Show Me the Money
But enough of those numbers. As it is each year, and each week on this tour, the numbers that really matter relate to money. Any player who tells you hes not playing for the money on this tour might need to rethink things just a bit. Sure, the experience is more than money can buy for players seeking to reach the ultimate level. But ultimately, its the money that determines their fate as players.
Top 15 is the battlecry each year, and each week, because those finishing the years 30 events in the top 15 on the money list earn PGA Tour cards for the following year. But, when it gets right down to it, perhaps the money numbers go beyond that. The top 55 earn spots into the Buy.Com Tours season-ending Tour Championship, and certainly as important, they earn exempt status on the Buy.Com Tour the following year and also a straight pass to the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournaments Final Stage, meaning no worries about 1st and 2nd Stage qualifying tension headaches.
All that said, lets talk about a few of those players off to a great start in this dash for cash that is the Buy.Com Tour. 13 of the current top 15 on the money list are in the field this week at the Richmond Open.
1. Deane Pappas ($161,600) ' 3rd on Tour in Scoring Average, 2nd on Tour in putting average. Winner of Buy.Com events in 2000 and 2001. The South African has played the PGA Tour before (1999) and you can bet experience will pay off in the long run for him.
2. Jonathan Byrd ($128,700) ' As a rookie, 1st on Tour in all-around ranking, driving distance, total driving and sand save percentage. The 23-year-old Clemson Tiger started the year as a Monday qualifier and has since won a tournament and more importantly the respect of every player on this tour. Appears to be a cant-miss prospect.
3. Tim Petrovic ($116,728) ' Tops on Tour in scoring average (69.59). He started the year without fully-exempt status and has made the most of it with two runner-up finishes this year. Played the Buy.Com Tour in 1993 and 1999. The soon-to-be 35-year-old has risen up through the ranks, having played on the Golden Bear Tour and paid his dues as a cook and pizza delivery boy at Pizza Hut. Like a fine crust, his hopes of graduation are rising!
4. Paul Claxton ($113,661) ' Known as the Georgia Gentleman on tour, hes finally getting a mean-streak in him on the course. A winner this year already in Louisiana and he came from 4 strokes back on Sunday to do it. Hes played the PGA Tour as well, and is trying to find a consistency that will help him at the next level.
5. Chris Couch ($112,273) ' A super-long hitter and winner this year in the first event on the schedule at Gainesville,FL. Hes played a full year on the PGA Tour, and like so many before him, found out his game needs some work. 11th on Tour in the all-around ranking and 8th in birdie average, those are numbers he can be proud of . Now he needs to keep it up.
6. Brenden Pappas ($98,158) ' Yes, the brother of the man who sits at No. 1 on the money list. In fact, there are three Pappas brothers with plenty of game. What makes Brendens year so special is that hes a rookie. He has a 2nd, 3rd and 4th place finish this year. A South African Tour veteran, he was the Teardrop Tours Order of Merit winner in 2000. Very talented, and the family competition will help as the year progresses.
9. Chad Campbell ($88,097) ' Another of the cant-miss kids if you believe what you hear walking up and down the practice tee on this tour. His resume speaks for itself. While he only played eight Buy.Com Tour events prior to 2001, he dominated on the Hooters Tour winning eight of the first 16 tournaments on the 2000 schedule! Enough said. 7th in scoring average, 1st in greens in regulation. Look out PGA Tour.
10. Brett Quigley ($84,976) ' If this guy doesnt provide the answer to just how talent-filled the Buy.Com Tour is, then find me someone who does! Always known as Mr. Bubble on the PGA Tour, hes never been able to stick around the big tour full-time. So earlier this year, he won the Arkansas Classic on the Buy.Com Tour and then the next week when his number came up at the PGA Tours Greater Greensboro Chrylser Classic came up, he took off and finished 2nd. So now whats he to do? Almost enough to lock up a PGA Tour card with his earnings there and guaranteed a spot on this tour next year because of his win at Arkansas. Not a bad problem to have.
12. Ryuji Imada ($65,587) ' Also qualifies as the real deal. His name comes up often among players looking for a great swing and a gift for dealing with the hype. Won on Buy.Com Tour as rookie in 2000. Has narrowly missed his PGA Tour card at Q-School the last two years. His time will come soon enough. 4th on Tour in putting average, 2nd in eagles (holes per), 8th in all-around ranking. Look for a follow-up win this year , or maybe more!
With those names as a backdrop, pay attention to the Buy.Com Tour. It has been said that it just might qualify as the 2nd best Tour in the world. I dont know if its reached the level of the European Tour for star power just yet, but for depth of field and promising prospects, it very well could be the No.2.
And one final thing: if a player happens to say in an interview this week or next that hes not thinking about the money and just letting things take care of themselves, dont be so quick to believe the cash conversation didnt happen over dinner with other players the night before!
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.
The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.
It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.
The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”
Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.