Some people rankled over world rankings

By Associated PressMarch 31, 2009, 4:00 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. ' Davis Love III would have been better off skipping the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
 
Thats easy to say now.
 
The latest world ranking is out, and qualifying for the Masters effectively is closed. Love needed to be in the top 50, and he missed out by just over four-hundredths of a point. If he had not played Bay Hill, where Love missed the cut, turns out he would have been at No. 50 by seven-thousandths of a point over Louis Oosthuizen.
 
But assume Love had taken last week off, and Hunter Mahan had not five-putted the 16th green at Bay Hill in the final round. Love then would have fallen to No. 51 and been kicking himself for not playing.
 
Confused yet? It gets better.
 
Even after missing the cut, Love had a chance to stay in the top 50 when Stuart Appleby shot 80 in the third round and Aaron Baddeley tumbled down the leaderboard with a 76-74 weekend. But right when his odds were looking up, Prayad Marksaeng shot 64 in the final round in Thailand, and Soren Kjeldsen pulled away toward victory in Portugal.
 
After all that, Love still had hope. Pat Perez was in a two-way tie for third late Sunday on the 18th hole at Bay Hill, and if he were to make double bogey and slip into a four-way tie for seventh, Love would have gone to 50.
 
Perez went over the water and right at the flag ' remember, he still had an outside shot at winning the tournament ' and the ball cleared the rocks framing the lake by no more than a foot. He was able to chop his next shot onto the green and he made bogey.
 
So now, Love is No. 51 and must win the Shell Houston Open this week to be able to drive down Magnolia Lane.
 
Up until 10 years ago, figuring out who went to the Masters didnt require a Ph.D. from MIT.
 
Before Augusta National added the Official World Golf Ranking to its criteria, everyone knew where they stood and how to get there.
 
  • A green jacket came with a lifetime pass.
     
  • Invitations were extended to whoever won the other three majors over the last five years, or a PGA Tour event in the 51 weeks leading up to the Masters.
     
  • You could finish among the top 24 at the previous years Masters, top 16 at the U.S. Open or top eight at the PGA Championship.
     
  • The Masters also took the top 30 from the PGA Tour money list.
     
    This marks the 10-year anniversary when Augusta National overhauled its qualifications to include the top 50 in the world ranking. The idea was to reflect the changing landscape in golf, to ensure the best players around the world were invited to the Masters.
     
    Was it the right move? Judge for yourself.
     
    If the 1998 criteria were still in effect, Love could have booked his reservations to Augusta National four months ago after he won at Disney for his 20th career PGA Tour victory. Then again, the Masters field would also include the likes of Parker McLachlin, Marc Turnesa, Ryan Palmer, Michael Bradley and Richard S. Johnson, all of whom won against watered-down fields.
     
    And if the 98 criteria were used today, here are some of the players who not be eligible ' Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Rory Sabbatini, Tim Clark, Ian Poulter, Luke Donald and 54-year-old Greg Norman.
     
    Some of them ' but not all ' would have received special invitations the Masters typically reserved for international players.
     
    It only appears that the world ranking makes this more confusing than it needs to be.
     
    Is it right that one player getting into the Masters depends on tournaments held on three continents in one day? Or that a trip to Augusta National comes down to whether another player five-putts or four-putts?
     
    This goes on every week in the world ranking.
     
    The difference is that no one is paying attention. It only matters a few times a year, such as qualifying deadlines for the World Golf Championships, the Masters and in late May for the U.S. Open and British Open.
     
    And the argument intensifies when a player like Love ' a major champion with 20 career victories ' is edged out by a 27-year-old South African that not many people at Augusta National will recognize.
     
    Remember, though, that Oosthuizen finished two shots ahead of Love at Doral and made the cut at Bay Hill.
     
    Augusta National was right to revamp its criteria 10 years ago to include the world ranking, simply because the world of golf has changed. Three of the four majors are held in the United States, but that doesnt mean they should cater to Americans.
     
    There are questions about the world ranking, specifically the home tour bonus that appears skewed against the U.S. tour. And there always will be second-guessing about the points distribution ' how, for example, Bubba Dickerson received more points for winning a Nationwide Tour event last week than Perez got for his tie for fourth at Bay Hill.
     
    But there should be no second-guessing Love for playing.
     
    Turns out he would have needed to make the cut and finish in 41st place at Bay Hill to secure his spot in the top 50 and go to the Masters. Presented that scenario at the start of the week, the choice would have been simple.
     
    Because no matter how complicated it has become, it ultimately comes down to performance.
     
    That hasnt changed.
     
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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''