Notes Stableford Scoring Lefty Back to School

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PGA Tour (75x100)Change never comes easily on the PGA TOUR.
 
For those who think the FedEx Cup competition that starts next year is a mathematical nightmare, consider the reaction 20 years ago when it was announced that a new PGA TOUR event in Colorado was going to use a modified Stableford scoring system.
 
Safe to say, it took time for players to embrace it.
 
'I don't understand it,' Andy Bean said in 1986, arms flailing in frustration. 'I don't know what to think about it. It isn't stroke play and it isn't match play. It's not golf. It's just ... playing games.'
 
Twenty years later, the International has created its own niche with the strange scoring system and a world-class stable of winners, from Phil Mickelson to Ernie Els, from Vijay Singh to Greg Norman.
 
Brad Faxon won in 1992 but is skipping this year because he is eligible for the World Golf Championship at Firestone, giving him four straight tournaments. Even so, he loves the modified Stableford and wonders why more recreational players don't use some form of it.
 
'When the great courses were built in America at the turn of the century, a lot of them were built to be match play or a Stableford system,' Faxon said. 'You played it as a game, not to shoot the lowest score. It was a match.'
 
The modified Stableford at the International awards two points for a birdie, five for an eagle and eight for a double eagle. One point is subtracted for a bogey, three points for a double bogey or worse.
 
The real Stableford system is much more friendly to average players.
 
It was developed by Frank Stableford, a member of Wallasey Golf Club in England who was frustrated at his inability to reach the green on the second hole. It now measures 458 yards from the members' tee, a dogleg to the right with a pot bunker at 260 yards into strong gusts from the Irish Sea.
 
'I was practicing on the second fairway at Wallasey Golf Club one day in the latter part of 1931 when the thought ran through my mind that many players in competitions got very little fun since they tore up their cards after playing on a few holes,' Stableford once said. 'And I wondered if anything could be done about it.'
 
The first Stableford competition was held at Wallasey on May 16, 1932.
 
It awards one point for a bogey, two for a par, three for a birdie, four for an eagle and five for a double eagle, with no points deducted no matter what the score. John Daly, no doubt, would thrive under the pure Stableford format.
 
Players of all skill level get strokes depending on the handicap and the hole, and it keeps the game competitive.
 
It leads to fireworks at the International. And for those amateurs playing on the weekend, it's more fun than match play.
 
BACK TO SCHOOL
For the second straight year, Phil Mickelson and his wife hosted a $250,000 shopping spree in San Diego County to provide needy children with clothes and supplies for elementary school.
 
It's part of their foundation's 'Start Smart' program.
 
'Our goal is to give these kids some of the advantages enjoyed by more fortunate young people, to improve their self-esteem and encourage them to work hard in school this year,' Mickelson said. 'The look on the faces of these kids and their parents make it worth the months of planning and logistics. When you're young, it's amazing the self esteem new school clothes can give you.'
 
EVERY PUTT COUNTS
In another example of how much every shot counts in the weeks leading up to the Ryder Cup, Scott Verplank came up 10 feet short and into the water while going for the green on the par-5 13th at the Buick Open.
 
That two-shot difference left him in a three-way tie for fourth instead of a two-way tie for second, the difference of 50 points, meaning he moved up to 18th in the Ryder Cup standings instead of 13th place.
 
Then there's Vaughn Taylor.
 
By making a 40-foot par putt on the 18th hole, he tied for fourth and earned 120 points to move from 11th to seventh place. Had he missed the putt, he would have finished in a five-way tie for sixth, earned 60 points and moved up one spot to 10th.
 
DIVOTS
Of those in the top 20 in Ryder Cup standings who haven't already locked up a spot on the U.S. team, the only players not at the International are Vaughn Taylor (No. 7), Brett Wetterich (No. 10), Jerry Kelly (No. 12), Tim Herron (No. 16) and Scott Verplank (No. 18). Kelly and Herron are the only players who also skipped the Buick Open last week. ... Sherri Steinhauer's victory in the Women's British Open ended a record eight consecutive LPGA majors won by international players. ... Michelle Wie did not break par in any round of the Women's British Open, the first time she failed to do that on the LPGA Tour since she missed the cut at the 2003 Kroger Classic (73-72) as a 13-year-old.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Tiger Woods had the highest percentage in driving accuracy (85.7) of any PGA Tour winner this year at the British Open. Two weeks later at the Buick Open, he had the longest average in driving distance (316 yards) of any winner this year.
 
FINAL WORD
'I think if she was Tiger, she'd be treated like Tiger. Because if she was a man, she'd be Tiger.' -- Laura Davies on the dominance of Annika Sorenstam.
 
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