Notes OMeara Barely Keeps His Card

By Associated PressMay 3, 2005, 4:00 pm
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Mark O'Meara felt the kind of pressure most rookies experience late in the year. Every shot counted if he wanted to keep his PGA Tour card.
O'Meara, who missed the last two months of last season with a wrist injury, was given a minor medical exemption this year. That gave him eight tournaments to make $79,396, the amount he fell short of 125th on the money list. The Zurich Classic of New Orleans was his final event under the exemption, and he needed $10,982.
``I felt like a rookie out there trying to keep my card,'' O'Meara said. ``Everyone says it should be easy to make 80 grand. Sometimes it's not when you're confidence is off.''
The first step was to make the cut. The two-time major champion was above the cut line with three holes to play Friday when he chipped in for birdie on the 16th, two-putted for par from long range on the 17th, then hit a wedge into 10 feet for birdie on the 18th to make the cut.
Finishing 70th would give him the money he needed, but when 83 players made the cut, O'Meara still had work left. Had he finished 71st, O'Meara would have come up $2 short.
Starting the final round in a tie for 58th, O'Meara opened with 10 straight pars before chipping in from 50 yards for an eagle on the par-5 second hole and making a birdie on the par-5 seventh. He closed with two straight bogeys for a 71 to tie for 52nd, earning $12,697, making it by $1,805.
``I haven't played well the last couple of years, but confidence is a big thing,'' O'Meara said.
O'Meara, 48, now plays out the season under a major medical extension. That means he no longer has to beg for sponsor's exemptions -- he already had them lined up for the next two weeks -- and all but assures he will have his card until he is old enough for the Champions Tour.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem made enough money in 2003 to be eighth on the money list, earning $3.8 million in Golf Digest's annual list of highest-paid nonprofit executives in the golf industry.
Golf Digest used the most recent tax filings to compile the list for its June edition. The top five came from the PGA Tour, with Finchem followed by co-chief operating officers Charlie Zink ($1,156,308) and Ed Moorhouse ($1,156,291). It wasn't clear why Zink made $17 more than Moorhouse in 2003.
Jim Awtrey, outgoing CEO of the PGA of America, was No. 6 on the list at $662,751, while USGA executive director David Fay checked in at No. 8 with a 2003 salary of $563,348.
Jay Haas played in the Wachovia Championship two years ago with his brother, Wake Forest coach Jerry Haas. He played with his son last year.
This year, it's one big family.
Jerry Haas qualified for one of the two spots available for North Carolina sectional pros, and Bill Haas was given a sponsor's exemption. They played a practice round Tuesday at Quail Hollow, joined by Billy Andrade.
``I would have never thought any of that could have been possible 20 years ago,'' Jay Haas said.
It takes on even greater significance since Haas is a member at Quail Hollow and once lived in Charlotte, where Bill was born. Having Andrade join them was no accident -- everyone in the group went to Wake Forest.
``Somebody said, 'Hopefully, you'll be the low Haas this week,''' Jerry Haas said. ``I said, 'Well, if I beat these guys, I'm playing pretty well, because I'm sure they'll play well.'''
That still might not be enough. Also in the field is Hunter Haas -- no relation.
The USGA has accepted a record number of entries for the U.S. Open -- 9,048 players who will try to qualify over the next month to tee it up June 16 at Pinehurst No. 2.
The number of entries is 322 higher than the previous mark, set last year for Shinnecock Hills.
The entries range from 14-year-old Andrew Yun of Tacoma, Wash., to 82-year-old Loyal Chapman of Minnetonka, Minn., including players from all 50 states and 80 countries.
A Hall of Fame is not part of the European sports culture, although the Royal & Ancient is doing its part to help educate golf fans.
The R&A has agreed to provide space inside the British Golf Museum at St. Andrews to allow the World Golf Hall of Fame to tell its story. The exhibit is expected to be ready next March.
``People make a pilgrimage to St. Andrews, and when they get to the British Golf Museum, they'll learn about the World Golf Hall of Fame and our place in golf,'' said Jack Peter, chief operating officer at the Hall of Fame. ``I couldn't be more thrilled with that. This is a major breakthrough for us.''
Seven Europeans have been inducted since the World Golf Hall of Fame opened in 1996 in St. Augustine, Fla. -- Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros, Tony Jacklin, Bernhard Langer, former R&A secretary Michael Bonallack, longtime teacher John Jacobs and administrator Neil Coles.
Tickets for next year's PGA Championship at Medinah went on sale Tuesday, with 19 ticket plans. That includes a $300 package for all seven days, offsite parking and a program; a $165 package for the first two rounds; and $200 for the final two rounds. Juniors (17 and under) can get a ticket for $30 a day if accompanied by an adult. ... John Q. Hammons has extended its title sponsorship of the LPGA Tour event in Tulsa, Okla., through next year with an option to renew through 2009. ... Four players have won for the first time on the PGA Tour this year, although Tim Petrovic at New Orleans was the only American in that group. The others were Geoff Ogilvy and Peter Lonard of Australia, and Padraig Harrington of Ireland. ... Jim Thorpe donated his first-place check of $247,500 from the FedEx Kinko's Classic to the Crossings Community Church he attends in Lake Mary, Fla.
Nancy Lopez earned $73,500 from her five straight LPGA Tour victories in 1978. Annika Sorenstam earned $1.025 million from her current five-tournament winning streak.
The atmosphere of the whole tournament, it just doesn't have that intensity, I guess, that you see out here.'' -- Jay Haas, 51, who played a Champions Tour event two weeks ago.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Copycat: Honda's 17th teeters on edge of good taste

By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 12:37 am

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The Honda Classic won’t pack as many fans around its party hole this week as the Phoenix Open does, but there is something more intensely intimate about PGA National’s stadium setup.

Players feel like the spectators in the bleachers at the tee box at Honda’s 17th hole are right on top of them.

“If the wind’s wrong at the 17th tee, you can get a vodka cranberry splashed on you,” Graeme McDowell cracked. “They are that close.”

Plus, the 17th at the Champion Course is a more difficult shot than the one players face at Scottsdale's 16th.

It’s a 162-yard tee shot at the Phoenix Open with no water in sight.

It’s a 190-yard tee shot at the Honda Classic, to a small, kidney-shaped green, with water guarding the front and right side of the green and a bunker strategically pinched into the back-center. Plus, it’s a shot that typically must be played through South Florida’s brisk winter winds.

“I’ve hit 3- and 4-irons in there,” McDowell said. “It’s a proper golf hole.”

It’s a shot that can decide who wins late on a Sunday, with hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line.

Factor in the intensely intimate nature of that hole, with fans partaking in libations at the Gosling Bear Trap pavilion behind the 17th tee and the Cobra Puma Village behind the 17th green, and the degree of difficulty there makes it one of the most difficult par 3s on the PGA Tour. It ranked as the 21st most difficult par 3 on the PGA Tour last year with a 3.20 scoring average. Scottsdale's 16th ranked 160th at 2.98.

That’s a fairly large reason why pros teeing it up at the Honda Classic don’t want to see the Phoenix-like lunacy spill over here the way it threatened to last year.

That possibility concerns players increasingly agitated by the growing unruliness at tour events outside Phoenix. Rory McIlroy said the craziness that followed his pairing with Tiger Woods in Los Angeles last week left him wanting a “couple Advil.” Justin Thomas, also in that grouping, said it “got a little out of hand.”

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So players will be on alert arriving at the Honda Classic’s 17th hole this week.

A year ago, Billy Horschel complained to PGA Tour officials about the heckling Sergio Garcia and other players received there.

Horschel told last year that he worried the Honda Classic might lose some of its appeal to players if unruly fan behavior grew worse at the party hole, but he said beefed up security helped on the weekend. Horschel is back this year, and so is Garcia, good signs for Honda as it walks the fine line between promoting a good party and a good golf tournament.

“I embrace any good sporting atmosphere as long as it stays respectful,” Ian Poulter said. “At times, the line has been crossed out here on Tour. People just need to be sensible. I am not cool with being abused.

“Whenever you mix alcohol with a group of fans all day, then Dutch courage kicks in at some stage.”

Bottom line, Poulter likes the extra excitement fans can create, not the insults some can hurl.

“I am all up for loud crowds,” he said. “A bit of jeering and fun is great, but just keep it respectful. It’s a shame it goes over the line sometimes. It needs to be managed.”

Honda Classic executive director Ken Kennerly oversees that tough job. In 12 years leading the event, he has built the tournament into something special. The attendance has boomed from an estimated 65,000 his first year at the helm to more than 200,000 last year.

With Tiger Woods committed to play this year, Kennerly is hopeful the tournament sets an attendance record. The arrival of Woods, however, heightens the challenges.

Woods is going off with the late pairings on Friday, meaning he will arrive at Honda’s party hole late in the day, when the party’s fully percolating.

Kennerly is expecting 17,000 fans to pack that stadium-like atmosphere on the event’s busiest days.

Kennerly is also expecting the best from South Florida fans.

“We have a zero tolerance policy,” Kennerly said. “We have more police officers there, security and more marshals.

“We don’t want to be nasty and throw people out, but we want them to be respectful to players. We also want it to continue to be a fun place for people to hang out, because we aren’t getting 200,000 people here just to watch golf.”

Kennerly said unruly fans will be ejected.

“But we think people will be respectful, and I expect when Tiger and the superstars come through there, they aren’t going to have an issue,” Kennerly said.

McDowell believes Kennerly has the right balance working, and he expects to see that again this week.

“They’ve really taken this event up a couple notches the last five or 10 years with the job they’ve done, especially with what they’ve done at the 16th and 17th holes,” McDowell said. “I’ve been here a lot, and I don’t think it’s gotten to the Phoenix level yet.”

The real test of that may come Friday when Woods makes his way through there at the end of the day.

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Door officially open for Woods to be playing vice captain

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 20, 2018, 11:50 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Thirteen months ago, when Jim Furyk was named the 2018 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, one of the biggest questions was what would happen if Furyk were to play his way onto his own team.

It wasn’t that unrealistic. 

At the time, Furyk was 46 and coming off a season in which he tied for second at the U.S. Open and shot 58 in a PGA Tour event. If anything, accepting the Ryder Cup captaincy seemed premature.

And now?

Now, he’s slowly recovering from shoulder surgery that knocked him out of action for six months. He’s ranked 230th in the world. He’s planning to play an 18-event schedule, on past champion status, mostly to be visible and available to prospective team members.

A playing captain? Furyk chuckled at the thought.

“Wow,” he said here at PGA of America headquarters, “that would be crazy-difficult.”

That’s important to remember when assessing Tiger Woods’ chances of becoming a playing vice captain.

On Tuesday, Woods was named an assistant for the matches at Le Golf National, signing up for months of group texts and a week in which he'd sport an earpiece, scribble potential pairings on a sheet of paper and fetch anything Team USA needs.

It’s become an increasingly familiar role for Woods, except this appointment isn’t anything like his vice captaincy at Hazeltine in 2016 or last year’s Presidents Cup.

Unlike the past few years, when his competitive future was in doubt because of debilitating back pain, there’s at least a chance now that Woods can qualify for the team on his own, or deserve consideration as a captain’s pick. 

There’s a long way to go, of course. He’s 104th in the points standings. He’s made only two official starts since August 2015. His driving needs a lot of work. He hasn’t threatened serious contention, and he might not for a while. But, again: Come September, it’s possible.

And so here was Woods’ taped message Tuesday: “My goal is to make the team, but whatever happens over the course of this season, I will continue to do whatever I can to help us keep the cup.”

That follows what Woods told reporters last week at Riviera, when he expressed a desire to be a playing vice captain.

“Why can’t I have both?” he said. “I like both.”

Furyk, eventually, will have five assistants in Paris, and he could have waited to see how Woods fared this year before assigning him an official role.

He opted against that. Woods is too valuable of an asset.

“I want him on-board right now,” Furyk said.

Arnold Palmer was the last to serve as both player and captain for a Ryder Cup – in 1963. Nothing about the Ryder Cup bears any resemblance to those matches, other than there’s still a winner and a loser. There is more responsibility now. More planning. More strategy. More pressure.

For the past two team competitions, the Americans have split into four-man pods that practiced together under the supervision of one of the assistants. That assistant then relayed any pertinent information to the captain, who made the final decision.

The assistants are relied upon even more once the matches begin. Furyk will need to be on the first tee for at least the first hour of the matches, welcoming all of the participants and doing interviews for the event’s many TV partners, and he needs an assistant with each of the matches out on the course. They’re the captain’s eyes and ears.

Furyk would need to weigh whether Woods’ potential impact as a vice captain – by all accounts he’s the best Xs-and-Os specialist – is worth more than the few points he could earn on the course. Could he adequately handle both tasks? Would dividing his attention actually be detrimental to the team?

“That would be a bridge we cross when we got there,” Furyk said.

If Woods plays well enough, then it’s hard to imagine him being left off the roster, even with all of the attendant challenges of the dual role.

“It’s possible,” Furyk said, “but whether that’s the best thing for the team, we’ll see.”

It’s only February, and this comeback is still new. As Furyk himself knows, a lot can change over the course of a year.

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Furyk tabs Woods, Stricker as Ryder Cup vice captains

By Will GrayFebruary 20, 2018, 9:02 pm

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk has added Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker to his stable of vice captains to aid in his quest to win on foreign soil for the first time in 25 years.

Furyk made the announcement Tuesday in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., site of this week's Honda Classic. He had previously named Davis Love III as his first vice captain, with a fourth expected to be named before the biennial matches kick off in France this September.

The addition of Woods and Stricker means that the team room will have a familiar feel from two years ago, when Love was the U.S. captain and Furyk, Woods, Stricker and Tom Lehman served as assistants.

This will be the third time as vice captain for Stricker, who last year guided the U.S. to victory as Presidents Cup captain. After compiling a 3-7-1 individual record as a Ryder Cup player from 2008-12, Stricker served as an assistant to Tom Watson at Gleneagles in 2014 before donning an earpiece two years ago on Love's squad at Hazeltine.

"This is a great honor for me, and I am once again thrilled to be a vice captain,” Stricker said in a statement. “We plan to keep the momentum and the spirit of Hazeltine alive and channel it to our advantage in Paris."

Woods will make his second appearance as a vice captain, having served in 2016 and also on Stricker's Presidents Cup team last year. Woods played on seven Ryder Cup teams from 1997-2012, and last week at the Genesis Open he told reporters he would be open to a dual role as both an assistant and a playing member this fall.

"I am thrilled to once again serve as a Ryder Cup vice captain and I thank Jim for his confidence, friendship and support," Woods said in a statement. "My goal is to make the team, but whatever happens over the course of this season, I will continue to do what I can to help us keep the cup."

The Ryder Cup will be held Sept. 28-30 at Le Golf National in Paris. The U.S. has not won in Europe since 1993 at The Belfry in England.

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Watch: Guy wins $75K boat, $25K cash with 120-foot putt

By Grill Room TeamFebruary 20, 2018, 8:15 pm

Making a 120-foot putt in front of a crowd of screaming people would be an award in and of itself for most golfers out there, but one lucky Minnesota man recently got a little something extra for his effort.

The Minnesota Golf Show at the Minneapolis Convention Center has held a $100,000 putting contest for 28 years, and on Sunday, Paul Shadle, a 49-year-old pilot from Rosemount, Minnesota, became the first person ever to sink the putt, winning a pontoon boat valued at $75,000 and $25,000 cash in the process.

But that's not the whole story. Shadle, who describes himself as a "weekend golfer," made separate 100-foot and 50-foot putts to qualify for an attempt at the $100K grand prize – in case you were wondering how it's possible no one had ever made the putt before.

"Closed my eyes and hoped for the best," Shadle said of the attempt(s).

Hard to argue with the result.