Uneven Numbers

By Rex HoggardApril 1, 2009, 4:00 pm
At first blush the headline appeared to be some sort of April Fools' Day offering, but then we realized that the Associated Press doesnt do frivolity. Davis Love III was indeed outside the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking, and in turn likely out of the Masters, by the slimmest of margins, by the most suspicious math.
Its not that Love dropped outside the top 50, golf is a game of numbers and somebody is always missing a decimal point, so much as why he dropped. The 20-time Tour winner missed the cut at last weeks Arnold Palmer Invitational, and ' perhaps predictably ' dropped from 47th to 51st.
Davis Love III
Despite winning in 2008, Davis Love III will miss the Masters for the second year in a row. (Getty Images)
Heres where the math, or maybe its the method, gets sideways. According to the report Love would have remained inside the top 50, by seven-thousandths of a point, had he skipped Bay Hill. A week earlier Love skipped the Transitions Championship to recharge in the Georgia woods hunting and moved up a spot in the ranking.
Whether Love deserves to be in the Masters is a debate for another day. Truth is, DLIII is the victim of having the wrong passport and of having won a Tour event on the wrong side of the FedEx Cup calendar. If, by way of comparison, Love grew up in Sea Island, Australia, chances are very good he would have been granted a foreign exemption, like Greg Norman in 2002, to motor down Magnolia Lane. If Love would have won last years Travelers Championship, instead of Disney which had a statistically stronger field according to the world ranking, hed be chasing Tiger Woods next week at Augusta National and not wild game at his hunting camp.
Yet, as egregious as Loves Masters miss may seem, our beef is with the ranking. During this age of added value, when Tour officials regularly plead with professionals to play more and to be more engaging with sponsors and pro-am partners, we have a rating system that appears to reward inactivity.
Its perfect if youre a career couch potato, but probably not what the folks in the Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., home office are looking to encourage.
In many ways Love is the quintessential world ranking victim. Hes a company man to his core, a four-term Policy Board member who spent Monday and Tuesday of Bay Hill week in board meetings and Wednesday playing in the pro-am. Probably not the best way to prepare for a late Masters run. Love is the antithesis of a ranking system that encourages fewer starts at home and more appearance fees abroad.
Love is hardly alone in the ranking conundrum. Vijay Singh, for years the Ironman of the Tour, is regularly hurt in the ranking because of his high volume of play. Without the aid of a slide-ruler or MIT-educated editor, a players ranking is based on a two-year rolling scale and a minimum of 40 events, a perfect number for Woods ' who averages between 15 and 20 Tour events each season. Singh, however, is a road warrior, having played less than 27 times on Tour just once since 1998. As a result, his divisor drives down his ranking.
A few years back a member of the Tours Policy Board was eyeing the field for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship ' which is plucked directly from the top 64 in the World Ranking ' and wondered aloud why the Tour still used the complex rating when the circuit had its own way to measure success ' the FedEx Cup points.
We had a chance to talk with Louis Oosthuizen earlier this season, good guy, great player and, according to one long-time observer, South Africas next star. And Augusta National is an island, anchored by tradition and certainly free to invite whomever they wish. But a player, like Oosthuizen, who has a total of 10 starts in Tour-sanctioned events and his best finish is a tie for 20th should not be ranked among the top 50 in the world.
It is the mathematics of the world tour, a global village concept that is fine for picking World Cup teams but should not be the basis for entry into what is arguably the seasons most important event.
Play better, its the tired bromide players and their sports psychologist trot out every time a situation becomes too confusing or a scenario inches too close to home. Love could have played better and no one would have been penning an ode to Oosthuizen missing his first Masters. But then the South African didnt finish in the top 10 at Augusta National four out of five years starting in 1995, doesnt have 20 Tour titles, a major or venerable Ryder Cup record.
Less than a year ago Love was 146th in the world, hobbled by a severe ankle injury and written off in some circles as an American warhorse past his sell by date. In the months since, he whipped his 44-year-old frame into the best shape of his career, endured qualifying for the U.S. and British opens, won a Tour title and finished 48th in earnings. As resumes go, that one is keeper.
But then, Augusta National has become a tough place for the games Roman Numerals, joining DLIII on the sideline next week will likely be Augusta native Charles Howell III and Tommy Armour III. It all adds up to another set of numbers that just dont make sense.
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Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.

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Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

How does she feel?

“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.

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Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”

You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:17 am

NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:

Race to the CME Globe

Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.

Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.

The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.

Ariya Jutanugarn is tied for the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.

Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.

So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Brooke Henderson are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.

Rolex Player of the Year

The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.

Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.

Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.

Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.

It’s simple math.

The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.

1st - 30 points

2nd – 12 points

3rd – 9 points

4th – 7 points

5th – 6 points

6th – 5 points

7rd – 4 points

8th – 3 points

9th – 2 points

10th – 1 point

Vare Trophy

Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.

Money-winning title

Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.

Rolex world No. 1 ranking

World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.

Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.

At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.

Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island

By Associated PressNovember 19, 2017, 12:28 am

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.

Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.

''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''

Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.

''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''

Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.

''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''

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Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.

''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour.

''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the Web.com more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''

He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.

''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''

Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.

''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''