Qualifying Statement

By John FeinsteinMay 24, 2011, 7:03 pm

On a rainy morning in London six years ago, Michael Campbell’s alarm clock went off shortly after dawn. Tired, not very happy with his golf game, he turned it off and decided he was going back to sleep. When his wife Julie realized what he was doing she reminded him that he had a tee time that morning at Walton Heath to play in a qualifier for the U.S. Open.


Campbell shook his head. There really wasn’t much point, he figured, in grinding through 36 holes. Julie was insistent. It was a major championship. You can sleep tomorrow. Reluctantly, Campbell listened to his wife, got out of bed and dragged himself to the golf course.


Late that afternoon, he made a 6-foot birdie putt on the 36th hole to qualify for the Open. A month later, at Pinehurst, he held Tiger Woods off down the stretch and became a major champion, a victory that turned his career in the right direction and cemented his place in the golfing pantheon forever.


It never would have happened if he didn’t get out of bed for the qualifier.


On Monday, Sergio Garcia did not play a British Open qualifier in Dallas because of an infected fingernail. In this day and age of instant communication, he sent out a tweet announcing to the golf world that he just couldn’t finish the qualifier saying he “couldn’t grip a club.”


It is very difficult to question an athlete when injured. Only they know exactly how much pain they can handle. Washington Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg asked to be removed from a game against the Philadelphia Phillies last summer because he felt some soreness in his pitching elbow. Rob Dibble, then the Nationals TV analyst, questioned Strasburg’s toughness. Two days later, the team announced Strasburg would undergo Tommy John surgery and be out for more than a year. Soon after that the team announced that Dibble was also out – forever.


Garcia showed up, played five holes and withdrew. At the very least his intentions were good. As it turned out, the qualifier was reduced to 18 holes because of rain and Jerry Kelly won a 6-for-1 playoff among players who finished at 3 under par for the last of the six spots. Garcia was even par when he quit. Maybe he really was in serious pain.


It will be interesting to see if Garcia tees it up Thursday at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, where he is a past champion. He has said that, even though he is entered in a U.S. Open qualifier in two weeks he intends to try to play his way into the field without qualifying. That would mean getting his world ranking up from 73 to 50 or better by the close of golf business June 12.


Based on recent results, good luck Sergio. Let’s see how quickly he recovers from that infected fingernail.


There’s no blaming a player for not wanting to get out of bed to play a 36-hole qualifier, whether it be for the British Open or the U.S. Open. If you’re an established player – especially if you are someone who has been a star – being in a qualifier means you haven’t been playing very well. Vijay Singh, once the No. 1 player in the world, who hasn’t missed a major championship since 1994 and is in the World Golf Hall of Fame, is currently in that predicament. He is entered in the U.S. Open qualifier set for June 6. Bet he shows up.


The guys who get the game, who understand that golf is unforgiving but that playing in a major championship is a gift show up for qualifiers no matter how much they want to stay in bed on a rainy morning.


Arnold Palmer played in U.S. Open qualifiers late in his career when he was no longer exempt. So did Greg Norman. Garcia has won seven times on the PGA Tour. Palmer won seven majors.


On Monday, while Garcia nursed his fingernail, U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III – who will be in the Hall of Fame someday – showed up and played the British Open qualifier (as he has done successfully in the past) and made it into the field at Royal St. George’s where he nearly won the championship in 2003.


The qualifiers are an important part of the two Opens. They give everyone a chance to play their way into a major championship. The stories that come out of them are frequently as good or better than the stories from the tournaments themselves.


In recent years, the U.S. Golf Association and the R&A have tried to make it easier for players who have to go through qualifying by setting up qualifers overseas. Once, you had to travel to the U.S. to qualify for the U.S. Open and to Great Britain to qualify for the British. That’s no longer the case.


Campbell isn’t the only player to survive qualifying and win. Steve Jones did it in 1996 at Oakland Hills. Rocco Mediate didn’t win in 2008 at Torrey Pines but he lost one of the most memorable playoffs in U.S. Open history to Tiger Woods. When Ben Hogan won the only British Open he ever played in back in 1953, he played in a 36-hole qualifier because everyone had to qualify. Arnold Palmer did the same thing in 1960. Both men had won The Masters and U.S. Open to start the year.


Those were the rules back then. Hogan followed them and so did Palmer. Nowadays the rules give players numerous different ways to get into either Open without qualifying. But if you aren’t exempt, the qualifier is still there as an opportunity, not an albatross.


Sure, the weather is likely to be hot or rainy. Sure you might find yourself paired with someone you’ve never heard of before. It is one day out of a very privileged life with a huge potential payback.


Let’s hope that Garcia and Singh show up for their U.S. Open qualifiers along with all the other good players who will be at the various sectional qualifiers that will be played in two weeks. As Tom Kite once said about Americans who skipped the British Open because they found the travel inconvenient: “It’s a major championship and you can’t win it unless you show up to play in it.”


That’s true, even if you have to show up early. Ask Michael Campbell.

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

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 ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

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

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

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.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

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

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

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Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

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The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

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Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

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.