Notes Ryder Cup Race Silly Stats
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.''
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.
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.''
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.
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.
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).
``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.
McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.
The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.
McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.
McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.
''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''
Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.
''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''
McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.
''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''
The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.
''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''
The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.
Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel
If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.
Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:
When in the Middle East... pic.twitter.com/lNv1Lh79E0— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) January 16, 2018
If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:
Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."
Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."
I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H
And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.
Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational
Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.
The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.
Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.
“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”
Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews
Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.
Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.