Open has future full of star power

Hideki Matsuyama tees off during the Presidents Cup. He is one of two Top 50 players in the Open, but that will change in years ahead.



SAN MARTIN, Calif. — The PGA Tour season gets under way this week at the Open, the first time the tour has gone to a wraparound season. And while the field might not look that strong on paper, odds are that will change.

The tournament has two from the top 50 in the world (Matsuyama at No. 30 and defending champion Jonas Blixt at No. 34).

How might that change?

A year ago, eight PGA Tour members took part in an exhibition in Turkey called the World Golf Finals, held the same week as the Open. In exchange, they agreed to play the Open at least once over the next three years.

Those players were Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, Hunter Mahan, Charl Schwartzel, Webb Simpson and Matt Kuchar.


DUF & VIJAY: For all the attention on Phil Mickelson and his money games to get young players prepared for big moments, Jason Dufner had his own tutor. Dufner was at the TPC Sawgrass preparing for his rookie season when he saw Vijay Singh on the back of the practice range.

They played plenty of practice rounds in 2004, and it turned into a banner year for the Fijian. “Every event that he won, except for the PGA, I played a practice round with him that year,” Dufner said. “So I got a lot of valuable experience.”


PRESIDENT CUP FIXES: Nick Price wants to see the Presidents Cup follow the Ryder Cup format by playing only 28 matches instead of 34.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem is on the side of more playing opportunities – no one sits the opening two sessions. Here’s one suggestion for a compromise.

Have six matches Thursday and Friday (fourballs and foursomes). Have one session of six matches on Saturday with three matches for each format.

The captains will have to decide which three teams play foursomes and which three play fourballs. That’s 18 matches going into singles, for a total of 30 points.


HALL OF FAME: The World Golf Hall of Fame is taking a year off from inducting anyone to review its selection process.

One of the longtime sticking points of the Hall of Fame is inducting players still in the prime of their careers. The next ceremony is planned for May 4, 2015.


DIVOTS: Ernie Dunlevie, one of the founding fathers of the 1960 Palm Springs Golf Classic now known as the Humana Challenge, died Sunday of cancer at 96. ... Carl Pettersson, who has been with Nike, has switched to TaylorMade clubs and the Titleist golf ball. He said he could have renewed but it was time for a change.



FINAL WORD: “It’s one of the few times that I’m treated as a peer by my dad and not his son.” – Bill Haas, on playing the Presidents Cup with his father, Jay, as an assistant captain.




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