Money is What Matters at Chrysler

By Associated PressOctober 26, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 Chrysler ChampionshipPALM HARBOR, Fla. -- The only pressure Olin Browne felt Wednesday was finishing his breakfast in time to meet his 17-year-old son at the fitness trailer.
 
He didn't make a U-turn whenever he saw a notepad or a TV crew. He wasn't concerned about the PGA Tour money list. Mention the word bubble, and Browne probably was thinking champagne.
 
That wasn't the case a year ago in the Chrysler Championship, when Browne showed up at Innisbrook dangling at No. 125 on the money list and needing to stay there if he wanted to keep his PGA Tour card. He declined interviews before the tournament, and after missing the cut, he made a quick exit to an uncertain future.

But two months ago, Browne won the Deutsche Bank Championship, then tied for second in the Texas Open. He already has earned nearly $2 million -- his best season ever -- and is making plans for his first Tour Championship.
 
He hasn't forgotten where he was, and what guys now on the bubble are going through.
 
``It's a hard place to be,'' he said. ``Everybody wants a piece of you. Guys are crawling out of the booth to interview you on the putting green. What you want to do is focus on preparing, not what you're up against. But what everyone else wants to talk about is what you're up against.''
 
It's not quite that bad this year at Innisbrook, although nerves are still frayed.
 
The Chrysler Championship, which starts Thursday with a field that includes defending champion Vijay Singh, Retief Goosen and David Toms, was supposed to be the final full-field event on the PGA Tour. That changed when Hurricane Katrina postponed the Southern Farm Bureau Classic in Mississippi to next week. Those who fail to finish inside the top 125 on the money list -- or the top 40 to get into the Masters -- still have one more chance.
 
The only thing at stake this week is finishing in the top 30 to get into the Tour Championship.
 
That's still enough to get some players' attention.
 
Charles Howell III is at No. 30 on the money list, and after a pro-am round that lasted nearly five hours, he was on the putting green and then at the practice range, firing long irons into a cool, stiff wind.
 
He was 33rd on the money list last year at Innisbrook, shot 3 over on the weekend and didn't make it. And to remind him what it takes to get to East Lake, all Howell has to do is consider last week at Disney, where he tied for 15th to earn $68,200 and didn't move anywhere on the money list.
 
``It's going to take a good week,'' he said. ``It doesn't matter if you're 25th or 40th. You've got to play good.''
 
B.C. Open winner Jason Bohn is 31st, a mere $2,570 behind Howell. At the very least, Bohn has to make the cut and finish ahead of Howell to get to the Tour Championship.
 
``After winning, then finishing second in Boston, my goal since then has been to finish in the top 30 on the money list,'' Bohn said. ``I missed the cut last week. If I had made the cut, I might be inside that number. I did look at the money list, and between 28 and 33, there's not a big difference. So, I'm a solid week away.''
 
Right behind him is Peter Lonard of Australia, who won the MCI Heritage this year and is $6,419 behind Howell.
 
Lonard once finished 127th on the money list in Europe and had to go to qualifying school, so he has some perspective on the difference between playing for his job and playing for a perk -- the $6.5 million Tour Championship.
 
``I want to get in, but I've had six months of opportunities to close it out,'' Lonard said. ``I've got myself to blame. But it's not like I'm trying to keep my card. I've been in that position. This would be cream on the cake.''
 
Browne knows the feeling, considering his amazing turnaround.
 
He had to rely on sponsor's exemption and his status as a past champion on the PGA Tour, but his 18 months of grinding over swing changes with coach Jim Hardy finally paid off.
 
The first sign came at the U.S. Open, where he was in the second-to-last group Sunday at Pinehurst No. 2, only three shots behind Goosen, until shooting 80 in the final round. But the 46-year-old hit broke though outside Boston, winning the Deutsche Bank Championship for his first victory in six years.
 
Looking back at where he was a year ago, it is hard to fathom going to the Tour Championship.
 
``I have never made top 30 in my career. I hadn't done anything to feel confident enough that top 30 was attainable,'' Browne said. ``It's a pat on the back for the guys who have played great. But this is all about a couple of years of hunkering down and doing better.''
 
Asked about his goals, Browne said he doesn't bother setting any.
 
``If I set my goals too low, I get to them too easily. If I set them too high, I go insane,'' he said. ``I just want to play well. Because if you play well, and you give yourself a chance to play well every day, all that stuff takes care of itself.''
 
That's good advice to the guys on the bubble, a spot Browne knows all too well.
 
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    Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

    ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

    The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

    Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

    ''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

    The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.


    Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship


    Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

    Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

    ''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

    Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

    Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

    First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.

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    Henley will try to put heat on Casey in final round

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:55 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – While it will be a tall task for anyone to catch Paul Casey at the Travelers Championship, the man who will start the round most within reach of the Englishman is Russell Henley.

    Henley was in the penultimate group at TPC River Highlands on Saturday, but he’ll now anchor things during the final round as he looks to overcome a four-shot deficit behind Casey. After a 3-under 67, Henley sits at 12 under through 54 holes and one shot clear of the three players tied for third.

    Henley closed his third round with a run of five straight pars, then became the beneficiary of a pair of late bogeys from Brian Harman that left Henley alone in second place.


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    “Could have made a couple more putts, but to end with two up-and-downs like that was nice,” Henley said. “I felt a little bit weird over the shots coming in, put me in some bad spots. But it was nice to have the short game to back me up.”

    Henley has won three times on Tour, most recently at the 2017 Houston Open, and he cracked the top 25 at both the Masters and U.S. Open. But with Casey riding a wave of confidence and coming off an 8-under 62 that marked the best round of the week, he knows he’ll have his work cut out for him in order to nab trophy No. 4.

    “I think I can shoot a low number on this course. You’ve got to make the putts,” Henley said. “I’m definitely hitting it well enough, and if I can get a couple putts to fall, that would be good. But I can’t control what he’s doing. I can just try to keep playing solid.”

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    Back from back injury, Casey eyeing another win

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:36 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Given his four-shot cushion at the Travelers Championship and his recent victory at the Valspar Championship, it’s easy to forget that Paul Casey hit the disabled list in between.

    Casey had to withdraw from The Players Championship because of a bad back, becoming the only player in the top 50 in the world rankings to miss the PGA Tour’s flagship event. He flew back to England to get treatment, and Casey admitted that his T-20 finish at last month’s BMW PGA Championship came while he was still on the mend.

    “I wasn’t 100 percent fit with the back injury, which was L-4, L-5, S-1 (vertebrae) all out of place,” Casey said. “Big inflammation, nerve pain down the leg and up the back. I didn’t know what was going on.”


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    Thanks in large part to a combination of MRIs, back adjustments and anti-inflammatories, Casey finally turned the corner. His T-16 finish at last week’s U.S. Open was the first event for which he felt fully healthy since before the Players, and he’s on the cusp of a second title since March after successfully battling through the injury.

    “We thought we were fixing it, but we weren’t. We were kind of hitting the effects rather than the cause,” Casey said. “Eventually we figured out the cause, which was structural.”

    Casey started the third round at TPC River Highlands two shots off the lead, but he’s now four clear of Russell Henley after firing an 8-under 62 that marked the low round of the week.

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    Bubba thinks he'll need a Sunday 60 to scare Casey

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:15 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Perhaps moreso than at most PGA Tour venues, a low score is never really out of reach at TPC River Highlands. Positioned as a welcome change of pace after the U.S. Open, the Travelers Championship offers a lush layout that often pushes the balance much closer to reward than risk.

    This is where Jim Furyk shot a 58 on the par-70 layout two years ago – and he didn’t even win that week. So even though Paul Casey enters the final round with a commanding four-shot lead, there’s still plenty of hope for the chase pack that something special could be in store.

    Count Bubba Watson among the group who still believe the title is up for grabs – even if it might require a Herculean effort, even by his standards.


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    Watson has won the Travelers twice, including in a 2015 playoff over Casey. But starting the final round in a large tie for sixth at 10 under, six shots behind Casey, he estimates that he’ll need to flirt with golf’s magic number to give the Englishman something to worry about.

    “My 7 under yesterday, I need to do better than that. I’m going to have to get to like 10 [under],” Watson said. “The only beauty is, getting out in front, you have a chance to put a number up and maybe scare them. But to scare them, you’re going to have to shoot 10 under at worst, where I’m at anyway.”

    Watson started the third round three shots off the lead, and he made an early move with birdies on Nos. 1 and 2 en route to an outward 32. The southpaw couldn’t sustain that momentum, as bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 turned a potential 65 into a relatively disappointing 67.

    “Bad decision on the par-3, and then a very tough tee shot for me on 17, and it just creeped into the bunker,” Watson said. “Just, that’s golf. You have mistakes every once in a while.”