Three Bright Stars Look Towards the Future
The reward for being in the top three of the Futures Tour money list is full exempt playing status on the LPGA Tour for the following season. Three players, three stories. In the end, three dreams come true.
This year is no different. As the last Futures Tour event in August wrapped up, three names came into view.
It's graduation time for the Futures Tour's finest and the positions of summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude have been filled. Taking home this years' respective honors are Beth Bauer, Angela Buzminski and Jung Yeon Lee.
They have made a place for themselves on the LPGA Tour and we will undoubtedly be hearing more about them in the 2002 season.
First on the money list out of the 300-plus Futures Tour competitors is Florida native Beth Bauer. Bauer wanted nothing more than to become a professional golfer.
In the spring of 2000, the Duke University sophomore was reveling in a prominent amateur career in which she recorded 17 AJGA Victories in addition to the six All-America titles and two Player of the Year titles. At the top of her amateur career, Bauer made the pivotal decision to leave Duke upon the conclusion of her second year and turn professional.
She felt she was ready for the pro circuit and there was no doubt in her mind that making her LPGA Tour card for the 2001 season would be a breeze. Bauer was headed for LPGA Qualifying School and what lay ahead was anything but easy.
Reality set in quickly when Bauer shot a stomach-wrenching 76 at Q-school finals. There would be no card for her.
At the time it was the unthinkable. The 20-year-old had not even contemplated missing the cut.
The former Duke superstar faced the biggest stumbling block of her life. No longer part of a team and unable to play her way into the organization of her choice, Bauer felt she had no home in competitive golf. Where would she play?
The Futures Tour answered that question. In January of 2001 Beth redirected her golf game. She and her mother then took to the roads to compete in the 20 Futures Tour tournaments held in 15 states. Not even a year later Bauer had racked up four wins, $76,487 and the No. 1 spot on the money list.
'Playing the SBC Furtures Tour has been a blessing in disguise,' Bauer said shortly after receiving word that she was a member of the LPGA Tour. 'It has been a great year for me as far as building my confidence by winning out here. Hopefully I can take this momentum into next year on the LGPA Tour.'
Then there is Angela Buzminski. As a graduate of Indiana University, Buzminski joined the Futures Tour in 1995. A native of Oshwa, Ontario, the left-handed golfer has won a total of four times on the Futures Tour - three of those wins came during the 2001 season.
Prior to this year, the long-time Futures Tour veteran's best year was in 2000 when she finished 15th on the money list after recording the first of those four wins. To look at this 30-year-old Canadian's record is to know that she is ready to graduate. 'I'm relieved that it is over and that I am going to the LPGA.' Buzminski said.
Fellow Futures Tour rookie, Jung Yeon Lee of Seoul, Korea, rounded out the threesome by winning twice, recording nine top-10 finishes and earning $48,272.
Lee, who edged out fellow countrywoman Ju Yun Kim by $211, was packing her bags when she heard the good news. 'I thought I was going to finish in fourth place so I went back to the hotel to pack to go back to Korea,' Lee said. 'I had no idea that I had passed Kim this week.' Lee returned to her homeland shortly after receiving the good news.
What lies ahead is yet unknown but one thing is sure - the future is now for these three young and very talented 2002 LPGA Tour rookies.
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.