Notes New Schedule Hurts Team Events

By Associated PressAugust 21, 2007, 4:00 pm
HARRISON, N.Y. -- Tiger Woods repeated Tuesday in a monthly newsletter that his body needed a break after winning consecutive weeks at Firestone and Southern Hills, and that he wanted to be sharp for the final three playoff events in the FedExCup.
 
'Plus, I want to be sharp for the Presidents Cup,' he added.
 
That seems to be forgotten in what already is a crammed schedule on the PGA TOUR.
 
All 24 players from the U.S. and International teams are in the PGA TOUR Playoffs, and 11 out of 12 Americans are seeded inside the top 30. That means most players could be in four straight events before one week off, then the Presidents Cup that starts Sept. 27 at Royal Montreal.
 
'Obviously, when the Presidents Cup comes -- or at the end of the FedExCup -- I'm going to be tired,' Woody Austin said. 'Four weeks in a row is a grind for anything.'
 
Worse yet is next year. The Ryder Cup will be played immediately after the four-week playoffs, leading to some speculation that Woods won't be the only player who takes a week off during the playoffs.
 
'I'm disappointed in the schedule,' Jim Furyk said.
 
Someone asked Padraig Harrington if golf was less of a grind when he doesn't have to think about the Ryder Cup, and he immediately thought about next year.
 
'That's five in a row. That will be tough,' he said. 'That will be a big ask, a big take from any player who plays in all five events. The Presidents Cup this year ... is such a big event, or the Ryder Cup is such a big event. It does require effort. Coming in off something as big as this, it's a tough bit of work.'
 
CUP VALUE:
Most people figure Tiger Woods is a lock for PGA TOUR player of the year with his five victories (two World Golf Championships) and a major (PGA Championship), along with having a huge advantage in scoring average.
 
Will the FedExCup change that?
 
Maybe.
 
Jerry Kelly said he would give the winner of the FedExCup equal value -- if not more -- to winning a major when it comes to his vote for player of the year. He cited Zach Johnson as an example.
 
'He won the Masters and one other tournament,' Kelly said. 'If he wins the FedExCup, that means he'll have won another tournament. And then it becomes a race.'
 
Kelly believes winning the FedExCup along with a major would fall under the same scenario as someone winning two majors. The most famous case of that was in 1998, when Mark O'Meara (two majors) beat out David Duval (four victories, money title and Vardon Trophy).
 
ONE SHOT:
The FedExCup didn't have to wait until the playoffs for every shot to count.
 
Just ask Eric Axley.
 
He came to the 18th hole in the final round of the Wyndham Championship in a tie for 27th. He was 110 yards away from the hole in the first cut of rough, yet hit his wedge to some 40 feet and took two putts for a par.
 
Had he made birdie, Axley would have earned enough points to qualify for The Barclays, the first playoff event. Instead, he wound up at No. 145, a mere 23 points behind Jeff Gove.
 
That means Axley cannot play on the PGA TOUR until the playoffs end Sept. 16.
 
RYDER CUP:
Fans have six more weeks to register for 2008 Ryder Cup tickets, and a random drawing will be held in October.
 
Tickets range from daily grounds ($90 a day during the competition) to a weekly season ticket ($435) to the Samuel Ryder Club tickets, which go for $1,600 a day during competition and include admission to a hospitality tent that has reserved seating, breakfast and lunch, parking off site and a shuttle to Valhalla.
 
Or you can sign up for a package from a European-based company called Ryder Cup Travel Services.
 
The cheapest package is $3,000 for five days. That includes a hotel room at the Holiday Inn in Clarksville, Ind., transportation to the golf course, a regular ticket, a shirt and dinner one night at the Muhammad Ali Center.
 
BATTLEFIELD PROMOTION:
Four years after his U.S. Amateur victory, Nick Flanagan is headed for the PGA TOUR.
 
Flanagan came from seven shots behind to win his third Nationwide Tour event of the season, earning him an automatic promotion to the big leagues. But in this 'new era of golf,' the 23-year-old Aussie has to wait one month.
 
The PGA TOUR Playoff gobbled up the next four weeks of the schedule, and Flanagan's first chance to play the Tour as its newest member is Sept. 20 at the Turning Stone Resort Championship.
 
The good news is he should have no problem getting in.
 
Chad Campbell earned a similar promotion in October 2001 but couldn't get in the Disney tournament because it was loaded with guys trying to keep their cards (along with those who wanted to take their kids on Space Mountain).
 
'The good thing about it is that I am set up for next year,' said Flanagan, whose status for 2008 will fall behind those who finish in the top 125 on the PGA TOUR money list. 'I may play the rest of the year for some Christmas money. You're not going to stop me from playing in $4 and $5 million events.'
 
Flanagan won the '03 U.S. Amateur at Oakmont by beating Casey Wittenberg, who also won Sunday on the Hooters Tour.
 
DIVOTS:
It was 102 degrees when the final few groups teed off in the final round of the PGA Championship at Southern Hills. About the same time one week later, it was 75 degrees. ... Brandt Snedeker became the fifth American in his 20s to win on the PGA TOUR this year. The others were Charles Howell III, Nick Watney, Hunter Mahan and Jonathan Byrd. ... This from the Department of Strange Statistics: On the first hole of the JELD-WEN Tradition last week, D.A. Weibring holed out from the fairway for eagle. Peter Jacobsen and Bob Gilder both chipped in for birdie. That means no one in the group had to putt. ... Greg Norman has been chosen for the 2008 Old Tom Morris Award given by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. ... Jerry Kelly had never recorded a top 10 in a major until this year. A tie for fifth in the Masters and a tie for seventh in the U.S. Open was enough to make him eligible for the HSBC World Match Play Championship in England.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK:
Tiger Woods is the only player to successfully defend a title this year on the PGA TOUR or the European Tour.
 
FINAL WORD:
'It's a bit like the TPC. If you win the TPC, it's the fifth major. If you don't win it, it's not the fifth major.' -- Padraig Harrington, comparing the FedExCup with THE PLAYERS Championship.
 
Related Links:
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    Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

    According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

    Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.


    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

    Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

    And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

    Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.

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    Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

    The Monday morning headline will be …

    REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

    RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

    MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

    JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.



    Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

    HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

    LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

    BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

    COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.



    Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

    HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

    LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

    BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

    COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.



    What will be the winning score?

    HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

    LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

    BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

    COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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    Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.