Notes OMeara Barely Keeps His 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.
IN THE MONEY
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.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
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.
SHRINE AT ST. ANDREWS
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.
STAT OF THE WEEK
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.
Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return
Gerina Piller, the American Olympian golfer and three-time Solheim Cup veteran, is pregnant and will not be rejoining the LPGA when the 2018 season opens, the New York Times reported following the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.
Piller, 32, who is married to PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, is due with the couple’s first child in May, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz reported.
Piller declined an interview request when GolfChannel.com sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.
Piller told the New York Times she has no timetable for her return but that she isn’t done with competitive golf.
“I’m not just giving everything up,” Piller said.
As parity reigns, LPGA searching for a superstar
Apologies to the LPGA’s golden eras, but women’s golf has never been deeper.
With the game going global, with the unrelenting wave of Asian talent continuing to slam the tour’s shores, with Thailand and China promising to add to what South Korea is delivering, it’s more difficult than ever to win.
That’s a beautiful and perplexing thing for the women’s game.
That’s because it is more difficult than ever to dominate.
And that’s a magic word in golf.
There is no more powerful elixir in the sport.
Domination gets you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on ESPN SportsCenter, maybe even on NBC Nightly News if the “D” in domination is dynamic enough.
The women’s best chance of moving their sport to another stratosphere is riding the back of a superstar.
Or maybe a pair of superstar rivals.
A constellation of stars may be great for the devoted regular supporters of the women’s game, but it will take a charismatic superstar to make casual fans care.
The LPGA needs a Serena Williams.
Or the reincarnation of Babe Zaharias.
For those of us who regularly follow the LPGA, this constellation of stars makes for compelling stories, a variety of scripting to feature.
The reality, however, is that it takes one colossal story told over and over again to burst out of a sports niche.
The late, great CBS sports director Frank Chirkinian knew what he had sitting in a TV production truck the first time he saw one of his cameras bring a certain young star into focus at the Masters.
“It’s this player coming up over the brow of the hill at the 15th hole to play his second shot,” Chirkinian once told me over lunch at a golf course he owned in South Florida. “He studies his shot, then flips his cigarette, hitches up his trousers and takes this mighty swipe and knocks the shot on the green. It was my first experience with Arnold Palmer, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’
“The thing about golf, more than any other sport, it’s always looking for a star. It’s the only sport where people will root against the underdog. They don’t want the stars to lose. They’re OK with some unknown rising up to be the story on Thursday or Friday, but they always want to see the stars win.”
And they go gaga when it’s one star so radiant that he or she dominates attention.
“It didn’t matter if Arnold was leading, or where he was, you had to show him,” Chirkinian said. “You never knew when he might do something spectacular.”
The LPGA is in a healthy place again, with a big upside globally, with so much emerging talent sharing the spotlight.
Take Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.
The back nine started with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie making the turn tied for the lead. There is no more powerful pairing to sell in the women’s game today, but there would be no duel. It would have been too far off script as the final chapter to this season.
Parity was the story this year.
Sunday in Naples started with 18 players within two shots of the lead.
Entering that back nine, almost a dozen players were in the mix, including Ariya Jutanugarn.
The day ended with Jutanugarn beating Thompson with a dramatic birdie-birdie finish after Thompson stunned viewers missing a 2-foot putt for par at the last.
The day encapsulated the expanding LPGA universe.
“I’ve never seen such crazy, brilliant golf from these ladies,” said Gary Gilchrist, who coaches Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Rolex world No. 1 Shanshan Feng. “It was unbelievable out there. It was just like birdie after birdie after birdie, and the scoreboard went up and down. And that’s why it’s so hard to be No. 1 on this tour. There’s not one person who can peak. It’s all of them at a phenomenal level of golf.”
If Thompson had made that last 2-footer and gone on to win the CME, she would have become the sixth different world No. 1 this year. Before this year, there had never been more than three different No. 1s in a single LPGA season.
Parity was the theme from the year’s start.
There were 15 different winners to open the season, something that hadn’t happened in 26 years. There were five different major championship winners.
This year’s Rolex Player of the Year Award was presented Sunday to So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. It’s the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.
Thompson won twice this year, with six second-place finishes, with three of those playoff losses, one of them in a major championship. She was close to putting together a spectacular year. She was close to dominating and maybe becoming the tour’s one true rock star.
Ultimately, Thompson showed us how hard that is to do now.
She’s in a constellation we’re all watching, to see if maybe one star breaks out, somebody able to take the game into living rooms it has never been, to a level of popularity it’s never been.
The game won’t get there with another golden era. It will get there with a golden player.
Love's hip surgery a success; eyes Florida swing return
Within hours of having hip replacement surgery on Tuesday Davis Love III was back doing what he does best – keeping busy.
“I’ve been up and walking, cheated in the night and stood up by the bed, but I’m cruising around my room,” he laughed early Wednesday from Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala., where he underwent surgery to replace his left hip. “[Dr. James Flanagan, who performed the surgery] wants me up. They don’t want me sitting for more than an hour.”
Love, 53, planned to begin more intensive therapy and rehabilitation on Wednesday and is scheduled to be released from the hospital later this afternoon.
According to Love’s doctors, there were no complications during the surgery and his recovery time is estimated around three to four months.
Love, who was initially hesitant to have the surgery, said he can start putting almost immediately and should be able to start hitting wedges in a few weeks.
Dr. Tom Boers – a physical therapist at the Hughston Orthopedic Clinic in Columbus, Ga., who has treated Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman and Brad Faxon – will oversee Love’s recovery and ultimately decide when he’s ready to resume normal golf activity.
“He understands motion and gait and swing speeds that people really don’t understand. He’s had all of us in there studying us,” Love said. “So we’ll see him in a couple of weeks and slowly get into the swing part of it.”
Although Love said he plans to temper his expectations for this most recent recovery, his goal is to be ready to play by the Florida swing next March.
Vegas lists Woods at 20-1 to win a major in 2018
He hasn't hit a competitive shot in nearly a year, but that hasn't stopped one Las Vegas outlet from listing Tiger Woods among the favorites to win a major in 2018.
The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook published betting odds this week on dozens of players to win any of the four majors next year. Leading the pack were Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth at 3/2, with Rory McIlroy next. But not far behind was Woods, who has been sidelined since February because of a back injury but was listed at 20/1.
Woods will make his much-anticipated return next week at the Hero World Challenge, and next month he will turn 42. Next summer will mark the 10-year anniversary of his last major championship victory, a sudden-death playoff win over Rocco Mediate at the 2008 U.S. Open.
Here's a look at the odds for several marquee players on winning any of the four biggest events in golf next year:
3/2: Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth
5/2: Rory McIlroy
7/2: Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day
9/2: Justin Rose
5/1: Brooks Koepka
15/2: Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey
10/1: Adam Scott
12/1: Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Marc Leishman, Thomas Pieters, Patrick Reed
15/1: Daniel Berger, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Patrick Cantlay, Branden Grace, Kevin Kisner, Alex Noren, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson
20/1: Tiger Woods, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Tony Finau, Martin Kaymer
25/1: Ryan Moore, Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson, Lee Westwood, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Chappell, Bryson DeChambeau, Bill Haas, Jason Dufner, Charley Hoffman
30/1: Pat Perez, Gary Woodland, Bernd Wiesberger, Brian Harman, Padraig Harrington, Emiliano Grillo, Ross Fisher, Si Woo Kim, J.B. Holmes