News & Opinion

In the news

Skipped: By Tiger Woods, this week’s Sentry Tournament of Champions, the winners-only event in Hawaii that traditionally starts the calendar year for the PGA Tour. Woods, who won the Tour Championship in September for his first victory in five years, reportedly wanted to spend more time with his family. Ending with the Ryder Cup, Woods played seven of nine weeks to close 2018. Woods, who turned 43 on Dec. 30, likely will make his 2019 debut in three weeks at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego, where he has won eight times, including the 2008 U.S. Open, his 14th and most recent major championship.


Denied: By Mark Steinberg, Tiger Woods’ agent, that a deal has been signed by Woods and Phil Mickelson to continue their winner-take-all match-play event, which Mickelson won Nov. 23 at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas (“Next time, maybe Barkley should play,” Nov. 26). Steinberg told ESPN.com’s Bob Harig that no agreement has been reached after GolfDigest.com’s Dave Shedloski reported that a three-year deal had been initiated with the Thanksgiving weekend debut known as “The Match.”


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Forrest Fezler

Died: Forrest Fezler, a former winner on the PGA Tour who perhaps was best known for changing into shorts during the final round of a U.S. Open, on Dec. 21 in Tallahassee, Fla. He was 69 and had suffered from brain cancer. While heading to the 18th tee at the 1983 U.S. Open at Oakmont, Fezler slipped into a portable restroom and changed into shorts as a protest against the USGA. More recently, Fezler served as a consultant with architect Mike Strantz to design courses.


Committed: To play in the 100th New Zealand Open, Michael Campbell, which would end a three-year hiatus from competitive golf for the 2005 British Open champion. Campbell, a New Zealander who will turn 50 on Feb. 23, intends to compete in senior professional golf. The New Zealand Open, which is part of the Australasian and Asian tours, will be played Feb. 28-March 3 at Millbrook Resort in Arrowtown.


Confirmed: By Rory Sabbatini, a native of South Africa, that he has become a citizen of Slovakia. Sabbatini, 42, whose wife, Martina Stofanikova, is Slovakian, can compete under the Slovak flag and could be eligible for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Sabbatini, a six-time winner on the PGA Tour, has amassed $31.4 million in career earnings and is in his 21st season on the Tour.


Fulfilled: By European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn, a promise to his players that he would get a tattoo to commemorate a victory if they would beat the Americans in the Ryder Cup. They did, and he did: Bjorn left a London ink shop with a small black image of the Ryder Cup trophy, adorned with the 17½-10½ score, on his upper left buttock.


Arrested: On suspicion of poaching a jungle bird, Indian golfer Jyoti Randhawa, according to the ANI news agency. Randhawa, 46, an eight-time winner on the Asian Tour and the circuit’s leading money winner in 2002, was detained by the Forest Department of Uttar Pradesh, a state in northern India. Randhawa, who ended the year at No. 1,057 in the Official World Golf Ranking, was ranked as high as 70th in 2007.


Uncommitted: To the European Tour, Italy’s Francesco Molinari, who said that because of schedule changes in 2019, he might not play his home circuit until July, when he will defend his title in the British Open. Even an invitation to the British Masters, to be hosted by Ryder Cup partner Tommy Fleetwood in May, might not be enough to lure Molinari away from the PGA Tour’s typically larger purses and greater world-ranking points in the first half of the year. The revelation follows similar comments by Rory McIlroy (“In the news,” Nov. 14), though the Northern Irishman soon softened his stance after reportedly meeting with tour commissioner Keith Pelley.