Major winners Goosen, Stephenson make Hall of Fame
Two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen and three-time major champion Jan Stephenson are among five people selected for induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
A 16-member panel of mostly golf administrators also selected retired Augusta National chairman Billy Payne, LPGA charter member and renowned teacher Peggy Kirk Bell and Dennis Walters, who has been inspiring golfers through clinics despite being paralyzed from the chest down since he was 24.
Goosen recovered from a lightning strike to win 33 times worldwide, including U.S. Opens at Southern Hills and Shinnecock Hills. Stephenson won the LPGA Championship, U.S. Women’s Open and du Maurier Classic among her 16 titles on the LPGA Tour.
The induction will be June 10, the Monday of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. ESPN ADDED TO PGA CHAMPIONSHIP TELECASTS >> The PGA Championship will remain with CBS Sports and pick up a powerful partner in ESPN for weekday rounds. That’s part of an 11-year agreement in which the networks will combine to deliver 175 hours of coverage across broadcast, cable and digital platforms.
Financial terms of the deal announced Wednesday were not disclosed, though it was clear the PGA Championship is more attractive held in May than in August.
The deal also gives CBS and ESPN, which broadcast the Masters, the first two majors of the year.
The agreement starts in 2020, when the PGA Championship is played at Harding Park in San Francisco. MALAYSIA HAS BEEN KIND TO JUSTIN THOMAS >> Justin Thomas returns this week to the scene of his first PGA Tour win in 2015, and where he repeated as champion a year later.
Now the American, fresh from winning the PGA Tour money title for the second consecutive year, begins play in the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, aiming for his third win in four years at the tournament, and his 10th on tour.
“This is always going to be a special place for me,” Thomas said Wednesday of the TPC Kuala Lumpur West Course. “This is always going to be the place
I got my first PGA Tour victory and that’s very, very special. Every time I look at that trophy in my office at home, it brings back a lot of memories.”
He likes his chances of beating 2017 champion Pat Perez, Brandt Snedeker, Keegan Bradley and 2013 and 2014 winner Ryan Moore, who are among the starters in the CIMB field this week.
“I feel fresher and I would like to hope that’s from the work that I’ve put in off the course or off-weeks, in my work in the gym and making sure I’m staying rested,” Thomas said. “I think I have an opportunity to play well and hopefully knock off a win or two.”
MICKELSON BUYING INTO SILVERADO EVENT >> Phil Mickelson is bullish on the future of the Safeway Open at Napa’s Silverado Resort when the shortened PGA Tour schedule takes hold.
“This has really turned into a great tournament the first three years, and I think next year when it has a bit of a break between the FedEx Cup and the start of the season, I think the field here is going to get really strong,” Mickelson said. “I think it will be one of the best all year.”
The PGA Tour season ends on Aug. 25 next year, and there likely will be a break before the Safeway
Open. This year, it was two weeks after the Tour Championship and, for Mickelson, the week after the Ryder Cup. It showed in the weak field.
ASIA SWING >> The PGA Tour will spend the next three weeks in Asia, which can pay off for those willing to travel.
For players like Joel Dahmen and Sam Ryder, it will be their first tournament without a cut in the CIMB Classic. For players like Perez, who won the CIMB Classic last year, it can set him up for the rest of the year. Perez earned 56 percent of his regular-season FedEx Cup points from the CIMB Classic, CJ Cup in South Korea and the World Golf Championships event in Shanghai. Perez was among 16 players who took part in all three stops in the Asia swing.
Also at stake are world ranking points, especially for those close enough to the top 50 to think about the Masters. The top 50 in the world at the end of the year are invited to Augusta National. Perez is at No. 56 and not yet eligible for the Masters. Others outside the top 50 going into the Asia swing are Russell Knox (No. 58), Ryan Moore (No. 61), Kevin Chappell (No. 63) and Peter Uihlein (No. 66). All but Knox are playing in Malaysia.
Retief Goosen, who has won two U.S. Opens, will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.