The situations are linked by the perception of money.
Woods was leading a World Golf Championship in Ireland after one round in 2002 when he was asked if it was more important that he win the WGC title and its $1 million check or the Ryder Cup the following week. Woods chose the individual title, and when asked to elaborate he famously replied, I can think of a million reasons why.
Poulter withdrew Monday from the Johnnie Walker Championship in Scotland, the final Ryder Cup qualifying event. He currently is about $105,000 short of the 10th and final spot and could have made the European team by finishing in the top 5 at Gleneagles.
Instead, he chose to play the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston, the second round of the PGA TOUR Playoffs. Poulter missed the cut last week at The Barclays, plunging 26 spots in the FedExCup standings to No. 89. Only the top 70 advance to the third round in St. Louis, so to skip Boston would eliminate Poulter from the playoffs and a chance to win the $10 million prize.
It has been an extremely difficult decision to make given my burning desire to represent Europe again in defending the Ryder Cup in the United States, said Poulter, whose only Ryder Cup appearance was in 2004.
The Englishman figured he had to play Boston to keep alive playoff hopes, and to give him his minimum 15 events on the PGA TOUR to retain his membership. He said he called captain Nick Faldo to explain his decision, and hope that my performance so far this year will earn one of his two wild card picks.
Faldo already is having to choose among Darren Clarke, who won in Holland for his second victory this year, and Paul Casey, who tied for seventh last week and is 3-1-2 in his two Ryder Cup trips. As for Poulter, his performance this year includes only two top 10s ' second to Padraig Harrington by four shots at the British Open, and a tie for ninth at Abu Dhabi in January.
Poulter faced a tough decision, no doubt, but if he really wanted to be on the European side, why not go to Scotland to at least give himself a chance? As for his PGA TOUR membership, theres something called the Fall Series, and Poulter had six tournaments he could have played after the Ryder Cup.
The volatility in the PGA TOUR Playoffs has the attention of the Masters, which last year updated its criteria to invite the top 30 from the FedEx Cup standings and the top 30 from the PGA TOUR money list.
The Masters prefers to keep its field small, and that wasnt affected by the FedExCup. Camilo Villegas was the only player who qualified for the Masters by reaching the final 30 at the TOUR Championship.
Its early, but among those moving into the top 30 after one playoff event were Kevin Sutherland (3), Nicholas Thompson (20), Mathew Goggin (26), Ken Duke (28) and Bubba Watson (30).
Thats a lot of movement as it relates to us and our field size, said Buzzy Johnson, senior tournament director of the Masters. Weve got our eye on it, believe me.
Sergio Garcia was second in total putts at The Barclays, giving him a platform to challenge his critics.
Obviously, Im putting much better, he said. Whoever doesnt think that is obviously blind.
Before anyone reaches for the white cane, it would be prudent to consider a year of putting, and not just one week. According to PGA TOUR statistics, Garcia is ranked No. 167 in total putts, compared with No. 17 a year ago.
Or maybe he was referring to 2006, when he was 176th in total putts.
Jim Furyk will play in the PGA Grand Slam of Golf for the third straight year, even though it has been five years since he won his only major in the 2003 U.S. Open.
Furyk and Retief Goosen have agreed to compete as alternates Oct. 14-15 at the Mid Ocean Club in Bermuda alongside Masters champion Trevor Immelman and British Open and PGA champion Padraig Harrington. Tiger Woods (U.S. Open) is out for the rest of the year, and Harrington created the other alternate spot by winning two majors.
This is the second time in three years that two alternates were required. Phil Mickelson declined to go in 2006 after winning the Masters, and Woods won two majors that year.
Alternates, who must be major champions, are determined by a points list from how they fared in the majors. Mickelson was the first alternate, but declined his invitation.
Padraig Harrington thought his 5-wood to 4 feet on the 17th hole at Royal Birkdale was his best shot at the British Open, and a panel of golf writers, broadcasters and European tour officials agreed by voting it the European Tour Shot of the Month for July. Even so, an argument can be made for another fairway metal on the back nine Sunday.
Harrington had a one-shot lead when he hit 3-wood into a stiff wind onto the par-5 15th green, setting up a two-putt birdie that gave him a two-shot cushion over Ian Poulter. The 5-wood was memorable because it stopped so close to the hole for an eagle, but once the ball bounded onto the green, the tournament effectively was over.
The debate is comparable with Paul Lawries victory at Carnoustie in 1999. The most memorable shot was his 4-iron to 3 feet on the final hole of a playoff to win by three shots. Perhaps more impressive, however, was a 4-iron to 12 feet on the 17th hole for birdie when Lawrie was tied with Justin Leonard.
Next up for the European panel is shot of the month for August, undoubtedly belonging to the Irishman. Will it be the 5-iron Harrington hit to 10 feet for birdie on the 17th for a one-shot lead at the PGA Championship, or the 15-foot par putt he holed on the 18th for the victory?
None of the players who finished in the top 10 at The Barclays last year were in the top 10 this year. Danny Lee secured the Mark H. McCormack Medal by winning the U.S. Amateur. The award is in its second year and goes to the No. 1 ranked amateur in the world. Colt Knost won the award last year. So where does Michael Phelps go after winning a record eight goal medals in the Olympics? A golfing vacation in the Algarve region of Portugal.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Lorena Ochoas six LPGA Tour victories are one more than all the Americans combined this year.
I got to play those major tournaments before I die. ' U.S. Amateur champion Danny Lee on his intentions to stay an amateur so he can play in the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open next year.