Top 30 to British Ranking points to Tigers event
Under new criteria soon to be announced by the Royal & Ancient, the British Open will exempt the top 30 players from the FedEx Cup standings and the top 30 from the European tour money list, which next year will be the Race to Dubai.
Previously, only the top 20 from both tours money lists were exempt from qualifying for the British Open.
That means Briny Baird, who finished 27th in the FedEx Cup, will be making his first trip to golfs oldest championship at Turnberry. Joining him will be Ken Duke, who has not played in the Open since 1997 at Royal Troon.
I think were recognizing that in America, the way the tour is set up now, and with the Race to Dubai coming on in Europe, its desirable to have all those players in the Open field, R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said in a telephone interview Tuesday. It was recognizing new measures of performance.
Dawson was quick to point out that most of the players at East Lake would have qualified through other means, such as the world ranking or past performances in the British Open. Even so, it added another incentive during the PGA Tour Playoffs to get into the Tour Championship. The top 30 now are exempt for all majors but the PGA Championship.
To account for the extra exemptions, Dawson said the International Final Qualifying sites in the United States and Europe will offer fewer exemptions. There were 14 spots available in the U.S. site in Michigan this year, and 18 spots in the European site.
The number available next year will depend on how many players already are exempt for the British Open, and how many players sign up for those qualifying sites.
Were taking our pro players slightly more from their tour performance, he said.
The Chevron World Challenge that Tiger Woods hosts in December no longer will be just an anchor of the silly season. Starting in 2009, it will be part of the Official World Golf Ranking.
According to an official involved in the discussions, the world ranking board has approved Woods request that world ranking points be awarded at the Chevron World Challenge after this year. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because it has not been announced.
The Chevron World Challenge will be played Dec. 18-21 at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Woods event already has a world-class field and a $5.75 million purse, larger than nearly two dozen events on the PGA Tour. To be considered for world ranking points, a tournament must have a criteria for eligibility and offer official prize money on a recognized tour.
The 16-man field consists of the defending champion, 11 players from the world ranking and four sponsor exemptions, which qualifies as a ranking event. But its prize money remains unofficial.
The ranking board approved the request with one stipulation. To receive ranking points, it must take 16 players off the world ranking with no exemptions. For a larger field, the exemptions must go to players among the top 50 in the world.
The official said Chevron plans to have an 18-man field in 2009 with two exemptions. In this years tournament, Fred Couples (an exemption) is the only player who is not in the top 50.
WORLD CUP SEARCH
Fresh off his first Ryder Cup appearance, Ben Curtis wants to play for his country again. Now all he needs is a partner willing to fly to China during Thanksgiving week.
Curtis has a chance to play in the World Cup after eight Americans ahead of him in the ranking turned down the offer.
He has asked Ryder Cup teammate Chad Campbell, but Campbell said he was leaning toward staying home to be with his wife and son, who was born earlier this month.
Curtis is trying to find a tournament to play in Asia after the World Cup to make the trip worth his while. He doesnt like the idea of going over a week early.
Thats the Michigan-Ohio State game, said Curtis, who grew up outside Columbus, Ohio.
Curtis has to pick someone in the top 100 of the world ranking. If no one goes, he would have to play with the first person available from the world ranking from No. 100 through No. 500. If he gives up his spot, the choice then goes to Boo Weekley, who played last year with Heath Slocum when they lost in a playoff to Scotland.
After Weekley, the spot goes to Hunter Mahan, Zach Johnson, Sean OHair and Woody Austin.
The Americans have not won the World Cup since Tiger Woods and David Duval in 2000 when it was played in Argentina.
The only way Tiger Woods got involved at the Ryder Cup was through text messaging.
After the Americans won, Woods said one of the messages he received was from Jim Furyk, his partner at The K Club in 2006.
They were celebrating and Jim sent me just a great text saying that, I wish you were here because youve gone through the battles and youve gone through the big defeats, and it would have been nice to have you here to be a part of this, Woods said. It had been awhile since Ive been part of a winning Ryder Cup team.
Woods has played in five Ryder Cups, winning only in 1999 at Brookline.
Luke Donald was among those who committed to play in the Chevron World Challenge the third week of December, which will be his first competition since a wrist injury forced him to withdraw from the U.S. Open. Donald had surgery on his left wrist on Aug. 12. Jon Wagner, his agent at IMG, said Donald started putting last week and plans to start hitting balls in November. Annika Sorenstam will host an American Junior Golf Association tournament next year. The Annika Invitational will invite 60 girls from around the world and will be played Jan. 16-19 at Ginn Reunion Resort outside Orlando, Fla. Vijay Singh plans to take the next two months off because of tendinitis in his left forearm, meaning he will miss the Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia and the HSBC Champions in China. He is expected to play in the Father-Son Challenge in early December.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and K.J. Choi are the only players to finish in the top 10 of the FedEx Cup standings each the first two years.
As often is said to me, I hope I look as good as you when Im your age.' Furman Bisher, 89, Atlanta Journal Constitution sports columnist, to Errie Ball, 97, who played in the first Masters Tournament.
Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.
Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.
Rahm (62) fires career low round
The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:
Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)
What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.
Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.
Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.
Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.
Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.
Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.
Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm
Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder
Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.
"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."
Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.
Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.
"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."
Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn
There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.
Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.
Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.
Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.
The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.