Notes US Open exemptions at stake Playoff Fever

By Associated PressMay 18, 2011, 3:58 am
PGA Tour (75x100)PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Tournaments on three continents this week could go a long way toward deciding who gets in the U.S. Open. The top 50 in the world ranking published Monday are exempt from qualifying.

David Toms, who lost in a playoff at The Players Championship, went from No. 75 to No. 46 this week. He is not on the bubble, but likely safe unless a few other players behind him all have a good week at Colonial. Toms has not missed the U.S. Open since 1998.

Ryo Ishikawa, meanwhile, tied for 12th last week on the Japan Golf Tour and fell three spots to No. 53. He is playing this week in the Totoumi Hamamatsu Open, and because Japan gets far fewer world ranking points, he likely will need a top finish to avoid qualifying.

Further down the list are two names of greater significance.

Vijay Singh has the longest active streak with 67 straight appearances in the majors. He missed the cut last week in The Players and fell to No. 59 in the world. He received a special exemption from the USGA last year.

Sergio Garcia is at No. 73 and in danger of missing a major for the first time since the 1999 U.S. Open that the late Payne Stewart won at Pinehurst No. 2. It also would be the first time he had to qualify for the U.S. Open, although those are no longer his intentions.

“If I don’t qualify, then I don’t deserve to play,” Garcia said last week.

Aaron Baddeley is at No. 50, although he appears to be safe. The U.S. Open also takes the top 10 on the PGA Tour money list after next week, and Baddeley is No. 7 on the strength of his win at Riviera. If not, he’s in the right place this week – Spain.

The World Match Play Championship on the European Tour schedule is stacked with top players – five of the top six players in the world (missing only Phil Mickelson at No. 4). With only 24 players in the field, he is assured of getting some points.

Peter Hanson of Sweden tied for 19th, which moved him up four spots to No. 48, although he is not playing this week. Gary Woodland is at No. 49 and not playing at Colonial – this would be his fifth straight event – and will need to stay put to assure his spot. J.B. Holmes, who closed with a 69 at the TPC Sawgrass to tie for sixth, moved up to No. 52 and is playing Colonial.

The U.S. Open, to be played June 16-19, also will take the top 50 in the world the week before the championship begins, leaving hope for those who don’t make it.

The cutoff for top 50 to be exempt for the British Open is May 30, although it has other avenues to get in. Among them is having the highest finish at the AT&T National and John Deere Classic among those not already eligible. It also offers spots to the top two players from a special money list that starts with The Players Championship and includes five straight tournaments through the AT&T National.

YOUTHFUL MOMENT: Matteo Manassero already has won twice on the European Tour, cracked the top 50 in the world and is playing a full schedule in the major championships this year. By now, it’s understood that he’s only 18 and still doesn’t have a driver’s license.

A different perspective came Saturday during the rain delay at The Players Championship.

David Toms was on the porch of the clubhouse with his 13-year-old son Carter when Manassero came outside to look at the weather. Before long, he was caught up in conversation with Toms’ son about languages. Manassero explained it was mandatory to take English and one other language at his school, so he picked Spanish over German.

Toms watched as the guy he tries to beat on the golf course had an easier time chatting with his son than with him.

PLAYOFF FEVER: First it was Brandt Snedeker at Hilton Head, then Bubba Watson in New Orleans and Lucas Glover at Quail Hollow. Just when it seemed every PGA Tour event went to a sudden-death playoff, the streak continued Sunday at The Players Championship when K.J. Choi won with a par on the 17th hole.

Officially, it’s the first time since the end of the 2009 season that four straight PGA Tour events on the schedule went to extra holes. But that took place over a six-week stretch. This is the first time since the PGA Tour began keeping complete records in 1969 that tournaments were decided by a playoff in four successive weeks.

SUNSHINE CEO: The Sunshine Tour in South Africa is getting a new commissioner.

Just one month after Gareth Tindall announced plans for a new World Golf Championship in South Africa as early as next year – an announcement that caught the PGA Tour by surprise because there is still not a firm date or title sponsor – the Sunshine Tour announced he will be leaving at the end of June to take a job in the business world.

“Every so often in life, an opportunity comes along that one just cannot refuse,” Tindall said.

He will be replaced by Selwyn Nathan, the deputy chairman of the tour.

DIVOTS: Excluding the majors, Ian Poulter has gone 24 consecutive PGA Tour events without finishing in the top 10 against a full field. His most recent was a tie for ninth at The Barclays in 2009. … The PGA Tour picked up two more title sponsor extensions over the past few days, with Northern Trust (Riviera) renewing its deal through 2016 and FedEx agreeing to be title sponsor of the St. Jude Classic in Memphis, Tenn., through 2014. … Six major champions will take part in “Ole Seve,” a pro-am of 22 teams on the West Course at Wentworth on May 23. All the proceeds will go toward the Seve Ballesteros Foundation in partnership with Cancer Research UK. Jose Maria Olazabal will serve as the host of the pro-am. … Juli Inkster and Morgan Pressel will take part in the CVS Charity Classic, the two-day exhibition after the U.S. Open hosted by Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade.

STAT OF THE WEEK: In the five years since The Players Championship moved to May, no one leading after the third round has gone on to win the tournament.

FINAL WORD: “My issues with putting really aren’t the length of the putter, it’s the length between my ears.” – Paul Goydos, on why he doesn’t use a long putter.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.