Pressel Should Be the Exception to the Rule
By allowing Morgan Pressel to go through LPGA Tour qualifying before turning 18, the former commissioner gave her a six-month start on any other underage player who wanted to turn pro.
'If I had said no, she would have had to wait until 2007,' Votaw said Tuesday.
Herb Krickstein sees the glass as half-empty.
If the LPGA Tour felt his granddaughter was mature enough to go through Q-school, where she easily earned her card for 2006, then why isn't that enough for her to be treated like a regular member? Instead, Pressel must wait until she turns 18 on May 23 before her earnings count as official.
That puts her behind on the money list, qualifying for the new playoff system, and collecting points toward the Solheim Cup and rookie of the year.
'Everything they talk about to be an LPGA member, she has -- except her 18th birthday,' Krickstein said. 'And I don't think she's going to change when she turns 18.'
Her immediate future now lies with new commissioner Carolyn Bivens, who coincidentally will be in New York on Wednesday to preside over a one-day forum called, 'Phenoms to Professionals: Successful Transitions.'
Pressel's name is sure to come up, although she has company.
Michelle Wie signed multimillion endorsement deals a week before she turned 16. Wie, the biggest draw in women's golf, doesn't plan to join the LPGA Tour until she is 18, but she has been playing pro tournaments since she was 12, and has played at least eight times a year against the pros the last three years.
Paula Creamer went from high school to LPGA Tour rookie of the year.
And then there's Aree Song, who played in the final group of a major at age 13.
Votaw made an exception for Song two years ago, allowing her to join at age 17. Song had a great record as an amateur and had already graduated high school. Because the LPGA Tour didn't start until March, she would be 17 for only a few months. It made sense.
The decision looked even better when Song nearly won the Kraft Nabisco, finishing one shot behind when Grace Park birdied the last hole. Then, she celebrated her 18th birthday by taking the 54-hole lead in Atlanta. But she fell apart the next day with a 78, and hasn't come close to winning since then.
Did that affect Votaw's decision on Pressel?
'Every single case is looked upon as the individual circumstances that pertain to that person, while also comparing them to other decisions that have been made,' Votaw said. 'The only other person I had considered was Aree Song.'
A safe guess is that Votaw wanted to make sure that exceptions to the age limit were rare, protecting against a parade of teenagers who might come after Pressel. In other words, keep precedence to a minimum.
Krickstein first met with Votaw in June.
'I told him Morgan decided not to go to college, and we would like permission to go to Q-school and be a member of the LPGA,' Krickstein said. 'He said he would think about it. I said, 'What if she wins the U.S. Open?' And he laughed. He didn't snicker, but he laughed, and said we'll talk again.'
Krickstein paused for effect, then smiled in such a way that everyone knew this wasn't about ability.
'She didn't win,' he added.
No, but Pressel probably should have won the biggest tournament in women's golf. She was tied for the lead, her ball in the 18th fairway, when she watched Birdie Kim ahead of her hit a mediocre bunker shot that was running hot until the hole got in the way. It fell for birdie, and a most unlikely victory.
Pressel went on to win the U.S. Women's Amateur, along with the five biggest events on the junior circuit.
But then, talent was never part of this equation.
Votaw used Song as a reference, but he could just as easily have considered Jenny Chuasiriporn.
She was a 20-year-old amateur who holed a 45-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole of the 1998 U.S. Women's Open to force a playoff with Se Ri Pak, then lost the next day in 20 holes. Chuasiriporn never got her card, and now is out of the game. She was a one-week wonder, and there is no shortage of those.
Pressel has been turning heads since she qualified for the U.S. Women's Open at age 12, and every year she seems to get better. She plays a sharp draw, not the safest swing in golf, but has a knack for scoring that is better than the other teenagers. She plays with purpose on every shot, and David Duval sensed something different about her watching her play a few holes at Cherry Hills.
'She's the only one who thinks she can win this thing,' he said during the final round of the Women's Open. 'She's walking like, 'Hey, I'm the deal.' You know?'
Pressel might be the real deal.
If maturity is the only reason to keep her from becoming a full-fledged member, how much will she grow up between her first LPGA event as a pro in March and her 18th birthday in May?
The LPGA Tour did her a favor by letting her go through Q-school early. It could do her another one by letting the money count before she turns 18.
Pressel kept her opinions to herself after earning her card, saying only that she hoped the LPGA would change its mind and was confident it would do the right thing. She then was asked what Bivens should consider.
'Me, myself and my game,' Pressel said, 'and nobody else.'
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.
It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.
Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.
Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.
“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”
The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.
“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”
Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.
Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder
LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.
Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.
''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''
It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.
''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''
Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.
''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''
After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.
''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''
He's making his first start in the event.
''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.
Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.
''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''
Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.
''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.
The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.
''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''
Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.
''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.
Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.
Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.
Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.
John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.
Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years
Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.
He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.
How rare is his missing the cut there?
The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.
The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.
The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.
Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.
Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.