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Rickie Fowler decides to part ways with caddie Joe Skovron

(AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)

By DOUG FERGUSON

AP Golf Writer

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Rickie Fowler narrowly avoided missing the FedEx Cup playoffs for the second straight year, and he will proceed with a new caddie.

Fowler is parting ways with Joe Skovron, a childhood friend and the only fulltime caddie he has ever had.

"It was a team decision," Fowler said. "Decided to go different ways. It could be the best option currently. By no means does this mean it's the end of the road. He's like a big brother to me."

Fowler hasn't won since the 2019 Phoenix Open and his slide in the world ranking has taken him all the way to No. 167. He missed the cut at the Wyndham Championship and only finished at No. 125 when a couple of players had a tough final round, and because of nine LIV Golf players who didn't count in the standings.

He will use Cobra-Puma employee Ben Schomin, who previously filled in for Bryson DeChambeau, at the FedEx St. Jude Championship this week.

"It is different," Fowler said. "In 13 years, there's been only one other week, my rookie year, when I had someone else on the bag. One of our assistants from Oklahoma State, Donnie Darr, he caddied for me at the Memorial. Outside of that, Joe has been my guy."

Fowler and Skovron grew up together northeast of San Diego in Temecula. Fowler says he has known him since they were toddlers.

"It's much more than a business thing for me," Fowler said. "Like I said, he's like a big brother, and we've always been a team; just thought it was potentially the best option for right now."

Cameron Smith was last seen at a golf tournament with the claret jug at his side after his remarkable win at St. Andrews in the British Open. One of the more awkward moments was when he was asked about rumors he would be joining LIV Golf.

"I just won the British Open, and you're asking about that. I think that's pretty ... not that good," Smith said.

A month later, nothing has changed.

Aussie golfer Cameron Percy said on an Australian radio station that Smith was defecting, only to say later to Australian Golf Digest that he was only conveying what he heard in locker rooms during rain delays on tour.

But then The Daily Telegraph reported Tuesday that Smith has signed a deal worth more than $100 million to join the Saudi-funded league, and that he plans to start the first week in September outside Boston.

"My goal here is to win the FedEx Cup playoffs. That's all I'm here for," Smith said when asked about the reports. "If there's something I need to say regarding the PGA Tour or LIV, it will come from Cameron Smith, not Cameron Percy. I'm a man of my word and whenever you guys need to know anything, it'll be said by me."

He later was asked about the Boston event, which would preclude Smith from playing in the Presidents Cup in late September. He didn't touch that one, either.

"Like I said, I'm here to play the FedEx Cup playoffs, mate," he said. "That's my priority."

Smith is No. 2 in the world and has a mathematical chance to reach No. 1 this week. LIV Golf still only has one player from the top 20 in the world.

Rory McIlroy gets another crack at St. Andrews this year, minus the claret jug being displayed on the first tee of the Old Course.

McIlroy is returning to the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in late September with his father, Gerry, as his amateur partner.

McIlroy tied for third at the British Open last month, where he had the 54-hole lead. He also tied for third at St. Andrews in the 2010 Open. And he has been runner-up at the Dunhill Links, which is also uses Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, on three occasions.

"I'm really looking forward to playing," McIlroy said. "It's one of the most longstanding events on the DP World Tour and one I really enjoy, especially when I partner with my dad. I'll be taking the team championship just as seriously as the professional event, and it would be a special experience if we could win together."

It will be the second European tour event McIlroy plays in September. He also is scheduled to play the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Masters champion Scottie Scheffler picked up $5 million in bonus money even before the FedEx Cup playoffs began.

Scheffler earned $4 million from the Comcast Business Tour Top 10 for leading the FedEx Cup through the regular season. He took over the top spot in March during his amazing run of four victories, including his first major, and no one came close to catching him.

He earned another $1 million for winning the Aon Risk Reward Challenge, a season race that awards players for how they play a chosen risk-reward hole on the PGA Tour.

His short game paid big dividends on the challenge holes, mostly par 5s and reachable par 4s. Although his average proximity to the hole was below the field average when going for the green, his wedge play and putting carried him. He had 29 birdies and three eagles.

The Official World Golf Ranking has a new formula and a new look on its website.

Officials with the OWGR have been working on a system that measures every player in the field and what they contribute to a tournament, not just the top 200 players. It's been described as a "strokes gained" formula for the way it measures performances against other players.

It is not retroactive over the two-year rolling period, meaning the new methodology will be be gradual.

Jon Rahm returns to competition as the father of two boys. Rahm's wife, Kelly, gave birth to a boy on Aug. 5. Mother and son were said to be healthy and doing well. ... The Korn Ferry Tour is going to the Sooner State. Compliance Solutions will be title sponsor in a five-year deal that takes the Korn Ferry to Jimmy Austin Golf Club at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. It will be played June 22-25 starting next year. ... The Genesis Scottish Open will be at The Renaissance Club for the next four years. It preceded the British Open at St. Andrews this year. Next year the Open goes to Royal Liverpool. ... The BMW Ladies Championship in South Korea is moving to Oak Valley Country Club this October.

Of the players who have joined Saudi-funded LIV Golf, 19 were among the top 70 when the FedEx Cup playoffs began last year. This year only four are in the top 70.

"From what I understand of these contracts, they lock up players in ways the PGA Tour never imagined." - U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman on LIV Golf.

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Updated August 9, 2022

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