Morikawa the latest to express no interest in Saudi league
LOS ANGELES (AP) — When it comes to the threat of a rival league, the list of players keeps growing. British Open champion Collin Morikawa, the No. 2 player in the world, is the latest to say he’s not interested.
“As it goes to the Saudi stuff, I’m all for the PGA Tour,” Morikawa said Tuesday.
Morikawa said the threat of guaranteed Saudi riches to play in a super league of 54-hole events with no cuts has allowed the PGA Tour to explore what it can be doing better. He likes some of the changes. He doesn’t like some others, most notably the Player Impact Program geared more toward popularity than pure performance.
But he grew up knowing only the PGA Tour and records he wanted to pursue — most involving Tiger Woods, most probably untouchable — and that’s what has his interest.
“Right now you look at the best players that I see and they’re all sticking with the PGA Tour and that’s where I kind of stay and that’s where I belong,” Morikawa said.
Jon Rahm, the No. 1 player in the world, has been forceful about his desire to stay on the PGA Tour. Ditto for Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka.
Morikawa said it was prudent for him to at least listen to what was on the table. All he found was talk without details.
“If there were more details, maybe I would have thought about it more, maybe I would have given it more of a decision and I would have had to sit down and ask more questions,” he said. “But it’s hard to ask questions when you’re not getting answers, either.”
Meanwhile, no one has publicly signed up amid a swirl of rumors. In that respect, Morikawa is as curious as anyone to see which player will be the first.
“What are they waiting for? I don’t know,” Morikawa said.
A WINNER’S PERSPECTIVE
Winning on the PGA Tour is difficult. No one disputes that. Scottie Scheffler can only wonder if he made it seem harder than it really was.
Scheffler has had his share of chances, whether it was in Bermuda or the California desert, the Houston Open or the Memorial.
“I think at certain points in some of those final rounds I’d make a few mistakes and maybe get down a little bit,” Scheffler said Tuesday, two days after his playoff victory over Patrick Cantlay in the Phoenix Open. “I wouldn’t say I felt out of it last week, but I just kept telling myself there’s going to be bumps in the road and I gave myself on Sunday way too many bumps.”
He had four bogeys in the final round. With that leaderboard, those are some serious bumps. He also made eight birdies, four of them over the last six holes of regulation.
“If you would told me a year ago that I would be making those kind of mistakes and been able to still win the golf tournament, I would have been pretty surprised,” he said. “But I guess I proved a little bit to myself that it doesn’t take perfect golf and it’s more about coming back from the mistakes than it is just kind of cruising the entire time.”
As if his three victories worldwide, his second major and first World Golf Championship title were not enough, Collin Morikawa has another piece of evidence to illustrate why his 2021 was arguably the best year in golf.
The annual “World of Professional Golf” compiles a world money list of earnings from every official tour around the world. It does not include bonuses, whether it be the FedEx Cup or the PIP variety. On earnings alone, Morikawa ranked No. 1 at $11,262,648.
Not only is that the seventh-highest total in history, it was a whopping $4.1 million more than Sam Burns in second place.
As for the all-time record, that still belongs to Tiger Woods in 2006 when he won just over $13.3 million. Woods also has the second-highest total ($12.9 million in 2007) and the fourth-highest total ($12.2 million in 2005). Jordan Spieth earned $12.47 million in 2015, the third-highest total. The only other two players ahead of Morikawa were Vijay Singh in 2004 ($11.6 million) and Rory McIlroy in 2012 ($11.3 million).
Of course, increases in prize money counts for something. The World of Professional Golf, founded by the late Mark McCormack, began keeping tabs of a world money list in 1966. Jack Nicklaus won that year with $168,088.
US OPEN QUALIFYING
The U.S. Open is taking its final stage of qualifying to new courses in old places.
The biggest 36-hole qualifier is in Columbus, Ohio, on the Monday after the Memorial. Instead of going to the The Lakes and Brookside, the two courses will be Kinsale Golf and Fitness Club and Wedgewood Golf and Country Club.
The Dallas qualifier is May 23, which is the Monday after the PGA Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and before the Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas. It moves this year to Lakewood Country Club and Royal Oaks.
The U.S. Open is June 16-19 at The Country Club.
Asia will have a qualifier in Japan, while Canada will have one on the Monday of the RBC Canadian Open.
For the second time since qualifying resumed after the pandemic, England will not have a qualifier because of travel concerns. Instead, there will be an aggregate points system based on four European tour events leading up to the Open. The USGA did not mention the tournament. If it follows last year’s schedule, they would be the British Masters, the new Soudal Open in Belgium, the KLM Open and the European Open in Germany.
Entries open on Feb. 23 and close on April 13. The first of 109 local qualifiers over 18 holes starts on April 25.
THE HIGHLAND PARK HIGH
Sunday was a big day for alumni of Highland Park High School in Dallas. Scottie Scheffler won his first PGA Tour event at the WM Phoenix Open, and about four hours later, Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams won the Super Bowl.
This was 15 months after the Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series with another Highland Park alum, Clayton Kershaw.
That’s some heady company for Scheffler, even if he really doesn’t know them.
“I’ve never met either of them,” Scheffler said. “I think Clayton and I have a charity deal next week at home so I’ll probably meet him then, but I haven’t met either of those guys. It was great. A lot of people in Dallas were pretty happy, so definitely a great Sunday for most of us.”
Ty Votaw is retiring from the PGA Tour in June after a 30-year career in the golf industry that includes his seven years as commissioner of the LPGA Tour and his role at the PGA Tour highlighted by his work getting golf back into the Olympics. His current role is executive vice president of international affairs. ... The Irish Open is approaching a century of history and now has a sponsorship that will make sure it gets there. The alliance between the European and PGA Tours engineered a deal for Dublin-based Horizon Therapeutics to be the title partner of the Irish Open for the next six years, starting this summer at Mount Juliet. The prize money doubles to $6 million. ... Wake Forest sophomore Michael Brenna won the Collegiate Showcase at Riviera to earn a spot in the field at the Genesis Invitational.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Scottie Scheffler at No. 15 in the world was the highest-ranked player to win on the PGA Tour since Rory McIlroy (No. 14) at the CJ Cup in Las Vegas last October.
“They were throwing things at me, so I throw something back to them.” — Carlos Ortiz, on why he threw his golf ball into the crowd after making a hole-in-one on the 16th hole in the final round of the Phoenix Open.