While Texas has always played an influential role on the national golf scene, there is no doubt that the state Lone Star is increasingly coming into the spotlight.
The new PGA of America headquarters in Frisco is taking shape, along with two courses – one from Gil Hanse and the other from Beau Welling – that will host a variety of high profile events over the coming decades. It wasn’t officially announced, but news that the sprawling facility will host the Ryder Cup in 2040 has long been whispered in golf circles.
The success of the WGC-Dell Match Play has established a fifth PGA Tour event in the state, and as Kirk Bohls recently wrote, many other courses are still waiting to be devoured, even if the Austin Country Club contract expires without renewal in two years the event and hold it in the capital region.
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And now comes the news that one of the LPGA majors – perhaps the most famous – is likely to be relocating to Houston in the future.
The LPGA and IMG announced Chevron on Wednesday as the new title sponsor of the former Dinah Shore tournament and signed a six-year deal with the global giant.
“This partnership takes us to a whole other level,” LPGA Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan told Golfweek.
The Chevron Championship will remain in its traditional pre-Masters place at the Dinah Shore Tournament Course in Mission Hills in 2022, and ANA will remain as a partner for the next year. The wallet will grow 60 percent from $ 3.1 million to $ 5 million, ahead of the $ 4.5 million awarded by both the Amundi Evian Championship and the KPMG Women’s PGA in 2021.
However, there are several more significant changes coming after 2022.
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The event will move away from Mission Hills, which is outside of Palm Springs, California and is the only home since the event was founded. The tour intends to potentially relocate the tournament to the greater Houston area, which is home to approximately 8,000 Chevron employees and contractors.
There are also plans to move the tournament dates to a later date in the spring of 2023 so that the event can be shown on NBC. The LPGA’s first major has been shown exclusively on Golf Channel for the past few years. The current dates also conflict with the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, which is airing its final round on NBC.
The ANA Inspiration celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2021, although fans were not allowed to enter the grounds for the second year in a row due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2022 edition runs from March 31st to April 3rd, giving players another chance to take one last dive into Poppie’s Pond.
Where could the tournament end? Champions Golf Club, which hosted the 2020 US Women’s Open, would be a logical landing spot, but the club in Carlton Woods, a Jack Nicklaus design in The Woodlands, was swum as well.
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However, the greeting of the event – which, due to its consistent home and tradition regarding the majors on the PGA Tour side, could come closest to the Masters – will be another major feather in the Texas golf cap.
Austin’s Nick Watney uses the “lifeline”
Nick Watney calls it “an amazing kind of lifeline”. After finishing 204th in the FedEx Cup standings last season and not even reaching the final of the Korn Ferry Tour, the Austro-Hungarian is playing this season with a one-off use of an exception on the PGA Tour’s top 50 career money lists . Watney ranked on the career money list for the 2021-22 season? No. 50. In other words, it was now or never to use it.
“That was amazing,” he said.
Watney, 40, is making the most of it as the new season begins. He followed a respectable T-29 at the Fortinet Championship to open the season with a draw for the second Sunday at the Sanderson Farms Championship and shot a final, bogey-free 65 to finish with a 72-hole total of 21 under 267 , one slap behind winner Sam Burns.
“That’s why I play golf,” said Watney, “to be nervous and pull it off.”
Watney was once among the top players in the game, hitting the top 10 in the world in 2011 and winning five times between 2007 and 2012. But he’s had a win-win drought, 3,325 days and more, since the Barclays 2012 and last bottomed out of the season when he missed 13 straight cuts and missed 18 in a span of 19 starts to tumble to 660th in the world when he enters the Sanderson Farms Championship.
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Golf news and notes from the Austin area
• While it wasn’t exactly what they wanted, the University of Texas women’s golf team, # 13 in the latest college women’s golf week ranking, had some highlights with fourth place at the Windy City Classic in the Westmoreland Country Club outside of Chicago. Freshman Bohyun Park took third place in the individual ranking in a full field, which also included the winner Rose Zhang, the best placed amateur in the world. Zhang, who won the 2020 US amateurs, led Stanford to the team title, ahead of Virginia, Florida and then the Longhorns.
“Bo played great,” said Texas coach Ryan Murphy. “She got along really well with the narrow fairways and the fast, undulating greens. Bo’s time is coming. “
• Jiyu Han of Round Rock High School won the girls’ division of the Texas Golf Association’s Fall Challenge on the Rawls Course on the Texas Tech campus. Han, a junior for the Dragons, finished the 36-hole event in 2-under. Nicholas Logis from Austin also won the Boys 14 & Under Division in 7-under.
Tim Schmitt is the editor-in-chief of Golfweek, golf coordinator for the USA Today Network and lives in Round Rock in a driver and wedge from Dell Diamond. Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols and Adam Schupak also contributed to this report.