Kenny Perry isnt the only player who felt that way.
Four years ago, Fred Funk caused a minor stink when he skipped the British Open to play the B.C. Open and boost his chances of making the Ryder Cup team. The circumstances were slightly different, for several players didnt think it was right for Funk to pick up Ryder Cup points the same week as a major.
But it showed how much the Ryder Cup means to American players.
Funk had no regrets because he didnt think links golf at Royal Troon offered him much hope to succeed. Besides, the Ryder Cup criteria has changed since then and now is based primarily on money. In 2004, third place at the B.C. Open was equivalent to seventh place at the British Open. This year, third place in Milwaukee would be comparable to about 25th place the British Open.
Perry has played only three times at Torrey Pines without ever reaching the weekend. He is only hurting himself by not playing the U.S. Open, but feels as though he would be worse off going through a 36-hole qualifier (thats 108 holes in five days) for a course where he doesnt have good vibes. Instead, he will play Memphis, Hartford and Detroit, where he has more success.
How could anyone miss a major?
Jack Nicklaus said its one thing if Perry were in his 20s and a rising star, quite another for him to be 47 and trying to make a Ryder Cup team played in his home state of Kentucky.
Annika Sorenstam, for example, skipped an LPGA Tour major when she was 28, having played overseas and in need of a rest.
My goal was never to make the Ryder Cup. It was to win the U.S. Open, Nicklaus said. But I understand. Its a big thing to Kenny. I dont think Kenny is trying to be No. 1 in the world. Hes trying to make a Ryder Cup team in his home state. Thats perfectly fine.
Its doubtful that U.S. captain Paul Azinger minds. The money counts double at majors, but Azinger is aware that nearly half of the Americans who finished in the top 10 at majors last year failed to win a tournament.
Remember, he wants winners.
ITS THE ECONOMY
Memorial host Jack Nicklaus wanted the prize money to be $7 million this year, making it the highest purse among regular PGA TOUR events and equal to the playoff events.
Instead, he kept it at $6 million because he thought it would send a bad signal at a time when fans from around central Ohio are struggling with jobs, gas is approaching $4 a gallon and the economy is tight.
There are certain times you do certain things, Nicklaus said. I just dont think that sends a good message.
Carl Pettersson is not bashful about putting family before majors.
He missed the PGA Championship last year after his wife had their second child, although his logic didnt make sense to some people. Pettersson played the Bridgestone Invitational (which has no cut) a week after his son was born, then skipped Southern Hills the following week. He was trying to collect FedEx Cup points.
Pettersson had been eligible for the British Open the last two years, and forgot he had to qualify. The U.S. qualifier is in July, the same week Pettersson had scheduled a beach vacation for his family.
Its right in the middle of the vacation, he said. If I go up there (unprepared), why even bother? And if I left to try to qualify, my wife would go nuts. I dont mind. We had a great time last year at the beach, and its good for us to go back.
All is not lost.
Pettersson has two ways to get in. He can be the leading player among the top five at the John Deere Classic, or be among the top two PGA TOUR members on a special money list that includes THE PLAYERS Championship and five tournaments between this week through the AT&T National at Congressional.
That includes the U.S. Open, and Pettersson won his qualifier Monday.
Jack Nicklaus wishes there were more match play in college golf to get players more prepared'not for the Ryder Cup, but when tournaments come down to two players over the final few holes.
As he shared his sentiments, he learned help was on the way.
Gregg Grost, head of the Golf Coaches Association of America, said the NCAA Championship will revamp its formula next year. Grost said 30 teams will qualify and play 54 holes, with an NCAA individual champion and the top eight teams advancing.
Then comes a bracket of eight teams that are seeded based on their scores. The format would be medal-match play with players per team. Medal matches mean whichever has the lowest medal score wins the match.
There would be three rounds to determine the winner.
Grost said the format would be announced later this month, but he already got a thumbs-up from Nicklaus.
Im delighted, Nicklaus said. Then youre giving them the opportunity to learn how to play competitive golf.
SUZANN AND THE KING
Suzann Pettersen is a member at Bay Hill, and the biggest perk is running into Arnold Palmer.
Ive been around good players out here, like Juli Inkster, Meg Mallon, Beth Daniel. But to be able to get to know and dig into Mr. Palmers head, thats fun, she said. Hes like a grandpa out there. Hes so nice, always friendly, always smiles, always signs autographs.
She noticed something else about Palmer, who turns 79 in September.
Hes always on the range, she said. Hes there every morning. Any time hes unhappy with his game, hell go get a few drivers from his garage and go hit some. And hes like, all of a sudden, Ive got it! Hes like 79 years old. Were like, OK, thats great.
What a character.
Colin Montgomerie fell out of the top 100 this week, leaving Alastair Forsyth at No. 95 as the highest-ranked player from Scotland Lorena Ochoa says she struggled to learn English when she arrived from Mexico to attend the University of Arizona. She wanted to major in psychology. I went into a few classes and I couldnt understand a word, she said. So I have to change to P.E. Ochoa, who spoke for a half-hour with ease, said she still laments her lack of vocabulary and grammar. Paula Creamer had her left ankle taped at the LPGA Championship. She attributed it to tendinitis.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Of the 160 amateurs who made it through local qualifying, only five of them earned a spot in the U.S. Open.
I thought Id win more tournaments by now, but Im not going to stop trying.'Lee Janzen, whose eighth and most recent victory was 10 years ago at the U.S. Open.