Notes Sendens Angst Caddie Mocks Poulter

By Pga Tour MediaMarch 11, 2008, 4:00 pm
2007 Arnold Palmer InvitationalORLANDO, Fla. -- Stewart Cink already had in effect lost the tournament when he rolled in a 50-foot birdie putt that allowed him to join six players at second place, which was worth about $130,000 and extra FedExCup points.
 
But that putt was plenty significant to John Senden.
 
The lanky Australian was on the cusp of moving into the top 50 in the world rankings, and a five-way tie for second would have made him eligible for the World Golf Championship at Doral next week, an event Senden has never played.
 
With a six-way tie at Innisbrook, Senden moved up only to No. 51, missing out by one-hundredth of a point. He still has one more chance at Bay Hill to crack the top 50.
 
Same scenario as last year, he said Tuesday. Ive got to play well.
 
At least this year, Senden appears to have a fighting chance.
 
He was at No. 52 last year when he arrived at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, desperate to get into the top 50 for two reasons. It would make him eligible for Doral, and give him one more week to qualify for the Masters. But he started feeling sick early in the week, and was so ill Thursday morning that he couldnt make it to the first tee.
 
Ive always been just on the outside, Senden said. It would be exciting to get Doral with lots of world points. My goal is to play all four majors this year. Im in two right now.
 
One of those is the Masters. He qualified by tying for fourth in the PGA Championship last year.
 
DOUBLE DIPPING
The PGA TOUR scored a small victory last month when the USGA recognized the FedExCup while handing out exemptions to the U.S. Open. Along with giving a free pass to the top 30 on the PGA TOUR money list, those in the top 30 in the final FedEx Cup standings dont have to qualify, either.
 
It was thought the USGA would pick one or the other, but officials recognized it would only affect a couple of players. By also taking the field from the Tour Championship, Jonathan Byrd and Camilo Villegas are exempt for Torrey Pines.
 
Doing the numbers, I am very confident that the majority of the U.S. Open field will still come via qualifying, USGA executive director David Fay said Tuesday. Adding the TOUR Championship field will not tilt that.
 
And that was important to the USGA, since 54 percent of the field last year came from qualifying.
 
Not to bring politics into this in an election year, but we like to think the U.S. Open is the most democratic golf championship, Fay said.
 
EASY DOES IT
Ernie Els has had some peculiar travel habits this year. He flew 10 hours from London to Arizona to play in the Accenture Match Play Championship after saying he would not compete, then he decided against a 15-minute drive down Apopka-Vineland Road to play in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
 
Els withdrew from Bay Hill on Monday, and word was the tournament host was not pleased.
 
As far as Im concerned, Arnold Palmer is the King and I will always be appreciative of the start that he gave me in America when I first played here in 1993, said Els, who won 10 years ago at Bay Hill. I will personally be speaking to Arnie to explain why I have taken the difficult decision to pull out after supporting his tournament for the last 15 years.
 
So why did he take this week off?
 
'The bottom line is that I have to ensure that my body and game are in perfect shape in the run-up to the Masters, Els said in a statement. There are things I need to take care of this week, which means that Bay Hill does not fit into my new schedule as I would have liked it to.
 
CUT POLICY
Controversy seems to follow the PGA TOUR cut policy no matter what it is.
 
The most recent change allowed for a secondary cut after the third round if more than 78 players made the cut. Seventy-nine players made the cut last week at Innisbrook, and the 54-hole cut to top 70 and ties eliminated eight players.
 
So it worked'except for one thing.
 
The second cut was not made until Sunday morning because of weather delays, so the final round features threesomes on both tees. If the TOUR had stuck with the original change'closest number to 70 play the final two rounds'then 64 players would have advanced to the third round, and there would have been enough daylight to finish.
 
I find that ironic, said Paul Goydos, no fan of either change. I find that hilarious.
 
TOO LITTLE, WAY TOO LATE
Dottie Pepper joined some of the NBC Sports staff for a round on the Island course at Innisbrook early in the week at the PODS Championship. She looked as if she had seen a ghost when she pulled up to the practice green.
 
The 18th green brought back some bad memories, she said.
 
She had not been on the Island Course since 1984, when she was a freshman at Furman and had a chance to win the NCAA title until a three-putt on the last hole.
 
A day later, Pepper returned to the Island course. Playing the 18th, she holed out from the fairway for eagle with a 7-iron.
 
POULTER POTENTIAL
Ian Poulter says his comments were taken out of context by a British golf magazine, but that hasnt let him off the hook with his peers ' not only players, but caddies.
 
Some quick background, if needed.
 
Poulter told U.K.-based Golf World that while he respects every golfer, I know I havent played to my full potential and when that happens, it will be just me and Tiger.
 
John Wood, the looper for Hunter Mahan, arrived at Riviera early Sunday with his game face on.
 
I think this is the day that I reach my full potential as a caddie, Wood said. And when I do, it will be just me and Stevie.
 
That would be Steve Williams, caddie for Tiger Woods.
 
DIVOTS
The PODS Championship had a stronger field than the Honda Classic, based on the world rankings. David Toms is not eligible for the CA Championship, the first time he has missed a World Golf Championship since Firestone in 2000. Tiger Woods again will play the Tavistock Cup, matches between touring pros from Isleworth and Lake Nona in the Orlando area. Newcomers to the Isleworth team include J.B. Holmes, Daniel Chopra and Paula Creamer.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Justin Leonard is No. 32 in the world. He was at No. 210 a year ago.
 
FINAL WORD
My first practice round was Tuesday, and I played with Tiger and Mark OMeara. I needed a diaper. It was pretty overwhelming.'Sean OHair, on his first trip to the Masters.
 
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  • Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

    The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

    The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

    In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

    Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

    Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

    Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

    By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

    RISING

    Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

    Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

    Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

    Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

    Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


    FALLING

    J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

    Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

    Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

    DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

    LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

    Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

    Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

    In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

    "Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

    Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

    "The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

    The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

    "Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

    Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

    Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

    By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

    We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

    God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

    We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

    Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

    There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

    It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

    Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

    Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

    BORN IN 1912

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
    May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
    Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

    Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.


    BORN IN 1949

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
    Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
    Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

    Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.


    BORN IN 1955

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
    Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
    Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

    Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


    WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1956-57

    Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
    Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
    Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
    Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
    Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

    A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


    EUROPE'S BIG 5

    Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
    April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
    July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
    Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
    Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
    March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

    The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


    WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1969-70

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
    Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
    May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
    May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
    June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

    Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.


    BORN IN 1980

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
    July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
    July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

    Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

    Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.