was much more effective on East Lake's greens in Friday's second round than he was in the first round. And thanks to his 5-under 65, Choi is now in position to make a run this weekend at both the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola and the FedExCup. He entered this week ranked 13th in points and would need to win the event and hope other scenarios fall into place in order to win the FedExCup.
"Today, I spent a little longer on the putting green," said Choi, who is in second place, one stroke behind leader Adam Scott, going into Saturday's third round. "Normally I have trouble reading lies on this course, lies and the speed of the putt. So that's what I focused on today."
Choi gained 1.1 strokes on the field on Friday, according to the TOUR's primary putting statistic, Strokes Gained-Putting. In the first round, Choi gave away 1.237 strokes to the field while shooting a 2-under 69.
Inside 10 feet, Choi made all 17 of his attempts on Friday; the previous day, he missed four of 20 attempts from that distance.
Of course, it helps that Choi's irons were on fire Friday. He led the field in proximity to the hole on Friday and didn't need to hole any super-long putts.
"I definitely had good rhythm today," Choi said. "Good rhythm leads to great confidence. ... "It's important to try to keep that rhythm and take it onto the golf course when you're playing, and I think that's what I was able to do today."
The jostling atop the leaderboard at East Lake continues. Adam Scott is now the leader at 8 under after a 65 that has him one shot clear of K.J. Choi.
At one point, Choi led -- until Scott closed with back-to-back birdies. Choi wasn’t so bad himself of course with a 65 of his own. He’s trying to become just the first player to win both THE PLAYERS and the TOUR Championship in the same year.
Another shot back from Choi is Jason Day, who likewise led at one point on Friday. But he bogeyed the 17th and as a result shares third with Luke Donald.
Bubba Watson, meanwhile, had the day’s best round with a 64 to climb into a tie for fifth with three others, including Presidents Cup hopefuls Bill Haas and Keegan Bradley.
ATLANTA -- K.J. Choi is bidding to become the first player since Jodie Mudd in 1990 to win THE PLAYERS Championship and TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola in the same year.
Choi birdied his last two holes in regulation at TPC Sawgrass and beat David Toms on the first hole of sudden death in May to win THE PLAYERS. It was the eighth victory of his career.
Mudd needed a playoff to beat Billy Mayfair at the TOUR Championship, then known as the Nabisco Championship, at Champions Golf Club in Houston. He beat Mark Calcaveechia by a shot at THE PLAYERS earlier that year.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LEMONT, Ill. -- A year ago, K.J. Choi tied for third at the BMW Championship, shooting three straight 69s to finish three strokes off the pace
Choi has positioned himself for another run at the title, too, after opening with a 67 on Thursday. He's alone in fourth, four strokes off the pace being set by Justin Rose.
The 67 matched Choi's career low at Cog Hill shot way back in 2000, and it tied his best round in the 17 since he finished second at the AT&T National earlier this year. Choi hasn't finished higher than 32nd during that stretch so getting off to a good start was key.
"This week is very important," said the reigning PLAYERS champ. "I'm trying more better than last three, four weeks."
Choi, who beat David Toms in a playoff at TPC Sawgrass, said he hurt his left thumb three days ago. He was pain-free on Thursday, though, and it showed in his golf game as he hit 8 of 14 fairways and all but six greens in regulation.
"Today it never bothered me and I hit it so well," Choi said. "Some holes I missed shots, but good recovery and the short game, bunkers. I feel more confidence and more better than last year."
Choi came into the BMW Championship ranked 15th in the FedExCup. So he had no worries when it comes to advancing to East Lake for the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola for the fourth time in the last five years.
When he finished his first round, though, Choi was projected at No. 8. He would need to finish tied for second or better to move into the all-important top 5.
"My game feels and my swing and everything is better than last year, more confidence on the golf course," Choi said. "I'm trying to catch up with everybody, so I'm very aggressive for three days."
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
Another week, another long putter takes center stage. One week after Adam Scott won the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational with his full broomstick-style flatstick, Keegan Bradley won the PGA Championship with a belly.
How big is this becoming? As PGATOUR.COM’s Helen Ross wrote, the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fla., asked Bradley to send a replica of his Odyssey WhiteHot XG Sabertooth Long. The Hall wants to put it in Aunt Pat’s locker in the its famous Members Locker Room.
Equipment-watching golf writers are wondering if this major win will finally spur a rush of the putters in the marketplace, if not even further on the PGA TOUR and elsewhere in the pro game.
About the only person, it seems, who is underwhelmed by all the attention over the putter is Bradley himself. The unconventional putter is just one of his 14 tools of the trade.
“It's not rare at all … last year in the Nationwide Tour, to be in a group with three guys that had unconventional putters. It happened all the time,” Bradley said last week.
“It's funny, at the beginning, even just two and a half years ago, at the course I played at, some of the old timers would go, ‘you're too young to be using a long putter.’ But now it's very acceptable. I can't tell you how many times I'm in a group where every single guy has got an unconventional putter, especially young guys. But it's a great tool to have, especially in pressure situations, because you just put that right in your belly and it's not going anywhere.”
DUFNER’S GRIP: Had Jason Dufner prevailed in the playoff, putter history would have also been made. His Scotty Cameron GSS Circa 62 No. 6 Prototype (not a long putter, just a long putter name) had an oversized SuperStroke grip (see photo at right). K.J. Choi has used a similar grip for years, including this year in winning THE PLAYERS Championship.
CBS broadcasters reported that Dufner put the grip in play for the first time at the PGA Championship because he was pulling his putts. Turned out to be a fantastic decision – though on the pivotal first playoff hole, his short putt for birdie was pulled ever so slightly.
SNEAK PEEK: Titleist’s Tour blog has info and photos on their new Prototype Vokey Design SM4 wedges, which will go into TOUR players’ bags for the first time at The Barclays, the first event of the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup.
Titleist staff players Adam Scott, Nick Watney and Rickie Fowler helped wedge guru Bob Vokey with the testing process on the wedges, which include a new groove design and profile, as well as new lofts, bounce options and sole grinds.
CLANG: Equipment manufacturers’ trailers were parked at the far end of the range at Atlanta Athletic Club, some 350 yards from the tees. But on Tuesday and Wednesday of PGA Championship week, noted bomber Alvaro Quiros sailed drivers over the end-range fences and into the sides of the Callaway trailer.
Quiros, a Callaway player, signed a ball “Sorry!” for the reps in the trailer.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
The final pairing at the AT&T National on Sunday had a distinct Presidents Cup flavor.
Two players who are expected to play prominent roles on opposite sides in the biennial competition at Royal Melbourne in November -- America's Nick Watney and K.J. Choi of South Korea -- did battle down the stretch at Aronomink COuntry Club.
Watney ended up winning for the second time this season, beating Choi by two strokes in a spirited duel. Watney moved from fifth to third in the U.S. Team standings while Choi maintained his hold on No. 3 on the International side.
The Presidents Cup, where he will play for Fred Couples, will be the first international team competition for Watney, who now has four PGA TOUR victories. For his efforts on Sunday, the lanky Californian was also rewarded with the lead in the FedExCup standings.
Choi, who set the Aronomink course record in the second round only to see Watney eclipse it a day later, was bidding for the ninth win of his TOUR career. He beat another U.S. Team hopeful, eighth-ranked David Toms, in a playoff at TPC Sawgrass in May to win THE PLAYERS Championship.
The third member of the final draw at Aronomink, Rickie Fowler, couldn't keep pace with his two playing partners on Sunday. The exciting youngster from Oklahoma State ended up in a tie for 13th but still managed to move two spots to No. 21 as he tries to make his first U.S. Presidents Cup Team.
Two of the biggest movers on Sunday were Charles Howell III and fellow American Jeff Overton, who tied for third with Australian Adam Scott. Howell moved from 35th to 29th in the standings while Overton jumped four spots to No. 20.
Scott ranks a solid fourth in the International Team standings. He's an International mainstay after being a member of the last four times, and he'll be looking forward to competing for his childhood hero, Norman, for the second time, and the first before a home crowd.
Another Aussie veteran, Robert Allenby, inched his way closer to being one of the 10 automatic qualifiers when he tied for sixth at Aronomink. Allenby, who has played in five previous Presidents Cups, now ranks 11th.
Once the 10 automatic qualifiers are finalized at the end of the BMW Championship, which is the third event in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, each captain will complete his team with two picks. Those picks will be made on Monday, Sept. 26.
The Presidents Cup will be played Nov. 14-20 at Royal Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia. Australian Jason Day and American Matt Kuchar lead their respective standings.