Intriguing Money Lines at Chrysler
This week is mostly about money.
The Chrysler Championship is the final full-field event of the year, a time for players to pay more attention to dollars and cents than birdies and bogeys. The bottom 120 spots on the money list will be determined, with significant stops down the ladder at No. 30 (TOUR Championship), No. 40 (Masters invitation), No. 125 (full status next year) and No. 150 (conditional status).
Azinger has been down this road before.
Two years ago, he was No. 123 on the money list and seemingly in good shape until a bogey on his 17th hole and a three-putt bogey on his final hole that caused him to miss the cut by one shot. He screamed in disgust as he walked off the course, and the real agony set in two days later when he wound up at No. 126.
He's trying not to pay too much attention to the money list, and that much was clear when he picked up a copy of it on a table and casually scanned the players around him.
'Is it that close?' he asked. 'Are you kidding me?'
Azinger is just under $22,000 ahead of Bubba Dickerson (No. 125), but at least he has a chance. Dickerson, a former U.S. Amateur champion, is the third alternate this week and might not get a chance to tee it up. If any of the three players behind him -- Brian Bateman, John Cook or Mark Calcavecchia -- so much as make the cut, Dickerson loses his card.
'I've got one week to play good,' Azinger said. 'It's in my hands.'
How much does each shot matter? No sooner had Azinger put down his copy of the money list than he recalled Las Vegas two weeks ago, when he had a 10-foot birdie putt on the last hole. He missed it, which cost him about $20,000.
'I know I'm one shot away from not being in this position,' he said.
The nail-biting starts Thursday on the Copperhead course at Innisbrook, a worthy test for the winner, a roller coaster for those who are on the various bubbles:
Top 30 -- Joe Durant's victory at Disney moved him up 37 spots to No. 29 on the money list, and he looks fairly comfortable with a $185,018 lead on the guy at No. 31 (Tim Clark). Ernie Els is between them, playing for the first time since he finished fifth at the American Express Championship last month. Els has played Innisbrook once, but calls it his favorite PGA TOUR course in Florida. Clark has missed the cut twice and finished 11th in Tampa.
Top 40 -- A month ago, Troy Matteson only wanted to keep his PGA TOUR card. Then he won in Las Vegas, tied for second at Disney and now has Georgia on his mind. Going to East Lake for the TOUR Championship would require at least a third-place finish, but what Matteson really wants is a trip to Augusta National.
Here's where the ulcers come in. Matteson was alone in second at Disney until a bogey on the last hole. The tie cost him $92,000, sending him from 36th to 42nd on the money list, an example of how every shot counts in the final few weeks.
Tour rookies Camilo Villegas (No. 37) and Nathan Green (No. 38) appear to be safe. Vaughn Taylor is at No. 39, feeling even more pressure since he lives in Augusta.
On the bubble is Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman, who gave up at least $35,500 (last-place money) when he withdrew from the American Express Championship last month to attend Byron Nelson's funeral.
Had he not left Europe early, Lehman would be No. 36 on the money list.
Top 125 -- The bubble belongs to Dickerson, and it could burst Thursday if three more players don't withdraw.
It would be awful if a guy at No. 125 on the money list doesn't get a chance to play in the final tournament, but like everything else in golf, players have no one to blame but themselves.
Dickerson has played 32 times this year and has only three top 10s, which explains why he is so low on the pecking order for getting into this tournament. And he did himself no favors last week at Disney. After opening with rounds of 66-68, he closed with 72-78 to tie for 71st and move up only two spots.
Cook is at No. 127 and has the advantage of getting a sponsor's exemption. The other exemption went to Duffy Waldorf at No. 130, both reaping the rewards of supporting the TOUR for a combined 44 years.
Top 150 -- Henrik Bjornstad is the first PGA TOUR player from Norway, but maybe not much longer. He is at No. 150 by a scant $3,401 over Tag Ridings, and Bjornstad is in a worse predicament than Dickerson as the seventh alternate.
Ridings has come through in the clutch before at Tampa. Two years ago, he was at No. 190 when he birdied seven of the last 10 holes for a 64 in the final round of the Chrysler Championship, tied for 11th and earned just enough money to finish at No. 125.
Conditional status is not the end of the world. Guys who finish between No. 126 and No. 150 drop in the pecking order behind those who earn cards through Q-school or the Nationwide Tour. Briny Baird finished at No. 126 a year ago and got into 25 tournaments this year, earning enough to be No. 100 to secure his card.
Finish outside the top 150, however, and punch a ticket to the second stage of Q-school, or spend next year either begging for exemptions or chopping it around the Nationwide Tour.
Now that's pressure.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball
Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.
In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.
"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’
Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.
“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.
“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’
Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.
The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving
Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.
The major championships I'm certainly proud of, but Barbara, the kids and my grandkids are the best things to ever happen to me. From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving! pic.twitter.com/wkma1Q9LlK— Jack Nicklaus (@jacknicklaus) November 23, 2017
GC Tiger Tracker:
Mixing Thanksgiving and waiting for a week from today. pic.twitter.com/u9m9WxQNYx— GC Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) November 23, 2017
Happy thanksgiving to everyone! Hope you have a wonderful day with family and friends. #Thankful— Steve Stricker (@stevestricker) November 23, 2017
Was reading about Thanksgiving. Originally they ate waterfowl, venison, ham, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin, and squash. Seems a bit tastier than Turkey!— Frank Nobilo (@FrankNobiloGC) November 23, 2017
Literally food for thought.
Tyrone Van Aswegen:
Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017
Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.
Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan
Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.
Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.
Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:
“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”
Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.
“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”
Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.
“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”
Best Greg story: coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes “Yep, caddied for her, her, her and her” Legend— Matthew Galloway (@matthewgalloway) November 23, 2017
In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.
“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”
Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.
“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”
The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time Tour caddie, Greg Sheridan. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP pic.twitter.com/QKy0YdK249— LPGA (@LPGA) November 22, 2017
Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.
“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.
Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:
Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:
Sad to hear the passning of Greg Sheridan. This photo brings back many memories. Always respected his caddy skills and devotion to womens golf. @natalie_gulbis @LPGA #RIPGreg pic.twitter.com/lHU3Ixz9Vk— Annika Sorenstam (@ANNIKA59) November 23, 2017
LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:
Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:
Professional caddies are often overlooked and underrated. But they're just as often the unsung MVP of a player's success. We just lost a great one. RIP Greg Sheridan. He was the 1st to welcome me to my LPGA assignment years ago. He will be missed eternally.— Jerry Foltz (@JerryFoltzGC) November 22, 2017
Rest with the Angels now, Greg Sheridan. ❤️— Christina Kim (@TheChristinaKim) November 22, 2017
LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:
RIP Greg Sheridan. One of the most successful and great caddies of World Golf, period.— Shaun Clews (@shaunclews1973) November 22, 2017
LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:
Sad to here that long time tour caddy Greg Sheridan has passed away! RIP Greg, you will be missed. — Jonny Scott (@stixy76) November 22, 2017
LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:
The world is a sadder place today without our buddy Greg Sheridan, a caddy and a friend for lifetimes...Godspeed buddy— Kevin Casas (@TheKevinCasas) November 23, 2017
LPGA pro Jennie Lee:
So sad to hear the news of long time LPGA caddie Greg Sheridan. I️ remember sitting next to him on the plane from Walmart to the US Open one year and he gave me the best words of wisdom on player/caddie chemistry. He will be missed greatly. Thinking of you @natalie_gulbis ❤️— Jennie Lee (@JennieLeeGolf) November 23, 2017