Notes Money Grab May Cost Els Money Title
Whether he stays there is out of his control.
Els recently signed a three-year deal to play in the Singapore Open, not realizing it will be held the same time (Nov. 1-4) as the season-ending Volvo Masters on the European Tour.
Harrington is $307,745 behind Els, and will be at Valderrama for the tour finish. Justin Rose is in third place with $352,225, and he will have two starts remaining on the European schedule, including this week in Portugal.
'How can I say it? The end of the year, you've got the wheelbarrow out. You want to cash in a little bit,' Els said of the appearance fees he'll get from the Singapore Open. 'It just happened that this tournament is the same week. I didn't know before we signed that last year. It's unfortunate. I don't know how it slipped their radar.'
This is not the first time Els has stuck to a commitment. He skipped the Presidents Cup in 1994 because of the British Masters.
Els won the Order of Merit in 2003 and 2004, and there's a chance he can win the Harry Vardon Trophy a third time.
MORE ON MONEY:
Brett Quigley figured his PGA TOUR card was safe for next year when he left the Deutsche Bank Championship the first week of September and had surgery on his right knee to repair torn cartilage.
He was at No. 109 on the money list with $717,411.
Darren Clarke finished at No. 125 last year with $660,898. TOUR officials figured $700,000 would be enough this year, although there was some uncertainty with the reconfigured schedule putting seven events of the Fall Series after the TOUR Championship.
Not many saw this coming.
In four weeks since the FedExCup ended, Quigley has fallen 15 spots to No. 124. He is $358 ahead of Alex Cejka, and $22,131 ahead of Craig Kanada. And with his season over, he has nowhere to go but down.
'It's been unbelievable,' Quigley said Monday. 'I haven't seen any golf the last three weeks, but I've got people calling me with the results. 'You're down to 121. You're down to 124.' I thought anything over $700,000 was safe. Obviously, it moved a bunch.'
It's almost enough for Quigley to enter a tournament on wounded knee.
'I'm chomping at the bit to play,' he said. 'But just walking with (daughter) Lily for 45 minutes I'm pretty sore. I couldn't imagine playing five hours for five days in a row. I know I'm not ready to play.'
He said he would take a minor medical exemption, which will give him as many as seven tournaments next year to make up the difference between his $717,411 and whatever winds up being the earnings for No. 125.
The change has even astounded TOUR officials, who were trying to figure out what happened.
'I was surprised,' said Andy Pazder, the TOUR's vice president of competition. 'We saw something in the $700,000 range, and that number has come and gone. It's moving toward $750,000 and beyond. I can't explain it without having analyzed some things. The fields being different, maybe more guys are getting in.'
None of the four winners -- Steve Flesch, Chad Campbell, Justin Leonard and George McNeill -- were outside the top 125 when they won. But six players already have moved inside the top 125, with Michael Allen making the biggest move from No. 154 to No. 98.
And there are still three tournaments remaining.
Money for No. 125 increased by $3,474 in 2005 and then by a more substantial $34,162 in 2006. The increase in total prize money on the PGA TOUR is about $10 million, not much different from the past two years.
'The right guys are making the money,' Quigley said. 'And some of the bigger guys are not winning, and certainly not playing the last few tournaments.'
HAVE GAME, WILL PLAY:
Damon Green long has been considered one of the best players among caddies on the PGA TOUR, and he had a chance to show it while in Bermuda for the PGA Grand Slam of Golf.
Green, on the bag when Zach Johnson won the Masters, decided to pay $525 to enter the 41st edition of the Bermuda Open, which attracted a 66-man field to Port Royal Golf Course. He was 1 under through three rounds until closing with a 66 on Sunday to finish third behind defending champion Tim Conley and Brian McCann, a regular on the Canadian Tour.
'Not too bad,' Green said.
Green, who played the Nike Tour a dozen years ago, had not played competitively since the Grapefruit Open in Vero Beach, Fla., about a year ago. He has tried to qualify for the U.S. Open, but never had made it out of final stage of sectional qualifying.
'I guess this was my first national open,' he said.
Green earned $6,000 from the $50,000 purse.
Phil Mickelson will be the highest-ranked player to compete in the Fall Series when he plays the Fry's Electronics Open in Scottsdale, Ariz., and he has a chance to again be part of history by winning.
Lefties already have won five times this year, which ties the record set in 2000.
Mickelson has won three times and Steve Flesch won twice. Seven years ago, Mickelson won four times and Mike Weir had one victory. The statistics indeed are slightly skewed, but the PGA TOUR dug up some research that showed six left-handed players among the top 100 in the world ranking: Mickelson (2), Richard Green (32), Nick O'Hern (38), Weir (48), Flesch (89) and Bubba Watson (93).
The European Tour has afforded lifetime membership to U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera and British Open champion Padraig Harrington. They received their solid silver membership cards from Tour chief executive George O'Grady during the HSBC World Match Play Championship. Europe now has 31 players to have received honorary lifetime membership. ... Masters champion Zach Johnson extended his sponsorship endorsement with AEGON and subsidiary Transamerica for five more years. ... Greg Norman, the inaugural winner of the Australian Golf Writers Association rookie of the year award, has agreed to give his name to the honor.
STAT OF THE WEEK:
In the three LPGA Tour events where she made the cut in 2007, Michelle Wie finished a combined 91 shots behind the winner.
'If I'm having a holiday, I don't bring golf clubs. I don't have fun unless I'm really putting effort into it.' -- Padraig Harrington, on playing the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Tiger's checklist: How he can contend at Augusta
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Augusta is already on the minds of most players here at the Honda Classic, and that includes the only one in the field with four green jackets.
Yes, Tiger Woods has been talking about the Masters ever since he started this latest comeback at Torrey Pines. These three months are all about trying to build momentum for the year’s first major.
Woods hasn’t revealed his schedule past this week, but his options are limited. He’s a good bet to play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he has won eight times, but adding another start would be a departure from the norm. He’s not eligible for the two World Golf Championship events, in Mexico and Austin, and he has never played the Valspar Championship or the Houston Open.
So there’s a greater sense of urgency this week at PGA National, which is realistically one of his final tune-ups.
How will Woods know if he’s ready to contend at Augusta? Here’s his pre-Masters checklist:
1. Stay healthy
So far, so good, as Woods tries to resume a normal playing schedule following four back surgeries since 2014. Though he vowed to learn from his past mistakes and not push himself, it was a promising sign that Woods felt strong enough to sign up for the Honda, the second of back-to-back starts on separate coasts.
Another reason for optimism on the health front: The soreness that Woods felt after his season opener at Torrey Pines wasn’t related to his surgically repaired back. No, what ached most were his feet – he wasn’t used to walking 72 holes on hilly terrain.
Woods is stiffer than normal, but that’s to be expected. His back is fused.
2. Figure out his driver
Augusta National is more forgiving off the tee than most major courses, putting more of a premium on approach shots and recoveries.
That’s good news for Woods, who has yet to find a reliable tee shot. Clearly, he is most comfortable playing a fade and wants to take the left side of the course out of play, but in competition he’s been plagued by a two-way miss.
In two starts this year, Woods has hit only 36 percent of the fairways, no matter if he was using driver, fairway wood or long iron.
Unfortunately, Woods is unlikely to gain any significant insight into his driver play this week. PGA National’s Champion Course isn’t overly long, but there is water on 15 of the 18 holes. As a result, he said he likely will hit driver only four times a round, maybe five, and otherwise rely on his 3-wood and 2-iron.
Said Rory McIlroy: “Being conservative off the tee is something that you have to do here to play well.”
That won’t be the case at Augusta.
3. Clean up his iron play
As wayward as Woods has been off the tee, his iron play hasn’t impressed, either.
At Riviera, he hit only 16 greens in regulation – his fewest in a Tour event as a professional. Of course, Woods’ chances of hitting the green are reduced when he’s playing from the thick rough, sand and trees, but he also misfired on six of the eight par 3s.
Even when Woods does find the green, he’s not close enough to the hole. Had he played enough rounds to qualify, his proximity to the hole (39 feet, 7 inches) would rank 161st on Tour.
That won’t be good enough at Augusta, where distance control and precision are paramount.
Perhaps that’s why Justin Thomas said last week what many of us were thinking: “I would say he’s a pretty good ways away.”
4. Get into contention somewhere
As much as he would have liked to pick off a win on the West Coast, Woods said that it’s not a prerequisite to have a chance at the Masters. He cited 2010, when he tied for fourth despite taking four months off after the fallout from his scandal.
In reality, though, there hasn’t been an out-of-nowhere Masters champion since Charl Schwartzel in 2011. Since then, every player who eventually donned the green jacket either already had a win that year or at least a top-3 finish worldwide.
“I would like to play well,” Woods said. “I would like to win golf tournaments leading into it. The years I’ve won there, I’ve played really well early.”
Indeed, he had at least one win in all of the years he went on to win the Masters (1997, 2000, ’01, ’05). Throw in the fact that Woods is nearly five years removed from his last Tour title, and it’s reasonable to believe that he at least needs to get himself into contention before he can seriously entertain winning another major.
And so that’s why he’s here at the Honda, trying to find his game with seven weeks to go.
“It’s tournament reps,” he said, “and I need tournament reps.”
Add that to the rest of his pre-Masters checklist.
Players winner to get 3-year exemption into PGA
Although The Players isn’t golf’s fifth major, it received a boost in that direction this week.
The PGA of America has adjusted its criteria for eligibility into the PGA Championship, extending an exemption for the winner of The Players to three years.
According to an official with the PGA of America, the association felt the winner of The Players deserved more than a single-year exemption, which had been the case, and the move is consistent with how the PGA Tour’s annual flagship event is treated by the other majors.
Winners of The Players were already exempt for three years into the Masters, U.S. Open and The Open Championship.
The change will begin with this year’s PGA Championship.
Thomas: Playing in front of Tiger even more chaotic
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Justin Thomas may be going from the frying pan to the fire of Tiger Woods’ pairings.
Translation: He’s going from being grouped with Woods last week in the first two rounds at the Genesis Open to being grouped directly in front of Woods this week at the Honda Classic.
“Which might be even worse than playing with him,” Thomas said Wednesday.
Typically, the pairing in front of Woods deals with a lot of gallery movement, with fans racing ahead to get in position to see Woods’ next shot.
Thomas was quoted after two rounds with Tiger at Riviera saying fans “got a little out of hand,” and saying it’s disappointing some golf fans today think it’s “so amusing to yell and all that stuff while we’re trying to hit shots.”
With 200,000 fans expected this week at the Honda Classic, and with the Goslings Bear Trap pavilion setting a party mood at the 16th green and 17th tee, that portion of the course figures to be quite lively at PGA National.
Thomas was asked about that.
“I touched on this a little bit last week,” Thomas said. “I think it got blown out of proportion, was just taken out of context, and worded differently than how I said it or meant it.
“I love the fans. The fans are what I hope to have a lot of, what all of us hope to have a lot of. We want them cheering us on. But it's those certain fans that are choosing to yell at the wrong times, or just saying stuff that's completely inappropriate.”
Thomas said it’s more than ill-timed shouts. It’s the nature of some things being said.
“It's one thing if it's just you and I talking, but when you're around kids, when you're around women, when you're around families, or just around people in general, some of the stuff they are saying to us is just extremely inappropriate,” he said. “There’s really no place for it anywhere, especially on a golf course.
“I feel like golf is pretty well known as a classy sport, not that other sports aren't, but it has that reputation.”
Thomas said the nature of the 17th hole at PGA National’s Champion Course makes it a more difficult tee shot than the raucous 16th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Typically, players like to hear fans get into the action before or after they hit shots. Ill-timed bluster, however, makes a shot like the one at Honda’s 17th even tougher.
“That hole is hard enough,” Thomas said. “I don't need someone yelling in my ear on my backswing that I'm going to hit it in the water, to make it any harder. I hope it gets better, just for the sake of the game. That's not helping anything. That's not helping grow the game.”
Those who follow golf know an ill-timed shout in a player’s backswing is different than anything a fan says at a football, basketball or baseball game. An ill-timed comment in a backswing has a greater effect on the outcome of a competition.
“Just in terms of how much money we're playing for, how many points we're playing for ... this is our jobs out here, and you hate to somehow see something that a fan does, or something that they yell, influence something that affects [a player’s] job,” Thomas said.
Rory: Phil said RC task force just copied Europe
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Playing the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am two weeks ago, Rory McIlroy quizzed Phil Mickelson about what the Americans got out of the U.S. Ryder Cup task force’s overhaul.
McIlroy and Mickelson were paired together at Pebble Beach.
“Basically, all they are doing is copying what the Europeans have done,” McIlroy said. “That's what he said.”
The Europeans claimed their sixth of seven Ryder Cups with their victory at Gleneagles in 2014. That brought about a sea change in the way the United States approached the Ryder Cup. Mickelson called out the tactics in Gleneagles of captain Tom Watson, who was outmaneuvered by European captain Paul McGinley.
The Americans defeated Europe at Hazeltine two years ago with that new European model.
“He said the first thing they did in that task force was Phil played a video, a 12-minute video of Paul McGinley to all of them,” McIlroy said. “So, they are copying what we do, and it's working for them. It's more cohesive, and the team and the core of that team are more in control of what they are doing, instead of the PGA of America recruiting and someone telling them what to do.”