Opportunities await Tour Championship qualifiers

By Will GraySeptember 5, 2012, 10:18 pm

This week, many players are focused on outlasting the 70-man field at the BMW Championship; others are looking to improve their playoff positioning for a better shot at the $10 million payday awaiting the winner of the FedEx Cup playoffs. For a handful of players, however, the focus is on a different number entirely: 30, as in becoming one of 30 players to advance to the season-ending Tour Championship.

Kevin Stadler, William McGirt and Jimmy Walker each enter this week’s BMW Championship outside the top 100 in the world ranking. None of the three men have ever won a PGA Tour event; none have played in a WGC event in the past five years, either. The trio have combined to make only five major championship appearances since 2008. This week, though, Stadler (32nd in FedEx Cup points), McGirt (39th) and Walker (46th) all are in position to potentially make the Tour Championship field. For these three, the BMW Championship represents an opportunity to gain access to a tournament system in which, oftentimes, the rich simply get richer.

Under the current setup, golf’s biggest events and the OWGR system create a somewhat vicious cycle. Players gain access to the game’s upper-tier tournaments thanks to a high world ranking; they attain a high ranking largely from playing in those same upper-tier tournaments, many of which carry increased OWGR point values, no 36-hole cut, or both. Outside of winning a Tour event, players can often have a tough time breaking the cycle and gaining access to some of golf’s more prestigious events.

Making the Tour Championship field, though, offers a loophole to players otherwise left on the outside looking in.

Aside from a healthy paycheck – Jonathan Byrd took home $128,000 in 2011 for finishing last – qualifying for the Tour Championship brings with it added benefits. Each of the 30 players at East Lake later this month are automatically qualified for the 2013 Masters, U.S. Open and British Open. They will also receive a spot in the WGC-Cadillac Championship next March.

For some of the game’s top players, these qualifications serve merely as an afterthought. For others, though, a week of good play at Crooked Stick has the potential to remake their schedule for next year. Such was the case last year for John Senden, who entered the playoffs ranked 94th in the world and 50th on the FedEx Cup points list. Spurred largely by a runner-up finish at the BMW Championship, Senden made the field at East Lake and ended the season 13th on the FedEx Cup points list. This year, he played in all three WGC tournaments for the first time in his career, appeared in all four majors, and had the flexibility to craft his schedule around the season’s biggest events.

Stadler, McGirt and Walker are among those in the field this week looking to follow in Senden’s footsteps. The three have combined for 425 career starts on Tour – none of which have been at The Masters. With four good rounds, each could leave Indianapolis this weekend with the knowledge that, in addition to transforming his 2013 schedule, he’ll be driving up Magnolia Lane next spring. So for the next four days, while winning always remains the goal, 30 will become the magic number.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.