US Open without Rose raises questions
No one can appreciate that like Justin Rose.
He shot a bogey-free 66 in tough conditions at Muirfield Village for his first victory on American soil, beating the strongest field so far this year among regular PGA Tour events and getting endless plaudits from tournament host Jack Nicklaus. He moved up to No. 33 in the world. The next day, Rose couldn’t finish among the top 15 at a U.S. Open qualifier to lock up a tee time at Pebble Beach.
Few things about the U.S. Open are ever fair.
The humor in all this came from his wife, Kate, who couldn’t help but notice that Rose most likely will be exempt for the U.S. Open next year through either world rankings or money lists. He just can’t play in the one that starts next week.
“How screwed up is that?” said Ben Curtis after he qualified at the Columbus sectional. “How do you not get the 30th-ranked player in the world? It just blows my mind.”
But it shouldn’t.
This is not to be mistaken with the PGA Championship, which strives through unwritten rules to get as many of the top 100 players in the world. The U.S. Open is supposed to be the toughest test in golf, not have the toughest field in golf.
“I keep saying this until I’m blue in the face,” David Fay said Tuesday as he drove to the Curtis Cup. “It’s not the best field in golf. It never pretended to be. It’s the most democratic championship. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have special exemptions. But if you can keep half the field open to qualifiers … that’s why we have 9,000 entries.”
That’s what major championship golf used to be all about.
The most famous example might be Ben Hogan winning the Masters and U.S. Open in 1953, then having to qualify for the British Open in the summer before he could win the claret jug at Carnoustie. Two of the last five U.S. Open champions – Michael Campbell in 2005 and Lucas Glover last year – earned a spot through qualifying.
Still, this one doesn’t pass the smell test.
Kenny Perry won the Memorial two years ago and didn’t play the U.S. Open because he didn’t want to. Perry never liked Torrey Pines, and he sure didn’t like the idea of a 36-hole qualifier at age 48. In that case, no one felt terribly outraged.
This case has the attention of the USGA. Fay said he expects USGA officials to review its U.S. criteria after the champion is crowned at Pebble Beach, although he offered no promises what they would do, if anything.
“Anytime we don’t sit down and try to learn, then we’re nuts,” he said. “We’ll definitely be exploring that.”
But it’s not the simple. It’s not always that equitable.
The reason the USGA’s cutoff for top 50 in the world is a month before the U.S. Open is to figure out how many spots should be allocated for 13 sectional qualifying sites across the country. For the U.S. Open, college kids should have every right as a PGA Tour player.
Even so, it’s easy to make an exception for the Memorial, which typically has one of the best fields in golf on one of the top courses, is run by the greatest name in golf (Jack Nicklaus) and is played just two weeks before the U.S. Open.
The USGA can alter its criteria to find a spot for the Memorial champion without causing any problems. Remember, Bo Van Pelt and Bill Haas were among the players who could have been exempt from qualifying had they won because it would have been their second victory since the last U.S. Open.
The Masters saves room for PGA Tour winners until the very last week, although it never has a full field. It rarely has 100 players. The British Open takes the leading player not already eligible from among the top 10 at the two PGA Tour and European Tour events before the British Open.
It can be done.
Considering what Nicklaus means to the game and the prestige with which he runs the Memorial – not to mention that he is a four-time U.S. Open champion – the USGA should offer an exemption to the Memorial winner.
Either way, it’s hard to feel too much sympathy for Rose, or even 21-year-old Rickie Fowler, who was runner-up at Muirfield Village and missed qualifying by six shots. They had their chances to qualify all year. The U.S. Open takes the top 30 from the PGA Tour money list, the top 15 from the European Tour money list. It takes the leading two players not already eligible from this year’s money list. It takes the top 50 in the world ranking.
Rose had ample chance to avoid going through qualifying. Maybe he can do better next year. There were 15 spots available in his sectional, and one of them went to an amateur. The other went to Hugo Leon of Chile, whose career consists of one Nationwide Tour event and one PGA Tour event, not including Q-School, where he tied for 108th.
“That’s the way it is. Everyone knows the rules,” Stuart Appleby said, referring to Rose’s failures. “But if you keep playing good golf like that, you certainly won’t be missing out on many majors.”
Just not this one.
Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome
Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)
The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...
And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.
Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas
He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.
Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.
Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.
In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.
Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.
Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.
Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic
Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double
Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open
Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open
Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row
Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow
Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship
The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ
Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year
And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season
Photo Galleries: Best of ...
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com counted 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. And click here for the full collection of articles.
Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge
ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.
The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.
They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.
Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.
Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.
Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.
''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''
The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.
In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''
Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.