Notes Final Week to Avoid Open Qualifying
Had he finished second -- no one else had a chance to catch Phil Mickelson -- O'Hair would have moved up to No. 47 in the world and likely would have stayed in the top 50 to avoid U.S. Open qualifying. Instead, he is No. 79 and faces 36 holes of qualifying after the Memorial if he wants an Oakmont tee time.
Other players have a few more chances.
This week is a major cutoff for being exempt from qualifying. The U.S. Open will take the top 50 in the world ranking, along with the top 10 from the PGA TOUR money list and the top two in Europe.
A couple of PGA TOUR winners are on the bubble.
Sony Open champion Paul Goydos is No. 49 and can help himself immensely with a good week at Colonial. Right behind is Tim Clark (50) and Hilton Head winner Boo Weekley (52). Lucas Glover is No. 51, but he already is in the U.S. Open from finishing in the top 30 of last year's money list.
Angel Cabrera is No. 53 and playing the BMW Championship at Wentworth, where he won two years ago. The European Tour event has far more ranking points available than Colonial this week.
Tampa winner Mark Calcavecchia is No. 55 and playing Colonial, although he might have a better chance with money. He's only $78,358 out of the top 10, which he could make up with at least a top-20 finish.
To suggest Zach Johnson reached the next level with his victory in Atlanta might be a stretch considering it was the second-weakest field on the PGA TOUR this year behind New Orleans.
But he was solid down the stretch, making birdie twice on the 18th hole at Sugarloaf to beat Ryudi Imada in a playoff. And it never hurts for a player to back up his first major championship with another victory, especially one so soon.
'As far as validation, I don't know,' Johnson said. 'One lip-out here, one more bounce the other way there, I may not be sitting here. There's always some fortuitous breaks there. I just feel very honored.'
Johnson joined a short list of players since 1992 who won again within three starts of capturing their first major -- Davis Love III and David Toms each won in their third tournament, while Retief Goosen won the Scottish Open in his second start after winning the 2001 U.S. Open. Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh each won their next start after their first major, although Woods took nearly a month off.
Val Skinner's annual golf charity for breast cancer research raised $500,000, bringing the total to more than $4 million.
Skinner's foundation created the event called 'LIFE' -- LPGA pros In the Fight to Eradicate breast cancer -- eight years ago, and it continues to be one of golf's best-supported charity events. It was held Monday at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J., and featured 29 players, including Lorena Ochoa, Beth Daniel, Julie Inkster, Nancy Lopez, Karrie Webb and Morgan Pressel.
'This year's event has been our strongest yet,' Skinner said. 'You could literally feel the powerful energy that is created when we all come together collectively with a passionate purpose.'
Among those honored was Pressel, the youngest player to win an LPGA major. Her mother died of breast cancer four years ago.
ROAD TO RECOVERY:
Olin Browne had to sit out the first four months of the season recovering from a partial ligament tear in his right hand, and his patience was rewarded last week in Atlanta. Browne closed with a bogey-free 66 to tie for ninth in only his second tournament since October.
'I did what the doctors told me. I waited until it could function a little bit,' Browne said.
He made his '07 debut the week before at THE PLAYERS Championship, and given his rust, Browne said it was 'like taking a knife to a gunfight.' He went 81-75 to miss the cut. But he was inspired by playing bogey-free in the first round on the TPC at Sugarloaf and only shooting 74 in a third round void of bogeys.
'I put it through the rigors and had three really nice rounds,' he said. 'I'm hoping to build on that.'
Morgan Pressel will appear at several Anheuser-Busch parks over the next year as a spokeswoman for the 'Champions' program, a campaign designed to inspire young women to excel in sports and studies. ... Hee-Won Han will not defend her title in the LPGA Corning Classic this week. Han is pregnant with her first child and has not played since the Kraft Nabisco Championship at the end of April. ... Augusta National has distributed $3.4 million to charities from the Masters, raising its total contribution to more than $32 million over the last 10 years.
STAT OF THE WEEK:
The BMW Championship on the European Tour has five of the top 10 players in the world ranking. Colonial on the PGA TOUR has one of the top 10.
'I think I'm going to have to prove myself a little more before he considers me.' -- PGA TOUR rookie Stephen Marino, who played the first two rounds at the AT&T Classic with Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Tiger putts way into contention at The Open
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – When Tiger Woods benched his trusty Scotty Cameron blade putter last month at the Quicken Loans National for a new TaylorMade mallet-headed version some saw it as a sign of desperation, but if his performance on Carnoustie’s greens on Saturday were any indication it could end up being a calculated success.
Woods stormed into contention on Day 3 with a 5-under 66 to move to within shouting distance of the lead at The Open, thanks in large part to his vastly improved putting.
“I hit so many good putts out there today, and this week from distance, I've had really good feels,” said Woods, whose 29 putts on Saturday belies his performance on Carnoustie’s greens. “Even as this golf course was changing and evolving, I've maintained my feels with the putter. I've made a couple of putts from about 40 to 60 feet, which is nice. I just feel like I've been able to roll the ball.”
The highlight of Woods’ round came at the par-4 ninth hole when he charged in a 40-footer for birdie from the front edge of the green to begin a run of three consecutive birdies. Perhaps more impressive, he didn’t have a three-putt, and has only had two all week, which is always a bonus on links courses.
Woods temporarily took a share of the lead with a lengthy birdie putt at the 14th hole and scrambled for a par save at the last after his drive nearly found the Barry Burn.
“I hit a few putts that I think should have gone in from 20, 30 feet today," he said. "So that's always a good sign.”
TT postscript: A 66, he's in contention - awesome
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods went berserk Saturday and shot 5-under 66 to vault up the leaderboard at The Open at Carnoustie:
• THAT WAS AWESOME!
At 4:13PM here in Scotland, when Tiger two-putted for birdie on the par-5 14th hole, he held a share of the lead in a major championship. It was once unthinkable, but it happened. I saw it with my own eyes.
• Tiger’s last two weekend rounds in the 60s in The Open both happened at Carnoustie and both happened on July 21. In 2007, Woods shot 69 here. On Saturday, that score was clipped by three shots. Tiger shot 65 in the second round of The Open at Royal Liverpool in 2006. He won his third claret jug that week. Tiger last shoot 66 in a major during the second round of the 2011 Masters.
• This is the sixth time that Tiger has recorded three consecutive rounds of par of better to start The Open. He went on to win three of the previous five times.
• One bad swing, the only bad swing of the day according to Tiger, produced the luckiest of breaks. Standing on the 18th tee with an iron in hand, Tiger pulled his tee shot that hit on the top of the Barry Burn and very easily could’ve ended in a watery grave. Instead it ended in thick rough, some 250 yards from the pin. Tiger punted it up the fairway, but got up and down from 83 yards to save par and shoot 66. “I hit my number,” he quipped about hitting wedge to 2 feet.
• On the other hand, the lone bogey came from one poor putt. On the par-3 16th hole, with half of Scotland screaming his name, Tiger missed a 7-footer for par. It was deflating at the time because the last three holes are so difficult. Pars on the last two holes were stellar.
• Final stats: 12 of 15 fairways, 14 of 18 greens and 29 total putts. Tiger hit six drivers and one 3-wood, proving that he was way more aggressive. He hit four drivers on Friday and only one on Thursday.
• One of the aforementioned drivers that he hit on the ninth hole was well left and in some thick round, 170 yards from the hole. A safe approach to 40 feet set him up for and easy two-putt par. But he slammed the putt home and made an improbable birdie. “I hit so many good putts out there today, and this week from distance, I’ve had really good feels,” he said.
• In his own words about his chances of winning: “It certainly is possible. I’ve shown that I’ve been there close enough with a chance to win this year. Given what happened the last few years, I didn’t know if that would ever happen again, but here I am with a chance coming Sunday in a major championship. It’s going to fun.”
Yes, yes it is.
Watch: Guy sleeps next to many beers at Open
It's Moving Day at The Open Championship for all but one sedentary fan.
Cameras caught this potentially browned-out man having himself a Saturday snooze on the browned-out grasses of Carnoustie:
Browned out. That's a great term. Glad it's in the public domain. We've been using it all weekend. I imagine we'll continue to use it. A lot.
Watch: Tiger makes 6 birdies, 1 amazing par in Rd. 3
Tiger Woods started the third round of The Open at even par, having made seven birdies and seven bogeys over the first 36 holes at Carnoustie.
Following three pars to start on Saturday, Woods went on a birdie binge.
No. 1 came with this putt at the par-4 fourth.
No. 2 with this two-putt at the par-5 sixth.
No. 3 thanks to this 30-footer at the par-4 ninth.
No. 4 after nearly jarring his approach shot on the par-4 10th.
No. 5 when he almost drove the green at the par-4 11th and two-putted, from just off the green, from 95 feet.
And No. 6, which gave him a share of the lead, came courtesy another two-putt at the par-5 14th.
Woods bogeyed the par-3 16th to drop out of the lead and almost dropped - at least - one more shot at the par-4 18th. But his tee shot got a lucky bounce and he turned his good fortune into a par.
Woods shot 5-under 66 and finished the day at 5 under par.