Notes Perks of Winning Wie Watch
Some of the best perks came Tuesday.
Verplank stood outside the locker room at Quail Hollow and could barely complete a sentence without players, caddies and officials stopping by to congratulate him. His cell phone was so overloaded with voice mail and text messages that the screen broke, so he switched to his wife's phone and that one broke, too.
``I'm on my third in two days,'' he said. ``I've had more people call and text message me than I ever have in my life.''
It was the fifth win of his PGA TOUR, and by far the most meaningful.
Verplank won the Western Open while in school at Oklahoma State, at the time the first amateur in 29 years to win on tour. His last victory had been the Canadian Open in 2001, significant because it came a few weeks after he was the first player to make his first Ryder Cup team as a captain's pick.
Winning the Byron Nelson was emotional in so many ways.
He was among the best juniors in Dallas, and his relationship with Nelson began when Verplank was 17 and Nelson called him up and asked to watch him hit balls. To win the first tournament after Nelson died was almost too much for him to handle.
``I've never been choked up winning a golf tournament in my life,'' Verplank said, who struggled slightly to keep his composure even as he spoke on Tuesday. ``There's no crying in golf, but I'm telling you, I could hardly speak.''
And while it was important to win for the memory of Nelson, it also was meaningful for his grandfather.
Bob Bybee had been hospitalized that week because of congenital heart failure. Verplank went to see his 87-year-old grandfather after his first round Thursday.
``I called him right when I got done (Sunday) and asked him if he was feeling better,'' Verplank said. ``He said, 'You betcha!' To me, he's a guy a lot like Byron Nelson. He's been a great influence in my life. He's a real gentleman, and he was a pretty fair golfer in his day.''
Michelle Wie has accepted a sponsor's exemption to play in the Canadian Women's Open, the first time she will play north of the U.S. border. The tournament will be held Aug. 16-19 at Royal Mayfair Golf Club in Edmonton.
But it won't be her first time playing a Canadian event.
Wie first played against the men in 2003 at age 14 in the Bay Mills Open Players Championship on the Canadian Tour, even though the tournament was held in Michigan. She missed the cut after rounds of 74-79.
``I'm excited to get out there and play again and especially excited to make my professional debut in Canada,'' she said.
Playing the Canadian Women's Open likely will give Wie three straight events on the LPGA Tour, as it follows the Evian Masters in France and the Women's British Open at St. Andrews. Wie would have a week off before going to Canada.
And then it will be off to college for her freshman year at Stanford.
Wie, 17, has not played since the Sony Open because of a wrist injury. She is to return to competition at the Ginn Tribute, a new LPGA event in South Carolina to be held the last week in May.
David Toms had to withdraw from the Wachovia Championship because of personal reasons, leaving the tournament with 27 of the top 30 players in the world ranking. The other players from the top 30 not at Quail Hollow are Paul Casey and Justin Rose.
Also pulling out was David Duval.
The former British Open champion has not played since the Nissan Open in February because his wife, pregnant with their second child, is not bed rest for the final four months of her pregnancy.
Val Skinner, a six-time winner on the LPGA Tour who has devoted 15 years to raising money for breast cancer research, will be honored with the Winnie Palmer Award at the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association dinner June 18.
Skinner in 1996 launched a program called LIFE (LPGA pros In the Fight to Eradicate breast cancer), which benefits the New Jersey Cancer Institute and Susan G. Komen for a Cure. The annual charity pro-am has raised $500,000 every year, the largest single-day donation ever for breast cancer from a golf event.
The Winnie Palmer Award was created in 2000 to acknowledge an individual who has consistently given time, energy and enthusiasm to those less fortunate. The award is named in honor of Arnold Palmer's deceased wife Winnie, who devoted much of her life to charity work for literacy programs and health care.
Of the 58 players exempt from qualifying for the U.S. Open, only 26 are from the United States. ... Luke Donald has 12 consecutive rounds in the 60s at the Byron Nelson Championship, but still no trophy. He has finished second, tied for sixth and tied for 18th the last three years. ... Vaughn Taylor has signed an endorsement deal with E-Z-GO, the world's largest manufacturer of golf carts. The deal is a perfect fit because both are based in Augusta, Ga., and Taylor's mother worked at E-Z-GO for 18 years. Vijay Singh will be playing the BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour on May 24-27, the first of four straight tournaments through the U.S. Open. It will be the 10th time Singh has played Europe's flagship event, with one only top 10. ... Brett Wetterich got the prime parking spot at the Byron Nelson Championship as the defending champion. He also gets good spots at the World Golf Championships. ``My name is close to Tiger's and he's always up front,'' he said.
STAT OF THE WEEK:
Americans have won 13 of the first 18 events on the PGA Tour, their best start since they won 14 times through April in 2001.
``It's not a business of being sentimental. It's a business of trying to win as many tournaments as you can.'' - Jerry Kelly, explaining why only two of the top 10 players in the world ranking played in the Byron Nelson Championship.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Van Rooyen holes putt after ball-marker ruling
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Erik van Rooyen was surveying his 10-footer for par, trying to get a feel for the putt, when his putter slipped out of his hand and dropped onto his ball marker.
The question, then, was whether that accident caused his coin to move.
The rules official looked at various camera angles but none showed definitively whether his coin moved. The ruling was made to continue from where his coin was now positioned, with no penalty.
This was part of the recent rules changes, ensuring there is no penalty if the ball or ball maker is accidently moved by the player. The little-used rule drew attention in 2010, when Ian Poulter accidentally dropped his ball on his marker in Dubai and wound up losing more than $400,000 in bonus and prize money.
After the delay to sort out his ruling Friday, van Rooyen steadied himself and made the putt for par, capping a day in which he shot even-par 71 and kept himself in the mix at The Open. He was at 4-under 138, just two shots off the clubhouse lead.
“I wanted to get going and get this 10-footer to save par, but I think having maybe just a couple minutes to calm me down, and then I actually got a different read when I sat down and looked at it again,” he said. “Good putt. Happy to finish that way.”
Lyle birdies last hole in likely his final Open start
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – If this was Sandy Lyle’s final Open appearance, he went out in style.
Playing on the final year of his automatic age exemption, the 60-year-old Scot buried a 30-foot birdie on the last hole. He missed the cut after shooting 9-over 151 over two rounds.
“I was very light-footed,” he said. “I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. To make birdie was extra special.”
Lyle, who also won the 1988 Masters, has missed the cut in his last eight majors, dating to 2014. He hasn’t been competitive in The Open since 1998, when he tied for 19th.
To continue playing in The Open, Lyle needed to finish in the top 10 here at Carnoustie. He’d earn a future exemption by winning the Senior British Open.
“More punishment,” he said.
DJ, Thomas miss cut at Open; No. 1 up for grabs
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The top two players in the world both missed the cut at The Open, creating the possibility of a shakeup at the top of the rankings by the end of the weekend.
Dustin Johnson became the first world No. 1 since Luke Donald in 2011 to miss the cut at the year’s third major.
Johnson played solidly for all but the closing stretch. Over two rounds, he was 6 over par on the last three holes. He finished at 6-over 148.
Thomas added to what’s been a surprisingly poor Open record. Just like last year, when he struggled in the second round in the rain at Royal Birkdale, Thomas slumped to a 77 on Friday at Carnoustie, a round that included three consecutive double bogeys on Nos. 6-8. He finished at 4-over 146.
It’s Thomas' first missed cut since The Open last year. Indeed, in three Open appearances, he has two missed cuts and a tie for 53rd.
With Johnson and Thomas out of the mix, the No. 1 spot in the rankings is up for grabs this weekend.
Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm all can reach No. 1 with a victory this week.
TT Postscript: Woods (71) makes cut, has work to do
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods shot a second consecutive even-par 71 Friday in the second round. And yes, he made the cut:
• Tiger said all 71s are not created equal. On Thursday, he made three birdies and three bogeys. On Friday, he made four birdie and four bogeys. Which round was better? The first. His theory is that, despite the rain, conditions were easier in the second round and there were more scoring opportunities. He didn't take advantage.
• This is the first time since the 2013 Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that Tiger shot par or better in each of the first two rounds of a major. That’s quite a long time ago.
• Stat line for the day: 11 of 15 fairways, 13 of 18 greens, 32 total putts. Tiger hit one driver and two 3-woods on Thursday and four drivers on Friday, only one which found the fairway. An errant drive at the second led to him sniping his next shot into the gallery.
• In his own words: “I could have cleaned up the round just a little bit. I got off to not exactly the best start, being 2 over through three, but got it back. The golf course was a little bit softer today, obviously. It rains, and we were able to get the ball down a little bit further, control the ball on the ground a little bit easier today, which was nice.”
• At some point Tiger is going to have to be more aggressive. He will be quite a few shots off the lead by day’s end and he'll have a lot of ground to make up. Hitting irons off the tee is great for position golf, but it’s often leaving him more than 200 yards into the green. Not exactly a range for easy birdies.
• Sure, it’s too soon to say Tiger can’t win a fourth claret jug, but with so many big names ahead of him on the leaderboard, it’s unlikely. Keep in mind that a top-six finish would guarantee him a spot in the WGC: Bridgestone Invitational in two weeks. At The Players, he stated that this was a big goal.
• My Twitter account got suspended momentarily when Tiger was standing over a birdie putt on the 17th green. That was the most panicked I’ve been since Tiger was in contention at the Valspar.