Notes Rug pulled out from Paddy Whats a rookie

By Associated PressSeptember 9, 2008, 4:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)ST. LOUIS ' Padraig Harrington was about the only one not complaining that a double major champion could not qualify for the TOUR Championship, blaming only himself for missing consecutive cuts at the start of the PGA TOUR Playoffs.
 
His biggest letdown? Realizing he couldnt win the Vardon Trophy.
 
Harrington figured he was safe playing the minimum 15 events on the PGA TOUR. But he missed the cut three times, and finished the year with only 52 rounds. Players must complete 60 rounds to be eligible for the Vardon Trophy for lowest adjusted scoring average.
 
I didnt know that, Harrington said with a mixture of surprise and disappointment. I was trying to win that award. I would consider that a big deal to have the lowest scoring average.
 
At least there will be one compelling race at the end of the year.
 
Going into the TOUR Championship next week, Phil Mickelson leads with a 69.52 scoring average, with Sergio Garcia one-hundredth of a point behind at 69.53. Right behind are Vijay Singh and Anthony Kim, tied at 69.62. Harrington, who was leading until he tied for 55th in the BMW Championship, slipped to fifth place at 69.67, but its a moot point now.
 
Mickelson has never won a major postseason award, and this might be his best chance. So even though Singh has effectively wrapped up the FedExCup, Lefty will have something at stake at the TOUR Championship.
 
Tiger Woods ran into the same problem as Harrington in 2006, when he won two majors then cut his season short after a long year off the course dealing with his fathers death. Woods withdrew from Riviera, missed the cut in the U.S. Open and wound up playing only 59 rounds. The Vardon Trophy went to Jim Furyk.
 
But it raises a question the PGA of America might want to consider.
 
Harrington is among several players who compete around the globe and often play only the minimum on the PGA TOUR. That means they cannot miss a cut and be eligible for the Vardon Trophy.
 
Its been 60 rounds for quite a number of years, said Kerry Haig at the PGA of America. Thats still a good, reasonable number to judge a yearlong competition. Its a fairly stringent, fairly consistent criteria. But when you look at the competition now out there, is it reasonable to make 15 cuts out of 15 tournaments for players to reach the minimum rounds? Well continue to look at it.
 
The PGA TOUR has its own version of the Vardon Trophy ' the Byron Nelson Award ' and it requires only 50 rounds to be eligible.
 
DEFINITION OF A ROOKIE
 
Depending on what happens the final two months of the season, Andres Romero figures to be a lock for PGA TOUR rookie of the year.
 
Romero and Chez Reavie are the only rookies to have won this year ' Romero in New Orleans, Reavie at the Canadian Open ' but the Argentine is among 11 players to have made the cut in all four majors this year, including top 10s in the Masters and the PGA Championship.
 
Reavie only played in one major, a tie for 60th at the PGA Championship.
 
Strangely enough, Romero didnt even become a PGA TOUR rookie until one week ago. The policy board approved a new definition of rookie, and Romero was an example of why the old definition didnt work.
 
Previously, a player was deemed to be a rookie if he finished in the top 125 on the money list or had earnings equivalent to the top 125. Romero played only three times last year ' a tie for fourth in the British Open ($596,414) and a tie for seventh in the Bridgestone Invitational ($202,000). He did not take up membership until this year.
 
The new policy defines rookies as the year they become a PGA TOUR member, play in at least 10 events as a member or finish in the top 125 as a tour member, whichever occurs first.
 
So this is Romeros rookie year ' and its been a good one.
 
FINAL TUNE-UP
 
The PGA TOUR has gone dark this week ' the first time since 1989 that there was a week off during the season ' but that doesnt mean everyone in the Ryder Cup is taking a breather.
 
Four players from Europe are in the field for the Mercedes-Benz Championship in Germany ' Soren Hansen, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Graeme McDowell and Robert Karlsson.
 
Padraig Harrington left St. Louis for his home in Ireland after spending the last six weeks in the United States, five of those playing in tournaments. Sergio Garcia, however, decided to stay in the United States.
 
Im trying to rest, so I didnt want to go all the way back to Spain and then come back only for one week and be in the Ryder Cup, Garcia said. If it was any other tournament, Id probably do it. But I think the Ryder Cup is too important to do that.
 
THE NEXT STEP
 
Martin Laird, the rookie from Scotland, had his playoff end run at St. Louis when he tied for 54th in the BMW Championship. Guaranteed only one start, he competed in three playoff events and earned $235,620 to finish at No. 67 in the final standings.
 
One wrinkle to this volatile new points structure?
 
By finishing in the top 70, Laird now is eligible for tournaments like the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Memorial and AT&T National. But he might not be able to keep his PGA TOUR card.
 
Lairds playoff push put him at No. 115 on the money list with $725,720. The 125th position on the money list last year belonged to Mathias Gronberg, who earned $785,180.
 
Its not clear what the figure will be this year, but Laird might have to play a couple of more times to make sure he has a card next year. Otherwise, hell have to settle for tournaments some card-carrying members cant get in.
 
DIVOTS
 
This is one time Tiger Woods really was beatable as ever. Rory Sabbatini finished at No. 69 in the FedExCup standings, 177 points ahead of Woods at No. 70. Then again, Sabbatini played in three playoff events and made two cuts. Woods has not played at all since the U.S. Open. This will be the first time in his career Woods was not eligible for the TOUR Championship. He still earned $110,000 for finishing 70th in the standings. Eleven players have reached the TOUR Championship both years of the FedExCup'Vijay Singh, Camilo Villegas, Sergio Garcia, Jim Furyk, K.J. Choi, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Stewart Cink, Hunter Mahan, Robert Allenby and Ernie Els.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
 
South America (Andres Romero, Camilo Villegas) has produced as many PGA TOUR winners this year as Australia (Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott).
 
FINAL WORD
 
Hopefully more tomorrow than today. ' Camilo Villegas, when asked how many people in Colombia played golf.
 
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    Ciganda, S.Y. Kim share lead in Shanghai

    By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 9:28 am

    SHANGHAI - Carlota Ciganda of Spain shot a 5-under 67 Saturday to share the lead with Sei Young Kim after the third round of the LPGA Shanghai.

    Ciganda carded her fifth birdie of the day on the par-4 18th to finish tied with overnight leader Kim at 11-under 205. Kim shot a 71 with four bogeys and five birdies.

    Ciganda is attempting to win her third LPGA title and first since the 2016 season, when she won two tournaments in a one-month span. Kim is chasing her eighth career LPGA win and second title of the 2018 season.

    ''I want to win because I didn't win last year,'' Ciganda said. ''I love playing in Asia. It's good for long hitters, playing quite long, so I'm quite comfortable.''


    Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai


    Angel Yin also birdied the final hole for a 68 and was a further stroke back with Brittany Altomare (69), Danielle Kang (71) and Ariya Jutanugarn (71).

    Yin and Altomare have yet to break through for their first LPGA win. A win in Shanghai would make either player the ninth first-time winner of the 2018 season, which would tie 2016 for the third highest number of first-time winners in a season in LPGA history.

    ''I love competing,'' Yin said. ''That's why I'm playing, right? I'm excited to be in contention again going into Sunday.''

    Local favorite Yu Liu was seventh after offsetting a lone bogey with four birdies for a 69.

    Paula Creamer also shot a 69 and shared eighth at 8 under with Minjee Lee (70) and Bronte Law (71).

    The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

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    Koepka's pursuers have no illusions about catching him

    By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:50 am

    Ahead by four, wielding his driver like Thor's hammer, Brooks Koepka is 18 holes from his third victory in five months and his first ascent to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking.

    The tournament isn't over. No one is handing him the trophy and updating the OWGR website just yet. But it will likely take some combination of a meltdown and low round from someone in the chase pack to prevent a Koepka coronation Sunday in South Korea.

    Thirteen under for the week, the three-time major champion will start the final round four shots ahead of his playing partners, Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, and five ahead of six more players at minus-8.

    As is his nature, Poulter figures to be undaunted. The 42-year-old is fresh off a Sunday singles victory over Dustin Johnson at the Ryder Cup and in the midst of a career renaissance, having broken a five-year winless drought earlier this year. In one sense, it's Europe vs. the United States again, but this isn't match play, and Koepka, a guy who doesn't need a head start, has spotted himself a four-shot advantage.


    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


    "Tomorrow I'm going to need to make a few birdies. Obviously Brooks is in cruise control right now and obviously going to need a shoot a low one," Poulter conceded. "Do what I'm doing, just enjoy [it]. Obviously try and make as many birdies as I can and see how close we get."

    Perez, in the group at 8 under par, isn't giving up, but like Poulter, he's aware of the reality of his situation.

    "We're chasing Brooks, who of course obviously is playing phenomenally," he said. "A lot of the long hitters now when they get in contention, they hit that driver and they're really hard to catch. I'm not worried about it too much. It's going to be harder for me tomorrow than him, so I'm going to try and go out and just do my thing, hit some shots, hopefully hit some close and make some putts and we'll see. I don't expect him to come backwards, but hopefully I can try to go catch him."

    Gary Woodland, also 8 under par, summed up the predicament best when he alluded to Koepka's perhaps advantageously aloof demeanor.

    "You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can," he said. "You know, Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much, and he's playing so good, so you're going to have to go out and post a number."

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    Koepka has his chance 'to earn' his way to No. 1

    By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:09 am

    There won't need to be any wonky math involved. He won't have to settle for finally reaching the the top via some kind of mathematical reset while he's sitting at home on the couch (or more likely working out in the gym).

    No, Brooks Koepka on Sunday in South Korea will have a chance to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking the way every player would most want to - with a victory.

    On the strength of a bogey-free round of 5-under 67 Saturday, Koepka will enter the final round of the CJ Cup four clear of Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, with six more players five behind.

    The tournament is Koepka's to lose, and so too is the No. 1 ranking. So long as Justin Thomas doesn't somehow defend his title from 12 shots back, Koepka can supplant Dustin Johnson atop the rankings with a win or a solo second-place finish.


    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


    "It was something I wanted to do. I always wanted to become World No. 1 in a week that I was playing," Koepka said Saturday. "I thought like I could really earn it and not have a week off where it just so happens that you bump up. No, it would be very special, and to do it here would be nice and hopefully get to world No. 1 and cap it off with a win, I don't think there would be much better."

    It would be a fitting end to this breakthrough year for Koepka, who successfully defended his U.S. Open title and then added his third major victory at the PGA Championship en route to claiming the PGA Tour's Player of the Year Award. Oddly enough, considering his status a three-time major winner and an impending No. 1, this would be Koepka's fifth Tour victory but only his second in a non-major; his only regular Tour win to date was his first, at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

    "My confidence has always been pretty high," Koepka said. "Anytime you can win three majors you're going to be feeling pretty good about yourself. To do what I've done over the last two years has been special, but I'm looking to build on that."

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    Koepka ahead by four, with No. 1 ranking in his grasp

    By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 5:48 am

    Following a closing birdie and a third-round 67 at Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka will take a four-shot lead over Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy into final round of the CJ Cup. Here's how Koepka separated himself from the field in South Korea.

    Leaderboard: Koepka (-13), Piercy (-9), Poulter (-9), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-8), Cameron Smith (-8), Jaime Lovemark (-8), Pat Perez (-8), Gary Woodland (-8), Chez Reavie (-8)

    What it means: Koepka is in search of his fifth PGA Tour victory and – believe it or not – only his second non-major. The three-time major champion’s only other win came all the way back in February 2015, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One off the lead to start the day, Koepka opened with eight straight pars and birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to take the outright lead at 10 under par. He added three more circles at 14, 17 and 18 to close out a bogey-free round of 5 under and go ahead by ahead by four. He'll be chased on Sunday by Piercy, a four-time PGA Tour winner who won the Zurich Classic earlier this year alongside Billy Horschel, and by Poulter, who ended a five-year worldwide winless drought back in April and is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, with a Sunday singles victory over current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Speaking of which, unless Justin Thomas finds a way to win this tournament from 12 back, Koepka will for the first time ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win or a solo second-place finish.

    Round of the day: After contending last week at the CIMB, Shubankhar Sharma rebounded from opening rounds of 74 and 75 with a nine-birdie, 8-under 64 to move up 45 spots into a tie for 26th through 54 holes.

    Best of the rest: Four players – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ted Potter Jr., Jason Day and Brendan Steele – shot 7-under 65 Saturday. Day played his first four holes in 2 over and his final 14 in 9 under.

    Biggest disappointment: The only previous winner of this event, world No. 4 Justin Thomas entered the week with a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking with a successful title defense. But rounds of 73-70-72 have him 1 under for the week. Thomas played his back nine in 1 over Saturday with six pars, a birdie, a quadruple bogey and a closing eagle.

    Shot of the day: Koepka flying his tee shot 330 yards to the front edge of the green at the par-4 14th and going on to two-putt for birdie.