One-Time Exemption Brings Mayfair Back To the Fold

By Associated PressMay 25, 2005, 4:00 pm
Billy Mayfair had 15 consecutive years of job security, so it was quite a jolt when he finished last season out of the top 125 on the money list and faced the prospect of going back to Q-school.
Even more discouraging was the way he was playing.
I got away from my golf swing, I lost some confidence and I lost confidence in the putter, Mayfair said Tuesday. I was missing putts inside 10 feet for par, and that starts working on you after a while.
At age 38, he had to use his one-time exemption for top 50 in career money to keep his status. He was determined to change his fortunes, and even Mayfair is surprised by his progress. His runner-up finish at the Colonial was his fourth top 10 of the year and moved him up to No. 17 on the money list.
I knew I could do it, said Mayfair, a former U.S. Amateur champion whose five victories include the Tour Championship. My first goal was to get my status back, to stay in the top 125. Im not going to lie; its pretty much a surprise to be as high up as I am.
As much fun as Im having this year, I was not having that much fun last year.
The turning point came after he missed the cut in Milwaukee. Both his wife and his good friend, Phil Mickelson, suggested he seek out swing coach Rick Smith.
Along with changing his grip, Smith suggested a move to the belly putter. Mayfair resisted until he shot 81 in the third round at Greensboro. Leaving the tournament, he saw a man selling clubs from a barrel and picked out a belly putter for $15. The next week, he consulted Vijay Singh and had a model made for him.
Suddenly, everything started to fall into place.
Mayfair played only once from the end of 2004 to the start of 2005, tying for 11th in a PGA Tour-sponsored event in Korea. Then he geared up for what might have been his last shot on tour.
I knew if I didnt play well, I was going to have to go back to Tour school, he said. Obviously, some bad thoughts come into your mind. But one of the things I wanted to do was try to get some confidence back. I didnt want to slide into the year. I went to Hawaii ready to go.
He didnt miss a cut on the West Coast, and the momentum kept building through a 10th-place finish at Quail Hollow that locked up his card, and his runner-up finish at the Colonial that has him thinking about the Tour Championship.
If he makes it to East Lake, Mayfair would be the first player since John Huston in 1998 to use a one-time exemption from career money and finish about the top 30 on the money list.
Colin Montgomerie is No. 53 in the world and needs a strong finish in Europe to avoid having to qualify for the U.S. Open. The top 50 in the world ranking after this week are exempt to Pinehurst No. 2.
On the PGA Tour, it might not be that dramatic.
Jonathan Kaye is No. 51, but he did not enter the St. Jude Classic. Neither did Joe Ogilvie at No. 55, because he is moving into a new house in Austin, Texas. Tim Herron (No. 49) could drop out of the top 50, but Lumpy already is eligible because he was among the top 15 at the U.S. Open last year.
Conspicuously missing from Memphis is Charles Howell III, who is No. 46 in the world and not yet exempt for the U.S. Open. One can only suspect that not playing this week will help him secure his place among the top 50.
When he reached 100 straight cuts on his way to breaking Byron Nelsons record, Tiger Woods said it was impossible to compare the two eras. The difference often cited is that Woods played in 31 tournaments that had no cut, such as the Tour Championship and World Golf Championships.
Take those away and his consecutive cut streak would have ended at 111 -- not 142 -- which seemingly would leave him two short of Nelsons mark of 113 in a row.
Nelson, however, also played tournaments that didnt have a cut.
During his streak from 1941 to the start of 1949, he played in at least 10 tournaments that had no cut. The PGA Championship was match play during those years, paying $85 for those losing in the first round. And the Masters didnt institute a 36-hole cut until 1957, long after Nelson retired.
Nelson also played the Miami Fourball four times during the streak, teaming with Harold McSpaden in match play. He also teamed with McSpaden in the Minneapolis Fourball and Inverness Fourball, although it was not clear whether either of those had cuts (in Nelsons era, making the cut meant getting a paycheck).
Eliminate those five PGAs and five Masters, and Nelsons cut streak would have been 103.
U.S. Amateur champion Ryan Moore has decided to keep his spot in the U.S. Open instead of turning pro and going through sectional qualifying.
Moores future was slightly muddled when he tied for 13th at the Masters, which made him exempt from local qualifying. He signed up for sectional qualifying when he submitted his U.S. Open entry form, and USGA officials gave him a Monday deadline for making up his mind.
If he had failed to make it through sectionals, Moore could not have reclaimed his spot at Pinehurst as the U.S. Amateur champion.
His dad said that Ryan thought about it and, given his schedule is so intense with the NCAAs, he felt he didnt want to take that chance, said Betsy Swain, the USGAs director of championship administration.
The FBR Open contributed a record $5.81 million to Arizona charities, second in giving among PGA Tour events behind the Byron Nelson Championship. ... Going into the year, Chad Campbell has never missed the cut in Texas. He proceeded to miss the cut at the Houston Open and the Colonial, and made the cut on the number at the Byron Nelson Championship. ... Retief Goosen is leading the European tour money list despite playing only one tournament outside the United States. He earned the bulk of his money with a tie for third at the Masters and third place at the Match Play Championship.
Bob Tway was the only player to shoot in the 60s all four rounds at the Byron Nelson Championship and the Colonial. He tied for third at the Nelson and tied for 21st at the Colonial.
I felt like the guy who was pitching a no-hitter. Nobody wanted to talk to me.'Kenny Perry, who won the Colonial by seven shots and nearly broke his 72-hole scoring record.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x