David Duval makes PGA Tour Champions debut at this week’s season opener in Hawaii

The former World No. 1 has high expectations for senior golf but plans to give himself time to get back into the swing of tournament golf.

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David Duval has never minced words, and on the eve of starting a new chapter in his professional life, he’s not about to change.

“I expect to succeed,” he said of his first foray into the PGA Tour Champions at this week’s Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai Golf Club in Ka’upulehu-Kona, Hawaii.

The Jacksonville native and Episcopal graduate, who won 13 times on the PGA Tour and for most of the 1999 season supplanted Tiger Woods at No. 1 in the world, turned 50 years old Nov. 9.

While he hasn’t made a cut on the PGA Tour since the 2015 British Open at St. Andrews, Duval pointed out that he certainly has enough tread left on the tires.

“I haven’t played 50 golf tournaments in the last decade and so I’m patient and giving myself time to get my feet under myself again,” he said in a video posted on the PGA Tour Champions Twitter site. “My wife Susie and I are so excited about the opportunity and so looking forward to it.”

David Duval with the claret jug after victory in the 2001 British Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club in England. (Stephen Munday/ALLSPORT)

Duval won all of his Tour events between 1997 and 2001, including the 1999 Players, the 1997 Tour Championship and the 2001 British Open. He won four times in 1998 and captured the Tour’s scoring and money titles.

He became the first player to shoot 59 in the final round of a tournament to win, at the 1999 American Express.

Duval was the runner-up in the Masters twice and had 11 top-10s in majors. But he went into a prolonged slump beginning in 2002, brought on by a series of injuries from neck to knee.

Duval’s main problem used to be his strength: the best combination of long and accurate off the tee. There were a few times when it appeared he might have regained his old touch, such as a tie for second in the 2009 U.S. Open and a tie for second at Pebble Beach in 2010.

But since his last made cut, Duval hasn’t played on the weekend in 22 starts in six years, counting two appearances in a Korn Ferry Tour event near his Denver home.

Duval has always seemed at peace. He took on three stepchildren when he married his wife, and they had two more children. He also combined family with his last big moment on the golf course, winning the 2016 PNC Father-Son with stepson Nick Karavites.

David Duval has spent much of the past decade as an analyst for NBC and Golf Channel. (Cy Cyr/PGA Tour)

Duval has been an analyst for Golf Channel, drawing good reviews for his insight and preparedness.

He’s also been working on his game, but not putting any pressure on himself.

“I’ve been practicing and playing and working at it,” he said in the PGA Tour Champions interview. “Getting over some little injury problems I’ve had over the past couple of years. That’s all behind me now. But I’m sure there were will be some nerves and anxiety and rust.”

Also in the field this week is Jim Furyk—who shot a 62 in the opening round of the Sony Open in Hawaii on the PGA Tour last week while playing on a sponsor exemption— as well as last season’s Charles Schwab Cup winner Bernhard Langer, Tom Watson, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Mark O’Meara, Vijay Singh and defending champion Darren Clarke.

The Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai is a 54-hole event. It’s the first of 28 events on the PGA Tour Champions schedule in 2022 that will span 20 states and three countries. A record $62 million in prize money will be up for grabs. Each event will be televised on Golf Channel, with three scheduled for weekend coverage on NBC: the Senior PGA Championship, the Senior Open Championship and the U.S. Senior Open.

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Check the yardage book: PGA West’s Pete Dye Stadium Course for The American Express

StrackaLine provides hole-by-hole maps of the layout that will host one early round plus the final round of the PGA Tour event in La Quinta.

PGA West’s Pete Dye Stadium Course, which opened in 1986 in La Quinta, California, is one of three courses used for this week’s The American Express on the PGA Tour.

Paired with amateurs in a pro-am format, the pros will play one round each Thursday-Saturday on the Dye Stadium Course (7,113 yards, par 72), La Quinta Country Club (7,060 yards, par 72) and PGA West’s Nicklaus Tournament Course (7,159 yards, par 72). Sunday’s final round will be on the Dye Stadium Course.

The Stadium Course ranks No. 11 in California on Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play list for public-access layouts, with the Nicklaus Tournament Course ranked No. 25 on that list.

Thanks to yardage books provided by StrackaLine – the maker of detailed yardage books for thousands of courses around the world – we can see exactly the challenges the pros face this week. Check out the maps of each hole below.

Patrick Reed signs endorsement deal with PXG

The 2018 Masters champion started wearing a PXG hat and using a PXG driver this week at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Patrick Reed, the 2018 Masters champion and winner of two World Golf Championships, won the Farmers Insurance Open last year at Torrey Pines, earning him a spot in the field at this week’s Sentry Tournament of Champions. In the first PGA Tour event of 2022, Reed will tackle the Plantation Course at Kapalua in Hawaii armed with a new equipment sponsor.

On Thursday, PXG announced on social media that Reed is the newest member of the company’s “troops.” PXG refers to staffers as its troops, and Reed has been seen this week sporting a PXG hat and using PXG equipment.

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While PXG has yet to provide details of the deal, Reed was photographed Tuesday at Kapalua wearing a Grindworks hat. Grindworks is the maker of the irons that Reed used for the past few seasons. On Wednesday, Reed wore a hat with a PXG logo on the front and back with a Grindworks logo on the side, implying he intends to keep a relationship with the Japanese iron maker.

Reed has tinkered with PXG clubs in the past and is now listed on the company’s website. PXG said Reed will use a GEN4 driver (from $299 at pxg.com).

Among other PXG staff players are two-time major winner Zach Johnson, Joel Dahmen, Austin Ernst and Ryann O’Toole.

Check the yardage book: Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Orlando, Grande Lakes for the PNC Championship

Tiger Woods and 19 other pros will play with family members at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club.

The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Orlando, Grande Lakes – site of this week’s PNC Championship – was designed by Greg Norman and opened in 2003 less than 10 miles from Walt Disney World.

After pro-ams Thursday and Friday, 20 teams will compete in the tournament proper Saturday and Sunday. Originally named the Father-Son Challenge, the current format includes pro golfers partnered with either a parent or child. The main attraction will be the return of Tiger Woods to competitive golf as he pairs with son Charlie less than a year after a single-car crash in California left the 15-time major champion with significant injuries.

Grande Lakes will play at 7,122 yards with a par of 72 for the pros. Thanks to yardage books provided by Puttview – the maker of detailed yardage books for more than 30,000 courses around the world – we can see exactly the challenges the pros face this week. Check out the maps of each hole below.

The Future of ShotLink: More tours, more stats, more videos and fans in control

PGA Tour partners with Amazon to boost ShotLink capabilities while also developing an easier-to-use system that could work on for the LPGA.

Collin Morikawa was not walking the fairways at the Albany Golf Club or hanging out at the beach the Monday before the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ event in the Bahamas. He was 15 miles northwest of the Las Vegas Strip at TPC Summerlin, along with Michelle Wie West, Max Homa, Danielle Kang, Harry Higgs, David Duval, Graeme McDowell and a host of other PGA Tour and LPGA Tour players.

Caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay was there, too, as the emcee of the first AWS Golf Invitational, a corporate pro-am for Amazon Web Services and Deloitte VIPs in town for a massive conference. And all of them were about to become guinea pigs for new technology that potentially could change how golf fans watch and interact with the sport and data on multiple tours.

The PGA Tour is king of the mountain when it comes to collecting data from all the shots players hit during most Tour events. Using ShotLink, developed in 2003, the Tour can provide fans with detailed information about where players hit the ball, all in or close to real time. It’s an expensive system that requires a lot of boots on the ground to produce, and currently ShotLink is out of reach for the PGA Tour Champions, Korn Ferry Tour and the LPGA Tour.

Collin Morikawa
Collin Morikawa at TPC Summerlin (David Dusek/Golfweek)

To make similar data available beyond the PGA Tour, the Tour and its partners are working to develop a lighter, less-expensive shot-tracking and statistics platform for the Korn Ferry Tour and Champions Tour while simultaneously developing the next generation of ShotLink.

Enter Amazon Web Services and all those pros and pro-am guests at TPC Summerlin, site of the PGA Tour’s Shriners Children’s Open. They were part of a beta test of the new system, and I was the only reporter onsite to get a first look at a system that might revolutionize how golf fans are able to interact with the sport on multiple tours.

It’s all part of a plan to help the PGA Tour and other tours attract new viewers with enhanced engagement, either through a better, modernized ShotLink that utilizes Amazon’s vast computing network, or through a new alternative system that might best be described as ShotLink Lite. And fans already have been given a taste.

In March the PGA Tour announced it was entering a new partnership with AWS and gave golf lovers a preview. During the 2021 Players Championship – while another Tour partner, CDW, helped it gather data on the course – AWS powered Every Shot Live, an app that gave fans the ability to see every shot hit by each player in a tournament. That was more than 32,000 shots in real time, a massively complex data and computing job. AWS’ powerful cloud-based tools and infrastructure helped make it possible.

Check the yardage book: Albany for the Hero World Challenge

Ernie Els designed the course at Albany, which opened in 2010

Albany in New Providence, the Bahamas – site of this week’s Hero World Challenge – was designed by Ernie Els and opened in 2010. It is part of a 600-acre luxury resort community owned by a Tavistock group that includes Els, Tiger Woods, and Justin Timberlake.

Albany ties for No. 20 on the 2021 list of Golfweek’s Best Courses in Mexico, the Caribbean, the Atlantic islands, and Central America. It will play at 7,302 yards with a par of 72 for the Hero World Challenge.

Thanks to yardage books provided by Puttview – the maker of detailed yardage books for more than 30,000 courses around the world – we can see exactly the challenges the pros face this week. Check out the maps of each hole below.

Check the yardage book: Sea Island’s Seaside Course for the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic

Puttview’s hole-by-hole maps of Sea Island’s Seaside Course provide a peek at the challenges PGA Tour players face this week in Georgia.

Sea Island’s Seaside Course, site of this week’s RSM Classic on the PGA Tour, originally was laid out by famed designers Harry S. Colt and Charles Alison in 1929 and was redesigned by Tom Fazio in 1999.

The event also will be played on the resort’s Plantation Course, which was renovated by Davis Love III in 2019. The first two rounds will be split between the courses, with the final two rounds after the cut being played on Seaside.

The Seaside ranks as the No. 1 public-access layout in Georgia on Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play list for 2021, while the Plantation is No. 13 on that list. The Seaside also is No. 84 on Golfweek’s Best list of all modern courses built in or after 1960 in the U.S., with the Fazio renovation moving the layout from the ranks of classic courses built before 1960.

The Seaside will play to 7,005 yards with a par of 70 for the RSM Classic, while the Plantation will play to 7,060 yards with a par of 72.

Thanks to yardage books provided by Puttview – the maker of detailed yardage books for more than 30,000 courses around the world – we can see exactly the challenges that players face this week on the Seaside Course. Check out the maps of each hole below.

Check the yardage book: Memorial Park for the PGA Tour’s Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open

See the hole maps for the site of the PGA Tour’s Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open, where Tom Doak recently completed a renovation.

Memorial Park Golf Course in Houston, site of this week’s Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open on the PGA Tour, was recently renovated by architect Tom Doak. The municipal course ranks No. 20 on Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play list in Texas.

The original John Bredemus layout opened in 1936 and hosted the PGA Tour at various times in the 1940s through the 1960s, but it had become overgrown and shaggy while hosting 60,000 rounds a year. Doak in 2019 completed his $34-million renovation funded through a foundation headed by Houston Astros’ owner Jim Crane, and the Tour returned in 2020.

The course will be set up at 7,412 yards with a par of 70 for this week’s event. It normally tops out at 7,292 yards with a par of 72.

Thanks to yardage books provided by Puttview – the maker of detailed yardage books for more than 30,000 courses around the world – we can see exactly the challenges that players face this week. Check out the maps of each hole below.

European Tour sells naming rights for the circuit, to be called DP World Tour in 2022 season

The European Tour has sold its naming rights and will be known as the DP World Tour beginning in 2022.

The European Tour has a new name.

Beginning with the start of the 2022 season, its 50th year of existence, which begins at the Joburg Open in South Africa, from November 22-25, it will be known as the DP World Tour.

As a result of the title sponsorship, total prize money will exceed the $200 million mark for the first time (including majors and WGC’s and $140 million without them), with a new minimum prize fund of $2 million for all tournaments solely sanctioned by the DP World Tour. In addition, the DP World Tour Championship, the season finale and final Rolex Series tournament of 2022, will become the first European Tour event in history outside the majors and WGCs to feature an eight-figure prize fund ($10 million).

In 2022, the DP World Tour will feature a minimum of 47 tournaments in 27 different countries, including new tournaments in the UAE, Japan, South Africa and Belgium and an expanded Rolex Series comprising five events: the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, the Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic, the Genesis Scottish Open, the BMW PGA Championship and the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.

For the first time, it will also feature three tournaments co-sanctioned with the PGA Tour – the Genesis Scottish Open, as well as the Barbasol Championship and the Barracuda Championship taking place in the United States – as a result of the “Strategic Alliance” between male professional golf’s two leading Tours.

DP World, a provider of global smart end-to-end supply chain and logistics solutions headquartered in Dubai, first became associated with the European Tour as sponsor of its Race to Dubai in 2009, before the Rolex Series event was renamed the DP World Tour Championship in 2012. It was in this year that DP World became the tournament’s title partner. DP World then became an official partner of the European Tour in 2015.

“The DP World Tour is a natural evolution of our decade-long partnership, and the presence of ‘World’ in our new title better reflects our global reach.,” said Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour group.

Added Jay Monahan, Commissioner of the PGA Tour and board member of the European Tour: “Our respective Tours are positioned to grow – together – over the next 10 years faster than we ever have at any point in our existence, and today’s announcement is another point of proof in those efforts.”

To view the full 2022 schedule, please click here.

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Eamon Lynch: Why aren’t women criticized like the men for taking Saudi money? It’s need vs. greed.

The silence that greeted the Ladies European Tour playing in Saudi Arabia this week reflects a couple of realities.

The silence that greeted the Ladies European Tour playing in Saudi Arabia this week—at least relative to the censure faced by men who do the same—reflects two realities: the inattention given women’s golf in general and the LET in particular, and the principle that everyone bails water on a sinking ship.

The inaugural Saudi Ladies International in 2020 was the first professional women’s sporting event held in the kingdom. It’s $1 million prize fund commands attention on a tour where many purses are under $250,000, and where the woman ranked 10th on the money list has earned less than $160,000 this year. Compare that to the LPGA tour, where the equivalent paltry purses are five times as lucrative (many ten times so) and where 10th on the money list is good for $1.1 million.

Such gloomy financials means that a regime eager to use sports for a blackguardly agenda—say, to launder a reputation for human rights abuses and genocidal mania—could essentially buy the LET for a fraction of what one male superstar might demand to join a Super League. Thus, Saudi Arabia has invested $5 million in eight tournaments on the ’21 LET schedule, the same amount they offered men for one event, the Saudi International. Toss in the cost of lucrative appearance fees and chartered aircraft lavished on golfers with a Y chromosome, and the kingdom could make the LET a formidable entity. But that would require the recent Saudi interest in golf to be motivated by noble or even commercial objectives rather than simply distracting from unpleasant facts.

Alexandra Armas, the pragmatic CEO of the LET, went with those willing to pay her members, even if she’s determined to dress it up in platitudes about growing the game among Saudi women.

“The reaction we got last year blew everyone’s mind,” Armas said this week. “It just made sense to come back to do it again and to keep building on that and I think that is what we will be doing going forward. Golf Saudi has big plans for the women’s game. Although we’re only at the beginning, it’s been a fast trajectory.”

Nichols: Solheim Cup stars set to compete in Saudi Arabia, where women fight for basic freedoms

Executioner’s blades have a pretty fast trajectory too, but Armas didn’t detour into that cul-de-sac. However, she did go on to talk up gender equality, a dissonant moment that called to mind Adlai Stevenson’s famous crack about Richard Nixon chopping down a redwood then mounting the stump to give a conservation speech.

Even if the LET’s leadership can’t afford to look beyond money, some players can. I asked Meghan MacLaren, twice a winner on the tour, why she skipped the Saudi stop, as she did last year too. “It doesn’t take a lot of research to infer what the purpose of these events, and others across all sports, truly is,” she replied, referencing the widespread accusations of Saudi sportswashing. “I would like to be wrong but while that remains the case, being a part of it makes me incredibly uncomfortable. It doesn’t fit with the values I have.”

Professional sport has always been an enterprise marked by unsavory alliances and deals with the despicable. That’s especially true in its more gritty and underfunded precincts, where few athletes can afford to stand on principle because principles don’t pay rent. The Saudis understand that calculus. When it comes to the LET, they depend on it.

”It is apparent that things aren’t slowing down, particularly in women’s golf,” MacLaren said. “Whatever any of our thoughts on that are, it is not a black and white issue, particularly when it starts to affect such a big part of players’ careers.”

MacLaren’s moral compass points us to the key factor that differentiates women who compete in Saudi Arabia from men who do the same, and even moreso from the guys who would sign on to a breakaway Super Golf League concept: need versus greed.

There are 166 players on the official LET money list for 2021. With just two events left in the season, 97 of those women have failed to earn €20,000 (or about $23,000) in prize money, A solo 45th place finish this week on the PGA Tour pays more, and plenty of guys competing at Mayakoba will burn as much in private jet fuel before clearing Mexican airspace. So is it reasonable to apply the same standard to golfers who can’t afford to make a moral decision on where to play as we do to those who can?

It’s pointless to fault LET members and executives for pursuing pitifully scarce cash, or the Saudis for their opportunism. And it’s simplistic to argue that a tour which can only survive on financing by despots is unworthy of saving, or that LET members ought to just play better and make it to the LPGA tour. The most effective defense against this Saudi sportswashing lies in replacing the current splintered, vulnerable model with a unified, global women’s tour and robust feeder circuit. In short, hastening what has long been economically inevitable. The creation of such a tour should be aided by the logistical, financial and commercial might of the PGA and European tours.

The Saudis are vowing to vast sums of money to force a radical realignment in men’s golf. Their $5 million in loose change should—albeit unintentionally—help spur an altogether more positive one in the women’s game too.

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