Love qualifies for U.S. Open; big names fall short

By Associated PressJune 5, 2012, 2:04 am

UPPER ARLINGTON, Ohio - U.S. captain Davis Love III won't have to watch potential Ryder Cup players on television at the U.S. Open.

He'll be playing alongside them.

Love qualified for the U.S. Open for the third time in the last six years with a 139 at Scioto Country Club and Ohio State's Scarlet Course.

Love, who finished tied for 16th at the Memorial on Sunday, said it never crossed his mind to just bag it and go home rather than extend an already long week by playing 36 more holes.

''No. Like last year, statistically I hit the ball well enough at the U.S. and the British to win,'' he said. ''I definitely want to play.''

The 48-year-old Love has won 20 tournaments around the world, including the 1997 PGA Championship. He continues to play well, despite fighting off injuries, family obligations and an entire generation of younger players.

He was among 16 players to qualify from the biggest of the 11 sectional qualifying sites across the country on Monday.

One of them won't even get started until Tuesday. There was so much rain in Memphis, Tenn., that no one played more than a few minutes. USGA officials hope the course is dry enough to squeeze in 36 holes.

The U.S. Open is June 14-17 at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, and the 48-year-old Love will be making his 23rd appearance in his national open. Others who qualified from Scioto and Scarlet included medalist Charlie Wi, Kevin Streelman, D.A. Points, Rod Pampling and Steve Marino, who only last week returned from a four-month break to recovery from a bad shoulder.

Love still hasn't forgotten the details from a year ago, however, when he three-putted the last hole he played at Colonial that cost him an automatic spot in the Open at Congressional. He had to go through qualifying to get in the field.

''I seem to play well in the qualifying because I don't have a scoreboard to look at,'' he said. ''You just play.''

Love has been in captain mode off and on since being selected for the matches this fall. He has been assessing potential players for the American side and has played with several. One of them, former British Open champ Ben Curtis, was in his threesome on Monday, although Curtis faded on his second 18 and failed to make the Open field.

Perhaps the biggest cheer of the day came as darkness was falling at Scioto Country Club.

On the fourth playoff hole to decide the last qualifiers, 42-year-old Youngstown, Ohio, teaching pro Dennis Miller's 20-foot putt from the fringe stopped on the lip of the cup. After the gallery of a few hundred groaned and Miller slowly started to walk to his ball, if fell - touching off a huge celebration.

Now Miller, a third alternate whose name did not even appear on the tee sheet, will be playing in his first U.S. Open - and will likely have to get someone to fill in for him back at the course at Mill Creek Metroparks in Youngstown.

''I can't believe what just happened,'' Miller said. ''That was pretty incredible.''

Most of the rest of the field in the qualifier in suburban Columbus, Ohio, was filled with touring pros who had just competed in the nearby Memorial.

Among those who did not qualify were two of the contenders at Jack Nicklaus' tournament.

Rory Sabbatini had the lead with four holes left on Sunday but was overtaken when Tiger Woods birdied three holes, including the 16th on an improbable 50-foot chip-in from thick grass behind the green.

Spencer Levin led going into the final round at Muirfield Village and was still atop the leaderboard with nine holes left but fell apart on the back nine with three bogeys and a double-bogey in a 75.

Sabbatini shot a 70 in his first 18 at Scarlet, but sagged to a 76 in the afternoon to fall short. Levin, who could have earned an automatic berth in the Open had he finished in the top two instead of tying for fourth at the Memorial, followed a 72 at Scioto with a 74 at Scarlet.

Levin still has a chance to make the U.S. Open if he can crack the top 60 in the world after this week.

Wi was the medalist by three strokes. He opened with a 7-under-par 65 at Scarlet and followed up with a 67 at Scioto.

''This is only my second one. It's not easy to get in,'' said Wi, a South Korean native who grew up in California native. His only previous appearance was at Bethpage Black three years ago. ''I always flew home Sunday night because if I missed (in the qualifier) I was already home. This worked out better. I took the strategy that if I missed I'd be home for two weeks. That's probably not a good strategy.''

But it worked out fine.

In other qualifiers Monday:

- At Rockville, Md., Shane Bertsch was medalist and received one of seven spots at Woodmont Country Club. Bertsch has played only one other U.S. Open in his career, which also was at Olympic Club in 1998 when he missed the cut. Also qualifying were Michael Thompson (142), Paul Claxton (143), Cole Howard (143), Darron Stiles (143), Nicholas Thompson (143) and Jeff Curl (143). Howard and Thompson were alternates out of 18-hole local qualifying last month.

Curl is the son of Rod Curl, the first full-blooded Native American to win a PGA Tour event.

- At Glen Ellyn, Ill., Tim Herron grabbed one of two spots available at Village Links. Herron tied for 53rd in the '98 U.S. Open the last time it was played at Olympic.

- At Lecanto, Fla., Scott Langley made it through local and sectional qualify for the second time in three years. Langley made his U.S. Open debut as an amateur at Pebble Beach in 2010 and tied for 16th to share low-amateur honors. Brooks Koepka earned the last spot in a playoff over 14-year-old Andy Zhang of China, who was bidding to become the youngest ever in the U.S. Open.

- At Springfield, Ohio, Brice Garnett was medalist and earned one of two spots from Springfield Country Club. It will be his first PGA Tour-sanctioned event.

- At Canoe Brook in New Jersey, all four spots went to players who had to make it through 18-hole local qualifying and 36-hole sectional qualifying. Leading the way was Cameron Wilson, an amateur shot 65 on the North course in the afternoon.

- At Houston, Bob Estes returns to the U.S. Open for only the second time in the last five years. Estes shot 138 at Lakeside Country Club to get one of three spots. Alistair Presnell of Australia and Brian Rowell earned the last two spots in a 4-for-2 playoff. Jordan Spieth, whose Texas Longhorns won the NCAA title on Sunday in Los Angeles, missed a 5-foot birdie putt in the playoff and was eliminated.

- In Suwanee, Ga., Jason Bohn was the medalist and got one of three spots. One of others went to Casey Wittenberg, a former U.S. Amateur runner-up still trying to reach the PGA Tour.

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McCarthy wins Web.com Tour Championship by 4

By Associated PressSeptember 24, 2018, 2:14 am

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Denny McCarthy won the season-ending Web.com Tour Championship on Sunday to earn fully exempt PGA Tour status and a spot in the Players Championship.

McCarthy closed with a 6-under 65 for a four-stroke victory over Lucas Glover at Atlantic Beach Country Club. The 25-year-old former Virginia player earned $180,000 to top the 25 PGA Tour card-earners with $255,793 in the four-event Web.com Tour Finals.

''It's been quite a journey this year,'' McCarthy said. ''The PGA Tour was tough to start out the year. I stuck through it and got my game. I raised my level and have been playing some really good golf. Just feels incredible to finish off these Finals. So much work behind the scenes that nobody really sees.''

McCarthy finished at 23-under 261.


Full-field scores from the Web.com Tour Championship


Glover, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, closed with a 69. He made $108,000 to finish seventh with $125,212 in the series for the top 75 players from the Web.com regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200.

Jim Knous earned the 25th and final card from the four-event money list with $41,931, edging Justin Lower by $500. Knous made a 5-foot par save on the final hole for a 71 that left him tied for 57th. Lower missed an 8-footer for birdie, settling for a 69 and a tie for 21st.

''It was a brutal day emotionally,'' Knous said. ''I wasn't quite sure how much my performance would affect the overall outcome. It kind of just depended on what everybody else did. That's pretty terrifying. So I really just kind of did my best to stay calm and inside I was really freaking out and just super psyched that at the end of the day finished right there on No. 25.''

The top-25 finishers on the Web.com regular-season money list competed against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. Sungjae Im topped the list to earn the No. 1 priority spot of the 50 total cards.

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LaCava pushed Woods to work on bunker game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 24, 2018, 1:52 am

ATLANTA – Last week as Tiger Woods prepared to play the season finale at East Lake he sent a text message to his caddie Joey LaCava that simply asked, what do I need to do to get better?

Although when it comes to Woods his proficiency is always relative, but LaCava didn’t pull any punches, and as the duo completed the final round on Sunday at the Tour Championship with a bunker shot to 7 feet at the last the two traded knowing smiles.

“We had a talk last week about his bunker game and I said, ‘I’m glad you kept that bunker game stuff in mind,’” LaCava said. “I told him he was an average bunker player and he worked at it last week. There were only two bunker shots he didn’t get up-and-down, I don’t count the last one on 18. He recognized that after two days. He was like, ‘What do you know, I’m 100 percent from the bunkers and I’m in the lead after two days.”


Final FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


For the week, Woods got up-and-down from East Lake’s bunkers seven out of nine times and cruised to a two-stroke victory for his first PGA Tour title since 2013. That’s a dramatic improvement over his season average of 49 percent (100th on Tour).

“His bunker game was very average coming into this week,” LaCava said. “I said you’ve got to work on your bunker game. If you had a decent bunker game like the Tiger of old you would have won [the BMW Championship].”

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For Woods, is this only the beginning?

By Damon HackSeptember 24, 2018, 1:42 am

If this is Tiger Woods nine months into a comeback, wait until he actually shakes the rust off.

This was supposed to be the year he kicked the tires, to see how his body held up after all those knives digging into his back.

To see if a short game could truly be rescued from chunks and skulls.

To see if a 42-year-old living legend could outfox the kids.

On the final breath of the PGA Tour season, it was Tiger Woods who took ours away.

Playing alongside Rory McIlroy on Sunday at the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club – and one group behind the current World No. 1 and eventual FedEx Cup champion Justin Rose – Woods bludgeoned the field and kneecapped Father Time. 

It was Dean Smith and the Four Corners offense.  Emmitt Smith moving the chains. Nolan Ryan mowing them down.

And all of a sudden you wonder if Phil Mickelson wishes he’d made alternate Thanksgiving plans.

Even if everybody saw a win coming, it was something else to actually see it happen, to see the man in the red shirt reach another gear just one more time.

Win No. 80 reminded us, as Roger Maltbie once said of Woods when he came back from knee surgery in 2009: “A lot of people can play the fiddle. Only one guy is Itzhak Perlman.”

It wasn’t long ago that Tiger Woods seemed headed toward a disheartening final chapter as a broken man with a broken body.


Final FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


He would host a couple of tournaments, do some great charity work, shout instructions into a walkie talkie at the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, and call it a career.

There would be no Nicklaus 1986 Masters moment, no Hogan Mystique at Merion.

He would leave competitive golf as perhaps both the greatest to ever play the game and its greatest cautionary tale.

Willie Mays with the New York Mets. Muhammad Ali taking punishment from Larry Holmes.

But then Brad Faxon and Rickie Fowler started whispering at the end of 2017 that Tiger was healthy and hitting the ball hard. 

There was that hold-your-breath opening tee shot at the Hero World Challenge, a bullet that flew the left bunker and bounded into the fairway.

Rollercoaster rides at Tampa and Bay Hill, backward steps at Augusta and Shinnecock, forward leaps at The Open and the PGA.

He switched putters and driver shafts (and shirts, oh my!) and seemed at times tantalizingly close and maddeningly far.

That he even decided to try to put his body and game back together was one of the all-time Hail Marys in golf.

Why go through all of that rehab again?

Why go through the scrutiny of having your current game measured against your untouchable prime?

Because you’re Tiger Woods, is why, because you’ve had way more wonderful days on the golf course than poor ones, despite five winless years on the PGA Tour.

Suddenly, Sam Snead’s record of 82 PGA Tour wins is in jeopardy and Jack Nicklaus, holder of a record of 18 major championships, is at the very least paying attention.

Woods has put the golf world on notice.

It won’t be long until everyone starts thinking about the 2019 major schedule (and you’d better believe that Tiger already is).

The Masters, where he has four green jackets and seven other Top 5 finishes. The PGA Championship at Bethpage Black, where he won in 2002 by 3. The United States Open at Pebble Beach, where he won in 2000 by 15.

The Open at Royal Portrush, where his savvy and guile will be a strong 15th club.

But that’s a talk for a later date.

Tiger is clearly still getting his sea legs back.

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Nonfactor McIlroy mum after lackluster 74

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 24, 2018, 1:04 am

ATLANTA – Rory McIlroy didn’t have anything to say to the media after the final round of the Tour Championship, and that’s understandable.

McIlroy began the final round at East Lake three shots behind Tiger Woods. He finished six back.

McIlroy closed in 4-over 74 to tie for seventh place.

In their matchup, Woods birdied the first hole to go four in front, and when McIlroy bogeyed the par-4 fourth, he was five in arrears. McIlroy went on to make three more bogeys, one double bogey and just two birdies.


Final FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


McIlroy was never a factor on Sunday and ultimately finished tied for 13th in the FedExCup standings.

The two rivals, Woods and McIlroy, shared plenty of conversations while walking down the fairways. On the 18th hole, Woods said McIlroy told him the scene was like the 1980 U.S. Open when people were shouting, “Jack’s back!”

“I said, ‘Yeah, I just don’t have the tight pants and the hair,’” Woods joked. “But it was all good.”

It’s now off to Paris for the upcoming Ryder Cup, where Woods and McIlroy will again be foes. It will be McIlroy’s fifth consecutive appearance in the biennial matches, while Woods is making his first since 2012.