Surprise visitor to Shanghai Far East Finchem

By Doug FergusonNovember 2, 2010, 10:10 pm

WGC-HSBC ChampionsSHANGHAI – Not long after Bill Lunde captured his first PGA Tour title at Turning Stone, his agent asked him if he had any interest in going to China the first week in November.

His first question was what tournament was in China. Told that it was the HSBC Champions, that led to another question.

“I said to him, ‘How did I qualify for that?”’ Lunde said Monday afternoon while waiting to hit balls at Sheshan International.

If it was strange to see the bunkers on the range covered in red carpet – the color of HSBC’s logo – Lunde still had a hard time grasping how he had made it into his first World Golf Championship. Because of the number of players who chose not to compete, Lunde got into the 80-man field when the alternate list switched between tournament winners and world ranking.

Little did he realize that winning in Augusta at Turning Stone – the same week as another WGC, the Bridgestone Invitational – would open such doors. This will be the first time the 34-year-old Lunde has played a tournament that didn’t have a cut since he made it to the Nationwide Tour Championship at the end of the 2008.

“It’s hard to pass this up,” Lunde said. “My first world event. All the ranking points. In my position, it’s hard to say no.”

It just goes to show how quickly fortunes can change in golf.

It was only five years ago when Lunde gave up on the game. A member of UNLV’s national championship team in 1998, it took him five years to reach the Nationwide Tour, and he only lasted two years before he decided to move on.

Lunde spent a year working in sales with the Las Vegas Founders, the group that ran the PGA Tour stop in Las Vegas. He then tried real estate just as the market was starting to buckle.

He got back into the game through the Butch Harmon Vegas Tour, where about 50 players from the area ponied up $17,500 to compete in a series of tournaments. Lunde won more than $100,000, earned a spot on the Nationwide Tour in 2008 and finished fifth on the money list to earn his PGA Tour card. He kept his card after his rookie year, but only after a tie for fourth in the Open late in the year.

Then came a one-shot victory at Turning Stone, and Lunde suddenly is places he never thought he would be.

GO (FAR) EAST: PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem embarks on a 10-day trip to Asia this week as he tries to strengthen his relationship with the China Golf Association with hopes of adding more tournaments.

In its second year as a World Golf Championship, the Tour has decided that the HSBC Champions will count as an official PGA Tour victory if the winner is a PGA Tour member.

A week ago, Ben Crane won the inaugural Asia Pacific Classic, which counted only toward world ranking points.

Next up? That remains unclear.

“We’ll be meeting with some entities about a couple of tournaments we’re looking at in China in a couple of years,” Finchem said last week. “We’ll also be meeting in China with groups from two or three other countries about additional activities.

“We will be playing some more,” he said. “It’s premature to characterize it as what it will be. In today’s world, there’s lots of different ways for it to happen. If it’s a reasonably sized event, sanctioned appropriately, it can get world ranking points.”

The question is how the Fall Series will blend in with whatever tournaments are held in Asia. Earnings from the HSBC Champions do not count toward the PGA Tour money list.

There has been some speculation the Fall Series, and perhaps any tournaments in Asia, could get FedEx Cup points that would apply to the following season. Finchem dismissed the idea of the PGA Tour starting its new season before a new year.

“We’re not heading that direction right now,” he said.

Q-SCHOOL, STAGE ONE: Brett Waldman didn’t make it out of the second stage of Q-school in 2002. With a family to feed and bills to pay, he decided to work as a caddie for a little while. It turned out to be much longer, first for his cousin, Tom Pernice Jr., then Ben Crane and most recently Camilo Villegas.

Whether he’ll ever return to playing is doubtful, although Waldman at least can consider the possibilities.

He made it through a pre-qualifying stage of Q-school, then last week made it through the first stage. His immediate future? He is caddying for Villegas in Shanghai this week, Melbourne next week for the Australian Masters, then goes home to Dallas to play the second stage of Q-school at the TPC Craig Ranch.

“I have no expectations,” Waldman said. “I know I have a job. I don’t know if that makes it easier or not.”

Villegas recently asked Waldman if he at least had Nationwide Tour status, would he play or caddie. Waldman told him he would caddie, although even he is not sure.

“Playing for a living is what I always wanted to do,” he said. “But at the end of the day, family and finances are a lot more important. But it would be a nice decision to have.”

Others who have advanced to the second stage include Jay Haas Jr., former British Amateur champion Drew Weaver, Stanford grad Joseph Bramlett and Tadd Fujikawa. Among those who failed to get out of the first stage were Casey Wittenberg, Manny Villegas and Sam Saunders, the grandson of Arnold Palmer who missed by nine shots.

MASTERS ROAD: Heath Slocum didn’t have China on his itinerary until winning at Sea Island three months ago. That not only got him into the HSBC Champions, it gave him two weeks – and two different paths – to try to qualify for the Masters.

Slocum is at No. 55 in the world ranking, and the Shanghai field is about on par with the depth found at FedEx Cup playoff events. The winner this week gets 68 points. Slocum plays so many tournaments, however, that he probably would need to finish among the top three to crack the top 50 – and stay there the rest of the year.

He then goes to Disney for the final PGA Tour event. The top 30 on the money list get into the Masters, and Slocum is holding down the 30th spot by $132 over Ryan Moore, who already has qualified for Augusta National.

“I’ve got two weeks,” Slocum said. “I don’t know which way is going to be easier.”

DIVOTS: Wegmans has signed on for two more years as the title sponsor of the LPGA Championship. It again will be held at Locust Grove, with a $2.5 million purse. … There are 13 Americans at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, the same number as last year. … Asian Golf Monthly magazine has named Nicklaus Design as Golf Course Architect of the Year in Asia Pacific for the third straight year.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Martin Laird moved to No. 49 in the world ranking, the first player from Scotland to be inside the top 50 since Colin Montgomerie was No. 48 on Oct. 7, 2007.

FINAL WORD: “Everyone wants to be No. 1 in the world, but the only way to get there is to win tournaments.”—Phil Mickelson.

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CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.062 million

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 12:50 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:

1 Jon Rahm -22 $1,062,000
2 Andrew Landry -22 $637,200
T3 Adam Hadwin -20 $306,800
T3 John Huh -20 $306,800
T3 Martin Piller -20 $306,800
T6 Kevin Chappell -19 $205,025
T6 Scott Piercy -19 $205,025
T8 Brandon Harkins -18 $171,100
T8 Jason Kokrak -18 $171,100
T8 Sam Saunders -18 $171,100
T11 Harris English -17 $135,700
T11 Seamus Power -17 $135,700
T11 Jhonattan Vegas -17 $135,700
T14 Bud Cauley -16 $106,200
T14 Austin Cook -16 $106,200
T14 Grayson Murray -16 $106,200
T17 Andrew Putnam -15 $88,500
T17 Peter Uihlein -15 $88,500
T17 Aaron Wise -15 $88,500
T20 Ricky Barnes -14 $57,754
T20 Stewart Cink -14 $57,754
T20 Brian Harman -14 $57,754
T20 Beau Hossler -14 $57,754
T20 Charles Howell III -14 $57,754
T20 Zach Johnson -14 $57,754
T20 Ryan Palmer -14 $57,754
T20 Brendan Steele -14 $57,754
T20 Nick Taylor -14 $57,754
T29 Lucas Glover -13 $36,706
T29 Russell Knox -13 $36,706
T29 Nate Lashley -13 $36,706
T29 Tom Lovelady -13 $36,706
T29 Kevin Streelman -13 $36,706
T29 Hudson Swafford -13 $36,706
T29 Richy Werenski -13 $36,706
T36 Jason Dufner -12 $27,189
T36 Derek Fathauer -12 $27,189
T36 James Hahn -12 $27,189
T36 Chez Reavie -12 $27,189
T36 Webb Simpson -12 $27,189
T36 Tyrone Van Aswegen -12 $27,189
T42 Bronson Burgoon -11 $18,983
T42 Ben Crane -11 $18,983
T42 Brian Gay -11 $18,983
T42 Chesson Hadley -11 $18,983
T42 Patton Kizzire -11 $18,983
T42 Hunter Mahan -11 $18,983
T42 Kevin Na -11 $18,983
T42 Rob Oppenheim -11 $18,983
T50 Alex Cejka -10 $14,025
T50 Corey Conners -10 $14,025
T50 Michael Kim -10 $14,025
T50 Kevin Kisner -10 $14,025
T50 Sean O'Hair -10 $14,025
T50 Sam Ryder -10 $14,025
T50 Nick Watney -10 $14,025
T57 Robert Garrigus -9 $13,039
T57 Tom Hoge -9 $13,039
T57 David Lingmerth -9 $13,039
T57 Ben Martin -9 $13,039
T57 Trey Mullinax -9 $13,039
T57 Brett Stegmaier -9 $13,039
T63 Scott Brown -8 $12,449
T63 Wesley Bryan -8 $12,449
T63 Brice Garnett -8 $12,449
T63 Sung Kang -8 $12,449
T67 Talor Gooch -7 $12,095
T67 Tom Whitney -7 $12,095
T69 Matt Every -6 $11,623
T69 Billy Hurley III -6 $11,623
T69 Smylie Kaufman -6 $11,623
T69 Keith Mitchell -6 $11,623
T69 Rory Sabbatini -6 $11,623
T69 Chris Stroud -6 $11,623
75 John Peterson -5 $11,210
76 Abraham Ancer -4 $11,092
77 Ben Silverman 4 $10,974
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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“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," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.