Notes Ryder Cup Race Silly Stats

By Associated PressAugust 30, 2005, 4:00 pm
The Omega Masters in Switzerland this week is the starting line for Europeans to earn Ryder Cup points, although some players again face tough decisions about how much they want to make the team.
 
Jesper Parnevik, Justin Rose, Greg Owen and Fredrik Jacobson are among those who will not be listed in either of the Ryder Cup standings -- money and world ranking points -- because they do not plan to play the minimum 11 tournaments to retain their European tour membership this year.
 
Parnevik is 130th on the PGA Tour money list, and his first goal is to keep his card. Rose moved up to 66th on the money list with his tie for third at the Buick Championship, although at No. 93 in the world he would be better served playing on the PGA Tour to help improve his ranking and get into the majors.

``I'm going to join the European tour as of the end of the season,'' Rose said. ``That'll make me eligible for the Ryder Cup, but then I'll obviously have to play fantastically well to force my way onto the team. I'll be a little behind the guys, but if you play well ... you can do it.''
 
If they had played well this year, it might have been easier.
 
Top players such as Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia, Darren Clarke and Luke Donald have an easier time keeping membership on both tours because they are eligible for the four majors and three World Golf Championships. That means they have to play only four European tour events.
 
Parnevik played in the Masters and PGA Championship, leaving nine European events he would have had to play.
 
Harrington sees nothing wrong with Ryder Cup players having to keep membership on the European tour.
 
``Eleven isn't too much to ask, is it?'' he said. ``You only have to play four extra events, and if you're good enough to be on the team, you'll be in the top 50 in the world ranking.''
 
Jacobson has played just five European Tour events this year. He is 77th in the world ranking and has two months left to try to get into the top 50, which would make him eligible for the majors next year. Plus, Jacobson's wife is expecting their second child in January. They live in south Florida.
 
``I need to focus on this place and be with my family,'' he told England's Press Association news agency. ``It's disappointing, because I'd love to play in the Ryder Cup. But I can't see myself changing everything for one week.''
 
SILLY STATS
Here's another reason the only statistic that means anything in golf is winning.
 
Roland Thatcher leads the PGA Tour in greens in regulation at 72.3 percent, but he is last among 206 players in putts per round. That might explain why he is 155th on the money list and in jeopardy of losing his card.
 
Or maybe not.
 
Sergio Garcia ranks third in greens in regulation at 71.3 percent. He is next-to-last in putts per round. And he is ninth on the money list with $2.6 million, having won the Booz Allen Classic.
 
SPARKLING DEBUT
Michael Putnam was at Merion to get ready for the U.S. Amateur. A week later, he tapped in a par for a final-round 63 at the Buick Championship and earned $177,733 in his professional debut.
 
``It worked out perfectly,'' Putnam said.
 
Putnam, the NCAA runner-up from Pepperdine, didn't even qualify for match play last year at the U.S. Amateur, so there wasn't a huge incentive to stick around Merion. When he got a call that he received a sponsor's exemption to the Buick Championship, he jumped on a train for Hartford and saw the TPC at River Highlands for the first time Monday.
 
``The tight holes really looked good to me,'' he said. ``The open holes, obviously they're open, so they didn't have to look good to me. It fit my eye, and I felt comfortable out here.''
 
He opened with a 65, but more impressive was a bogey-free 63 his first time in contention. He wound up tied for fourth, two shots out of the playoff, which gets him in the Deutsche Bank Championship this week. He hopes to get more exemptions, although expectations remain modest.
 
``Realistically, I didn't know what to expect,'' he said. ``I'm just trying to play well, and I did it this week and shot 12 under. I was just trying to get my feet wet, and I jumped in over my head.''
 
SILLY SEASON
With all the talk about a shorter year, the silly season is getting bigger.
 
The latest addition is the Bard Capital Challenge, which will offer amateurs from 250 local American Cancer Society charity events the chance to qualify for a team competition with PGA Tour players Dec. 1-4 in Las Vegas.
 
The amateur portion runs through Oct. 15 and is expected to attract 30,000 players with a handicap index between 3 and 27. Those who qualify compete at the TPC at The Canyons, with the eight best two-player teams joining up with eight tour players in the 54-hole final. Scoring will be a better ball of the amateurs, plus the professional's score.
 
Prize money is $750,000, with $150,000 going to the American Cancer Society.
 
FUTURES GRADUATES
Two years after winning the U.S. Women's Amateur, Virada Nirapathpongporn is finally headed to the LPGA Tour.
 
Nirapathpongporn was among the top five players on the Futures Tour money list, earning LPGA Tour cards for next year. The others were Nicole Castrale, and the South Korean trio of Seon-Hwa Lee, Kyeong Bae and Sun Young Yoo.
 
The next 10 players on the Futures Tour money list get into the final stage of qualifying school. That group includes former U.S. Junior Girls Amateur champion Julieta Granada, and Cristina Baena, the sister of Marisa Baena.
 
DIVOTS
Brad Faxon became the first player since Jose Maria Olazabal at the 2002 Buick Invitational to make the cut on the number and win the tournament. Faxon was 12 shots out of the lead going into the weekend at the Buick Championship. Olazabal was eight shots behind at Torrey Pines. ... Faxon's 61 was the best closing round by a winner since David Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic in 1999. ... Daniel Chopra has missed only one PGA Tour event for which he has been eligible this year, the Chrysler Classic of Tucson. He has played 27 times and is 100th on the money list.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Four of the top six players in driving distance on the LPGA Tour will play for Europe in the Solheim Cup -- Sophie Gustafson (No. 2), Annika Sorenstam (No. 3), Laura Davies (No. 4) and Maria Hjorth (No. 6).
 
FINAL WORD
``I didn't really think about the money until I kind of tapped in my putt on 18 ... and I realized I just made 100 times what's in my back account.'' -- Michael Putnam, who tied for fourth at the Buick Championship and earned $177,733 in his PGA Tour debut.

Thompson wins Race, loses tournament after short miss

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 8:52 pm

The drama went down to the very last hole in the LPGA's final event of 2017. Here's how things ended up at the CME Group Tour Championship, where a surprising miss from Lexi Thompson opened the door for Ariya Jutanugarn to win in dramatic fashion:

Leaderboard: Ariya Jutanugarn (-15), Lexi Thompson (-14), Jessica Korda (-14), Pernilla Lindberg (-13), Eun-Hee Ji (-13)

What it means: There were scenarios aplenty entering the final round, with nearly every season-long accolade still hanging in the balance. Thompson appeared set to take them all as she sized up a 2-foot par putt on the final hole - a stroke that looked like it would take her to world No. 1 for the first time. Instead, the putt barely touched the hole and allowed Jutanugarn to rally to victory with birdies on the closing two holes. Thompson still took home $1 million for winning the season-long Race to the CME Globe, as it was a reverse scenario from last year when Jutanugarn won the $1 million but not the final tournament.

Round of the day: Sei Young Kim made the day's biggest charge, turning in a 6-under 66 to close the week in a share of 11th at 10 under. Kim made eight birdies during the final round, including five over her first eight holes en route to her lowest round of the week while erasing a third-round 75.

Best of the rest: Jutanugarn seemed like an afterthought as the tournament was winding down, but she kept her hopes alive with an 18-foot birdie on No. 17 and then capitalized on Thompson's mistake with a clutch birdie on the difficult final hole. It capped off a final-round 67 for the Thai who now ends what has been a tumultuous season with a smile on her face.

Biggest disappointment: Thompson faced heartbreak after the penalty-shrouded ANA Inspiration, and she again must handle a setback after essentially missing a tap-in with everything on the line. Thompson can enjoy a $1 million consolation prize along with the Vare Trophy, but a tournament win would have clinched Player of the Year honors as well as her first-ever trip to world No. 1. Instead, she now has the entire off-season to think about how things went awry from close range.

Shot of the day: There were only three birdies on No. 18 during the final round before Jutanugarn laced one down the fairway and hit a deft approach to 15 feet. The subsequent putt found the target and gave her win No. 7 on her young LPGA career.

Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

"I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

"I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.