Bunker Shots All on the line in Fall Series


The Fall Series marks a difficult time for so many tour pros struggling to stay among the top 125 on the PGA Tour money list and keep their exempt playing privileges. We set the weeks storylines with the help of motivational experts:

Stricker and OMeara, kindred spirits?

Thought allied fearlessly to purpose becomes creative force: He who knows this is ready to become something higher and stronger than a mere bundle of wavering thoughts and fluctuating sensations; he who does this has become the conscious and intelligent wielder of his mental powers. James Allen

Steve Strickers future wont include golf for awhile.

Hunting season is at hand for the avid outdoorsman from Wisconsin. Deer season is already open for bow hunters with pheasant, quail and grouse seasons opening this weekend.

All the time Stricker enjoyed playing with Tiger Woods at the Presidents Cup and during the FedEx Cup bodes well for him hunting golf championships in the future.

So does Strickers strengthening friendship with Woods.

It makes you wonder if Stricker wont be the next Mark OMeara. He appears to be on the same career path that led OMeara to break through and win a pair of majors late in his career. Stricker, looking for his first major, is 42, but OMeara proved its never too late to win a major when youre hanging around with Woods. OMeara won his two majors at 41 after bonding with Woods. OMeara was a terrific player for a long time, but he was never shy about acknowledging something about Woods might have rubbed off on him.

Strickers control of the golf ball, with improved driving going with his strong wedge game and stellar putting, should makes him a larger threat in the major championships next year. Strickers so comfortable playing with or against Woods. The comfort hes feeling in those pairings may well translate into being more comfortable in major championship settings.

Steve hasnt won a major championship, but Ill tell you, over the next three, four or five years, hes going to become a factor, says Dennis Tiziani, Strickers coach and father-in-law. You cant hit in the fairway like hes doing now, and putt the way he does, and not know that your time is coming.

Through the pressure of the FedEx Cup playoffs, in his Deutsche Bank Championship victory, Stricker appeared to elevate his game to another level. We saw confirmation of it at the Presidents Cup, where he excelled with Woods as his partner.

It was a blast to play with Tiger, and I learned a lot, Stricker said of his 4-0 Presidents Cup record as partners with Woods. I felt like I held up my end of the deal, which was a big concern for me coming into this deal, because I knew I was going to play with him. I wanted to make sure I contributed, and I felt like I did at times.

A rising star seeks higher heavens

A mans reach should exceed his grasp, or whats a heaven for? Lord Byron

Ryo Ishikawa will be looking to ride the momentum of his impressive Presidents Cup rookie campaign to another Japan Golf Tour victory.

Ishikawa, who just turned 18, is scheduled to play in the Japan Open Golf Championship this week.

Hell be going for his fifth title on that tour this season. He won the Coca-Cola Tokai Classic in his last start in Japan. While weve seen phenoms built up as the next great stars in golf fade away, Ishikawa looks like hes going to be around for a long time. He says his aim is to eventually make his mark in America. He got off to a good start with his victory against Kenny Perry in Sunday singles of the Presidents Cup to bump his record for the week to 3-2.

Nothing has been decided for the future, but for now, I'm going to be playing on the Tour in Japan, Ishikawa said through a translator before leaving Harding Park. Obviously, having played with great players all over the world this week, I'll be looking forward to playing with them in the future, and I'll be looking forward to playing in America and in foreign lands. I think playing in other countries is going to help my golf game, and obviously in the end, I would like to play on the PGA Tour and be able to play with the guys that I played with this week.

Count Woods among those impressed with Ishikawa.

He's by far much more developed in his game than I ever was at 18 years old, Woods said. I was longer than he was, but I certainly did not have the ability to hit shots like he does. It's quite remarkable what he's done, and the poise in how he goes about it . . . the way he's able to control his golf ball, the way he's able to putt and chip is far better than any 18-year-old that I've ever seen.

Best player without a PGA Tour title in action again

Dont loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club, and if you dont get it you will nonetheless get something that looks remarkably like it. Jack London

Ishikawa isnt the only Presidents Cup player jumping right back into action this week.

Tim Clark, Jim Furyk and Anthony Kim are scheduled to tee it up at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children Open in Las Vegas.

Clarks status as the best player not to have won a PGA Tour event was strengthened with his strong Presidents Cup play. He would love to get out from under the title this fall. He has plans to follow up this weeks event with another start next week at the Frys.com Open at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. Notably, Clark is 61st in the Race to Dubai standings, with the top 60 at seasons end getting a shot at the big prize over there. Clark, though, has no plans as of now to play in Europe this fall.

Jones putting up the good fight

Attitudes are more important than facts. Dr. Karl Menninger

Matt Jones has quite the challenge in his Fall Series bid to keep his Tour card.

Hes No. 125 on the PGA Tour money list, holding down the last spot that wins exempt status for 2010 with just four events left, but his conditional status is making it tough for him to even get into tournaments. Hes been relying on Monday qualifying to stay alive.

Jones played his way into the Turning Stone Resort Championship last week and tied for 42nd. He wasnt as fortunate this week, failing to advance through the Monday qualifier to get into the Justin Timberlake event. If he cracks the top 125 on this route, it will be a terrific story.