Golf notebook: PGA Championship mulls international move

Tom LaMarre, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

--The PGA of America is considering holding the PGA Championship, the final major of the year, outside the United States for the first time in the next decade, according to a report in Golf Digest.
The PGA was first contested in 1916 and was played in the United States every year since, except 1917 and 1918 because of World War I, and 1943 because of World War II.
"This is an exercise we are going through, an analysis," PGA chief executive officer Pete Bevacqua told Golf Digest. "It is far from a fait accompli that we are going to take the PGA Championship international.
"When we sat down to map our strategic plan to service our members and grow the game, the question arose as to what impact it would have to take the PGA Championship to an international location once or twice a decade."
The PGA Championship will be played next year at Valhalla Country Club in Louisville, Ky., and the venue is set for the tournament every year through 2019.
The other sites will be Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis., in 2015; Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., in 2016; Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C., in 2017; Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis in 2018, and Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, N.Y., in 2019.
"We need to push ourselves to think outside the box," Bevacqua said. "What I have said internally is, 'Shame on us if we don't consider it and go through the exercise.' ...
"It would be something we would only do if we had the cooperation of quite a few groups. It would need to work for the PGA Tour, and it would need to work for the PGA Tour players."
The only one of the four majors played outside the United States is the Open Championship, the oldest golf tournament in the world, which is played in the United Kingdom.
Brian Thorburn, chief executive officer of the PGA of Australia, was the first and probably not the last golf official to offer his country as a possible site for the PGA Championship.
--Following rest and treatment after the Presidents Cup, Tigers Woods recently said his back is no longer an issue. Back problems plagued him for several months, keeping him out of a few tournaments.
"My back feels great," said Woods, who doesn't plan to play in any of the six PGA Tour events before the end of the year in the new wraparound schedule.
"I took a week off. I've trained this week. I've gotten a bunch of treatment. I just did a clinic ... and felt fantastic. It's just about doing all the mundane things, the little rehab treatments. Sometimes it can be mundane, but they work over time."
Woods will play three times competitively before the end of the year.
On Oct. 28, he will play an 18-hole exhibition match against Rory McIlroy on the Blackstone Course at Mission Hills Country Club in Haiku, China. Woods also will play in the Turkish Airlines Open on the Montgomerie Maxx Royal Course in Belek, Turkey, from Nov. 7-10.
Woods will finish the year by playing in the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, which benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation, from Dec. 5-8 at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
He is expected to start his 2014 season when he defends his title in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, Calif.
--Davis Love III, who will turn 50 next year during Masters week in April, said the Champions Tour is not in his plans, for now.
Love has lifetime membership on the PGA Tour, thanks to his 20 career victories on the circuit, and he is going to keep teeing it up with the young guns as long as he can.
"I know (the Champions Tour is) coming, but I'm not ready for it," said Love, who two weeks ago began his 29th season on the PGA Tour with a tie for 62nd in the Open, starting with 69-69 before playing the weekend in 71-74.
"When I'm scratching to make cuts, when I don't feel like I can win, that's when I'll go over. Luckily I'm exempt, as long as I can shoot decent scores. I'm not going to stay over here and take up a spot. I'll be honest with myself. You'll be honest with me."
Love missed three months of the 2013 season following neck surgery, and he finished out of the top 100 on the money list for the first time. His only top-10 finish was a tie for ninth in the Greenbrier Classic.
Despite battling injuries the past few seasons, Love still drives the ball as far as the biggest hitters. He averaged 308.6 yards off the tee at CordeValle Golf Club, ranking 15th in the field during the Frys.
Because of his length, he could remain competitive on the PGA Tour after turning 50, the way Vijay Singh, Kenny Perry and Fred Couples have and still do on occasion.
"If I was an average hitter or a short hitter, I'd be waiting for my birthday," said Love, whose last victory came in the 2008 Children's Miracle Network Classic. "But I'm still excited about playing out here. ...
"You've got to pick one or the other. You're either going to chase FedEx Cup points and Ryder Cup points, or you're going to chase Charles Schwab Cup points. And right now, I'm going to chase (the former)."
Love said to check back with him sometime next year.
--Tianlang Guan, who this year became the youngest golfer to play in the Masters at age 14, then made the cut, is gearing up for a possible return trip to Augusta National.
Guan will defend his title this week in the Asia-Pacific Amateur at Nanshan International Golf Club in Shandong, China, with the winner earning an invitation to the Masters.
"I think all of the Chinese people are happy for me, and I think more and more people know about golf in China," said Guan, who beat Pan Cheng-tsung of Taiwan by one stroke in the Asia-Pacific Amateur last year. "And more people know about the Masters, and I think it means a lot to the young players in China and they think probably the Masters is not that far away from them.
"After winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur last year and getting into the Masters, it gives me more confidence for myself. I learned so much. I don't feel much more pressure this time. I think (the Asia-Pacific Amateur) is still the greatest amateur event in the world, so I really hope to win it again. I feel like I am playing well, and (if) I'm having a really good week, I can win again."
One thing Guan learned was to pick up the pace after he was assessed a two-stroke penalty for slow play during the Masters.
He also put away his long putter, going with a conventional-length club well ahead of the 2016 mandate by the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews and the United States Golf Association against anchored putters.
"I didn't think it's too much different and which one is better," said Guan, who turns 15 on Oct. 25, when he will be playing the second round of the Asia-Pacific Amateur.
"I think I changed ... probably a month ago, and I think, I wish, I can putt even better."
Guan played in four other PGA Tour events this year. He made the cut in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans but failed to make it to the weekend in three others.
--Even though Jack Nicklaus was involved in the design of nearly 300 golf courses, relatively few of them bear his name.
The Golden Bear recently visited the newest that does, Nicklaus Club-Monterey, formerly Pasadera Country Club in Monterey, Calif., for the official launch of the club under its new name.
"It's nice, especially in this area which everyone knows I like," said Nicklaus, who won U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open and three Crosby-Pebble Beach National Pro-Ams on the Monterey Peninsula.
"To have your name on a club, one you did and one you're proud of ... it's flattering to have been asked to have my name associated with it."
The name change was made by Nicklaus-China, part of the Nicklaus Companies partnership group, which is growing the game in Asia by assisting developers of golf courses and residential developments.
Nicklaus Club-Monterey is the first Nicklaus-China collaboration in the United States.
"It's huge," said Jimmy Han, chief executive officer of Nicklaus-China. "Jack is a legend in the sport, and as much admiration and respect as he gets in America, you can't imagine the respect and admiration he gets in China."
Nicklaus said the idea is for Nicklaus Club-Monterey to be a meeting place between Chinese and U.S. business, and added that Nicklaus Club-Beijing is one of the most successful ventures in China.
The course at Pasadera Country Club was designed by Nicklaus and opened in 2000.
"We haven't changed the landscape to accommodate the golf course, but rather we have adapted the golf course to complement what Mother Nature has already created," Nicklaus said when the course was created. "By doing so, we have given players an opportunity to experience the truly unique qualities of golf on the Monterey Peninsula."
The course measures 6,811 yards from the back tees and plays to a par of 71. The layout blends with the natural surroundings of hills, canyons and oak groves, having the feel of classic courses in the British Isles.
The elevation change of about 375 feet on the property provides golfers with spectacular views.