Notes More money needed to keep card
Blame some of that on Tiger Woods.
Woods has gone over $10 million in earnings three of the last five years. The exceptions were 2008, when he played only six PGA Tour events before season-ending knee surgery and still made $5.75 million; and 2006, when he earned $9.94 million.
With chaos in his personal life and changes in his swing, Woods is at No. 65 on the money list with just under $1.3 million. It stands to reason that Woods failing to rake in so much cash means it has been disbursed down the ladder.
Another big factor is the tour has one extra tournament this year – the Viking Classic was washed out in 2009 because of rain.
A year ago, Jimmy Walker finished at No. 125 on the money list with $662,683. With three tournaments left in the season, Aron Price is at No. 125 and already has surpassed that amount. Price has $693,502.
Tour officials expect it will take as much as $775,000 to finish in the top 125 and keep full status for next year. Among those who might still have some work left are David Duval (No. 109), Canadian Open runner-up Dean Wilson (No. 122) and Kevin Sutherland (No. 116), who has not finished out of the top 125 since his lone victory in the 2002 Match Play Championship.
The two biggest spikes in money required to finish No. 125 came in 2007, the first year of a new six-year television contract, and in 2008, the year Woods played a limited schedule.
It also affects the top part of the money list.
Matt Kuchar is at No. 1 with about $4.9 million, and Sea Island was his last official event of the year. Whether he wins the money title depends on Jim Furyk, who is just over $100,000 behind and has not decided whether to play Las Vegas next week.
Either way, it will be the lowest amount to win the PGA Tour money title since Duval earned just under $2.6 million in 1998, the year before the tour signed its first big TV contract.
GRAND SLAMMED: British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen had to pull out of the PGA Grand Slam of Golf after damaging ligaments on the outside of his left ankle while at home in South Africa.
Oosthuizen already had to withdraw last week from the Dunhill Links Championship, preventing his return to St. Andrews.
The PGA Grand Slam is only for major champions, so Oosthuizen will be replaced in the four-man field by David Toms, who hasn’t been to this event since he won the PGA Championship in 2001. Only past major winners can be alternates, and Toms accepted the spot after Retief Goosen (schedule conflict) and Zach Johnson (new baby) declined.
Alternates at the Grand Slam are nothing new.
Last year was the first time since 2004 that the field had the four major champions. There have been years when Tiger Woods (2005, 2006) and Padraig Harrington (2008) won multiple majors, and years when major champions (Woods, Phil Mickelson) stopped going.
This is the first time in 20 years that the Grand Slam has two alternates in a season when four players won majors. The other alternate is Ernie Els, who is filling in for Mickelson. The PGA Grand Slam is Oct. 19-20 at Port Royal in Bermuda.
KUCHAR’S RISE: Matt Kuchar is virtually a lock to win the Vardon Trophy for the lowest adjusted scoring average. He tied for 25th last week at the McGladrey Classic with a 7-under 273, lowering his average to 69.57. That’s 0.04 ahead of Steve Stricker, who is done for the year, and Kuchar is 0.21 ahead of Jim Furyk, which likely is too much ground to make up.
It would be the highest average to win the Vardon Trophy since Steve Elkington (69.92) in 1995.
The real perk for Kuchar would be if he holds his lead on the money list.
Players to win the money title on the PGA Tour are given a five-year exemption, which has not been relevant over the last decade with Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh winning it. Both are lifetime members. Kuchar, however, was on the Nationwide Tour just four years ago.
Furyk already gets five-year exemption for winning the FedEx Cup.
EXPECTING THE WORST: Johnson Wagner already is resigned to going back to Q-School just two years after winning the Houston Open. His hope is that expecting the worst can lead to a change for the better.
Wagner was forced into a five-week break when he failed to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs. After taking two weeks away from golf, he spent time with his coach and got after it so he would have no excuses.
He tied for eighth in the Viking Classic, then tied for 25th at Sea Island. That at least has moved him to No. 147, with the belief he at least is headed in the right direction.
“I’m looking at these five weeks as basically Q-school,” Wagner said. “It’s looking like I might have to go back, and I don’t want to. I’ve been playing to protect something all year, and now I have nothing to protect.”
What was he trying to protect?
“My job,” he said.
He was hurt by finishing at No. 153 a year ago. While he was exempt from his 2008 Houston Open win, Wagner was not eligible for limited-field events like the Colonial, Memorial and AT&T National.
“I just wasn’t getting the starts when I was playing well,” he said.
The bigger problem was being consumed with results – making the cut, climbing the leaderboard, trying to get into the top 125 to qualify for the playoffs, trying to cash a decent check.
“The point is to win and have chances to win,” Wagner said.
He has three more weeks to sort that out.
DIVOTS: Michael Allen was runner-up for the second straight week – first at the Viking Classic on the PGA Tour, then at the Senior Players Championship on the Champions Tour. … Rick George, the PGA Tour’s chief of operations, is leaving to become the chief operating officer of the Texas Rangers. … Davis Love III now has played 2,100 rounds on the PGA Tour. The McGladrey Classic was his 619th career tournament. Among players under 50, only Brad Faxon (692) has played more. … The McGladrey had a stronger field than three tournaments during the FedEx Cup portion of the schedule.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Padraig Harrington has played six consecutive Ryder Cup matches without reaching the 18th hole.
FINAL WORD: “If it had been 10 or 15 degrees colder, it would have been absolutely miserable – as opposed to just miserable.” – Matt Kuchar, on the weather at Celtic Manor during the Ryder Cup.
The Social: G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T.
Tom Brady compares himself to Tiger Woods, who coincidentally is returning to the PGA Tour this week, Jordan Spieth hangs out with some decent company and kids these days ruffle some feathers with their friendships.
All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.
Well, it’s finally Farmers Insurance Open week and Woods has been spotted practicing for his official return to the PGA Tour on Thursday.
Some thought this day might never come after a 2017 filled with mostly downs for the 14-time major champ.
But as he has taught the golf world time and time again, you just can't count Tiger out.
Back on TOUR. pic.twitter.com/OPmjaXFo1l— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 23, 2018
So even as Jon Rahm attempts to overtake Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world this week at Torrey Pines, all eyes will be on one of the greatest we've ever seen do it, even if that guy is ranked No. 647 in the world.
Speaking of greatness …
There’s not many who can just offhandedly compare themselves to Tiger, but if anyone gets a pass, it’s Tom Brady.
The 40-year-old New England Patriots quarterback led his team back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year despite playing the AFC title game with a cut on his throwing hand.
When asked about it after the Patriots come-from-behind victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady answered, “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”
Tom Brady, postgame, on wearing the wrap on his hand: “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) January 22, 2018
So there you have it. A 40-year-old Brady is winning AFC Championships with his C game. Good luck, Eagles; you’re going to need it.
Also, if for some reason you wanted an update on Justin Thomas' life, it's still awesome:
I was thinking we kick @JordanSpieth out and replace you with him... everybody wins! enjoyed yesterday man— Justin Thomas (@JustinThomas34) January 22, 2018
Yeah, that's last year's PGA Tour Player of the Year hanging with Cy Young winner Cory Kluber in a suite at the Patriots game and teasing us with a possible #SB2K18 cameo.
Curtis Strange likes his competitive golf straight up, hold the friendliness.
This, according to Curtis Strange.
The two-time U.S. Open champ took to Twitter during the CareerBuilder Challenge to vent his frustration regarding the constant chit-chat and friendliness between Rahm and Andrew Landry:
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
@JonRahmpga and Andrew Landry.Hopefully no offense taken on my comment yesterday. You guys are terrific, I’m a huge fan of all players today. Made a adverse comment on U guys talking during playoff.Not for me. A fan.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 23, 2018
Never went out of my way to disrupt. Having a chat wasn’t for me,my generation, or before me. Some inside baseball. Honesty.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 23, 2018
This, of course, makes sense in theory. But good luck watching golf – or really any sport – from here on out. Sure there will be a few old school guys who buck the trend here and there, but for the most part, it’s really hard to share a private jet/dinners/vacations/(insert awesome thing here) with someone, and then completely turn off the friendship coming down the stretch of a big tournament.
Damn millennials. They ruin everything.
By now you've all seen that poor Philadelphia Eagles fan who lost his battle with a subway station pillar (from multiple angles), so instead here is a video of a man attempting to stand on an egg. Bet you can't guess how that goes.
Seriously if you haven't seen the video of that Eagles fan, here's your last chance in this column. You'll be glad you did.
Jordan Spieth, Michael Phelps and Bryce Harper walk on to a golf course … there’s no punchline, that actually happened last week in Las Vegas.
Was the whole thing just a big advertisement for Spieth’s new Under Armour shoe? You bet.
But that doesn’t make the optics of three of the biggest superstar athletes on the planet teeing it up for a round any less awesome.
The trio has three major wins, five All Star Game appearances and 28 Olympic medals between them, and there they were over the weekend just fake laughing for the camera and driving around individual golf carts with their own personalized logos on them.
Matt Kuchar. Still good at golf. Still overly polite. This according to European Tour pro Eddie Pepperell who had the privilege of hitting on the range next to Kuuuuuch in Abu Dhabi last week.
Hit balls next to Kuchar yesterday and two very Matt Kuchar things happened; He didn’t miss a shot, and when he let out a fart he went, “oopsies.”— Eddie Pepperell (@PepperellEddie) January 20, 2018
That image is burned into your brain forever now, thanks Eddie. From now on when you think of Kuchar you're going to think of those Sketches ads and "oopsies."
Which, I suppose is better than a, "Did you get that?"
Blayne Barber's caddie, Cory Gilmer, collapsed and hit his head while at a restaurant at the Sony Open and has been mostly unconscious in the neurological intensive care unit ever since.
The outpouring of love and support from the golf community has been overwhelming on social media, and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with the mounting medical costs for Gilmer and his family.
Check out the link below for more info or to donate to a worthy cause:
Many people have asked how to help Cory and his family during his time in Hawaii. We set up a GoFundMe page! Check it out and give! Thank you all for the prayers and support.https://t.co/4frdZN4vrQ— Blayne Barber™ (@BlayneBarberAU) January 22, 2018
Top-ranked amateur wins LAAC, earns Masters invite
Joaquin Niemann walked Augusta National Golf Club as a patron last year. He’ll be a competitor in 2018.
Niemann, the top-ranked amateur in the world, shot 8-under 63 Tuesday at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Santiago, Chile, to win the Latin America Amateur Championship.
And with the title, both redemption and an invitation to the Masters Tournament.
Niemann finished runner-up in last year’s LAAC to fellow Chilean Toto Gana. He followed Gana around Augusta grounds, watching as his best friend played two rounds before missing the cut.
Niemann, who was going to turn professional had he not won this week, started the final round one back of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz. Niemann was sluggish from the start on Tuesday, but then drove the 313-yard, par-4 eighth and made the eagle putt. That sparked a run of five birdies over his next six holes.
Niemann was bogey-free in the final round and finished five shots clear of Ortiz, at 11 under.
Judges Panel, Host Announced for Wilson Golf's "Driver vs. Driver 2," Premiering This Fall on Golf Channel
‘Driver vs. Driver 2 Presented by Wilson Currently in Production; Sports Broadcaster Melanie Collins Returns to Host
Morning Drive: Driver vs. Driver 2 Judges Announced
Golf Channel and Wilson Golf announced today the panel of judges and host for the second season of Driver vs. Driver, the innovative television series that follows aspiring golf equipment designers as they compete for the opportunity to have their driver idea or concept transformed into the next great golf driver from Wilson. The show is currently in production and will premiere this fall.
Joining judge Tim Clarke, President of Wilson Golf, are two newcomers to the series: 9-time National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star and current NHL on NBC hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick – an avid golfer with a single digit handicap and a self-described golf equipment junkie; and PGA Professional, golf coach, equipment reviewer and social media influencer Rick Shiels.
“Golf is a big passion of mine, and personally I enjoy learning about new equipment and concepts,” said Roenick. “To be able to see this side of the business in how equipment is developed first-hand is fascinating. Being a part of the process in reviewing driver concepts and narrowing them down to an ultimate winning driver that will be sold across the country is a tremendous honor.”
“Jeremy, as an avid golfer, and Rick, as a coach, equipment reviewer and golf professional, bring incredible, real world insights and different perspectives to the show and this process,” said Clarke. “I’m excited to work alongside these two judges to push the boundaries of innovation and bring a next-generation driver to golfers around the world.”
Sports broadcaster Melanie Collins returns as the host of Driver vs. Driver 2. Currently a sideline reporter for CBS Sports’ college football and basketball coverage, Collins hosted the inaugural season in 2016 and formerly co-hosted Golf Channel’s competition series, Big Break.
Production for Driver vs. Driver 2 began in the fall of 2017 and will continue through the summer, including this week at the PGA Merchandise Show. The series is being produced by Golf Channel, whose portfolio of original productions include interview series Feherty hosted by Emmy-nominated sports personality David Feherty, high-quality instruction shows School of Golf, Golf Channel Academy and Playing Lessons and a slate of award-winning films.