The PGA of America holds its annual meeting this week in Arizona, where it will elect a new secretary, hand out its first “PGA Patriot Award” and have focus groups discuss the economy’s effect on golf.
Missing from the agenda is selecting the next U.S. Ryder Cup captain.
Dating to 1991, the PGA of America has picked a new captain no more than two months after the Ryder Cup ended, and chief executive Joe Steranka recently said there were more candidates available than Ryder Cups.
So why the delay?
“We’ve taken a patient approach to making a decision about 2010,” Steranka said. “All the accolades deserving of this team have been allowed to play themselves out. There’s still a lot of nice things being written, awards being given and recognition of players and captains. There’s not an urgency to make that decision.”
Corey Pavin, who spent plenty of time in hospitality at the PGA Championship, is regarded as one of the favorites to succeed Paul Azinger. Davis Love III would be an obvious choice, but he has said he wants to play on the next team.
American players lobbied for Azinger to return as captain, but the last captain to get a second chance was Jack Nicklaus at his home course of Muirfield Village in 1987. And by ending a three-match losing streak, Azinger would have nothing to gain in 2010 at Wales.
Steranka said the PGA would start contemplating the next captain “later this year or early next year,” although it likely will be January.
“There’s just not an urgency,” he said. “Part of that is the newness of winning the Ryder Cup. There will be time to address 2010. Right now, we’re going to enjoy this one.”
Meanwhile, Jim Remy of Vermont will become the first PGA member from the New England section to be installed as president.
Allen Wronowski will move up as vice president. PGA members will elect a secretary between Ted Bishop of Indiana and Ted O’Rourke of New Jersey.
VICTORY TALLY: Tiger Woods won’t get an award, trophy or even a pat on the back, but he will lead the PGA Tour in victories for the fourth straight year and 10th time in the last 12 years.
Woods won four times in 2008, one more than Kenny Perry and Vijay Singh.
It’s the fewest victories by the leader in this category since David Duval won four times in 1998.
TO THE POLLS: Since 1985, the player of the year in Europe has been decided by a voting panel of golf writers, broadcasters and European tour officials. Starting next year, there will be another award based on a vote of the players.
European tour chief executive George O’Grady said the idea came from Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke, who felt there should be one honor decided strictly by players.
Harrington figures to be a lock this year after becoming the first European to win consecutive majors in the same season.
“There have been years where it was a very close call,” O’Grady said at the Volvo Masters. “There was a year when Paul Casey and Padraig Harrington were on the sort of same lists, and you’ve had guys balancing the Order of Merit with major championships. And so, they want to have one which is theirs. We will bring that in at the beginning of this coming season.”
That season starts this week with the HSBC Champions.
O’Grady said the tour might use the model of Seve Ballesteros’ hands on the golf club for the trophy that goes with the players’ award.
HUNDRED FOR A MILLION: Twenty years after Curtis Strange became the first player to go over $1 million in a season, the PGA Tour established another record with 102 players going over the $1 million mark.
Two other money matters of note:
– Jeff Overton was holding down the 125th spot at $840,809, the first time it will take at least $800,000 to keep a tour card.
– Tiger Woods averaged $962,500, which would be 105th on the money list. Woods made more money in six starts than Scott McCarron ($952,070) has earned in 21 tournaments.
PUTTING IT IN PERSPECTIVE: Robert Karlsson was virtually unknown on the international stage until he played in his first Ryder Cup two years ago. He now has the most European tour victories of any Swede, and he was the first Swede to capture the Order of Merit.
As expected, notoriety has followed.
Karlsson first noticed it when he returned home before the Volvo Masters, where he is helping with a golf course design.
“The phone was going constantly, even back at my dad’s house,” he said. “So I gave him some directions on how to handle it. It’s changed a little bit, definitely. But it’s good fun, though.”
Karlsson knew to expect more demand on his time, and his caddie reminded him of the alternative.
“My caddie just said early on in the week, ‘Don’t complain. Four years ago, we had problems to get an extra dozen golf balls. So don’t complain if there’s too many press conferences,”’ Karlsson said. “You’ve got to put things in perspective.”
DIVOTS: Retief Goosen closed with a 66 to make up a four-shot deficit in the final round and win the Iskandar Johor Open on the Asian Tour, ending his drought of 50 straight tournaments without winning. … The John Deere Classic raised $4.79 million for 500 regional charities this year, an increase of nearly $200,000. … Jim Holtgrieve has been named U.S. captain for the Walker Cup in 2011 at Royal Aberdeen in Scotland. … Robert Karlsson played 23 times on the European tour in winning the Order of Merit over Padraig Harrington, who played 14 events. … J.B. Holmes and Oliver Wilson are the only Ryder Cup players not already eligible for the Masters.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Robert Karlsson won the Order of Merit on the European tour with $3,473,000. That would put him 11th on the PGA Tour money list.
FINAL WORD: “I’m looking forward to coming out next year and being at zero, along with everyone else.” – David Duval.