Final Stretch For 2004 Futures Tour
Exempt LPGA Tour cards for the top-five money earners after 18 tournaments are the ultimate goal all year for members of the Futures Tour. To earn one of the cards is to graduate with honors and advance from the minors to the major league.
Falling short of the top five has a consolation prize, however. Futures Tour members who finish in the next 10 spots (behind the exempt card winners), and excluding any non-exempt LPGA Tour members, advance directly into the LPGA's Final Qualifying Tournament. That means they avoid sectional qualifiers in Florida and California and move into the final qualifier in Daytona Beach, Fla. Any player who whiffs on the top 15 goes to Q-School anyway -- they just take the long, harder route that adds a little insult to an already long season.
But with only two tournaments remaining on the schedule, there's a lot of stress at crunch time. It's put-up-or-shut-up time. It's time when some players' minds race forward to 2005 to where they want to be or to where they hope they won't be.
'A lot of players are feeling a sense of urgency right now,' said Lisa Strom Fernandes, a fourth-year Futures Tour member who is ranked 47th. 'Q-School is the ultimate Black Hole. It's a major ordeal and you want to avoid going there.'
Echoing Tiger Woods' frequent declaration, players on the Futures Tour often share the belief that their games 'are close' to being where they want to be. They believe they are maybe 'two swings away' from a win or a low score. And that only adds to the anxiety of facing the final stretch of tournaments and trying to perform in a timely fashion.
That said, count on an all-out skirmish for those 2005 LPGA Tour cards this year. In 2003, Candy Hannemann won two of the last three tournaments to clinch the No. 3 position on the Futures Tour Money List. Because of that history, even players in the top-five feel liked marked women.
'I sort of feel like No. 1 and No. 2 are probably OK, but from the No. 3 to the No. 5 spot, I think it's kind of like a wild card,' said Kang, who won the fourth-to-last tournament in West Virginia and jumped from No. 3 to No. 1 with three weeks to play. 'It's stressful right now. People are practicing more and the range and putting greens are packed, even on pro-am days. I think it's going to be really close at the end.'
Weary from the season and often battling injuries, there are numerous pros playing hurt. But with so few events remaining, players are reluctant to take even a day off. The drudgery of the season often has shown up in their scores.
'Right now, it's more physical than mental,' said Nicole Perrot of Chile, who currently is ranked No. 3, after having won in Albany, N.Y. last week. 'But the worst thing I can do is worry about it. You have to worry about the things you can control.'
And heading into that final Sunday on Aug. 29, in York, Pa., about all anybody can control is their sweaty palms and daydreams of the LPGA Tour.
Editors Note: Lisa D. Mickey is the director of communications for the Futures Golf Tour and a longtime member of the national golf media. For more information, about the Futures Tour, contact email@example.com or visit futurestour.com.
Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder
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.”
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.
Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder
LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook played a six-hole stretch in 6 under and shot an 8-under 64 in breezy conditions Saturday to take the lead at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Cook began the run at La Quinta Country Club with birdies on Nos. 4-5, eagled the sixth and added birdies on No. 7 and 9 to make the turn in 6-under 30.
After a bogey on the 10th, he birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 15 and saved par on the 18th with a 20-footer to take a 19-under 197 total into the final round on PGA West's Stadium Course. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player is making his first start in the event. He won at Sea Island in November for his first PGA Tour title.
Fellow former Razorbacks star Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were a stroke back. Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 on the Stadium Course. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. They are both winless on the PGA Tour.
Jon Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium Course to reach 17 under. The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3, Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.
Scott Piercy also was two strokes back after a 66 at the Stadium.
Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, and Harkins shot 68 on the Stadium Course.
Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium Course to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time.
The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.
Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. The Southern California recruit had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over for the week.
John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine – and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.
Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years
Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.
He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.
How rare is his missing the cut there?
The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.
The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.
The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.
Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.
Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.
Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur
Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.
The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.
They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.
It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.
“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”
The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.
The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.