Blasting into the week, from the Rickie Fowler Show to Cristie Kerr’s rebound bid.
The stars may be aligning for Rickie Fowler this week.
The only player from the 2010 Ryder Cup teeing it up at CordeValle Golf Club, Fowler should be riding a high the way he finished at Celtic Manor two weeks ago. Fowler’s clutch finish there, his four consecutive closing birdies to steal a half-point from Europe’s Edoardo Molinari, should do wonders for his confidence in his return to tournament golf. You won’t feel any more pressure over putts than Fowler did over the pair of 18-footers he knocked down at the final two holes of the Ryder Cup.
Fowler also has the memory of last year’s finish at the Frys.com Open going for him. He didn’t win, but in just his fourth start as a pro he got himself into the playoff that Troy Matteson would go on to win. Tim Clark’s the highest ranked player in this week’s field at No. 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking, but Fowler’s next at No. 33. Nobody, though, arrives with more positive mojo than Fowler.
CordeValle Golf Club, by the way, is the new home of the Frys.com Open with a move from Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Bunker shot: Aron Price should be feeling squeezed in his “bubble boy” position at 125th on the money list with three events left in the season. Every player from 106th on the money list to 141st is teeing it up this week. Price was one of just two players who jumped from outside the top 125 to inside with his performance last week. He climbed 10 spots, tying for ninth at the McGladrey Classic. Joe Durant was the other making the jump. He made the biggest move on the money list last week, climbing 16 spots to 115th. Heath Slocum climbed 14 spots to 29th on the money list winning the event. That’s notable because everyone inside the top 30 in money at season’s end earns Masters’ invitations if they haven’t already qualified.
Mell’s picks: Winner – Bo Van Pelt. Contender – Rickie Fowler. Dark horse – Robert Garrigus.
Course: CordeValle Golf Club, San Martin, Calif. Par 71, 7,368 yards.
Purse: $5 million (winner’s share, $900,000).
TV times: Golf Channel – Thursday-Sunday, 4-7 p.m. ET
Last year: Troy Matteson defeated Rickie Fowler and Jamie Lovemark in a playoff.
CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge
CVS pharmacy’s contract as title sponsor expires after this week’s event, but LPGA pros aren’t exactly sending them off with a bouquet of roses.
Just two of the top 10 players in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings – No. 2 Cristie Kerr and No. 10 Paula Creamer – are in this week’s field.
The reason so few top-ranked players are in the field is easy to surmise with the tour amid its busiest stretch this season. The CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge is the second of six consecutive weeks of tournament play for LPGA pros, the longest run of consecutive weeks this year. When you factor in that the next three events are in Asia with a trip to the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico closing out the six-week run, it’s a rigorous stretch.
Competing Asian events have lured some LPGA pros away this week while other players appear to be resting up. Jiyai Shin, No. 3 in the Rolex world rankings, is scheduled to play the Japan LPGA’s Fujitsu Ladies Championship this week. Song Hee Kim, No. 9 in the world, is scheduled to play the Korean LPGA’s third major, the Hite Cup.
Bunker shot: After squandering the final-round lead and a chance to win last week’s Navistar LPGA ClassicAi Miyazato taking the week off, the door’s open for the American to arrive with the No. 1 ranking when the three-week Asian swing begins at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia next week.
Mell’s picks: Winner – Angela Stanford. Contender – Cristie Kerr. Dark horse – Vicky Hurst.
Course: Blackhawk Country Club, Danville, Calif. Par 72, 6,185 yards.
Purse: $1.1 million (winner’s share, $165,000).
TV times: Golf Channel – Thursday-Sunday, 7:30-9:30 p.m. ET
Last year: Sophie Gustafson defeated Lorena Ochoa by four shots.
It’s down-to-the-wire time on the PGA Tour’s developmental circuit.
The Miccosukee Championship is one of three events remaining before PGA Tour cards are dished out to the season’s top-25 money winners.
It’s one of two events left for players to qualify for the season-ending Nationwide Tour Championship. The top 60 on the money list after next week’s Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open advance to the Nationwide Tour Championship at Daniel IslandJason Gore. Contender – Daniel Summerhays. Dark horse – Brian Smock.
Course: Miccosukee Golf & Country Club, Miami, Par 71, 7,200 yards.
Purse: $600,000 (winner’s share, $108,000).
TV times: Golf Channel – 1:30-4 p.m. ET
Last year: Chad Collins earned his second career Nationwide Tour title, winning by two shots.