Talking Playoffs With the Players at the Airport Bar

By Jerry FoltzAugust 23, 2010, 8:59 pm
Without fail, any Sunday afternoon at the airport gathering areas (otherwise known as the bar) is a great place to be if you’re a fan of the PGA Tour. Sunday was priceless.
First, I ran into Rocco Mediate at the Delta counter and we made our way to the pizzeria/tavern to kill a couple hours before our flights departed. We watched the final round of the Wyndham Championship on TV with the sound on, not that it mattered because when you spend time with Rocco barely a moment goes by before he’s on to the next thought. So after arguing, discussing, and laughing about subjects ranging from golf swing, course design, family life and a variety of other topics, I came to the conclusion that Rocco has no gray area in his life, everything is black and white. Oh how I love a person with conviction. Secondly, I concluded that between us, we had just about every answer to any problem we discussed. Lastly, I decided that I want the movie rights to his life story. I’m not sure under what genre the movie would fall, but it’s guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat the entire time.
Jeff Quinney
Jeff Quinney missed qualifying for the FedEx Cup playoffs by one shot. (Getty Images)
Soon, the place started to fill up with more tournament people – players, caddies and various others that lead the same nomadic life for most of the year.
I was sitting next to PGA Tour sophomore Michael Connell and two of the traveling physical therapists from the fitness trailer when to my left sat down Jeff Quinney.
“What happened to you?” I asked noticing a mostly-healed strawberry on the right cheek of his face. “Slipped in the pool,” Jeff said while also showing me his left forearm complete with a trail of scrapes in an arched pattern that looked moderately painful.
“How are you doing?” I asked as a general question having not known how he ended up in the final round. “Not Good,” he responded in a more dejected tone than I’m use to hearing from the normally happy-go-lucky guy. Now comes the difficult part – do I let that breathe for a while of do I follow up?

“How so?” I continued.

“126 – by 2 points,” Jeff said, “Scott Piercy beat me out of the playoffs by 2 points – or one shot. One shot today, or one shot yesterday, or one shot anywhere else in the entire year.” Now it was definitely time to let it breathe for a while when suddenly a voice from the end of the bar summed it up perfectly while simultaneously lightening the mood of the now somber room. “That sucks.”
I’m not sure if it was Lumpy, who was now two seats down, or one of the trainers, but there was no need to add anything at that point.
Then Quinney looked at his phone and said, “Oh great, now I’m getting sympathy texts. How do you respond to those,” Jeff asked in a playful manner to which quite a few colorful ideas came immediately from the group of commiserating friends.  Even the bartender couldn’t help but double-over in laughter to some of the suggestions.
Not too long after that exchange, John Mallinger came walking in also looking worse for the wear after a long week. We knew that he played well in the final round, but as we watched Arjun trying to win coming down the stretch, we never really paid attention to the bubble of the top 125 in FedEx points.
Somebody asked how it ended up for John and he responded, “If David Toms doesn’t make the 30-footer at 18, I’m in.” He informed us that Toms’ birdie broke a logjam at second place that included him. The tie for third wasn’t good enough.
As if on cue, from the back of the bar and a different voice, came the perfect words once again:  “That sucks.”
When I took my seat on the plane headed home for a couple of days I couldn’t help but think about how much all those guys would love to be going to The Barclays, my next stop. With ever shrinking fields for four weeks and large purses, anything is possible. And now they’re left with four weeks off (many will play a Nationwide event or two) and five smaller-purse Fall Series events remaining to try and climb into the top 125 on the money list and avoid the fall classic.

Everybody who was gathered around seemed very happy for Arjun Atwal as he’s a well-liked player on Tour, and they’re also happy that he now gets to avoid that very same reality that they’ll spend the next month thinking about – the potential for another trip to Q School.
There was some discussion that the rule that’s keeping Arjun Atwal out of the Playoffs needs to be amended immediately as it wasn’t ever intended to keep out someone who started the year as a member of the Tour. To add to the absurdity, I let them know that as of Sunday evening, Arjun was the fourth alternate to get into this weeks Nationwide Tour event in Knoxville.
So this week, the Playoffs begin without Arjun, or Quinney, or Lumpy, Mallinger, Connell, or Rocco, but if you ever doubt the relevance or importance of the Playoffs to the players themselves, spend Sunday evening in the Greensboro airport next year.
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Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.

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Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

"I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.