Notes Poulters love of money Masters invites

By Associated PressAugust 26, 2008, 4:00 pm
The British press, which roasted Tiger Woods six years ago for choosing a $1 million payoff over winning the Ryder Cup, has been strangely subdued over Ian Poulters decision to put the lucrative FedExCup over his last chance at making the European team.
 
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.
 
MASTERS
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.
 
SAY AGAIN?
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.
 
GRAND SLAM
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.
 
PADRAIGS SHOT
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?
 
DIVOTS
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.
 
FINAL WORD
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.
 
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  • Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."

    Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

    Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

    Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

    Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

    With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

    Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

    “It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

    Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

    Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

    "It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."

    Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:22 pm

    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

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:00 pm

    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.


    Photos: 2017 LPGA winners gallery


    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.