Got Cash -- and Game

By Adam BarrOctober 8, 2004, 4:00 pm
Big Stakes Match Play.
 
You gotta love how straightforward it is. There will be a match. You will play. There are stakes. They are big.
 
Sticks, sharks and hustlers from former mini-tour players to feverish muni course flayers are talking about Big Stakes Match Play, a new tournament planned for next May 11-17 at the CasaBlanca Golf Club in Mesquite, Nev. Its a non-handicap, two-man team event, straight match play. There will be 128 teams, and if you win your first two matches, you make back the $100,000-per-team entry fee. Then youre onto a concept well known in Nevada:
 
House money.
 
And if you win the whole shootin match, you and your partner split $3 million. Thats more than twice what Tiger, Ernie, Vijay and his pals cash on their best Sunday. As long as youre 25 years old by May 1 and you havent played on a pro tour within the last three years ' and you are among the first 128 who can get together a partner and enough scratch ' youre in. And youll be playing for a purse of $9.75 million, bigger than any pot on any tour.
 
Of course, the dollars are huge, but when you talk to former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Steve Bartkowski, who is developing the tour with his friends Jim Thomas and Jim Thompson, you can see the gleam of competition in his eye.
 
Its kind of like Survivor meets Who Wants To Be a Millionaire on the golf course, Bartkowski says with a smile. Its just, who can stand up and compete?
 
What does Joe Pesci say at the end of Casino? Always the dollars, always the dollars. And even though purists may think its crass to measure performance in the noblest game by money, its really quite natural.
 
Think about it: Its an individual sport, and people who play it for a living prefer something more liquid than pro shop credits. So the better you play, the more you should winand therefore, the money list is more a sign of good play than great greed.
 
Its just as natural that good golfers who arent pros would want to test themselves in a money-lined head vise. If you can hack this, you are one tough m
 
BACKUP SINGERS: Shut your mouth.
 
But Im talkin about golf betting.
 
SINGERS: Then we can dig it.
 
The Golf Channel will be televising the event, and I hope I get assigned to cover it. For me, the personalities who answer the clarion call of cash will be what gives the event more texture than a pizza with everything plus an air bubble in the crust. In Nevada especially, youll get gamblers and golf hustlers galore, the kind of guys who used to play big-money games with Evel Knievel.
 
Were already getting calls like that, said Thompson from his Atlanta office. Guys who say, You cant get back to me at this number, and things like that.
 
Not that this will be a shady affair at all. Bartkowski says the Rules of Golf will govern, and none of the old hustler dodges, such as Vaseline-ing the clubface, will be tolerated.
 
Also expected are country clubbers, plenty of pro-tour almosts, and former pro athletes known for their deep love of the game and matching ability: Dan Quinn, former NHL star, and Billy Joe Tolliver, Bartkowskis colleague in the Brotherhood of the Pocket, are on the list already. Look for ex-Major Leaguer Rick Rhoden, a perennial favorite in celeb events, to tee it up as well.
 
Already, people are coming up with novel ways to raise that formidable entry fee, Thompson says. For instance, a number of clubs are getting 20 people to chuck in $5,000 each to back a pair of elite club horses. Or better yet, once the money is up, some clubs are holding a tournament to let potential heroes play for the coveted spots.
 
One company got its customers to sponsor a pair of employees (its an industrial company, and four customers came up with 25 large apiece). And a bar owner in California has been holding all kinds of fund-raising events, and hes looking for a couple of likely players.
 
The run-up to gathering the $12.8 million in entry fees could be as interesting as the tournament. But not likely, when that last putt is being lined up in the final match.
 
Thompson says the entry fees will cover the purse, and the remainder may just handle the advertising, accommodations, and other costs (once you pony up the $100 K, you need never touch your wallet again; room, board, etc. are covered. Man, imagine some of those parties). If there are any profits, theyll come from sponsorships, which Thompson, Thomas and Bartkowski are hawking furiously now.
 
I think this is going to be the biggest event in golf next year, Bartkowski says.
 
Theres an undeniable Everygolfer spin to this that might make Bartkowski right. No courtesy cars, no pro-ams, no press room battles with spoiled tour pros. Just the match, the tee '
 
And all that jing.
 
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Kim cruises to first win, final Open invite at Deere

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 9:38 pm

Following the best week of his professional career, Michael Kim is both a winner on the PGA Tour and the 156th and final player to earn a tee time next week at The Open.

Kim entered the final round of the John Deere Classic with a five-shot lead, and the former Cal standout removed any lingering doubt about the tournament's outcome with birdies on each of his first three holes. He cruised from there, shooting a bogey-free 66 to finish the week at 27 under and win by eight shots over Francesco Molinari, Joel Dahmen, Sam Ryder and Bronson Burgoon.

It equals the tournament scoring record and ties for the largest margin of victory on Tour this season, matching Dustin Johnson's eight-shot romp at Kapalua in January and Molinari's margin two weeks ago at the Quicken Loans National.

"Just super thankful," Kim said. "It's been a tough first half of the year. But to be able to finish it out in style like this means a lot."

Kim, 25, received the Haskins Award as the nation's top collegiate player back in 2013, but his ascent to the professional ranks has been slow. He had only one top-10 finish in 83 starts on Tour entering the week, tying for third at the Safeway Open in October 2016, and had missed the cut each of the last three weeks.

But the pieces all came together at TPC Deere Run, where Kim opened with 63 and held a three-shot lead after 36 holes. His advantage was trimmed to a single shot during a rain-delayed third round, but Kim returned to the course late Saturday and closed with four straight birdies on Nos. 15-18 to build a five-shot cushion and inch closer to his maiden victory.

As the top finisher among the top five not otherwise exempt, Kim earned the final spot at Carnoustie as part of the Open Qualifying Series. It will be his first major championship appearance since earning low amateur honors with a T-17 finish at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, and he is also now exempt for the PGA Championship and next year's Masters.

The last player to earn the final Open spot at the Deere and make the cut the following week was Brian Harman, who captured his first career win at TPC Deere Run in 2014 and went on to tie for 26th at Royal Liverpool.

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Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.

Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.

Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.


Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


"I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."

Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:

Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.

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Immelman misses Open bid via OWGR tiebreaker

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:25 pm

A resurgent performance at the Scottish Open gave Trevor Immelman his first top-10 finish in more than four years, but it left him short of a return to The Open by the slimmest of margins.

The former Masters champ turned back the clock this week at Gullane Golf Club, carding four straight rounds of 68 or better. That run included a 5-under 65 in the final round, which gave him a tie for third and left him five shots behind winner Brandon Stone. It was his first worldwide top-10 since a T-10 finish at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.

There were three spots available into The Open for players not otherwise exempt, and for a brief moment it appeared Immelman, 38, might sneak the third and final invite.


Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


But with Stone and runner-up Eddie Pepperell both not qualified, that left the final spot to be decided between Immelman and Sweden's Jens Dantorp who, like Immelman, tied for third at 15 under.

As has been the case with other stops along the Open Qualifying Series, the tiebreaker to determine invites is the players' standing in the Official World Golf Rankings entering the week. Dantorp is currently No. 322 in the world, but with Immelman ranked No. 1380 the Swede got the nod.

This will mark Dantorp's first-ever major championship appearance. Immelman, who hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2013 Masters, was looking to return to The Open for 10th time and first since a missed cut at Royal Lytham six years ago. He will instead work the week at Carnoustie as part of Golf Channel and NBC's coverage of The Open.

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Stone (60) wins Scottish Open, invite to Carnoustie

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:06 pm

There's never a bad time to shoot a 60, but Brandon Stone certainly picked an opportune moment to do so.

Facing a jammed leaderboard in the final round of the Scottish Open, Stone fired a 10-under 60 to leave a stacked field in his wake and win the biggest tournament of his career. His 20-under 260 total left him four shots clear of Eddie Pepperell and five shots in front of a group that tied for third.

Stone had a mid-range birdie putt on No. 18 that would have given him the first 59 in European Tour history. But even after missing the putt on the left, Stone tapped in to close out a stellar round that included eight birdies, nine pars and an eagle. It's his third career European Tour title but first since the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December 2016.


Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


Stone started the day three shots behind overnight leader Jens Dantorp, but he made an early move with three birdies over his first five holes and five over his first 10. Stone added a birdie on the par-3 12th, then took command with a three-hole run from Nos. 14-16 that included two birdies and an eagle.

The eye-popping score from the 25-year-old South African was even more surprising considering his lack of form entering the week. Stone is currently ranked No. 371 in the world and had missed four of his last seven worldwide cuts without finishing better than T-60.

Stone was not yet qualified for The Open, and as a result of his performance at Gullane Golf Club he will tee it up next week at Carnoustie. Stone headlined a group of three Open qualifiers, as Pepperell and Dantorp (T-3) also earned invites by virtue of their performance this week. The final spot in the Open will go to the top finisher not otherwise qualified from the John Deere Classic.