Ryder Cup playoffs on the line at Wyndham
Without a strong showing at the Wyndham Championship, he might not make golf’s postseason.
The final event before the PGA Tour’s lucrative finishing kick starts Thursday and promises to once again be dominated by players trying to make it to other events – either the Ryder Cup or the FedEx Cup playoffs.
“It’s just time for me to get the ball in the hole the next month and prove to him that I’m playing well enough to make that team,” said Kim, part of the winning U.S. team two years ago at Valhalla. The “him” is captain Corey Pavin, who will announce his wild-card selections Sept. 7.
It’s been a rough past few months for the 25-year-old Kim, whose first PGA Tour victory came two years ago and a few hours down the road in Charlotte at the former Wachovia Championship.
Thumb surgery in May cost him three months, and he struggled in both tournaments he played since returning, finishing 16 over at the Bridgestone and missing the cut last week at the PGA.
That dropped him off the list of qualifiers and placed his fate squarely in Pavin’s hands.
“I wouldn’t say added pressure – I really didn’t have anything to lose since I came back,” Kim said Wednesday. “I haven’t put the ball in the hole, and I knew that when I came back, I was going to be rusty. I wish I had practiced a little bit more before I played, but I just wasn’t able to do it. I didn’t put too much pressure on myself, but at the same time, I was hoping for the best. It didn’t turn out that way, and I just got bumped out.”
One thing Kim won’t have to worry about: making it to the playoffs. He arrived at Sedgefield Country Club at No. 14 on the points list, the highest-ranked player in the field. As always, there’s no shortage of players scrambling to lock up a spot at The Barclays.
“I think guys put this on the calendar as a last chance to get a lot of points before you go into the playoffs,” 2007 winner Brandt Snedeker said. “You’ve seen guys jump in the past. … How it can change your year, your career and everything else that goes along with it. That all makes for a very important week.”
Among those looking for a last-minute points boost is Immelman. He’s at No. 154 – 113 points behind No. 125 Michael Letzig – and is chasing his first top-10 finish since 2008.
He’s made the cut in only eight of the 14 tournaments he’s played this year, and playing his fourth tournament since the British Open, needs quite a push just to make it to the next one, next week at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey.
“Obviously, I want to be there. There’s no doubt about it,” Immelman said. “It’s something that every player on the PGA Tour is trying to make sure he’s a part of, plain and simple.
“But I’m in such an interesting phase of my career where the last couple years has sort of been a stop-start. … (I’ve) really struggled to get any momentum,” he added. “It’s been years since I’ve (played this many events). … For me right now, everything is to make sure by the time Jan. 1 comes, I’m able to play a full schedule next year and play the way I know I can.”
He certainly isn’t alone. No. 164 Fred Couples needs to finish third to qualify for The Barclays, while any player ranked 153rd or better who finishes in the top five this week will rack up enough points to reach the first tournament of the playoffs.
On the other side of the bubble is Robert Garrigus, who is looking to keep himself in the postseason fold after arriving at No. 122 and describing the four-week playoff series as “pretty much like four majors.”
“Playing well this week is a big deal,” Garrigus said, “but also you can look at it, just go out and have fun.”
Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change
Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.
David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.
“Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.
Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.
“I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”
Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.
The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.
Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.
Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:
1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.
2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.
While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”
PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes
The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:
The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.
We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.
Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open
JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.
The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.
Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.
''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''
Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 5: Dec. 12
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18