And Then There was One

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 7, 2006, 5:00 pm
Nationwide Tour Championship at the HoustonianIt began Jan. 26 in Panama. It will conclude Nov. 12 in Richmond, Texas.
 
The Nationwide Tour is down to its 31st and final event of the 2006 season. And this one will finalize the fields fate.
 
Ken Duke
Ken Duke is in position to capture the Nationwide Tour money title.
The Nationwide Tour Championship is open to the top 62 players on the money list. That number is usually 60, but since there are two temporary members, South African Jarrod Lyle and Scotlands Michael Sim, inside the top 60, the doors have been opened to two more players.
 
Lyle and Sim are at 15th and 16th, respectively, on the money list. Should they both finish inside the top 20 then two more players will be awarded PGA TOUR cards for 2007.
 
The top 20 players on the final money list will be promoted to the big leagues next year. Lyle and Sim could make that number 22.
 
And if last year is any indicator, thats likely to happen.
 
A year ago, only two players moved inside the cut line courtesy their performances at the Tour Championship.
 
David Branshaw won the event and vaulted from 29th to seventh. Eric Axley was runner-up and advanced 11 spots to No. 16. Axely went on to win this years Valero Texas Open to secure another two years on TOUR. Branshaw will be back in '07, thanks to a 119th cash showing.
 
Bill Haas and Tom Scherrer were the unfortunate losers that week in Prattville, Ala. Because Jason Gore had already won three times that season and been promoted to the PGA TOUR, cards were handed out to the top 21 players on the final money list.
 
Bill Haas was 21st entering the season finale, but tied for 24th to fall into the 23rd position. Tom Scherrer also tied for 24th and fell from 19th in earnings to 22nd.
 
Haas went on to earn his TOUR card through Q-school and made enough money this year to be invited back in 2007. Scherrer was relegated to the Nationwide Tour, where he finished 70th in the financial department and failed to qualify for the ultimate event.
 
Twelve of the 21 Nationwide Tour graduates, including Gore, finished inside the top 125 on the this years PGA TOUR money list, meaning they kept their cards for another year.
 
Jess Daley is the man on the bubble this time around ' assuming Lyle and Sim are safe. Daley, a former TOUR member, is 22nd in earnings, just $1,212 ahead of No. 23 Brenden Pappas.
 
Some notable players on the outside hoping to get in are former U.S. Amateur champions Nick Flanagan ($25,895 behind Daley) and Ricky Barnes ($27,706 behind), and Tim ONeal ($63,277 behind). ONeal is trying to join Tiger Woods as the only African-Americans on TOUR.
 
But to get there, ONeal will have to have his best finish of the season. A tie for fourth two weeks ago in Florida gave him a chance to earn his card. Hell likely need no worse than a solo second-place finish this week to get it.
 
The purse is $750,000, with $135,000 going to the winner.
 
This week isnt all about just getting inside the top 22; its about where you finish inside that number.
 
Ken Duke currently leads the money list with $369,318 ' $12,999 clear of No. 2 Johnson Wagner. Topping the money list is very important. For one, it puts you in a higher category on the TOURs ranking priority. This gives you a much better chance of getting into limited fields, particularly the early-season tournaments on the West Coast Swing.
 
For another, being the Money Man gets you a spot in next years Players Championship.
 
Where you finish inside the top 22 will also determine your priority ranking at the beginning of the 2007 PGA TOUR season. All Nationwide Tour graduates and Q-school qualifiers ' except for the Nationwide money leader and anyone winning three times on the Nationwide Tour in the previous season ' are all placed in the same category. Many TOUR fields are finalized by using players from this department. For example, if you finish fifth on the Nationwide money list, or fifth at Q-school, you are seeded higher than if you finish 12th in either one.
 
The seeding isnt changed until the TOUR hits the Florida Swing in March, and a reshuffle, based on current player earnings, takes affect.
 
As mentioned, winning three Nationwide Tour events in the same season will make sure you avoid the reshuffle and put you in a different category. Four players have a chance to close the season with a third victory: Wagner, Tripp Isenhour (No. 6 on the money list), Kevin Stadler (No. 9) and Brandt Snedeker (No. 10).
 
All of those in the field who do not advance to the 2007 PGA TOUR will have full exempt status on the Nationwide Tour next season.
 
This years event will be contested at the Houstonian Golf & Country Club, a 7,100-yard, par-72 venue. It is the first time that this course has played host. The last five contests were at The Senator Course in Alabama.
 
The Golf Channel will air all four rounds, beginning Thursday at 2:30 PM Thursday. Re-airs can be seen each night at 9:00 p.m. ET.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Nationwide Tour Championship
  • TGC Airtimes
  • Getty Images

    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

    <
    Getty Images

    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

    Getty Images

    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

    Getty Images

    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.