BOB WEST ON GOLF — PGA Tour set to rev up 2022 schedule in Hawaii

Published 12:07 am Wednesday, January 5, 2022

For those missing their golf fix on TV, the PGA Tour’s six-week off-season ends Thursday with the winner’s only Sentry Tournament of Champions teeing off at the Plantation Course in Kapalua. Only Rory McIlroy among 40 tourney champs from 2021 is not in the field.

Although some players come in a bit rusty after being away from the game over the holidays, the TOC is almost always a fun watch. The Plantation Course tends to yield lots of birdies, the scenery is breathtaking and the event airs mostly in prime time.

Golf Channel hours are 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. NBC jumps in from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, then it’s back to the Golf Channel for the closing nine holes from 5 to 7 p.m. And this year’s event features the added star power of Phil Mickelson.

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The 51-year-old Mickelson, who hasn’t played in the TOC for 20 years, punched his ticket with a shocking victory in last year’s PGA Championship. But that’s only part of the reason he’s making a return to Hawaii. The rest of the story is that he’s apparently won the PGA Tour’s $8 million PIP (Player Impact Program) bonus top prize.

The PIP, for those not aware, is something new announced last fall to fight back against the lure of big bucks from a competing tour being run by Greg Norman. Ten players get to divide $40 million, based on how they score in social media clout, popularity and attention they bring to the PGA Tour.

Despite the tour saying it would not publicly announce a winner, Mickelson stated on his twitter account last week that he would be the one collecting the $8 million. He also said he was going to play the TOC because one of the requirements to claim the PIP bonus was participation in a tournament a player had regularly passed on.

Though the PGA Tour has to be ticked off at Mickelson for jumping the gun on what was supposed to be a private reveal in mid-February, there has been no disclaimer. Word is the second prize of $6 million is going to Tiger Woods, no matter that he didn’t play a single official event in 2021.

The payoff for players three through sixth in the PIP is $3.5 million each. Those who finished seven through 10 are to collect $3.

Meanwhile, as the action ramps up for what is expected to be a compelling 2022 season, based on rising young stars, Tiger’s possible return and the renewal of the Brooks Koepka-Bryon DeChambeau feud, the PGA Tour is keeping fingers crossed. It fears COVID woes, fueled by the Omicron outbreak, getting in the way of large galleries returning.

Following the TOC, the early part of the 2022schedule includes the Sony Open in Honolulu, the American Express in Palm Springs, the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego, the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and the Waste Management Phoenix Open played Super Bowl week.

The two Port Neches-Groves exes playing the tour – Andrew Landry and Chris Stroud — will both make their 2022 debuts in the Jan. 20-23 American Express. Landry, of course, claimed one of his two PGA tour titles in that tournament.

CHIP SHOTS: 5 Under Golf CEO Austin Williams’ long-time friendship with Lamar ex Kelly Gibson opened the door for Orangefield brothers Xander and Lincoln Parks to play in the prestigious All State Sugar Bowl Tommy Moore Memorial junior tournament last week in New Orleans.

The Kelly Gibson Foundation has long hosted the event as part of his Kelly Gibson Junior Tour.

Williams pushed to get older brother Xander into the tourney open to players 13 to 18. A late player withdrawal created a spot for Lincoln, who just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

The pair acquitted themselves well, finishing 33rd and 36th respectively in a field of 60 players from 10 states. Younger brother Lincoln grabbed family bragging rights with a 154 (76-78) over the TPC of Louisiana. Xander, who played his first nine holes in one-under-35, settled for a 36-hole total of 155 (78-77).

In the final Senior 2 ball of 2021 at Babe Zaharias, the fivesome of Earl Richard, Bob Byerly, Brad Royer, Richard Menchaca and Dan Flood won the front with minus 2. That was also the winning score on the back for Doug LeBlanc, Thad Keishnick, Mark Osborne and George Adams.

Closest to the pin winners were LeBlanc (No. 2), Gary Fontenot (No. 7), Osborne (No. 12) and Kenny Robbins (No. 15).

The Wednesday, Dec. 29 DogFight at Zaharias was played in an all-points-count format. Tying for first with 27 points was the team of Jim Cady, Keith Marshall, Dale Carter and Tommy Duhon and the foursome of Gary Whitfill, Charles Leard, Menchaca and Bill Jones.

Closest to the pin winners were Menchaca (No. 2), Marshall (No. 7), Rufus Reyes (No. 12) and Raymond Darbonne (No. 15).

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