Flanagan Stepping on the Gas


Australian Nick Flanagan doesnt have a residence in the United States. Which means he doesnt have a garage. Which means he doesnt have any place to park the shiny new BMW X5 he won Sunday for capturing the BMW Charity Pro-Am at The Cliffs.
Still, Flanagan told me Tuesday, Id like to get it out on the road and play with it a little bit. Ive never really owned a car.
Life is good right now for the 22-year-old former U.S. Amateur champion. Never mind that he failed to advance out of Mondays local qualifying at Pinewild (near Pinehurst) in North Carolina because his 1-under-par score for 18 holes wasnt good enough by two shots. And never mind that disappointment means he wont get to go back to Oakmont (the site of his 2003 U.S. Am victory) where theyre staging the U.S. Open next month.
Flanagan has won his last two starts on the Nationwide Tour. One more in calendar 2007 and he automatically earns an instant promotion to the PGA TOUR. Finishing in the top 25 on the money list is a virtual certainty which means, he said, he can play to win without worrying about money.
Thats my goal for the rest of the year, he said of the very real prospect of winning three Nationwide events. Theres no pressure to get in the top 25.
The last player to win three straight Nationwide Tour events was Jason Gore during his memorable 2005 season. Flanagan will try and duplicate that feat this week at the Mellwood Prince Georges County Open in Maryland.
Speaking of the Nationwide Tour, tournament director Teo Sodeman confirmed that Tommy Two Gloves Gainey requested an unrestricted sponsors exemption for this weeks event.
Gainey emerged as the winner of GOLF CHANNEL's Big Break VII: Reunion in the final episode broadcast Tuesday night. Through 54 holes at the BMW tournament last week he shared the lead. A Sunday 77 dropped him out of the top 25 which cost him an automatic berth at Mellwood.
Sodeman turned down Gaineys request and opted instead to invite two local golfers, former Naval Academy standout Billy Hurley and former University of Maryland player Del Ponchock.
His spectacular crash and burn at the Open Championship in 1999 at Carnoustie is still the signature moment of Frenchman Jean Van de Veldes career.
Now Van de Velde has confirmed he hopes to return to the scene of his infamy at this years British in July.
Earlier this year, R&A Secretary Peter Dawson announced his organization would not extend a wild card invitation to Van de Velde for Carnoustie. That means Van de Velde, currently ranked No. 179 in the world, will have to qualify.
All indications are that he will attempt to do so at the European International Final Qualifying set for July 2 at Sunningdale in England. As many as 120 players will play 36 holes that day at Sunningdale with spots going to no fewer than 12 players and no more than 20.
Im not playing very well at the moment, Van de Velde told The Daily Mail last week after rounds of 76 and 79 shut him out of weekend play at the Irish Open.
As to a return to Carnoustie: Of course I want to be there, Van de Velde said. Who would not be keen to play in a major championship? I have to qualify and I think I have got as good a chance as the vast majority of players. Would there be a hullabaloo around me? I dont know. But if so, it wouldnt be a distraction. I would be encouraged by it.
At Carnoustie in 1999 Van de Velde squandered a three-shot lead on the 72nd hole before losing a three-way playoff, that included Justin Leonard and Scotlands Paul Lawrie, the eventual winner.
Lawrie is in the field at Carnoustie by virtue of being a past champion. But its interesting to note that his current world ranking, 248, is 69 places worse than Van de Veldes.