I was able to confirm this morning, though, what was first reported by MyDesert.com yesterday, that Johnson indeed will turn pro after competing as an amateur in one last event: next week's U.S. Women's Open (she earned an exemption into the field by finishing runner-up at last year's U.S. Women's Amateur, but the exemption requires she be an amateur for it to be used).
Johnson told ASU women's coach Melissa Luellen of her decision Monday and has been in contact with her teammates about it over the course of the past few days.
"It was a hard call for her to make, and it was a hard call for me to take," Luellen told Golf World. "We loved Jennifer and had so much fun with her her freshman year. We obviously wish her a ton of luck and hope she'll be a great Sun Devil alumni on tour.
"I thought we'd have her for another year," Luellen noted when asked about the timing of the decision. "But big life desicions are hard to make. I think she thought long and hard. She's a great student and as all college athletes know, academics is a big piece of [college life]. She did great academically. She just wanted to spend 100 percent of her time working on her game."
This decision comes despite the fact that twice in the last month Johnson insisted that she was going to return to ASU in the fall. When the rumors of a possible departure surfaced at the NCAA Championship in May—where she finished second to help her secure national freshman-of-the-year honors—she said she had thought about it but would play another season for the Sun Devils. Then at the Curtis Cup earlier this month, after Golf Channel reported during its telecast that Johnson was going to turn pro, she denied that was the case.
Johnson's first event as a professional is likely to be the Duramed Futures Tour's Alliance Bank Golf Classic in Syracuse, N.Y., July 30-Aug. 1
NEWTOWN SQUARE, PA. - PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem is, by training, an economist and a lawyer and, by profession, a politician - in the Jimmy Carter White House - and an administrator. Needless to say, he has had a lot of practice employing phrases like "vagaries of the marketplace." This man does not speak in bumper-sticker shorthand and rarely hands out a catchy phrase on which you can hang your journalistic hat. Finding a catchy quote from Finchem is like stumbling upon a Democrat in pro golf - rare indeed.
The reason Finchem has not only survived but thrived for 16 years as commissioner is not because of his oratorical eloquence but because he took over a very good product groomed for him by Deane Beman and made it better. Under Finchem, purses have skyrocketed, TV exposure has expanded enormously and the game has become truly one without borders, both in its players and its venues. Oh, and his constituency -- the players -- have become very wealthy.
There is, in the way Finchem approaches matters, a calm and a refusal to panic that suggests he was not only the perfect man to lead the tour in good times but is also even better to serve it in the bad. Speaking Wednesday at the AT&T National at Aronimink GC near Philadelphia, Finchem acknowledged that "the economy continues to lag" and that some events are without sponsors, but at the same time calmly added: "We don't anticipate any need for contraction" in the 2011 schedule.
That's a pretty bold statement from a guy facing potential holes next year at the Doral-WGC event, Memphis, Hilton Head, Reno-Tahoe and the Bob Hope - at the very least. But they are also the words of a man who understands well the value of his product. "We are basically on track with where we are in most years, good or bad economy, in terms of the amount of work we have to do either to renew sponsors or bring in new sponsors," Finchem said. "The market is generally soft, but our product continues to perform well."
And they are also the words of a man who also understands his product is going to have to make some modifications in the way it operates. One of those modifications is a plan to designate some tournaments deemed to be weaker that will form a pool from which players will have to select one to add to their schedule. Finchem said such a proposal would have to be presented to the PGA Tour Board by September in order for approval - or rejection - to occur in time for the 2011 season.
"Tournament regulations need to be approved twice by the Board," Finchem explained. "It's a fail-safe mechanism that keeps us from doing damage to ourselves. And, in this case, you would want the fourth quarter to educate the players and tournaments how it would work."
And that is exactly an example of how Finchem works: Far more substance than sizzle. And isn't that refreshing? Isn't that the way it should be?
-- Ron Sirak
The field is just about set for next week's U.S. Women's Open at Oakmont. Currently there are 28 amateurs competing compared to 29 last year (Kimberly Kim and Belen Mozo were amateurs when they qualified but are playing as pros in the championship, according to the USGA). Of the amateurs in the field, 20 of them are current college players, have just finshed their final year in school or are arriving on campus in the fall.
Brittany Altomare, Virginia*
Sandra Changkija, Nova Southeastern
Kaitlin Drolson, Pepperdine*
Courtney Ellenbogen, Duke*
Janine Fellows, Tulane
Cindy-Yueer Feng, HS Class of 2014*
Jaye Marie Green, HS Class of 2012
Numa Gulyanamitta, Purdue
Jennifer Johnson, Arizona State
Sara-Maude Juneau, Louisville
Ariya Jutanugarn, HS Class of 2014
Danielle Kang, Pepperdine*
Jennifer Kirby, Alabama
Stephanie Kono, UCLA*
Jessica Korda, HS Class of 2011*
Laura Kueny, Michigan State
Alison Lee, HS Class of 2013*
Rebecca Lee-Bentham, Texas
Tiffany Lim, HS Class of 2011
Lisa McCloskey, USC
Juliana Murcia, Arizona State
Sun Gyoung Park, Yale
Lizette Salas, USC
Kelli Shean, Arkansas
Victoria Tanco, HS Class of 2012*
Gabriella Then, HS Class of 2013
Sally Watson, Stanford
Christine Wong, San Diego State
Nicole Zhang, Notre Dame
* Has played in a previous U.S. Women's Open
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. - If Dustin Johnson bears any emotional scars from his epic implosion during the final round of the U.S. Open, they are well hidden. At least that's the case when he's behind a microphone. We'll find out Thursday when he tees it up at the AT&T National whether the wounds reopen when he is swinging a golf club
When last we saw young Dustin, you'll remember, he was adding up 82 strokes after blowing a three-stroke lead Sunday at Pebble Beach. He took last week off, in part to enjoy his 26th birthday and in part to chill out. Thursday he'll be back at work, paired with Tiger Woods and Davis Love III in the opening round of the AT&T at Aronimink Golf Club near Philadelphia.
"It was gone when I left California," Johnson said about the possibility his collapse at the Open will follow him. "It was a tough day. Golfers have tough days. You just have to put it behind you. I still finished in the top 10. It's not like I had a terrible week or anything." Well, those are all the right words to say.
Johnson says his cell phone didn't stop buzzing in the days right after Pebble Beach, mostly from friends trying to comfort him. But he did get a call from someone who could relate to what Dustin must have been feeling.
"I got a call from Greg Norman," Johnson said. "He said golf is a learning process non-stop." Then, saying what perhaps didn't need to be said, Johnson added about Norman: "He's been in my situation a few times. As if we needed to be told that: See 1996 Masters. Six-stroke lead. 78 strokes.
Asked his regrets about the final round at Pebble Beach - the left-handed shot, the hurried shots or the missed two-footer on No. 2; the needlessly aggressive tee shots on No. 3 and 4 - Johnson said: "If anything, maybe I should have been a little more aggressive in my approach shot on 2." That was the shot that ended up in the rough that led to his triple-bogey 7, followed by a double bogey and a bogey.
Johnson will also get some encouraging words from Woods. "It happens," Tiger says he will tell Johnson when they play Thursday, pointing out that he played with Mike Weir when Weir shot 80 in the final round of the PGA Championship, and then went on to win a Masters.
"Just because it happened doesn't mean you can't win again," Woods says. "He has the talent to have the lead in the last round of the U.S. Open. You just have to pick yourself up and do it all over again."
That seems to be exactly the attitude Johnson is bringing into Aronimink this week. But it's also an attitude that's easier to have on a Tuesday than it is on a Thursday - or on a Sunday. That is just a matter of wait and see.
-- Ron Sirak
According to a story in the NCAA News, the Division I Recruiting and Athletics Personnel Issues Cabinet, which was formed to analyze college recruiting on a macro level rather than merely a sport-by-sport basis, has proposed legislation to stop early verbal scholarship offers to prospective student-athletes in all sports.
The proposal would prohibit verbal offers of athletically related financial aid before July 1 after a prospective student-athlete's junior year in high school. The proposal would also require schools have at least a five semester (or seven quarter) high school transcript on file before a coach could extend any verbal offer.
In turn, the cabinet is also proposing that begining Aug. 1 of a prospective student-athlete's senior year, schools would be permitted to make two phone calls to the player or his parent/guardian
Among the concerns of Petrina Long, the cabinet's chair, was compliance officials ability to monitor the proposal's enforcement.
The proposal is expected to be introduced into the 2010-11 legislative cycle with the Legislative Council casting its first official votes on the proposal at the NCAA Convention in San Antonio next January.
Tiger Woods is No. 5 on the Celebrity 100, Forbes' annual list of the 100 most powerful celebrities, the same rank he held on the list a year ago.
Woods, who has ranked as high as No. 1 on this list, trails only Oprah Winfrey, Beyonce Knowles, James Cameron and Lady Gaga. Phil Mickelson ranks 45th.
The list is here.
-- John Strege
Colin Montgomerie's captaincy of the European Ryder Cup team encountered more turbulence over the weekend, when its last captain, Nick Faldo, revealed that his attempts to sit down and talk with Montgomerie have been for naught.
"I didn't want just to make my views known to him through the media," Faldo said at the BMW International Open in Munich, Germany, where he missed the cut. "So I wrote to Monty three weeks ago suggesting we meet up for a chat, but I have not had a reply. I don't think I need say any more than that. It says it all."
Montgomerie also was playing in Munich and made the cut. When asked about meeting with Faldo, he replied, "I think Nick missed out here (the cut) so I don't know what he is doing."
Of course, the cynic might ask what insights Faldo could possibly impart from a former captain's viewpoint given the drubbing his team took, 16 1/2-11 1/2, in 2008.
The larger issue is Montgomerie, who continues to make headlines beyond the simple promotion of the Ryder Cup. Last month was his warning to potential team members that they'd better play the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in Scotland in August, despite a conflict for European players who play the PGA Tour: The Barclays, the first event in the FedEx Cup playoffs.Say this for him, notwithstanding the ongoing contentiousness, there's never a dull moment.
-- John Strege