Notes Big Perks for Players
It didn't seem like an event Toms would play, especially with LSU playing at home that week.
Then again, 84 Lumber made an offer that was hard to turn down.
'The free flight,' Toms said.
And not just any flight.
In the most lucrative perk of the year, 84 Lumber has offered any player eligible for the American Express Championship a free, round-trip flight to Ireland on a customized 747 with only first-class seats. Not only that, players can bring their wife or girlfriend, caddie and three guests.
The offer is worth at least $40,000.
The only catch is players had to commit by Aug. 4. As long as they tee off in the first round on the upgraded Mystic Rock Course at Nemacolin in western Pennsylvania, they get the free flight.
The early commitment list includes Toms, Vijay Singh, Mike Weir, Kenny Perry, Charles Howell III and Brad Faxon, none of whom played the 84 Lumber Classic last year.
'I'll tell you how big of a deal it is,' Toms said. 'I'm missing the Mississippi State game so I can get a free flight.'
The free charter is the idea of former tournament director Eric Mehl, who has since taken over at Colonial but is still working both tournaments. He ran it by 84 Lumber chief Joe Hardy, who loved the idea.
'He wanted to make a statement about how serious he was,' Mehl said. 'He also wanted to offset our tour date situation. We could have easily had a Nationwide or Hooters tour field, being between the Ryder Cup and the American Express. We took a negative and turned it into a positive.'
British Open champion Todd Hamilton also is on the list, and the luxury flight allows him to get home for the Oklahoma-Texas game before returning to Europe for the World Match Play Championship in England.
'It's awesome,' Hamilton said. 'All the tournaments are in competition to get the best fields they can. We got cowboy boots at the Colonial, and an iPod at Doral. You're already playing for $5 million a week. They shouldn't have to do that.'
The PGA Tour approved the perk, and Mehl said it was not appearance money in disguise because it was available to a qualified list of players. Even Arjun Atwal, who got into Amex from the Japanese tour money list, is on the flight.
'They're doing everything they can to attract a good field,' said Henry Hughes, chief of operations for the PGA Tour. 'And this is just a little more.'
RYDER CUP RESURGENCE
Justin Leonard failed to make the Ryder Cup team, but another past hero from the Ryder Cup is suddenly poised to make the European team.
Paul McGinley of Ireland, whose 8-foot par putt at The Belfry clinched the cup for Europe two years ago, surged into the 10th position with a a 69 on the final day at the PGA Championship and a tie for sixth.
The timing could not have been better. Because McGinley played on the '02 team - and the '04 European team won't be decided for two weeks - he was exempt to the $7 million NEC Invitational. The two players ahead of him in the standings, David Howell and Ian Poulter, are not at Firestone this week.
'I do have an advantage,' McGinley said. 'It's a window of opportunity for me to make some progress.'
Three years ago, the European tour decided to send the top 12 in the Ryder Cup standings to Firestone. This time, it will send the last Ryder Cup team.
That also gives one extra chance for Colin Montgomerie to avoid having to be a captain's pick.
Montgomerie and European captain Bernhard Langer played a practice round Tuesday.
The scenario to end Tiger Woods' reign atop the world ranking is more complicated than ever, and also closer than ever for Ernie Els and Vijay Singh.
Singh got to within .10 points after winning the PGA Championship, and he can get to No. 1 at the NEC Invitational by finishing ahead of Woods if both are in the top 10, or tying with Woods if they are outside the top 10.
For Els to return to No. 1, there are three scenarios:
- Els wins, and Woods does not finish second alone.
- Els is second, Woods does not finish in a two-way for fourth, and Singh is not in a two-way tie for third.
- Els is third, Woods finishes worse than 15 and Singh finishes worse than 19th.
Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els were the only players to finish in the top 10 in all four majors. Mickelson won the Masters, was second in the U.S. Open, third at the British Open and tied for sixth at the PGA. Els was second at the Masters and British Open, tied for ninth in the U.S. Open and tied for fourth at the PGA.
Tiger Woods was among 10 players to make the cut in all four majors. Along with Mickelson and Els, the others were K.J. Choi, Vijay Singh, Chris DiMarco, Charles Howell III, Steve Flesch, Shaun Micheel and Tiger Woods.
Nick Price and Retief Goosen had a chance to join them, but both withdrew from the PGA Championship.
On the other end of the spectrum was Thomas Bjorn and John Daly, who missed the cut in all three majors they played. Daly didn't qualify for the U.S. Open, while Bjorn withdrew from the PGA with an injury.
Dave Parker had a modest sports agency only a few years ago, representing quality players but none of the big stars. Now, Links Sports has the most Ryder Cup players - three - on the U.S. team. Parker represents David Toms, Chad Campbell and Kenny Perry. ... The Champions tour is moving to Seattle, starting next year with the Great Seattle Champions Classic. It will be played on the TPC at Snoqualmie Ridge, a Jack Nicklaus design with spectacular views of the mountains. ... The Byron Nelson Championship raised $6.09 million in net proceeds, the sixth straight year to raise at least $5 million. All proceeds benefit Salesmanship Club Youth and Family Centers.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Only one British Open champion over the last 10 years - Tiger Woods - will be represented on either the U.S. or European Ryder Cup team.
'I felt like I was on one of those reality shows.' - Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton, on having to decide who got left off the team.
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba
Conor Moore is known for his impressions of golfers, and he is back with a new video just in time for The Open.
Moore even got the thumbs up from Ian Poulter.
This is hilarious..— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) July 16, 2018
Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite
Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.
Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.
Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.
Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:
12/1: Dustin Johnson
16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose
20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm
25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods
30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed
40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton
50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick
60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson
80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele
100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen
Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC
If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.
Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.
Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.
There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.
There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.
Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.
John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.
Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.
Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.
Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.
“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”
Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.
“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”
But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.
“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”