OMeara May Be Down to His Last Card

By Associated PressSeptember 24, 2003, 4:00 pm
Mark O'Meara has been the model of consistency during a 23-year career on the PGA Tour with 16 victories, two major championships and never finishing out of the top 125 on the money list.
But at age 46, and struggling with his putting, O'Meara finds himself in a precarious position.
He made the cut on the number at the 84 Lumber Classic - his first cut since the British Open - but didn't hit another shot because a 36-hole Sunday meant only those closest to the top 60 played the final two rounds.
O'Meara had to settle for a tie for 69th and earned $7,560, leaving him at 134th on the money list as he takes a month break from golf.
He has only two tournaments left - Disney and Tampa - to keep his card for 2004. Otherwise, O'Meara will be forced to use his one-time exemption for being in the top 50 on the career money list.
This is noteworthy because of what happened in a conference room six years ago.
O'Meara was on the PGA Tour policy board in 1997 and was among those strongly in favor of getting rid of 10-year exemptions that came with winning majors, The Players Championship and the World Series of Golf.
The tour was concerned some players were becoming ceremonial figures during the latter part of that 10-year free pass, and the board voted in November to reduce the exemption to five years starting in 1998.
Just his luck, O'Meara won the Masters and the British Open that year.
His five-year exemption runs out this year.
Timing is everything.
Corey Pavin is 146th on the money list. Unless he improves in the next two months, this will be the fifth time in the last seven years he has finished outside the top 125. Pavin, however, is exempt through 2005 because of his '95 U.S. Open victory at Shinnecock Hills.
John Daly also is exempt for two more years from winning the '95 British Open.
Mark Brooks is 177th on the money list and hasn't won since the '96 PGA Championship, which makes him exempt for three more years.
Steve Elkington - remember him? - is 181st on the money list, but he's good through 2007 because of his victory in The Players Championship the year before the exemption policy changed.
The one argument O'Meara made during the debate on the 10-year exemption was getting extra time for multiple majors. Players get a two-year exemption for winning a regular tournament, plus an extra year for each additional victory that year.
O'Meara won two majors in one year - Tiger Woods, Nick Faldo, Nick Price are the only others to have done that in the last 20 years - but could be down to his last card next year.
WIESY DOES IT: Michelle Wie plays more tournament golf than Greg Norman these days.
After missing the cut in the Boise Open on the Nationwide Tour, Wie returns this week to the LPGA Tour for the Safeway Classic in Portland (Begins Fri. at 8:00PM ET on The Golf Channel).
The 13-year-old from Hawaii then gets a two-week break before going to Korea for the Sports Today CJ Nine Bridges Classic, which will be her seventh and final LPGA Tour event of the year.
Including her appearance on the Canadian Tour, Wie will have played nine professional tournaments this year.
What does next year hold?
Wie has lobbied for a sponsor's exemption into the Sony Open in January, where last year she shot a 73 in the Monday qualifier and missed by seven shots.
'I've been talking to committee members,' said her father, B.J. Wie. 'They're still taking her under consideration. They told me they would make a decision in November.'
Wie can forget about playing in the other Hawaii tournaments. The Mercedes Championships on Maui is only for PGA Tour winners, while the Grand Slam of Golf at Poipu Bay is for winners of the four majors.
'The Grand Slam will be tough,' B.J. Wie said. 'Maybe she can play in the pro-am.'
FATHER LEONARD: Justin Leonard was four shots out of the lead at the John Deere Classic when he got the phone call he wasn't expecting for another few weeks - his wife had gone into labor.
Leonard chartered a jet out of Moline, Ill., at 1 a.m. Sunday, arrived in Dallas at 3:30 a.m. and headed straight for the hospital. His daughter, Reese, was born about seven hours later, weighing 6 pounds, 9 ounces.
'What an amazing process and a true miracle to witness,' Leonard said.
He is skipping the Texas Open, which he won two years ago.
SERENA AND SORENSTAM: Serena Williams and Annika Sorenstam are the most marketable female athletes in The Sports Business Daily's survey of top marketing and advertising executives.
The athletes were given five points for a first-place vote through one point for a fifth-place vote.
Williams received 34 out of 55 first-place votes and finished with 219 points, while Sorenstam got 12 first-place votes and received 156 points. Mia Hamm, who finished first when the weekly magazine last conducted this survey in 1998, had four first-place votes and received 124 points.
The only other golfer in the top 10 was Michelle Wie, the 13-year-old amateur from Hawaii, who got 19 points.
DIVOTS: Annika Sorenstam will start next season Down Under when she plays in the Australian ANZ Ladies Masters the last weekend in February. Sorenstam last won the tournament in 2002, beating Karrie Webb in a four-hole playoff. ... Brad Faxon will be making his UBS Cup debut this year. Also playing for the U.S. team are Tom Watson, Curtis Strange, Mark O'Meara, Raymond Floyd, Hale Irwin and Craig Stadler. Six players are 40-49, while the other six are 50 and older. The Rest of the World team will include Nick Faldo, Barry Lane and Rodger Davis. ... The LPGA Tour stop in Oklahoma has a new name (John Q. Hammons Classic) and a new location. It is leaving Tulsa CC for nearby Cedar Ridge.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Colin Montgomerie is No. 32 in the world ranking, his lowest since he first entered the ranking at No. 36 in 1991.
FINAL WORD: 'When does he change his mind - after the shirts have been selected or before?' - Nick Faldo, criticizing Bernhard Langer for suggesting he would hand over captaincy of the Ryder Cup if he makes the team.

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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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.