After playing in the Cadence Bank Houston Open this week, the PGA Tour closes the year at The RSM Classic at Sea Island Resort on Saint Simons Island, Georgia, on Nov. 17-20.
The LPGA will end its season with two stops in Florida: this week’s Pelican Women’s Championship outside Tampa and the CME Group Tour Championship, scheduled for Nov. 17-20 in Naples.
Thankfully, that won’t be the only professional golf played between now and New Year’s Day. On Monday, the latest edition of The Match was announced. The made-for-TV competition will include four of the game’s biggest names: Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy vs. Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. They’ll play 12 holes under the lights at Pelican Golf Club in Belleair, Florida, on Dec. 10.
Hopefully, golf fans will get to see Woods play before then. He’s hosting the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas on Dec. 1-4. The initial field includes many of the best players in the world, including Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele, Jon Rahm, Thomas and Spieth. Woods hasn’t yet said whether he intends to compete in the Bahamas. Three spots remain open in the field.
Woods might also play in the PNC Championship, scheduled Dec. 15-18 in Orlando, with his son, Charlie, but hasn’t yet confirmed if he’ll participate. Woods and his son finished second in the event last year.
Here’s what to watch in professional golf this week:
What’s next on the PGA Tour?
Cadence Bank Houston Open
Where: Memorial Park Golf Course, Houston
Defending champion: Jason Kokrak
Purse: $8.4 million
Three storylines to watch:
Scheffler goes for No. 1: Scheffler, the reigning Masters champion, can regain the Official World Golf Rankings’ top spot from McIlroy with a victory or solo second at the Houston Open. He had the 54-hole lead and tied for second in Houston last year, 2 shots behind Kokrak, who won’t be around to defend his title because he’s now playing on the LIV Golf circuit.
After a forgettable performance at the Presidents Cup (he went 0-3-1 at Quail Hollow) and a tie for 45th at The CJ Cup, Scheffler rolled it better at Mayakoba last week. He carded a 9-under 62 in the final round and tied for third. For whatever reason, Scheffler ditched the putter he used to win four times last season and experimented with a new one. He went back to the old one on the weekend and putted much better. The Houston Open will be Scheffler’s final PGA Tour start of 2022.
“Rankings are great; it was definitely fun being No. 1 in the world,” Scheffler told reporters in Mexico. “It’s definitely something I hope to get back to, but it’s not something that’s going to occupy a lot of my thoughts.”
Hook ’em: Two sponsor exemptions in Houston went to Cole Hammer and Travis Vick, who teamed up to help Texas win the 2022 NCAA championship. Vick, a senior from Houston, is the 11th-ranked player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. Vick was the low amateur at the U.S. Open this summer, tying for 43rd at 8 over. He missed the cut at Mayakoba last week after an opening-round 80. Hammer, who is also from Houston, qualified for the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay when he was 15. On Monday, Hammer just missed finishing in the top 40 and ties of the final stage of Korn Ferry Tour Q School, which would have assured him starts in the first eight events next season.
All hail the champs: The World Series trophy will undoubtedly be on site at the Houston Open this week. Houston Astros owner Jim Crane established the Astros Golf Foundation in 2018 to ensure that a PGA Tour event remained in the city. In 2019, the foundation spent $34 million to renovate the Memorial Park Golf Course, a municipal course in the heart of Houston, and other facilities. Architect Tom Doak rebuilt the course; four-time major champion Brooks Koepka was a consultant. The Houston Open returned to Memorial Park in 2020 after nearly a six-decade absence. Houston residents can play the course for $30 on weekdays.
What’s next on the LPGA Tour?
Pelican Women’s Championship
Where: Pelican Golf Club, Belleair, Florida
Defending champion: Nelly Korda
Purse: $2 million
Three storylines to watch:
Loaded field: The next-to-last event of the LPGA season will include a star-studded field, including seven of the top 10 and 15 of the top 25 players in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings: Jin Young Ko (2), Lydia Ko (3), Korda (4), Brooke Henderson (6), Lexi Thompson (7), In Gee Chun (8), Hyo Joo Kim (9), Jennifer Kupcho (11), Celine Boutier (13), Sei Young Kim (14), Xiyu Lin (15), Hye-Jin Choi (19), Hannah Green (20), Leona Maguire (21) and Ayaka Furue (22). Last season, Korda rebounded from a triple bogey on the 17th hole and made a 21-foot birdie on the 18th to force a four-way playoff. She made a 23-footer on the first playoff to win for the seventh time in her LPGA career.
Lincicome’s return: Two-time Chevron Championship winner Brittany Lincicome will make her LPGA return from maternity leave. She hasn’t played since missing the cut at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in late June. She competed on the LPGA Tour until she was 33 weeks pregnant. Her daughter, Sophia, was born in early August. “Just slowly getting back to it,” Lincicome said last week. “Obviously a little bit rusty, but I’m hoping it’s like riding a bike and it’s just going to come right back to me.” At least the Tampa, Florida, resident will get to sleep at home this week.
Sorenstam’s event: Starting next year, the Pelican Women’s Championship will be called The Annika driven by Gainbridge at Pelican and will be hosted by World Golf Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam, a 10-time major champion. The purse for the growing event is expected to be elevated, and tournament organizers are hoping it becomes the Arnold Palmer Invitational of women’s professional golf.
“This is going to be her baby, and that has never happened on the LPGA Tour really with any LPGA player,” Pelican Women’s Championship executive director Marci Doyle said. “We’re excited to create that, maybe set that template in the game and take everything to a new level. Again, it’s all about how do we do it better? I would say that was a pretty good one. We’re excited.”
Inside the Official World Golf Ranking
Current rank: 9
Previous rank: 10
It’s the reigning U.S. Open champion’s best ranking of his PGA Tour career. He has made only one PGA Tour start this season, tying for 13th at The CJ Cup.
Current rank: 16
Previous rank: 18
Homa and his wife, Lacey, welcomed their first child, Cam, on Oct. 30. Fortunately for the rest of us, daddy duties haven’t cut down his time on Twitter.
I just set an alarm for 4:16am. I should ideally be up by 4:15 but that extra minute sounds glorious https://t.co/iNnOMNnf8e
— max homa (@maxhoma23) November 1, 2022
Current rank: 24
Previous rank: 38
Harman finished solo second at Mayakoba, 4 shots behind Henley, another former Georgia star. Harman and Henley are the first pair from the same college to win and finish runner-up at the same PGA Tour event since Patrick Reed and Henrik Norlander (Augusta University) at the 2021 Farmers Insurance Open.
Current rank: 33
Previous rank: 59
After so many near-misses, Henley got it done on Sunday for a 4-stroke victory at Mayakoba. It was his fourth PGA Tour victory and first since the 2017 Houston Open. He had previously won only once in six starts when he had a lead or share of the lead after 54 holes.
Current rank: 65
Previous rank: 68
The PGA Tour rookie is a top-15 machine. He tied for 10th at Mayakoba, his fifth top-15 finish in as many starts. The former UNLV star is ninth in the FedEx Cup standings. He ranks seventh on tour in birdie average (5.1), third in shots gained: putting (1.689) and 12th in shots gained: total (1.972).
Current ranking: 10
Previous ranking: 9
It hasn’t been a great year for the two-time major champion, mostly because of his shaky putter. He took exception to comments made by Trevor Immelman about his struggles to keep up with early success. Immelman meant it as a compliment; Morikawa wasn’t sure it was.
“Wow, that’s hard to hear from him. Yeah, I could care less what he says there, ’cause I don’t think that’s my bar,” Morikawa told the Golf Channel. “I think I have got so much more to improve. I have been near last on putting; I don’t think I have even finished close to being average in putting, and if I just get my putting to be average I think there is so much more to improve. I don’t know. I don’t know where that came from, but it kind of stings there. I don’t like to hear that.”
Current ranking: 35
Previous ranking: 31
Johnson, LIV Golf’s inaugural individual champion and captain of its team champion, has about 35 million reasons not to worry about his OWGR position being at its lowest since 2010. He won more than $35 million in purses and bonuses with LIV Golf.
Current ranking: 124
Previous ranking: 117
The former world No. 1 golfer was ranked 71st after playing in his last PGA Tour event at the AT&T Byron Nelson. The Englishman tied for 13th at the DP World Tour’s BMW PGA Championship.
Current ranking: 160
Previous ranking: 155
Like other LIV golfers, Mickelson’s world ranking continues to plummet. It’s Lefty’s lowest ranking since he was 168th in January 1993.
On the record
It was a good weekend for the Georgia Bulldogs. The UGA football team knocked off No. 1 Tennessee 27-13 at Sanford Stadium to take control of the SEC East. Two former Georgia stars also finished 1-2 in the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba in Mexico. Henley won for the first time since 2017, and Harman finished 4 strokes behind him. Harman, a two-time winner on tour, spoke to ESPN on Monday.
Q: I guess if you have to lose, it’s good to do it against another former Georgia player?
A: Russell has been playing some really good golf. He got close in Hawaii last year. I’ve played with him several times and his game has always been really good. He’s won four times out here. The guy’s got the pedigree, and I don’t think he gets near the respect he deserves as far as how good his game is.
Q: What was working for you in Mexico?
A: That course has always eaten my lunch. I think my best finish there before this week was probably in the 20s or 30s. I’ve been hitting the ball much better over the last six months than I have historically on tour. I think being able to hit a few more of those greens kept me out of the trouble that place will get you into. That course should set up good for me, but it hasn’t in the past because I missed too many greens.
Q: How did you celebrate your solo second?
A: I got back from Mexico late Sunday night and was on a tractor at my farm by 9:45 a.m. on Monday morning. It’s just the way I kind of disappear. I put my headphones on and work on the piece of property and try to get it just right. It keeps me from practicing for a few days at least.
Q: Were you able to watch Georgia’s win over Tennessee on Saturday?
A: I rushed home from the course on Saturday and got to watch most of the third and fourth quarters. I was checking my phone on the back nine on Saturday. I couldn’t help myself. I could even tell on my phone that it was going to go our way.
Q: Were you concerned about the Volunteers going into the game?
A: I flip-flopped back-and-forth. I couldn’t figure out if Tennessee had 2019 LSU vibes or if they were like Georgia teams from the Mark Richt era. Thankfully, it was the latter.
Q: How nice is it to wrap up the 2022 calendar year near home at The RSM Classic at Sea Island in two weeks?
A: I get to sleep in my own bed, and Sea Island is obviously a place that is near and dear to me. Being able to end the year on a good note and play a place I’m very familiar with is good. I’ll have some family and friends come out to watch me, so it’s a pretty special tournament.
Q: Your family has gotten a little bigger, right?
A: Our son, Jack, is almost 3½ months old. It’s been a logistical challenge, but he has been an absolute blessing. He has been incredible. My daughter, Cooper, is 6 and Walter, my first son, is 4½. It’s a lot of fun.