Bubba wants to be at Presidents Cup as an assistant

NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) — Bubba Watson ends the year at number 12 in the Presidents Cup standings, and his mission is to be at Royal Melbourne one year from now.

But not necessarily as a player.

Watson was asked during the Hero World Challenge what would make a good 2019, and he didn’t hesitate.

“I have been bugging Mr Tiger Woods about being a vice captain for Australia,” Watson said. “I would love the honour of doing that again. The reason why is I feel like I can service. For me personally, I have more enjoyment serving 12 guys than playing.”

He has experience in that role.

Watson was number seven in the world ranking, and number nine in the Ryder Cup standings, when he was left off the team. Davis Love III wound up bringing him to Hazeltine as another vice captain, and Watson thrived in his role.

Watson, whose 12 victories on the PGA Tour include two Masters and two World Golf Championships, has played on only two Presidents Cup teams (5-3-2 record), compared with four Ryder Cup teams.

“I always bug Tiger,” Watson said. “He says, ‘You need to be playing.’ I said, ‘Look, man, we’ve never won a Ryder Cup with me playing, but we’ve won when I wasn’t playing. So me and you need to be captain and vice captains.’ That’s our joke. I’ve told him, ‘Listen, I’ll do anything to help you if you want me. If you don’t, that’s fine.’”

Henrik Stenson was bound to disappoint at one tournament last year when the Nordea Masters in Sweden was moved to the same week as the Wyndham Championship in North Carolina, where he was the defending champion. He chose North Carolina out of respect to the title defence.

This year isn’t much better.

US golfer Bubba Watson hits from the 16th tee during the last round of the Hero World Challenge. – AP

Because of the more compact PGA Tour schedule to finish ahead of football season, the Tour Championship will be held August 22-25. Just his luck, that’s the same week as his hometown event now called the Scandinavian Invitational.

“I will be playing golf that week. Where it’s going to be, I can’t tell you,” Stenson said. “In a way, I hope it’s going to be at East Lake. But if that doesn’t come to fruition, I will be playing in Gothenburg, Sweden, that week.”

That’s about the time Stenson’s family returns to America. They live in Orlando, Florida, and when the three children get out of school in late May, they head to their summer home in Sweden for 10 weeks. That’s where Stenson makes his base when he plays. He typically will spend three weeks in Sweden after the US Open, and a couple of weeks after the British Open.

But they rarely get home for the holidays, for good reason. Stenson said the weather around Christmas in southern Sweden typically is in the mid-30s with gray conditions and rain.

“That’s why we’ve been skiing in Utah,” he said.

Stenson and wife Emma, who had to choose as a girl between skiing and golf (she played at South Carolina), have gone skiing in Sweden since 2012. Before that, they went skiing indoors near their home in Dubai because they were just starting to teach their oldest daughter, Lisa.

“So I’ve been skiing in Utah, Sweden and Dubai,” Stenson said, pausing to smile before adding, “and almost Tucson”.

That would be Tucson, Arizona, where the opening round in 2013 was postponed by snow.

What had been the CareerBuilder Challenge the past three years, and the Humana Challenge the four years before that, is now simply the Desert Classic. Tournament officials announced on Monday that Workday would be the presenting sponsor.

It will be only the fourth time since 1985 that the tournament does not have a corporate sponsorship in its name. Workday has a personal endorsement with Phil Mickelson, who remains in his role as a “tournament ambassador”.

The LPGA Tour, meanwhile, picked up a key title sponsorship for one of its majors.

American International Group signed a five-year deal to be sponsor what now is called the AIG Women’s British Open, taking over after Ricoh did not renew. The major is owned by the Royal & Ancient and sanctioned by the LPGA Tour and Ladies European Tour.

It will be played next year on August 1-4 at Woburn, and it will be the final major of the year.

Kurt Kitayama became the latest American who is getting his start on the other side of the world.

Kitayama, who played college golf at UNLV, won the Mauritius Open on Sunday, a tournament sanctioned by the European, Asian and Sunshine tours. He had just earned his European Tour card at qualifying school.