The Top 150 The True Money Line

By Rex HoggardNovember 18, 2010, 1:21 am
When Charles Warren left Walt Disney World Resort on Sunday for the short drive to Orlando International Airport he wasn’t sure if he was boarding a flight for Greenville, S.C., or California.

Warren had just put the finishing touches on a final-round 68, punctuated by a 5-footer for birdie at the last, in the season-ending Children’s Miracle Network Classic, but when he climbed behind the wheel of his courtesy car he wasn’t sure if he had done enough. He was trying to control his emotions. Trying to focus on the positive, but the uncertainty of the Tour’s season-ending bash makes even the most optimistic person go dark.

Charles Warren
Charles Warren finished 149th on the 2010 PGA Tour money list. (Getty Images)
“Whatever happens I played the last three in 1 under. I am proud of that,” Warren said.

Thirty minutes later, still unsure which flight he was going to board, he finally learned via a text message that his tie for ninth at Disney was enough. “Oh man, I’m getting too old for this,” he sighed with relief.

For those scoring at home, Warren did not finish inside the top 125 in Tour earnings, the long-held benchmark in sport’s most public pass-fail endeavor. In fact, he was some $212,000 adrift of that magic 125 threshold that was finally set by Troy Merritt. Yet Warren’s emotion at finishing 149th in earnings was a testament to how fluid Tour status has become.

Don’t get it twisted, Warren would rather have finished inside the top 125, but for a guy who started the week at 157th in earnings and faced the very real and capricious possibility of the second stage of Q-School, No. 149 isn’t a bad gig if you can get it.

Consider the alternative. Had Warren not cracked the top 150, which comes with limited Tour status in 2011 and exempts him from second stage, he would have teed off for the first round of second stage at Bayonet Golf Club in Seaside, Calif., on Wednesday. Had he not finished inside the top 20 at Bayonet and advanced to final stage next month he would begin ’11 with no Tour status of any kind and only limited, at best, Nationwide Tour status.

As tumbles go this scenario has a “Big League”-to-rookie-ball feel to it.

Media types fixate on the top 125, but the real Mendoza Line for many Tour types is top 150.

Although it is slightly skewed because of the “name” players who finished 2009 in the 126-150 category – including major champions David Duval and Todd Hamilton – of the dozen players who didn’t secure their cards at Q-School who played with 150 status in 2010, they had an average of 22 starts this season.

Although it might not be the best status, given the depth of the modern Tour top 150 is not a bad option – particularly if the mini-tours are the alternative.

“It used to be I could play pretty well out here (PGA Tour) and finish inside the top 20,” said Michael Allen, who finished the season 130th in earnings but will be content to ply his trade on the Champions Tour in 2011. “Now, I can play well and miss the cut. It’s gotten so much harder.”

Consider the current parity on the PGA Tour. Matt Kuchar won the money title with $4.9 million. That’s the lowest winning cash total since Duval took the money crown in 1998. Or, to put it in practical terms, the scoring average between Kuchar, who led the circuit with a 69.61 average, is barely a stroke per round better than Michael Letzig (70.95), who is the year’s ultimate “bubble boy” at 150th in earnings.

It’s little wonder that Warren climbed on that flight bound for South Carolina with a 500-pound weight lifted from his shoulders.

Nicholas Thompson was not as fortunate. He began Disney week clinging to the 150th spot, struggled on Sunday to an 81 and finished 2010 ranked 153rd, about $17,000 behind Letzig. Less than three days later he was back at work at second stage.

Maybe the most telling moment of money list clarity came as Johnson Wagner began collecting his belongings from his golf bag late Sunday. At one point on a wild Sunday, Wagner was inside the top 125, double bogeyed the Magnolia Course’s 16th hole and nervously two-putted from 35 feet at the last to tie for third place. Although he came up $33,175 shy of Merritt in earnings, he jumped 27 spots on the money list to 126th, secured a start in the 2011 full-field opener in Hawaii with his top-10 Disney finish (T-3) and, most importantly, avoided the grind of second stage.

“I really didn’t want to play in Houston next week,” Wagner smiled, referring to the second stage qualifier he was signed up to play had he not cracked the 150 ceiling.

For many the top 150 is the year’s ultimate mulligan, with it a chance at redemption at the final stage of Q-School, a safety net with limited 2011 status and a reason to exhale. Just ask Warren.Last we heard, he was on a flight home to South Carolina.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.