Notes Haas Staying Put
Haas is 23rd on the PGA Tour money list and wants to qualify for the Tour Championship (another $7 million World Golf Championship in Ireland next month won't hurt his chances). If he makes it to East Lake, that would make it hard to pass up another year playing on the regular tour.
Haas already is a lock for the Match Play Championship and the Masters. Top 30 on the money list gets him into the U.S. Open. Being picked for the Ryder Cup already made him eligible for the PGA Championship. But the real carrot is a chance to qualify for the Presidents Cup.
Haas is 11th in the standings, which is based solely on money.
'Uncle Bob (Goalby) said, 'Man, you're screwing it up. You've got to think about the Presidents Cup next year,'' Haas said. 'And hey - why not? If I play well toward the end of the year, that could spur me on.'
So, does that mean he's going to put the Champions Tour on hold? Haas got a twinkle in his eye and smiled.
'I don't know,' he said, his voice trailing off just enough to show he was serious. 'I won't say I'm going to blow it off. But ...'
Meanwhile, Haas might go to Pebble Beach next week only because he wants to play a tournament before the Ryder Cup. He didn't hear good reviews about the TPC at Boston (Deutsche Bank Championship), and he has never been a big fan of Glen Abbey (Canadian Open).
'But I can't take three weeks off going into the Ryder Cup,' he said. 'Pebble Beach is nice that time of the year.'
HONDA ON THE MOVE?
The Honda Classic, which changes venues almost as much as a major, could be on the move again. The only question is when.
The PGA Tour's tournament staff has made at least two visits to PGA National in the last month, and officials could know in the next 10 days whether relocation - across the street from Mirasol, in this case - is feasible, perhaps even by next March.
Mirasol has staged the Honda Classic the last two years (on different courses) and has a contract through 2006, with an option for four more years. But real estate development is three years ahead of schedule, and the club soon will be turned over to the members, who might not want a tournament in their backyard.
'We have an agreement to play at Mirasol,' PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said last week. 'I assume that all parties involved would have to agree not to play there. If we found something we looked at and said, 'Boy, this is great, this is a long-term answer,' it would be helpful to get there earlier than '07.'
Unlike some of the previous Honda stops, PGA National is a known commodity.
It held the 1983 Ryder Cup and the 1987 PGA Championship, and it would join Pebble Beach, Riviera, Firestone and Colonial as the current PGA Tour stops that have held majors.
Tournament director Cliff Danley said no one from the PGA Tour has talked to him about a potential move to PGA National, and his staff is gearing up for the '05 Honda Classic to be played at Mirasol.
The Honda Classic has been played on five courses in the last 10 years. Danley was asked if there was any possibility the tournament could relocate in six months.
'Stranger things have happened,' he said. 'But I don't see us playing anywhere but Mirasol. Somebody would have make the decision, talk to Mirasol, see this place that is chosen, get the networks involved, get the tour involved and most assuredly get Honda involved.
'But if somebody said tomorrow, 'Start thinking about a place,' we'd think about it.'
The Canadian Open was moved back one week, the last PGA Tour stop before the Ryder Cup. Tournament director Bill Paul wasn't sure how that it would affect the field, but it's starting to shape up nicely.
Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III, Stewart Cink, Chad Campbell and Kenny Perry are among Ryder Cup players who said they will play at Glen Abbey. Chris Riley also wants to play the Canadian Open, although that depends on the status of his wife, Michelle, who is expecting their first child.
Tiger Woods will not return to the Abbey, where he hit that 218-yard bunker shot over the water to win in 2000. Woods and Jim Furyk are among those playing the week before at Boston.
For those who think Michelle Wie should enjoy being a 14-year-old instead of spending her summer on the LPGA Tour, U.S. Women's Open champion Meg Mallon offered a different perspective.
'I think you guys all forgot what 14 was like - it (stunk),' Mallon said. 'At 14 we were doing nothing but getting in trouble. We were bored. We were telling our parents we didn't like them. She's getting more life experiences to help her more than any 14-year-old sitting around on a computer, doing things they probably shouldn't be doing.'
Wie tied for sixth at the Wendy's Championship last week in Ohio. She has finished in the top 20 in five out of six LPGA events this year. Mallon, however, is among several LPGA players who think Wie should spend equal time playing her own age level and winning against players she will face the rest of her career.
'Because she puts that in their head that she can beat them, which is very important,' Mallon said.
Ben Crenshaw has taken his friendship with President Bush to a new level. Crenshaw now is a Bush 'Pioneer,' a title granted to those who have raised at least $100,000 for the president.
Crenshaw invited Bush - then the Texas governor - to speak to the Ryder Cup team on the eve of the Americans' record comeback in 1999 at Brookline.
Oak Tree Golf Club in Edmond, Okla., will get the '06 Senior PGA Championship. That's one year too early for Jeff Sluman, who won the '88 PGA at Oak Tree for his only major. Sluman will only be 49 that year. ... U.S. Women's Amateur champion Jane Park, NCAA champion Sarah Huarte and Paula Creamer have been chosen to play in the Women's World Amateur Team Championship, to be played Oct. 20-23 in Puerto Rico. All three played on the Curtis Cup team. Morgan Pressel is first alternate, followed by Women's Amateur runner-up Amanda McCurdy.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Americans are 12-4 in the individual World Golf Championships.
'Fast greens and nervous golfers don't really mix too well.' - Stewart Cink.
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Watch: Tiger highlights from Round 2 at Honda
Tiger Woods started at even par in Round 2 of the Honda Classic. Friday began with a bogey at the par-4 second, but Woods got that stroke back with a birdie at the par-4 fourth:
Following four consecutive pars, Woods birdied the par-4 ninth to turn in 1-under 34.
At 1 under for the tournament, Woods was tied for 10th place, three off the lead, when he began the back nine at PGA National. And the crowd was loving it.
Defending champ Fowler misses cut at Honda
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The roles might be reversed this weekend for Rickie Fowler.
Last year, when he won at PGA National, Fowler was greeted behind the 18th green by Justin Thomas, one of his Jupiter neighbors. Thomas had missed the cut in his hometown event but drove back to the tournament to congratulate Fowler on his fourth PGA Tour title.
It’s Fowler who will be on the sidelines this weekend, after missing the Honda Classic cut following rounds of 71-76.
“I haven’t been swinging it great the last month and a half,” he said afterward. “Obviously playing in the wind, it will pick you apart even more.”
After a tie for fourth at Kapalua, Fowler has missed two of his last three cuts. In between, at the Phoenix Open, he coughed up the 54-hole lead and tied for 11th.
Fowler said he’s been struggling with commitment and trust on the course.
“It’s close,” he said. “Just a little bit off, and the wind is going to make it look like you’re a terrible weekend golfer.”
Asked if he’d return the favor for Thomas, if he were to go and win, Fowler smiled and said: “Of course.”
Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic
Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
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Cut Line: Woods still eyeing Ryder Cup dual role
In this week’s edition, Jack Nicklaus makes the argument, again, for an equipment rollback, Tiger Woods gets halfway to his Ryder Cup goal and Paul Lawrie laments slow play ... in Europe.
Captain’s corner. Last week Tiger Woods coyly figured he could do both, play and be a vice captain for this year’s U.S. Ryder Cup team. On Tuesday, he made it halfway to his goal.
U.S. captain Jim Furyk named Woods and Steve Stricker vice captains for this year’s matches, joining Davis Love III on the team golf cart.
Whether Woods will be able to pull off the double-header is now largely up to him and how his most recent comeback from injury progresses, but one way or another Furyk wanted Tiger in his team room.
“What Tiger really has brought to the table for our vice captains is a great knowledge of X's and O's,” Furyk said. “He's done a really good job of pairing players together in foursomes and fourball. When you look at our team room and you look at a lot of the youth that we have in that team room now with the younger players, a lot of them became golf professionals, fell in love with the game of golf because they wanted to emulate Tiger Woods.”
Woods is currently 104th on the U.S. points list, but the qualification process is designed for volatility, with this year’s majors worth twice as many points. With Tiger’s improved play it’s not out of the question that he gets both, a golf cart and a golf bag, for this year’s matches.
#MSDStrong. Every week on Tour players, officials and fans come together to support a charity of some sort, but this week’s Honda Classic has a more personal impact for Nicholas Thompson.
Thompson graduated from nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and last week’s horrific shooting there inspired the former Tour member to work with tournament organizers and find a way to help the victims.
Officials handed out 1,600 maroon ribbons to volunteers to honor the victims; and Thompson and his wife, who is also a Stoneman Douglas graduate, donated another 500 with the letters “MSD” on them for players, wives and caddies.
Thompson also planned to donate 3,100 rubber bracelets in exchange for donations to help the victims and their families.
“I’m not much of a crier, but it was a very, very sad moment,” Thompson told PGATour.com. “To see on TV, the pictures of the school that I went through for four years and the area where it occurred was terrible.”
The Tour makes an impact on communities every week, but some tournaments are more emotional than others.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Golden moment. Jack Nicklaus has never been shy about expressing his thoughts on modern equipment and how far today’s professionals are hitting the golf ball, but this week the Golden Bear revealed just how involved he may be in what is increasingly looking like an equipment rollback of some sort.
During a recent dinner with USGA CEO Mike Davis, Nicklaus discussed the distance debate.
“Mike said, ‘We’re getting there. We’re going to get there. I need your help when we get there.'” Nicklaus said. “I said, ‘That’s fine. I’m happy to help you. I’ve only been yelling at you for 40 years.’ 1977 is the first time I went to the USGA.”
The USGA and R&A are scheduled to release their annual distance report before the end of the month, but after the average driving distance jumped nearly 3 yards last year on Tour – and nearly 7 yards on the Web.com Tour – many within the equipment industry are already bracing for what could be the most profound rollback in decades.
Geographically undesirable. Although this will likely be the final year the Tour’s Florida swing is undercut by the WGC-Mexico Championship, which will be played next week, the event’s impact on this year’s fields is clear.
The tee sheet for this week’s Honda Classic, which had become one of the circuit’s deepest stops thanks to an influx of Europeans gearing up for the Masters, includes just three players from the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking, and none from top three. By comparison, only the Sony Open and CareerBuilder Challenge had fewer top players in 2018.
On Monday at a mandatory meeting, players were given a rough outline of the 2018-19 schedule, which features some dramatic changes including the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players shifting back to March, and numerous sources say the Mexico stop will move to the back end of the West Coast swing and be played after the Genesis Open.
That should help fields in the Sunshine State regain some luster, but it does nothing to change the fact that this year’s Florida swing is, well, flat.
West Coast woes. Of all the highlights from this year’s West Coast swing, a run that included overtime victories for Patton Kizzire (Sony Open), Jon Rahm (CareerBuilder Challenge), Jason Day (Farmers Insurance Open) and Gary Woodland (Waste Management Phoenix Open), it will be what regularly didn’t happen that Cut Line remembers.
J.B. Holmes endured the wrath of social media for taking an eternity - it was actually 4 minutes, 10 seconds - to hit his second shot on the 72nd hole at Torrey Pines, but in fairness to Holmes he’s only a small part of a larger problem.
Without any weather delays, Rounds 1 and 2 were not completed on schedule last week in Los Angeles because of pace of play, and the Tour is even considering a reduction in field size at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open to avoid similar schedule issues.
But all this seems to miss the point. Smaller fields aren’t the answer; rules that recognize and penalize slow play are the only solution.
Tweet of the week: @PaulLawriegolf (Paul Lawrie) “Getting pretty fed up playing with guys who cheat the system by playing as slow as they want until referee comes then hit it on the run to make sure they don't get penalized. As soon as ref [is] gone it’s back to taking forever again. We need a better system.”
It turns out slow play isn’t a uniquely Tour/West Coast issue, as evidenced by the Scot’s tweet on Thursday from the Qatar Masters.