Matsuyama wins Hero World Challenge

E-NOTES – December 6, 2016

Hero World Challenge winner Hideki Matsuyama is one of four Japanese players who have won official PGA TOUR events:

Isao Aoki (1) – 1983 Sony Open in Hawaii
Shigeki Maruyama (3) – 2001 Greater Milwaukee Open, 2002 AT&T Byron Nelson, 2003 Wyndham Championship
Ryuji Imada (1) – 2008 AT&T Classic
Hideki Matsuyama (3) – 2014 Memorial Tournament, 2016 Waste Management Phoenix Open, 2016 World Golf ChampionshipsHSBC Champions

Tiger Woods led the Hero World Challenge field in birdies with 25. The last time Woods led the field in birdies in a PGA TOUR event was en route to his most recent TOUR win at the 2013 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.

Henrik Stenson posted his second consecutive runner-up finish at the Hero World Challenge (finished runner-up in 2014; did not start in 2015). In his only official PGA TOUR event this season, Stenson finished T2 at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions, his sixth runner-up since the start of the 2014-15 season, the most of any player in that time span (Jordan Spieth ranks second with five).

With his win at the Australian PGA Championship, Harold Varner III qualified for the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. The Akron-born Varner will make his first start at Firestone CC.

PGA TOUR Champions
PGA TOUR Champions announced the 2017 schedule on Tuesday, with 26 events contested in four countries and $55.7 million in total prize money. The 2017 season will feature five tournaments with new host venues, including Trump National Golf Club outside Washington D.C., Salem Country Club in Peabody, Mass., Caves Valley Golf Club in suburban Baltimore, Royal Porthcawl Golf Club in Wales and Phoenix (Ariz.) Country Club. New title sponsors include Japan Airlines (JAPAN AIRLINES Championship) and PURE Insurance (PURE Insurance Championship), with the latter assuming sponsorship of the longstanding Pebble Beach event.

May 15-21 Regions Tradition Greystone Golf & C.C. Birmingham, Ala.
May 22-28 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship Trump National G.C. Sterling, Va.
June 26-2 U.S. Senior Open Salem C.C. Peabody, Mass.
July 10-16 Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Champ Caves Valley G.C. Owings Mills, Md.
July 24-30 Senior Open Championship pres. by Rolex Royal Porthcawl G.C. Bridgend, Wales

Scott Parel and Phillip Price secured their fully-exempt status for the 2017 PGA TOUR Champions season after earning co-medalist honors last Friday at Q-School near Orlando. Bobby Gage birdied his final three holes en route to a third-place finish, while Fran Quinn and Skip Kendall survived a sudden-death playoff to earn the final two fully-exempt statuses available through the 72-hole event. Players finishing Nos. 6-30 at Q-School earned the right to open qualify for events in 2017 while bypassing the pre-qualifying rounds each week.

Scott Parel, who attended the University of Georgia but did not play on the golf team, turned professional at age 31 after spending 10 years as a computer programmer and database administrator. The Augusta, Ga. native competed on the Tour and the eGolf Tour, winning once on the former in 221 career starts. Parel turned 50 in 2015, and successfully open qualified for eight events on PGA TOUR Champions this past year – including five in a row to open the season. He finished No. 46 in the final Charles Schwab Cup standings after advancing through to the second Playoff event, the Dominion Charity Classic.

Phillip Price, 50, will be competing on PGA TOUR Champions for the first time in 2017. The Wales native, who won three times during his career on the European Tour, represented Europe in the 2002 Ryder Cup at The Belfry, and wound up clinching a crucial Sunday point when he defeated Phil Mickelson in the day’s penultimate singles match. Price made 67 career starts on the PGA TOUR, with his best finish being a T2 effort at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational in 2000, where three bogeys over his final four holes left him one shot shy of winner Tiger Woods. Tour
The final stage of Tour Qualifying School will take place at Orange County National’s Panther Lake and Crooked Cat courses for the first time since 2010. A field of 154 players will compete to determine the Tour’s priority rankings, with the top 45 and ties gaining access to the first eight events, and the medalist earning full exempt status for the 2017 season. Ten of last year’s 45 went on to earn their PGA TOUR card through the Tour, including leading money winner Wesley Bryan, who finished T9, and PGA TOUR winner Mackenzie Hughes, who finished T21.

Among the notables set to compete this week are 2014 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year Chesson Hadley and former TOUR winners Daniel Chopra, Derek Ernst, Mark Hensby, Cliff Kresge and Parker McLachlin. The top 10, minus No. 1, from the Order of Merit on PGA TOUR China, PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, and the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada also are in the field this week vying to improve their status in the priority rankings.

Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada
Forty-three players who competed on the Mackenzie Tour in 2016 will compete in the final stage of Tour Q-School alongside 15 other past Mackenzie Tour members. In total, 70 players who have competed on the Mackenzie Tour during the PGA TOUR era (from 2013-2016) will have playing status on the Tour next year.

PGA TOUR Latinoamérica
The PGA TOUR Latinoamérica season came to an end on Sunday in Miami, where Nathe Lashley of Scottsdale, Ariz. finished first on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Order of Merit to earn full exempt status on the Tour in 2017. The 33-year-old secured the Order of Merit title by winning the season-ending Shell Championship by 10 shots at Melreese CC International Links Miami. At 19-under 265, his margin of victory was the largest ever recorded on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. Lashley became only the second American player to claim Player of the Year honors in five seasons of PGA TOUR Latinoamérica.

Lashley, who had a stellar season of three wins, a runner-up finish and three other top-fives in 12 starts, claimed the Roberto De Vicenzo Award for his efforts across Latin America. The remaining four players inside the Order of Merit Top-5 – Los Cinco – secured conditional status for the 2017 Tour season.

The following are the final standings and their season earnings:
1. Nate Lashley, Scottsdale, Arizona $140,897
2. Augusto Núñez, Tucumán, Argentina $121,373
3. Guillermo Pereira, Santiago, Chile $104,784
4. Puma Domínguez, San Luis, Argentina $82,404
5. Samuel Del Val, Bilbao, Spain $80,547

Ping An Bank China Tour – PGA TOUR China Series
Ten 2016 members and two others with PGA TOUR China playing experience this season will be in this week’s Tour Qualifying Tournament set for Winter Park, Fla. Qualifying via their top-10 finishes on the Order of Merit are:
No. 2    Charlie Saxon
No. 3    Alex Kang
No. 4    Taewoo Kim
No. 5    Xinjun Zhang
No. 7    Gunn Charoenkul
No. 9    Justin Shin
No. 10  Zihao Chen

Also in the field are Jarin Todd (No. 11), Max McCardle (No. 12) and Rohan Blizard (No. 14). Rounding out the field are Jesse Speirs (No. 55) and John Young Kim (No. 147).

Player of the Year and Order of Merit winner Zecheng Dou earned a sponsor’s exemption into this week’s European Tour event, the Hong Kong Open, at the Hong Kong Golf Club. This will be Dou’s eighth European Tour start and first appearance at the Hong Kong Open. Earlier this season, Dou tied for 12th at PGA TOUR China’s Clearwater Bay Open, also in Hong Kong. Dou’s best European Tour finish is his tie for 16th in April at the Shenzhen International.

After three seasons, China’s Xinjun Zhang and Zecheng Dou are 1-2 on the career money list. Zhang has earned ¥1,700,321 vs. Dou’s ¥1,648,563—a difference of ¥51,758 (approximately US $8,500). Zhang has played all 29 of his tournaments as a professional, while Dou has played 30 total but only 26 as a pro. The 19-year-old Dou spent most of the 2014 season as an amateur.