Notes Campbells Big Week Leftys 4-Wood
Campbell received a five-year exemption for winning at Pinehurst last year, but chose not to join the PGA Tour because he didn't want to commit to 15 tournaments.
As a nonmember who was penalized for not playing 15 times in 2003, he is allowed only 10 starts -- four majors, three World Golf Championships and three regular events. He already has played the Mercedes Championships, and has selected Bay Hill and The Players Championship.
But there's a catch.
If he earns the equivalent of 150th place on the 2005 money list -- $485,343 -- Campbell can get unlimited sponsor's exemptions the rest of the year. That would enable him to play in the Memorial and in the Barclays Classic, which he has mentioned as preparation for the U.S. Open.
Campbell already has made $287,500, and he has three tournaments -- Bay Hill, The Players Championship and the Masters -- to earn $197,843 and get the unlimited exemptions.
The next two weeks loom larger for two PGA Tour rookies.
J.B. Holmes, who won the FBR Open, is No. 10 on the PGA Tour money list by about $58,000 over Davis Love III. Holmes needs to stay in the top 10 the next two weeks to get an invitation to the Masters.
Camilo Villegas is in a more precarious position. He is 14th on the money list and needs to get in the top 10 after this week to become eligible for The Players Championship. That would require at least a fourth-place finish at Bay Hill, and a third-place finish if Holmes makes the cut.
If the 24-year-old Colombian does not get into The Players Championship, he has no chance of going to the Masters.
The statistic making the rounds the last few weeks was that David Toms had never won a PGA Tour event in Florida. His tie for third in the Honda Classic makes him 0-for-53.
It was a peculiar stat because Toms has no ties to the Sunshine State, and he doesn't have the worst record. Tom Watson was 0-for-76 during his PGA Tour career in Florida. Jay Haas is 0-for-98 in Florida tournaments.
Since neither is from Florida, odds are neither was asked about his inability to win there.
Such a statistic became popular with Tom Kite, who was raised in Texas and sent his entire PGA Tour career without ever winning in his home state. Kite was 0-for-101 in the Lone Star State.
Toms is from Louisiana, and he won in New Orleans five years ago.
The hybrid craze hasn't reached Phil Mickelson, and he doubts it will.
Mickelson carries a 3-wood and a 4-wood at most tournaments, using the 4-wood at Baltusrol last year in the PGA Championship to tap the Jack Nicklaus plaque in the 18th fairway, then hitting it in the collar of the green to set up his winning birdie.
The 4-wood was on display at Doral, when he hit it into 8 feet for eagle on the par-5 eighth that earned him a share of the 36-hole lead.
'I'm taking the 3-iron out more and more because I'm able to hit the 4-wood about a 3-iron distance, but I also have a lot more variety of shots with it,' Mickelson said.
Lefty said he struggles with a hybrid, although he has tried.
'I found the hybrids hit one shot really nice, but whether it's a draw or a fade, it's not a versatile club for me. I can only hit one shot,' he said. 'With woods, I don't know if the weighting is different or what exactly, but I find that I'm able to hit many more shots.'
A testament to The Players Championships might be how many European players come over early to prepare when it moves to May next year. If that's the case, it could put a strain on the Wachovia Championship, which is the week before TPC and already is one of the most popular stops on the PGA Tour.
Tournament director Kym Hougham is talking to tour officials about getting a few extra exemptions for international players, similar to what the BellSouth Classic now gets a week before the Masters.
'We're talking to the tour now to find out our options,' Hougham said. 'A lot depends on who has tour membership. But we know the foreign contingent will be a lot bigger.'
The tour allows BellSouth up to four extra exemptions that are restricted to players who are qualified for the Masters and are in the top 100 in the world rankings.
The Players Championship usually gets seven or eight players who fall under that category.
Wachovia now is allowed four unrestricted exemptions, and two additional exemptions can be designated by the commissioner for international players. Without a few extra picks, Hougham said exemptions to Wachovia 'probably will not go to people who normally would get them.'
Golf's richest tournament now offers a discount for two-man teams willing to take a risk.
The Big Stakes Match Play Golf Championship, to be held May 20-28 at Paiute Golf Resort in Las Vegas, pays $2 million to the winning team and is eligible to anyone who is not exempt on the PGA, European, Nationwide or Champions tour. The entry fee for each team is $100,000.
This year, however, the tournament will have a qualifier that costs only $30,000 to enter. The 16 teams who win two matches advance to the main event in Las Vegas without having to pay the $100,000 fee. Organizers say the qualifier will be March 27-29 at Stonebridge Ranch outside Dallas and will have up to 64 teams.
John Strege has won the USGA International Book Award for 'When War Played Through: Golf During World War II,' which looks at the war's impact on golf. Strege is a senior writer for Golf World magazine. ... Daisuke Maruyama and Shigeki Maruyama were paired for the first time on the PGA Tour in the third round of the Honda Classic. They are not related. ... Australian rookie Steven Bowditch has started the year with three missed cuts, three disqualifications and one withdrawal. He has gone home to sort out his game, and will play this week on a developmental circuit in Australia.
STAT OF THE WEEK
According to ShotLink statistics, there have been 828 drives of at least 350 yards on the PGA Tour so far this year. Tiger Woods has only one of them.
'They used to say only three guys could win there -- Tiger, Tiger and maybe Phil.' -- Jesper Parnevik, on the Bay Hill Invitational.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer
In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.
The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.
Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.
“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”
Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.
Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.
This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.
Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.
Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.
The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.
Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”
Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”
The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.
First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.
“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”
A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.
“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.
For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.
Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.
“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”
Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?
“Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”
Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.
Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.
Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.
Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.
“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”
Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.
While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.
Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ
Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET
An Instagram user known as hwalks posted photos to her account that included images of Tiger Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson Friday at Trump National, as well as video of Woods' swing.
Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.
President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.
After Turkey call I will be heading over to Trump National Golf Club, Jupiter, to play golf (quickly) with Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson. Then back to Mar-a-Lago for talks on bringing even more jobs and companies back to the USA!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 24, 2017
Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.
Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong
HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.
Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.
''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''
Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.
Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.
''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''
Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.
Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).
''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''
Day (68) just one back at Australian Open
Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.
Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)
What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.
Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.
Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.
Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.
Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.