Notes TOUR Ballots Mailed Out for Awards

By Associated PressNovember 13, 2007, 5:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Tiger Woods was half-joking a few months ago when he suggested that Steve Stricker would be his pick as comeback player of the year, even though Stricker won the award last year.
 
It could happen.
 
The TOUR award ballots went in the mail last week to players, and Stricker is one of three candidates as comeback player of the year. The other two are Rocco Mediate, who finished 82nd on the money list after starting the season with a minor medical exemption; and Brian Bateman, who earned the final card out of Q-school and won the Buick Open.
 
Stricker won the award last year by starting the 2006 with limited status and finishing 34th on the money list. He followed that by winning The Barclays for his first victory in more than six years, finishing second to Woods in the FedExCup, and moving to No. 4 in the world when his season ended.
 
Woods and Phil Mickelson were the two choices for PGA TOUR player of the year, while the candidates for rookie of the year were Greensboro winner Brandt Snedeker, Las Vegas winner George McNeill, and Anthony Kim, who was 60th on the money list.
 
Players have 30 days to cast their votes, and the winners are expected to be announced on Dec. 11.
 
PLAYING TIME:
The second stage of PGA TOUR qualifying school starts this week, while 25 players from the Nationwide Tour already have their cards. As always, the real chore is keeping those cards during the 2008 season.
 
But if one year of the FedExCup was any indication, they'll at least have a fighting chance.
 
One of the concerns about the revamped season was whether Q-school and Nationwide grads would get enough starts. Based on a review of 60 players in that category, they averaged about 25 starts on the PGA TOUR this year. The list does not include Jonathan Kaye or Carl Paulson, who did not play because of injuries.
 
Players in this category are ranked by alternating order from the Nationwide Tour money list and Q-school. The top spot went to George McNeill, who played 30 times and won in Las Vegas. The last spot went to Tom Byrum, who had 20 starts and finished 195th on the money list. Ten players from that category had at least 30 starts.
 
For all the focus on whether Tiger Woods and the big names played more or less under the FedExCup system, what really got the TOUR's attention were the guys on the lower end of the food chain.
 
'It means we were able to improve the strength of fields without affecting the stars of tomorrow,' said Henry Hughes, the TOUR's chief of operations.
 
That's not to suggest guys from the bottom category could play whenever and wherever they wanted. While the Q-school and Nationwide grads averaged 25 starts, the average during the FedExCup season was 20 starts, and 31 of the 60 players wound up playing all seven events after the TOUR Championship.
 
Even so, Hughes was pleased to see that this category was not kept from playing.
 
'We're always focused on the Q-school and Nationwide guys to make sure they have ample opportunity to attain exempt status for next year,' he said. 'And we think we did that.'
 
Financially, it's more attractive to play in the majors and the World Golf Championships, not to mention elite fields like Memorial and Bay Hill. But for the most part, FedExCup points distribution does not discriminate against strength of field. The winner of a WGC event, for example, only received 225 more points than the winner of a regular PGA TOUR event.
 
Two more noteworthy items from that category:
 
Five players won tournaments -- Mark Wilson, Boo Weekley, Brian Bateman, Brandt Snedeker and George McNeill, the Q-school medalist and the only winner whose victory came during the Fall Series. That's up one from the previous year.
 
Nineteen of the 60 finished inside the top 125 on the money list to earn full status for next year, while 11 others earned conditional status by finishing in the top 150.
 
TOUR CUTS:
One policy board decision came two weeks too late for players who languished through a long weekend at Disney, where 89 players made the cut.
 
The board approved a change in 36-hole cuts to avoid such a large field on the weekend. Starting next year, the cut after two rounds will remain the top 70 professionals and ties. But if more than 78 players make the cut, only the closest number to 70 will make it to the weekend, and the others would be paid official, last-place money.
 
The board first discussed this policy in change in May, and two names that came up during the discussion were Brad Faxon and Jose Maria Olazabal. Both have made the cut on the number and went on to win the tournament -- Faxon in 2005 at Hartford, Olazabal in 2002 at Torrey Pines.
 
At Hartford, 77 players made the cut so Faxon would have kept playing on his way to a 65-61 weekend. In Olazabal's case, however, 89 players made the cut. He would have gone home with last-place money instead of shooting 67-65.
 
RANKIN AWARD:
Judy Rankin has been honored with the LPGA Komen Award for her work in preaching the importance of early detection in the battle against breast cancer.
 
It was a testimonial for Rankin, who was diagnosed in April 2006 and was sidelined from her job as a golf analyst for five months.
 
'Women everywhere are very fortunate that the Komen Foundation exists to coordinate all the things involved for their good,' Rankin said. 'So many people raise money and awareness on a daily basis. I only hope my story will make it a little easier for someone else and that we can see an end to this disease in the near future.'
 
POLICY BOARD CHANGES:
Vic Ganzi took over Monday as chairman of the PGA TOUR Policy Board with the retirement of longtime chairman Dick Ferris. Ganzi is president and CEO of Hearst Corp., and the person largely responsible for the tour's retirement plan.
 
Ed Whitacre, chairman emeritus of AT&T, also joined the policy board as an independent director.
 
Brad Faxon and David Toms return to the policy board as player directors, replacing Davis Love III and Joe Durant.
 
DIVOTS:
Fred Couples was entitled to a major medical exemption for 2008, but instead elected to take his one-time exemption for being in the top 25 in career money. Couples is at No. 20, and might not be in the top 25 much longer. ... The Golf Coaches Association of America has selected Arnold Palmer for its Lifetime Achievement Award. Palmer will be only the third non-coach inducted into the GCAA Hall of Fame, joining Karsten Solheim and Byron Nelson. ... The 2011 U.S. Senior Open will be held at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK:
Only one American finished among the top 5 on the Nationwide Tour money list.
 
FINAL WORD:
'Golf to me was just another sport until I was about 19. When I won the National Amateur at 19, I finally said, 'Hmmm, I must be a little better than I think I am.'' -- Jack Nicklaus.
 
Related Links:
  • Playoff Changes for 2008
  • Drug Test to Hit TOUR in 2008
     
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    Casey in line to make Ryder Cup after Travelers T-2

    By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 10:30 am

    Despite coughing up a four-shot lead at the Travelers Championship, England's Paul Casey moved into a qualifying position to make his return to the Ryder Cup this fall in Paris.

    Casey struggled Sunday at TPC River Highlands, shooting a 72 as Bubba Watson raced to victory with a 63. But a four-way share of second place was still good enough to lift Casey into fourth place among those not already qualified on the World Points list, with the top four Europeans from that list in August punching their tickets to Le Golf National.

    Casey has played in three Ryder Cups before, but none since 2008. After renouncing his European Tour membership a few years ago, he reinstated it for the 2018 season in order to be eligible to return to the biennial matches.

    Here's a look at the updated standings for Europe, with the top four players from each points list ultimately joining four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn:

    European Points

    1. Tyrrell Hatton

    2. Justin Rose

    3. Tommy Fleetwood

    4. Francesco Molinari

    ---

    5. Thorbjorn Olesen

    6. Matthew Fitzpatrick

    World Points

    1. Jon Rahm

    2. Rory McIlroy

    3. Alex Noren

    4. Paul Casey

    ---

    5. Matthew Fitzpatrick

    6. Ian Poulter


    On the American side of the ledger, Watson jumped two spots to fifth with his third win of the year and seemingly locked up his spot on the squad, while Bryson DeChambeau moved inside the top eight with a top-10 finish in Connecticut.

    Here's a look at the latest U.S. standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship earning automatic bids:

    1. Brooks Koepka

    2. Dustin Johnson

    3. Patrick Reed

    4. Justin Thomas

    5. Bubba Watson

    6. Jordan Spieth

    7. Rickie Fowler

    8. Bryson DeChambeau

    ---

    9. Webb Simpson

    10. Phil Mickelson

    11. Matt Kuchar

    12. Brian Harman

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    Watson cracks top 15 in world with Travelers win

    By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 10:15 am

    After his third win in the last five months, Bubba Watson is back on the cusp of the upper echelon in the world rankings.

    Watson started the year ranked No. 89 in the world, but after a three-shot victory at the Travelers Championship the southpaw moved up seven spots to No. 13 in the latest rankings. It marks his best position since a missed cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February 2017.

    Watson stayed one spot behind Paul Casey, who was one of four runners-up in Connecticut and rose one position to 12th as a result. Beau Hossler's T-2 finish helped him jump 24 spots to No. 64, while J.B. Holmes went from 93rd to 75th with the same result. Stewart Cink, who grabbed a share of second with a final-round 62, went from No. 149 to No. 95 and is back inside the top 100 in the world rankings for the first time since September 2011.


    Updated Official World Golf Ranking


    Matt Wallace, who won the BMW International Open on the European Tour, went from 91st to 66th.

    There was only one change among the top 10 in the rankings, as an idle Jon Rahm moved past Jordan Spieth at No. 5 despite Spieth's T-42 finish at TPC River Highlands. At No. 6, Spieth is at his lowest point in the rankings since before last summer's victories at Travelers and The Open.

    Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Rahm. Spieth slid to No. 6, with Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

    Poised to return to competition this week at the Quicken Loans National, Tiger Woods fell three spots to No. 82 in the latest rankings.

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    After Further Review: Spieth needs a break

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 25, 2018, 1:11 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On Jordan Spieth's much-needed break ...

    Jordan Spieth is heading for a break, and that’s probably a good thing.

    Spieth just wrapped a run of six events in seven weeks that featured largely underwhelming results. A third-place finish at the Masters that stemmed from a nearly-historic final round deflects attention away from the fact that Spieth has yet to enter a final round this year less than six shots off the lead.

    A return to his home state didn’t work, nor did a fight against par at Shinnecock or a title defense outside Hartford where everything went so well a year ago. His putting woes appear to have bottomed out, as Spieth finished 21st in putting at Travelers, but now the alignment issue that plagued his putting appears to have bled into other parts of his game.

    So heading into another title defense next month at Carnoustie, Spieth plans to take some time off and re-evaluate. Given how fast things turned around last summer, that might prove to be just what he needs. - Will Gray


    On the difference between this week and last week ...

    There wasn’t a single outraged tweet, not a lone voice of descent on social media following Bubba Watson’s victory at the Travelers Championship, a 17-under par masterpiece that included a closing loop of 30.

    Nobody declared that golf was broken, no one proclaimed the royal and ancient game a victim of technology and the age of uber athletes. The only response was appreciation for what Watson, a bomber in the truest form, was able to accomplish.

    At 6,840 yards, TPC River Highlands was built for fun, not speed. Without wild weather or ill-advised hole locations and greens baked to extinction, this is what the best players in the game do, and yet no one seemed outraged. Weird. - Rex Hoggard


    On the emergence of another LPGA phenom ...

    Add another young star to the favorites list heading to the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Kemper Lakes outside Chicago next week.

    Nasa Hataoka, the 19-year-old Japanese standout who needed her rookie season last year to acclimate to the LPGA, broke through for her first LPGA title Sunday at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

    This wasn’t a surprise to LPGA followers. Hataoka won the Japan Women’s Open when she was 17, the first amateur to win a major on the Japan LPGA Tour, and she has been trending up this year.

    Her tie for 10th at the U.S. Women’s Open three weeks ago was her fourth consecutive top-10 finish. She won going away in Arkansas, beating a deep field that included the top nine in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. She outplayed world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn and No. 3 Lexi Thompson on Sunday. - Randall Mell

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    Bubba waiting for Furyk's text about Ryder Cup

    By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 12:39 am

    CROMWELL, Conn. – After winning his third PGA Tour title in the span of five months, Bubba Watson is now waiting by his phone.

    Watson’s victory at the Travelers Championship, his third at TPC River Highlands since 2010, accompanies recent victories at both the Genesis Open and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play from earlier this year. It also moved the southpaw from No. 7 to No. 5 in the latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically.

    After serving as an assistant captain at Hazeltine despite ranking No. 7 in the world at the time, Watson made it clear that he hopes to have removed any doubt about returning to the role of player when the biennial matches head to Paris this fall.


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    “It still says in my phone that (U.S. captain) Jim (Furyk) hasn’t texted me yet. So I’d really like for him to say I’m going to pick you no matter what,” Watson said. “The motivation is I’ve never won a Ryder Cup, so making the Ryder Cup team and trying to win a Ryder Cup as a player would be another tournament victory to me. It would be a major championship to me just because I’ve never done it, been a part of it.”

    Watson turns 40 in November, and while he reiterated that his playing career might not extend too far into the future as he looks to spend more time at home with son Caleb and daughter Dakota, he’s also hoping to make an Olympic return in Tokyo in 2020 after representing the U.S. in Rio two years ago.

    “Talking about the Olympics coming up, that’s motivating me,” he said. “It was the best experience of my life to watch all the other events, and then the golf tournament got in the way. I’d love to do it again. I’d love to watch all the events and then have to play golf as well.”