Golf notebook: LPGA adds season-long points race

The SportsXchange

--The LPGA Tour is entering the chase.

Seeing the results of the season-long FedEx Cup race on the PGA Tour and the Race to Dubai on the European Tour, the women's circuit followed suit by announcing the Race to the CME Globe, a season-long points competition that will have a $1 million prize going to the winner.

"The addition of this concept fundamentally connects every event on our tour and promises big things in 2014 and beyond," commissioner Michael Whan said. "The stakes have risen dramatically and the excitement level goes up for our players and each of our tournaments. ...

"An additional million dollars, even if you're the No. 1 money winner on the LPGA, is more than meaningful. It can really make a difference."

The Race to the CME Globe will begin with the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic on Jan. 23-26 at the Ocean Club Golf Course on Paradise Island in the Bahamas.

The Pure Silk will be the first of 32 events on the LPGA Tour, up from 23 in 2011.

Tournament winners will earn 500 points in the standings, with that figure bumped to 625 for the five LPGA Tour majors. For tournaments with a cut, all players who reach the weekend will earn points. In tournaments without a cut, the top 40 and ties will earn points.

At the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, which features the tour's smallest field with only 36 players, points will be awarded to players who finish in the top 20 and ties.

After the Ochoa, the penultimate event on the schedule, the top 72 players in the point standings will advance to the CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla., on Nov. 20-23.

--Matt Fitzpatrick, the first Englishman since 1911 to capture the United States Amateur Championship, surprised many when he withdrew from Northwestern after one semester on campus.

The 19-year-old, who is the No. 1-ranked amateur in the world, returned home to England and did not say if he has any immediate plans to turn pro.

"I very much enjoyed my experience at Northwestern," Fitzpatrick, who lives in Sheffield, England, said in statement released by Northwestern. "Based on the opportunities I have right now from a golf perspective, I feel it is important to dedicate 100 percent of my time to the game and have decided to withdraw from university in the U.S. ...

"I very much enjoyed my experience at Northwestern. The people, the school and the great city of Chicago all exceeded my expectations."

In addition to winning the U.S. Amateur last summer at the Country Club in Brookline, Mass., Fitzpatrick earned the Silver Medal as low amateur by finishing in a tie for 44th in the Open Championship at Muirfield.

Fitzpatrick shared medalist honors at the Rod Myers Invitational with teammate Jack Perry, finished third in the Windon Memorial hosted by Northwestern and tied for 15th in the Gifford Collegiate in his three fall events for the Wildcats.

"The surprising part for us was how much his family valued education and how important it was to them during the recruitment at Northwestern," said coach Pat Goss, who also coached Luke Donald at Northwestern and is credited for helping Donald become one of the best short-game players in the world. "His family and Matt had nothing but espoused the value of education here. ...

"Having Matt Fitzpatrick was a positive experience. We recruited a player who was the 11th-ranked player in the world at the time, and he went on and achieved great things. We wish Matt nothing but the best and appreciate the time he was here."

As long as he remains an amateur, Fitzpatrick has exemptions this year into the Masters, the U.S. Open at Pinehurst and the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.

--Justin Rose, the reigning U.S. Open champion, withdrew from his first two events of 2014 because of a mild case of tendinitis in his right shoulder, his management company announced.

Rose was scheduled to play in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship this week and the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, Calif.

"Doctor's reports are positive, but with rest and rehab as the only means of recovery, he will be forced to delay his start to the 2014 calendar season," according to a statement released by Excel Sports Management. "With this necessary time to heal, Justin likely will return to action in February."

Rose complained of the injury late last year, even though he played well, tying for 10th in the DP World Tour Championship-Dubai, finishing solo fifth in the WGC-HSBC Champions in China and tying for seventh in the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa.

--Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland was selected by the Golf Writers Association of America to receive the 2014 ASAP Sports/Jim Murray Award for his accommodation to the media.

The award is named for the late Jim Murray, considered by many to be the greatest sportswriter of all time, who was an award-winning columnist for the Los Angeles Times from 1961 until his death in 1998.

"I take my relationship with the media very seriously," said McDowell, who captured the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. "I'm pretty honest to a fault at times. It's very important to me.

"You guys give us exposure globally. You're a very important cog in the whole golf -- and sports -- machine. It's important -- good, bad or ugly -- to give you an idea of what's going on in my head and with my game."

Ken Duke, who claimed his first PGA Tour victory last year in the Travelers Championship at the age of 44, was selected the winner of the Ben Hogan Award for remaining active in golf despite a physical disability.

Duke has a 16-inch metal rod attached to his spine, surgically placed there when he was 15 due to scoliosis. He played high school golf with a back brace, turned pro in 1994 and played all over the world before qualifying for the PGA Tour in 2004, winning the Travelers in his 187th start on the circuit.

Rhonda Glenn, 67, who served in the communications department of the United States Golf Association for 47 years before her retirement last summer, will receive the William D. Richardson Award for making outstanding contributions to golf.

Glenn wrote several books, including "The Illustrated History of Women's Golf" and "Breaking the Mold," the story of Judy Bell, the first woman to be president of the USGA.

The awards will be presented on April 9 at the annual GWAA Awards Dinner in Augusta, Ga., the night before the start of the Masters.

--Greg Norman withdrew from the Humana Challenge this week in the Southern California desert because of a lingering right knee injury.

Norman is scheduled to see his orthopedic surgeon, Dr. James Bradley of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, next week.

"I was very excited about competing in the Humana Challenge and supporting the Clinton Foundation and my corporate partners, and I'm extremely disappointed that my condition has forced me to withdraw from the event," Norman said in a release.

The 58-year-old Norman, who captured the Open Championship in 1986 at Turnberry and in 1993 at Royal St. George's, played in the Humana two years ago, withdrawing midway through round three at 1-over-par for the day after posting scores of 72-71.

The man known as the Great White Shark also missed the cut at the 2012 Mayakoba Classic. He has not played on the Champions Tour since missing the cut by one stroke in the 2012 Senior Open Championship at Turnberry with a score of 72-77--149.

--Peter Kostis, on-course commentator for CBS Sports, announced on Twitter that he beat colon cancer and he would return to televised golf coverage next week for the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, Calif.

The 67-year-old underwent surgery last June and missed CBS' coverage of the PGA Championship in August.

"To all my followers who sent thoughts and prayers this past year, THANK YOU! Final scan today was cancer free and I'm back on CBS at San Diego," Kostis said in his message on Twitter.

Last August, he encouraged golf fans to get a colonoscopy exam.

"I am currently home recovering from successful surgery for colon cancer," Kostis said in a statement. "It was detected early during a regular physical and colonoscopy. My great team of doctors in Phoenix will be putting me through preventative chemotherapy. Because of early detection the prognosis for a full recovery is excellent. I had zero symptoms or family history. I urge everyone, if you are over 50 get a regular colonoscopy exam whether you think you need one or not."

Kostis also is a renowned golf instructor who has been a member of Golf Digest's teaching staff for more than 20 years. Among his students are Paul Casey, Chez Reavie, Bernhard Langer and Steve Elkington.

Gary McCord, another CBS commentator and a former PGA Tour pro, is Kostis' partner in the Grayhawk Learning Center at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.

--Hideki Matsuyama of Japan withdrew from the Sony Open in Hawaii last week because of a lingering left wrist injury that has sidelined him since he captured the Casio Open in November.

The 21-year-old played in the Sony pro-am before telling a group of Japanese journalists that he would not play in the tournament because his wrist had not healed.

Matsuyama explained that he was concerned about the wrist even before coming to Hawaii, but he made the trip anyway and felt obligated to at least play in the pro-am because the Sony Open granted him sponsor's exemptions each of the past two years.

Matsuyama, the first rookie to win the Japan Golf Tour money title, was No. 23 in the World Golf Rankings last week after winning four times on the Japan Golf Tour last year and five times overall.

His best finish on the PGA Tour is a tie for third in the Open in October.

Matsuyama played in the last three majors of 2013, tying for 10th in the U.S. Open at Merion, tying for sixth in the Open Championship at Muirfield and tying for 19th in the PGA Championship at Oak Hill.

He gave no timetable for his return.
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