ATLANTA — Commissioner Tim Finchem leaned on charity as a reason why he has no plans to relocate PGA Tour events from North Carolina over HB2, the so-called “bathroom bill” that limits protects for LGBT people.
The NBA pulled the All-Star Game from Charlotte, while the NCAA said it would not hold the first and second rounds of the men’s basketball tournament in North Carolina and the ACC relocated all its championships from the state.
The Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte has been around since 2003, while the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro dates to 1938.
Finchem said Tuesday that the PGA Tour supports the NBA, NCAA and ACC over its public stand against the legislation.
“We are not, however, inclined to join that group by pulling our tournament,” he said. “And the reason for that is quite simply, that tournament raises about $1.5 million right now for the Teach for America program in the inner city of Charlotte. Nobody else is going to put that money up.”
Finchem said the three pieces of the PGA Tour mission is to benefit the professional game and the players; building the communities where they play and helping to grow the game of golf.
“We’ll be vocal about the legislation,” he said. “But we’re not going to interrupt a unique program that’s doing the great work it’s doing in the city of Charlotte.”
The Wells Fargo Championship will be played next year in Wilmington because Quail Hollow is being used for the PGA Championship.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: Jim Furyk and Paul Casey share a peculiar distinction in the FedEx Cup. They are the only players to twice be a Top 5 seed going into the Tour Championship without having won that year.
Casey was the No. 5 seed in 2010 on the strength of his runner-up finish at the BMW Championship. He earned the No. 5 seed this time with successive runner-up finishes in the Deutsche Bank Championship and the BMW Championship.
It means the PGA Tour can only hope for the one scenario that would put a serious dent in the credibility of the FedEx Cup. Casey has a mathematical chance — and the way he’s been playing, it’s not a stretch — to win the $10 million bonus without winning on the PGA Tour.
For that to happen, he would have to be runner-up and hope that none of the players ahead of him — Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Adam Scott and Jason Day — plays well. Johnson as the top seed, for example, would have to finish fifth or worse.
Casey tied for fourth in 2010, when Jim Furyk won the Tour Championship to capture the cup.
Furyk was the No. 3 seed going into the 2009 Tour Championship and had an even better chance to win the FedEx Cup without any other trophy that year. He tied for seventh. Furyk also was the No. 4 seed in 2008, but the points system was different that year and no one had a chance of beating Vijay Singh.
Odds are still against Casey.
In the previous nine years, only two players have won the Tour Championship without winning the $10 million bonus — Phil Mickelson in 2009 and Camilo Villegas in 2008.
HOLIDAY BONUS: Russell Knox headed to South Africa at the end of last year to play the Nedbank Challenge. He probably won’t have to go as far this year, even with Nedbank moving up a month into the European Tour schedule.
The Tour Championship is the final event before the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas goes to the world ranking to fill its 18-man field. Knox is at No. 19 and is certain to get in because of the number of players who won’t be there, such as Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia.
Scott lives at Albany in the Bahamas, but he’ll be Down Under for the Australian Open, World Cup and Australian PGA Championship.
A year ago, the field went into the mid-20s in the world ranking. Among those in need of a good week at East Lake if they want to play — last place pays $100,000 — are Emiliano Grillo, Kevin Kisner and Justin Thomas. The tournament is allowed two exemptions, provided they are among the top 50 in the world.
There also is a provision for an exemption to go to the tournament host — Tiger Woods.
KOEPKA POWER: Brooks Koepka, the only rookie (so far) on the U.S. Ryder Cup team, says he is most looking forward to being part of a team. He doesn’t count his college days at Florida State because that was essentially individual players adding up their scores.
He’d have to go back to his days playing baseball, which Koepka described as his passion.
He gave up baseball for golf, and the reason was mildly surprising.
“I couldn’t hit for power, believe it or not,” said Koepka, in the top tier of big hitters on the PGA Tour. “I was a decent pitcher, a good shortstop, I just didn’t have a bat. I couldn’t hit the ball out of the park. And if you can’t hit … oh, well.”
It worked out well for him in the end.
MAJOR AWARD: Lydia Ko has won the Rolex Annika Major Award, which is based on points earned at the LPGA Tour major championships. Players must win a major, and then have the most points from finishing in the top 10.
The 19-year-old from New Zealand joins Michelle Wie (2014) and Inbee Park (2015) as winners of the award.
Ko won the ANA Inspiration, the first major of the year when Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand faded over the closing holes at Mission Hills. That proved to be the difference, as Ko wound up winning the award by six points.
Jutanugarn won the Women’s British Open.
While the race was close, there was little movement in the final major at the Evian Championship. Ko tied for 43rd, while the Thai tied for ninth.
DIVOTS: The last two European Tour events were won by home country players — Joost Luiten in the KLM Open and Francesco Molinari in the Italian Open. … Ten players who reached the Tour Championship have not won a PGA Tour event this season. That includes Roberto Castro, the only player in the field to have never won on the PGA Tour. … Paul Broadhurst’s two victories this year have come at Carnoustie and Pebble Beach. The only other players to win at both courses were Ben Hogan and Tom Watson. … Hong Kong will be the site of the World Amateur Team Championships in 2020. The Old and New Courses of Hong Kong Golf Club will be used for the women, while the Composite Course at Hong Kong Golf Club and Clearwater Bay will be used for the men. … Privilege Underwriters Reciprocal Exchange (PURE) Insurance is the new title sponsor for the PGA Tour Champions event at Pebble Beach. The Pure Insurance Championship combines senior players with juniors from The First Tee.
STAT OF THE WEEK: In Gee Chun became the first player since Se Ri Pak to win her first two LPGA Tour titles at major championships.
FINAL WORD: “Get in a cart with Arnold Palmer and go around Latrobe. That would be all I need.” — PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem on the ideal retirement gift.