Blasting into the week ahead, from cell phone insanity to another senior major ...PGA TOUR
The PGA Tour moves from Whistling Straits to Desperate Straits this week.
That’s what it feels like with players on the FedEx Cup bubble wanting a chance at the $65 million offered in the Playoffs.
There’s just one player among the top 25 in the world rankings in the Wyndham Championship field – that would be No. 14 Anthony Kim – but the fiercest competition this week is on the lower end of golf’s ladder. This is the last event players can qualify for the FedEx Cup Playoffs. The top 125 in the season-long points race advance.
There’s a potentially noisy little sidebar to the week: This is the event the PGA Tour is allowing fans to bring cell phones to the course as a test. Whoever came up with that idea in the PGA Tour offices must be holding their breath in hopes that there isn't a concert of ring tones breaking through the silent mode.
Every player ranked 111th to 131st in the FedEx Cup standings is teeing it up. Michael Letzig is on the playoff bubble at No. 125. Mike Weir is No. 126. According to pgatour.com, any player 126th to 142nd in points is assured of making the playoffs with a top-10 finish this week.
Fred Couples, David Duval and John Daly are the biggest names in the Wyndham Championship field with Ryan Moore back as defending champ. Moore is part of some Ryder Cup intrigue as a potential captain’s pick bidding to gain American captain Corey Pavin’s attention. Kim’s got something to show, too. He was bumped off the automatic qualifying list last week and needs to show Pavin his surgically repaired thumb will allow him to help the team. Lucas Glover, last year’s U.S. Open winner, also got bumped off the team. A Glover victory this week would certainly get Pavin’s attention.
Bunker shot: What if Tiger Woods didn’t make the FedEx Cup Playoffs? Would they be canceled? For a contingent of fans, they might as well be. It’s not likely Woods will be bumped out of the FedEx Cup playoffs this week, but it should be troubling at PGA Tour offices that it’s even possible. Woods is 108th in the FedEx Cup standings. Only the top 96 are mathematically assured of advancing to the playoffs. You have to believe the playoffs would sustain serious injury in its appeal in future negotiations to extend the system should Woods not qualify for get bounced after the first playoff event.
Mell’s picks: Winner – Fred Couples. Contender – Ryan Moore. Darkhorse – Brandt Snedeker.
Course: Sedgefield Country Club, Greensboro, N.C.
Purse: $5.1 million (winner’s share, $918,000).
TV Times (ET): Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel (3-6 p.m.); Saturday-Sunday, Golf Channel (noon-1:30 p.m.), CBS (2-5 p.m.).
Last year: Ryan Moore won on the third playoff hole, defeating Jason Bohn and Kevin Stadler.
It’s the third major in five weeks for the over-50 circuit.
Fred Couples, however, will miss the second of those majors. He’s teeing it up at the Wyndham Championship on the PGA Tour. While Couples is having a big year in his Champions Tour rookie season, he is majorless. It’s hard to imagine it’s keeping him up at night. He was second at the Senior PGA and second at the U.S. Senior Open in his two starts in majors.
Bunker shot: German engineering is center stage yet again. A week after Martin Kaymer won the PGA Championship, Bernhard Langer bids to win his third consecutive senior major. Langer won the Senior Open three weeks ago and the U.S. Senior Open two weeks ago. Langer’s arguably the hottest player on the planet, so much so that European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie said he’d consider him as a captain’s pick. Some Euro Tour players were skeptical but another Langer victory might make them think again.
Mell’s picks: Winner – Mark Calcavecchia. Contender – Bernhard Langer. Darkhorse – Denis Watson.
Course: Crosswater Club, Sunriver, Ore.
Purse: $2.6 million (winner’s share, $392,000).
TV times (ET): Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel (6:30-9 p.m.); Saturday-Sunday, NBC (4-6 p.m.).
Last year: Mike Reid defeated John Cook on the first playoff hole.
After two weeks off, the LPGA returns to action Friday at Pumpkin Ridge’s Ghost Creek Course in North Plains, Ore.
Every player among the top 10 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings is in the field for the 54-hole event.
Bunker shot: There’s a revolving door atop the women’s game, but it’s dizzyingly good stuff for this tour. When American Cristie Kerr ascended back to the top of the rankings this week, it marked the sixth change at the top in less than four months. That’s more changes than we saw in the first four years of the women’s rankings. The race is so close that players are making moves on off weeks (lost points are a factor in the ranking rolling two-year window). Since Lorena Ochoa retired in late April, Kerr, Jiyai Shin and Ai Miyazato have taken turns at No. 1. Shin’s held the top spot for 11 weeks, Kerr for four and Miyazato for two.
Mell’s picks: Winner – Suzann Pettersen. Contender – Michelle Wie. Darkhorse – Hee Young Park.
Course: Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club’s Ghost Creek Course, North Plains, Ore.
Purse: $1.5 million (winner’s share, $225,000).
TV times (ET): Golf Channel – Friday (12:30-2:30 p.m); Saturday (5:30-8 p.m.); Sunday (5:30-8 p.m.).
Last year: M.J. Hur closed beat Suzann Pettersen and Michele Redman in a playoff.