Notes Haas Staying Put
Haas is 23rd on the PGA Tour money list and wants to qualify for the Tour Championship (another $7 million World Golf Championship in Ireland next month won't hurt his chances). If he makes it to East Lake, that would make it hard to pass up another year playing on the regular tour.
Haas already is a lock for the Match Play Championship and the Masters. Top 30 on the money list gets him into the U.S. Open. Being picked for the Ryder Cup already made him eligible for the PGA Championship. But the real carrot is a chance to qualify for the Presidents Cup.
Haas is 11th in the standings, which is based solely on money.
'Uncle Bob (Goalby) said, 'Man, you're screwing it up. You've got to think about the Presidents Cup next year,'' Haas said. 'And hey - why not? If I play well toward the end of the year, that could spur me on.'
So, does that mean he's going to put the Champions Tour on hold? Haas got a twinkle in his eye and smiled.
'I don't know,' he said, his voice trailing off just enough to show he was serious. 'I won't say I'm going to blow it off. But ...'
Meanwhile, Haas might go to Pebble Beach next week only because he wants to play a tournament before the Ryder Cup. He didn't hear good reviews about the TPC at Boston (Deutsche Bank Championship), and he has never been a big fan of Glen Abbey (Canadian Open).
'But I can't take three weeks off going into the Ryder Cup,' he said. 'Pebble Beach is nice that time of the year.'
HONDA ON THE MOVE?
The Honda Classic, which changes venues almost as much as a major, could be on the move again. The only question is when.
The PGA Tour's tournament staff has made at least two visits to PGA National in the last month, and officials could know in the next 10 days whether relocation - across the street from Mirasol, in this case - is feasible, perhaps even by next March.
Mirasol has staged the Honda Classic the last two years (on different courses) and has a contract through 2006, with an option for four more years. But real estate development is three years ahead of schedule, and the club soon will be turned over to the members, who might not want a tournament in their backyard.
'We have an agreement to play at Mirasol,' PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said last week. 'I assume that all parties involved would have to agree not to play there. If we found something we looked at and said, 'Boy, this is great, this is a long-term answer,' it would be helpful to get there earlier than '07.'
Unlike some of the previous Honda stops, PGA National is a known commodity.
It held the 1983 Ryder Cup and the 1987 PGA Championship, and it would join Pebble Beach, Riviera, Firestone and Colonial as the current PGA Tour stops that have held majors.
Tournament director Cliff Danley said no one from the PGA Tour has talked to him about a potential move to PGA National, and his staff is gearing up for the '05 Honda Classic to be played at Mirasol.
The Honda Classic has been played on five courses in the last 10 years. Danley was asked if there was any possibility the tournament could relocate in six months.
'Stranger things have happened,' he said. 'But I don't see us playing anywhere but Mirasol. Somebody would have make the decision, talk to Mirasol, see this place that is chosen, get the networks involved, get the tour involved and most assuredly get Honda involved.
'But if somebody said tomorrow, 'Start thinking about a place,' we'd think about it.'
The Canadian Open was moved back one week, the last PGA Tour stop before the Ryder Cup. Tournament director Bill Paul wasn't sure how that it would affect the field, but it's starting to shape up nicely.
Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III, Stewart Cink, Chad Campbell and Kenny Perry are among Ryder Cup players who said they will play at Glen Abbey. Chris Riley also wants to play the Canadian Open, although that depends on the status of his wife, Michelle, who is expecting their first child.
Tiger Woods will not return to the Abbey, where he hit that 218-yard bunker shot over the water to win in 2000. Woods and Jim Furyk are among those playing the week before at Boston.
For those who think Michelle Wie should enjoy being a 14-year-old instead of spending her summer on the LPGA Tour, U.S. Women's Open champion Meg Mallon offered a different perspective.
'I think you guys all forgot what 14 was like - it (stunk),' Mallon said. 'At 14 we were doing nothing but getting in trouble. We were bored. We were telling our parents we didn't like them. She's getting more life experiences to help her more than any 14-year-old sitting around on a computer, doing things they probably shouldn't be doing.'
Wie tied for sixth at the Wendy's Championship last week in Ohio. She has finished in the top 20 in five out of six LPGA events this year. Mallon, however, is among several LPGA players who think Wie should spend equal time playing her own age level and winning against players she will face the rest of her career.
'Because she puts that in their head that she can beat them, which is very important,' Mallon said.
Ben Crenshaw has taken his friendship with President Bush to a new level. Crenshaw now is a Bush 'Pioneer,' a title granted to those who have raised at least $100,000 for the president.
Crenshaw invited Bush - then the Texas governor - to speak to the Ryder Cup team on the eve of the Americans' record comeback in 1999 at Brookline.
Oak Tree Golf Club in Edmond, Okla., will get the '06 Senior PGA Championship. That's one year too early for Jeff Sluman, who won the '88 PGA at Oak Tree for his only major. Sluman will only be 49 that year. ... U.S. Women's Amateur champion Jane Park, NCAA champion Sarah Huarte and Paula Creamer have been chosen to play in the Women's World Amateur Team Championship, to be played Oct. 20-23 in Puerto Rico. All three played on the Curtis Cup team. Morgan Pressel is first alternate, followed by Women's Amateur runner-up Amanda McCurdy.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Americans are 12-4 in the individual World Golf Championships.
'Fast greens and nervous golfers don't really mix too well.' - Stewart Cink.
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Hammer in position (again) to co-medal at U.S. Am
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer is in position to go for a rare sweep in this summer’s biggest events.
Two weeks ago, Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas, was the co-medalist at the Western Amateur and went on to take the match-play portion, as well.
Here at the U.S. Amateur, Hammer shot rounds of 69-68 and was once again in position to earn co-medalist honors. At 6-under 137, he was tied with 19-year-old Daniel Hillier of New Zealand.
“It would mean a lot, especially after being medalist at the Western Am,” Hammer said afterward. “It’s pretty special.”
No stroke-play medalist has prevailed in the 64-man match-play bracket since Ryan Moore in 2004. Before that, Tiger Woods (1996) was the most recent medalist champion.
On the strength of his Western Am title, Hammer, 18, has soared to No. 18 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He credited his work with swing coach Cameron McCormick and mental coach Bob Rotella.
“Just really started controlling my iron shots really well,” said Hammer, who has worked with McCormick since 2015, when he qualified for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old.
“Distance control with my wedges and all my iron shots, playing different shots, has become really a strength in my game. I’ve really turned the putter on this year, and I’m seeing the lines and matching the line with the speed really well. I think that’s been the key to my summer.”
A two-time New Zealand Amateur champion, Hillier is ranked 27th in the world. He said that, entering the tournament, he would have been pleased just to make it to match play.
“But to come out on top, it’s amazing,” Hillier said. “Cole is a really good golfer and has been playing well lately. So, yeah, I’m in good company.”
Tee times, TV schedule, stats for Wyndham Championship
It's the last tournament of the PGA Tour's regular season as the top 125 in the FedExCup points list advance to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for the Wyndham Championship. (Click here for tee times)
How to watch:
Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.
Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.
Purse: $6 million
Course: Sedgefield Country Club (par 70, 7,127 yards)
Defending champion: Henrik Stenson. Last year he defeated Ollie Schniederjans by one stroke to earn his sixth career PGA Tour win.
Notables in the field
• Missed the cut last week at the PGA Championship
• Six top-10 finishes this year, including T-5 at the Masters and T-6 at the U.S. Open
• Eight missed cuts in last 10 PGA Tour starts
• Currently 131 in FedExCup standings (33 points back of 125th)
• Five top-10 finishes in this event since 2010 (won in 2011)
• 56 under par in last five years in this event (best of any player in that span)
Faldo: Woods told fellow Masters champ 'I'm done' in '17
Fresh off his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, it's easy to get caught up in the recent success and ebullient optimism surrounding Tiger Woods. But it was not that long ago that Woods even hitting another competitive shot was very much in doubt.
Six-time major champ Sir Nick Faldo shed light on those darker times during a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show when he relayed a story from the 2017 Masters champions' dinner. The annual meal is one of golf's most exclusive fraternities, as only the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is allowed to dine with the men who have each donned a green jacket.
Last spring Woods had not yet undergone spinal fusion surgery, and Faldo explained that Woods at one point turned to an unnamed Masters champ and grimly assessed his future playing chances.
"I know he whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago, 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,'" Faldo said. "He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the (2016) Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain."
But Woods opted for fusion surgery a few weeks later, and after a lengthy rehab process he returned to competition in December. His 2018 campaign has been nothing short of remarkable, with a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with a T-6 result at The Open when he held the outright lead on the back nine on Sunday.
After apparently even counting himself out, Woods is back up to 26th in the latest world rankings and appears in line to be added as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next month.
"What he's been able to do is unbelievable," Faldo said. "To turn this aruond, to get this spine fusion, it's completely taken away the pain. To have this mobility is absolutely amazing. Great on him, and great for golf."
McDowell needs Wyndham result to maintain status
For the first time in nearly three years, Graeme McDowell heads into an event with his PGA Tour status hanging in the balance.
The Ulsterman joined the Tour in 2006, and he has had nearly uninterrupted status since winning the 2010 U.S. Open. But McDowell's two-season exemption for winning the 2015 OHL Classic at Mayakoba only extends through this week, where he will start the Wyndham Championship at No. 143 in the season-long points race.
McDowell tied for fifth at Sedgefield Country Club in 2016, and he will likely need a similar result to crack the top 125 in the standings and retain his fully exempt status for the 2019 season. While he finished T-10 in Las Vegas in November, that remains his lone top-10 finish of the Tour season. The veteran's best results this year have come in Europe, where he tied for fifth at the Italian Open and finished T-12 at the BMW PGA Championship.
"I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I feel like it's not a do-or-die scenario for me," McDowell told reporters earlier this month at the Barracuda Championship. "I feel if I was 25 years old without a European Tour card to fall back on, it would be a do-or-die scenario. Certainly trying to put the pressure off, if I don't get myself into the top 125 it's not the end of the world for me. I still feel like I can play a great schedule next season."
By finishing Nos. 126-150 in points after this week, McDowell would retain conditional status that would likely ensure him at least 12-15 starts next season. He would also still have privileges as a past tournament champion.
But he's not the only winner from the 2015-16 season whose two-year exemption is on the verge of running out. Fabian Gomez (160th), Peter Malnati (164th) and Billy Hurley III (202nd) all need big results in Greensboro to keep their cards, while Shane Lowry, David Lingmerth and Matt Every all earned three-year exemptions for victories in 2015 but currently sit Nos. 139, 140 and 184 in points, respectively.
Last year four players moved into the top 125 thanks to strong play at Wyndham, with the biggest jump coming from Rory Sabbatini, who went from No. 148 to No. 122 after tying for fourth place.