Bubble Boys Try to Keep Cards

By Associated PressOctober 30, 2003, 5:00 pm
PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- Per-Ulrik Johansson has won five times on the European Tour, played in the final singles match against Phil Mickelson in the 1995 Ryder Cup and had three straight finishes in the top 24 in the Masters.
He is accustomed to success.
He can do without the stress he faces this week in the Chrysler Championship.
The final, full-field event of the year on the PGA Tour is one last chance for players to finish in the top 125 on the money list to keep their cards for next year.
Johannson is at No. 125 by a mere $654.
'The plan when I first came over was to not fight for my card,' he said. '(It) was to get to the next level. When I played in Europe, I was playing in the majors and World (Golf) Championship tournaments.
'All of a sudden, here I am fighting for my card,' he said. 'It wasn't by plan, but here I am. And I have to deal with it.'
Johansson is not alone.
Vijay Singh has a chance to clinch the PGA Tour money title and end Tiger Woods' four-year reign with a victory this week. A dozen others are trying to get into the $6 million Tour Championship next week in Houston.
Still, most of the focus is on those just trying to keep their jobs.
Instead of cutting up with each other on the practice range, players quietly went about their business, desperate to find a swing that will pay off in their final at bat.
Otherwise, it's back to Q-school or they are saddled with conditional status, meaning they get the leftovers - the weaker tournaments that top players avoid, which usually amounts to about 20 starts.
Aaron Barber had one of the most amazing weeks of his career at the Colonial, when he played the first two rounds with Annika Sorenstam. But as the season comes to a conclusion, he is No. 140 on the money list and needs to finish in the top 15 at the Chrysler Championship to keep his card.
He was in a similar position a few years ago on the Canadian Tour, but made a birdie on the last hole of the last tournament and kept his card by about $20.
'That wasn't quite as big a deal as this,' Barber said. 'This is my 32nd tournament. In a perfect world, I wouldn't play that many. But as a rookie, you don't know the courses, you know what taking a week off is.
'Looking back, I wish I had paced myself,' he said. 'Hopefully, I'll get another chance.'
Each shot could be the difference between a PGA Tour card and a trip to Q-school. One player moving up the leaderboard means another player is falling behind.
It's a good week to be a mathematician. Every dollar counts.
Rocco Mediate tried to give the bubble boys reason for optimism.
'I would look at it this way,' Mediate said. 'If you are 125th or 126th or whatever, you obviously haven't played really well this year yet. So, I feel like I would be due for something good.
'I don't ever want to be in that position.'
Mediate is on his own bubble.
He is No. 30 on the money list and trying to protect his position so he can play get into the Tour Championship. All but two players from No. 26 (Retief Goosen) to No. 51 (Tim Clark) on the money list are playing in the Chrysler Championship.
Fred Couples (No. 32), who was only about $12,000 behind Mediate, withdrew Wednesday after his back went out during the pro-am.
Mediate had no reason to believe he could qualify for the Tour Championship until a recent surge in his play.
He was second in Boston, tied for fifth in Pennsylvania and tied for ninth last week in the Funai Classic at Disney. In between, he withdrew twice because of back problems. He feels much better now.
'In September, I was 60th or 70th,' he said. 'So to have this opportunity is good. I just need to take advantage of it. I'm beat up a little bit, but I'm ready to go.'
John Huston is also injured (neck), but he can't afford to miss the final tournament of the year. Huston is 40th on the money list, and Augusta National invites the top 40 players to the Masters.
Jeff Brehaut is No. 99 on the money list, courtesy of a tie for fifth two weeks ago in Greensboro that finally put him over the hump. It's the first time in four tries that he will finish in the top 125, meaning he can determine his own schedule.
Looking at the bubble boys on both sides of him, he could relate to the tension.
'If they're not talking about it, they're thinking about it,' he said. 'It comes down to playing good golf. What everyone is trying to do is have the one week that gets them over the top, so they can be in the spot I am now.'
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  • Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

    By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

    Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

    David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

    “Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

    Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

    “I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

    Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

    The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

    Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

    Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

    1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

    2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

    While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”

    Getty Images

    PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

    The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

    PGA Tour:

    The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.


    We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.

    Getty Images

    Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

    By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

    JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

    The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.

    Full-field scores from the Joburg Open

    Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

    ''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

    Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm