Bubba Watson ends the year at No. 12 in the Presidents Cup standings, and his mission is to be at Royal Melbourne one year from now.
But not necessarily as a player.
Watson was asked during the Hero World Challenge what would make a good 2019, and he didn’t hesitate.
“I have been bugging Mr. Tiger Woods about being a vice captain for Australia,” Watson said. “I would love the honour of doing that again. The reason why is I feel like I can service. For me personally, I have more enjoyment serving 12 guys than playing.”
He has experience in that role.
Watson was No. 7 in the world ranking, and No. 9 in the Ryder Cup standings, when he was left off the team. Davis Love III wound up bringing him to Hazeltine as another vice captain, and Watson thrived in his role.
Watson, whose 12 victories on the PGA Tour include two Masters and two World Golf Championships, has played on only two Presidents Cup teams (5-3-2 record), compared with four Ryder Cup teams.
“I always bug Tiger,” Watson said. “He says, ‘You need to be playing.’ I said, ‘Look, man, we’ve never won a Ryder Cup with me playing, but we’ve won when I wasn’t playing. So me and you need to be captain and vice captains.’ That’s our joke. I’ve told him, ’Listen, I’ll do anything to help you if you want me. If you don’t, that’s fine.“’
Henrik Stenson was bound to disappoint at one tournament last year when the Nordea Masters in Sweden was moved to the same week as the Wyndham Championship in North Carolina, where he was the defending champion. He chose North Carolina out of respect to the title defence.
This year isn’t much better.
Because of the more compact PGA Tour schedule to finish ahead of football season, the Tour Championship will be held Aug. 22-25. Just his luck, that’s the same week as his hometown event now called the Scandinavian Invitational.
“I will be playing golf that week. Where it’s going to be, I can’t tell you,” Stenson said. “In a way, I hope it’s going to be at East Lake. But if that doesn’t come to fruition, I will be playing in Gothenburg, Sweden, that week.”
That’s about the time Stenson’s family returns to America. They live in Orlando, Florida, and when the three children get out of school in late May, they head to their summer home in Sweden for 10 weeks. That’s where Stenson makes his base when he plays. He typically will spend three weeks in Sweden after the U.S. Open, and a couple of weeks after the British Open.
But they rarely get home for the holidays, for good reason. Stenson says the weather around Christmas in southern Sweden typically is in the mid-30s with grey conditions and rain.
“That’s why we’ve been skiing in Utah,” he said.
Stenson and wife Emma, who had to choose as a girl between skiing and golf (she played at South Carolina), have gone skiing in Sweden since 2012. Before that, they went skiing indoors near their home in Dubai because they were just starting to teach their oldest daughter, Lisa.
“So I’ve been skiing in Utah, Sweden and Dubai,” Stenson said, pausing to smile before adding, “and almost Tucson.”
That would be Tucson, Arizona, where the opening round in 2013 was postponed by snow.
The PGA Tour event in the California desert no longer has “Bob Hope” in the title, but it’s also missing a corporate name.
What had been the CareerBuilder Challenge the past three years, and the Humana Challenge the four years before that, is now simply the Desert Classic. Tournament officials announced Monday that Workday would be the presenting sponsor.
It will be only the fourth time since 1985 that the tournament does not have a corporate sponsorship in its name. Workday has a personal endorsement with Phil Mickelson, who remains in his role as a “tournament ambassador.”
The LPGA Tour, meanwhile, picked up a key title sponsorship for one of its majors.
American International Group signed a five-year deal to be sponsor what now is called the AIG Women’s British Open, taking over after Ricoh did not renew. The major is owned by the Royal & Ancient and sanctioned by the LPGA Tour and Ladies European Tour.
It will be played next year on Aug. 1-4 at Woburn, and it will be the final major of the year.
AMERICANS IN ASIA
Kurt Kitayama became the latest American who is getting his start on the other side of the world.
Kitayama, who grew up in Chico, California, and played college golf at UNLV, won the Mauritius Open on Sunday, a tournament sanctioned by the European, Asian and Sunshine tours. He had just earned his European Tour card at qualifying school.
He started out on the Web.com Tour for the second part of 2016 and all of 2017 before trying the Asian Tour this year.
“It’s been a different journey for me,” said Kitayama, who went up nearly 1,000 spots in the world ranking to No. 198 this week. “It’s been really exciting, being able to travel all over the globe, and I’m going to continue to travel more.”
John Catlin (New Mexico) won three times and Paul Peterson (Oregon State) won once on the Asian Tour.
Jeffrey Kang (USC), Charlie Saxon (Oklahoma), Joseph Winslow (South Florida) and Kevin Techakanokboon (Long Beach State) won on the PGA Tour China Series.
The Web.com Tour Championship is leaving Florida after six years and headed north to Indiana.
United Leasing & Finance will be the presenting sponsor next year and is part of a 10-year deal to play the season-ending event at Victoria National Golf Club in Newburgh, Indiana. United Leasing & Finance already is a title sponsor of a Web.com event at Victoria National in late April. The tour said it will be a replaced by a new tournament, with an announcement due in January.
The Web.com Tour Championship, the final event of a four-tournament series that awards PGA Tour cards to 25 players, has been at Atlantic Beach Country Club the last three years — one year was wiped out by a hurricane — and the previous three years at the Dye Valley course on the TPC Sawgrass.
STAT OF THE WEEK
In the 11 times Tiger Woods played his World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club, he won five times, was runner-up four times and only once finished worse than fourth. In the four times he has played since it left Sherwood, he has finished a combined 69 shots out of the lead.
“The next field I’m playing is also not very big and also on an island. So a lot in common.” — Jon Rahm, after winning against an 18-man field in the Bahamas, looking ahead to the winners-only field on Maui.