Drama Class Is In

By Jerry FoltzDecember 2, 2002, 5:00 pm
Tis the season. Oh how I love the 'season.' Holidays, indulgent feasts, visits from relatives (OK, not everything about the holidays is perfect), and gifts, lots and lots of gifts.
And if you happen to be a golf commentator, and if you happen to like drama, and if you happen to work for The Golf Channel, then the holiday season brings one superb gift ' Q-School.
Sometimes as a commentator, you have to dig for relevant things to add during coverage of regular season tournaments. Sometimes its especially difficult during the early-round coverage. In other words, sometimes I actually have to work, do research, and attempt to be creative. Well, Ho Ho Ho, not this week.
At Q-School, the story tells itself. Even though its impossible to predict who, what, when, and where the drama will happen, rest assured it WILL happen. Whether its Cliff Kresge falling into a lake, Tim ONeal triple-bogeying the final hole to miss the PGA Tour by two shots (both of which happened in 2000), or Roland Thatcher needing a par on the final hole to realize his lifelong dream - only to find his approach shot on the roof of the clubhouse (2001) - its going to happen.
Q-School stories become legendary through the years. Just about every locker-room story of golfs ability to cruelly and unusually punish will invariably end in someones recollection of some particularly gruesome Q-School carnage. The tragedies are virtually endless. The odds of this type of history repeating itself this year are higher than Annikas winning percentage. And odds are exactly what Q-School is all about.
The only way to beat the odds at Q-School is to not enter. Save the $4,000 entry fee and take a trip to Vegas, buy lottery tickets, or get a deal on Enron stock. Anything but Q-School.
Can you imagine 1,300 aspiring Tiger-beaters who have ponied up the dough for the opportunity to be completely miserable for six days and six very, very long nights? Of those 1,300 entrants, only 171 were lucky enough to advance to the finals. The odds already stink. Of these 171, only 35 (and ties) will complete a successful Q-School campaign. The overall odds: 1 in 37. But it gets better.
If youre one of those ridiculously lucky 35, then you get the chance to play on the PGA Tour and live happily ever after, right? Not so quick.
Of the 36 graduates from last years Q-School, only 10 finished in the top 125 on the money list and kept their card. Another six finished between 126-150 and kept some minimal status. But 20 ended the year with nothing, and 26 are right back where they were a year ago - on the way to Q-School.
But really, just how tough can this Q-School thing be? I mean, all the good players are already on tour or have graduated from this years Buy.com Tour. Q-School is just a bunch of dreamers who really cant be that tough to beat, right? Think about it, last year a kid who gets carded for R-rated movies got his PGA Tour Card. A piece of cake for a good player right? Sure'whatever you need to tell yourself.
Of the 171 players at finals, 19 are PGA Tour champions already. Theyve combined for 51 official victories. Eleven players have played in the PGA Tour Championship ' you know, that year-end tournament signifying extreme talent and consistency throughout a year. 59 players in the field have combined for 88 victories on the Nationwide (formerly Buy.com/Nike/Hogan Tour), and nine players have won on both tours. Theres even representation from the past Ryder Cup competitions and a U.S. Open champion. And thats not even counting the hordes of talented players who werent fortunate enough to advance to finals.

Q-School is hell ' period. Its not so much about accomplishment, its about survival. Every player in the field has spent the better part of their lives dreaming about playing on the PGA Tour. All those endless hours playing around as a kid thinking that this next putt or that next chip was for some Tour title. First, junior tournaments, then high school golf, followed by college. Everything that youve ever worked toward for your entire life is at stake this one week. But thats not even the cruel part.
The cruel part is that if you dont get it done this year, you only have to wait another year for the chance to do it all again.
Actually, nobody leaves Q-School finals empty-handed. Every player who advances to finals is guaranteed at least some minimal status on next years Nationwide Tour. But thats another story of odds. Thats a year-long grind trying to earn one of only 15 spots on the following years PGA Tour.
Playing in Q-School can certainly be a nightmare, trust me here, I speak from experience.
In my very first Q-School final in 1990, I dumped it into the water on the second-to-last hole, made double bogey, and missed my card by two shots. What a horrible break I got on that par-3. I had a bad lie on the tee.
As nightmarish as it can be for the players, the truth is that it makes for some incredibly good TV. And as much as I enjoy broadcasting Q-School, thats not even the best part of the week.
As golfers, weve all idolized somebody. My hero was always Arnie; for others its Jack, or Trevino, or Hogan, or Tiger.
But as a commentator, I also have idols. And being an on-course commentator, theres only one godfather, one person to idolize. Theres one man whose nickname is synonymous with, and responsible for, inventing on-course commentary and hell be working with us this week. And ironically his most famous quote is eerily fitting this one cruel week. Although he uses it in describing a single particular shot, it could apply to the whole Q-School process.
'Hes got no shot.'
Well said, Rossy.

Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

How does she feel?

“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”

You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:17 am

NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:

Race to the CME Globe

Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.

Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.

The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.

Ariya Jutanugarn is tied for the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.

Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.

So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Brooke Henderson are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.

Rolex Player of the Year

The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.

Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.

Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.

Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.

It’s simple math.

The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.

1st - 30 points

2nd – 12 points

3rd – 9 points

4th – 7 points

5th – 6 points

6th – 5 points

7rd – 4 points

8th – 3 points

9th – 2 points

10th – 1 point

Vare Trophy

Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.

Money-winning title

Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.

Rolex world No. 1 ranking

World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.

Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.

At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.

Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island

By Associated PressNovember 19, 2017, 12:28 am

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.

Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.

''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''

Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.

''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''

Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.

''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.

''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour.

''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the Web.com more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''

He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.

''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''

Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.

''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''