Notes Wilson a No Go at Colonial
Given a late exemption - provided he played in a Monday pro-am - Wilson was thrust into the spotlight when he and Aaron Barber were paired with Annika Sorenstam as she became the first woman in 58 years to compete on the PGA Tour.
The media frenzy following Sorenstam made it tough to play, but Wilson embraced the occasion. He was supportive of Sorenstam, even buying a Go Annika button to wear during the first two rounds. Wilson, a 34-year-old Hawaiian, shot 71-67 in that cauldron to make the cut, and he finished tied for 21st.
His graciousness apparently went unnoticed.
Wilson wrote a letter asking for an exemption from Colonial, and was disappointed to learn he had been passed over.
I was counting on that, Wilson said. It was sad not getting that.
Choosing who gets the exemptions is difficult every week. Some players have a local connection; others are past champions, or former PGA Tour winners no longer exempt. Colonial chairman Dee Finley said about 60 players asked for exemptions this year.
Im looking at the list ... and 18 on the current money list are higher than Dean, Finley said late Monday afternoon. We gave him very serious consideration because of the wonderful experience last year. Its a tough choice.
Still, Wilson deserved better.
Some players say its tough to play with Tiger Woods in a circus atmosphere, with photographers scrambling for the best angle and fans leaving after he putts out. It was a three-ring circus with Sorenstam, yet Wilson made the most of it. Having not won yet on the PGA Tour, he is best known as the guy who played with Annika.
Sorenstam wont be at Colonial. Sadly, it appears Wilson wont be, either.
Finley said it was possible another exemption could become available if someone qualifies for the Colonial, and the best he could say was that Wilson is on the short list.
Wilson has never had much luck with sponsor exemptions. He has had most of his success on the Japanese tour, winning six times over three seasons. But Wilson didnt get his first exemption until the Scottish Open in 2002. He even had to Monday qualify for the Sony Open, a hometown tournament.
Even if Jay Haas were not trying to make the Ryder Cup team, it would be difficult to fault the 50-year-old for continuing to compete on the PGA Tour.
Haas is among five guys who have played at least 10 times this year without missing the cut. He came close to winning the Bob Hope Classic, and was in Sunday contention at The Players Championship for the second straight year.
The best measure.
I won more than the leading money winner on the Champions Tour this year, Haas said. Would I be doing the same thing out there? I dont know.
Hes 22nd on the PGA Tour money list with $1,082,757. Gil Morgan is leading the Champions Tour at $871,291.
Haas also is 11th in the Ryder Cup standings. He is not trying to become the oldest player to make the team, he just wants to be part of the matches.
I just like doing this, Haas said. The goal of making the Ryder Cup team, staying in the top 30 (money list) and top 50 in the world ranking, that means more to me right now. Im not trying to prove anything to anyone. Im not trying to be stubborn about it. I feel like Im competitive out there.
Haas will make his Champions Tour debut in the Senior PGA Championship at Valhalla because he believes the majors on the Champions Tour are worth playing.
The interesting choice he faces is after August, when he finds out whether he made the Ryder Cup team.
It may change a little bit, Haas said. But I still want to finish in the top 30. If I play the Champions Tour, I just lose points and Ill drop like a stone.
British Open champion Ben Curtis will get his first look at the links where he will defend his title.
Curtis is leaving for Europe this week, with the first stop Royal Troon on Friday. He plans to play St. Andrews on Saturday (site of the 2005 British Open), followed by Carnoustie (07 Open) on Sunday.
He is playing the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open in Germany the following week, and will stay around for the Volvo PGA Championship at Wentworth before returning to the PGA Tour at the Memorial.
Curtis won the claret jug last year at Royal St. Georges in England, the first player since Francis Ouimet in the 1919 U.S. Open to win a major in his first try.
He also would like to see Shinnecock Hills before the U.S. Open, but that might not work out. His only spare week is after the Memorial, and Curtis is closing on a new house in Jupiter, Fla.
Tom Weiskopf, who won the British Open at Royal Troon in 1973, plans to play for the first time since he missed the cut at the 1995 British Open at St. Andrews. Weiskopf also plans to compete in the Scottish Open the preceding week at Loch Lomond, a course he designed. The only other time he played there was 1996. ... Ticket sales have been so strong that Royal Troon is adding additional grandstands. ... Jay Haas is tied for third on the all-time list with 566 cuts on the PGA Tour. The leader is Tom Kite (586), followed by Ray Floyd (583). ... Even though the John Deere Classic was moved from early September to the week before the British Open, Vijay Singh said he would return to defend his title. ... The Bay Hill Invitational has offered an exemption to the winner of the Southern Amateur, to be played July 14-17 at the Honors Course in Tennessee.
STAT OF THE WEEK
The last time Joey Sindelar won on the PGA Tour, Greg Norman won the money title with $1,165,477. Sindelar won $1.08 million at the Wachovia Championship.
Im starting to think that Shinnecock is my Kryptonite. - U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk, whose wrist injury likely will keep him out of the U.S. Open. The only other time he has missed the U.S. Open was in 1995 at Shinnecock Hills, when he failed to qualify.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Reed: 'Back still hurts' from carrying Spieth at Ryder Cup
AUSTIN, Texas – Friday’s marquee match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, who are both undefeated in pool play, just keeps getting better and better.
Following his 1-up victory over Charl Schwartzel on Thursday, Reed was asked what makes Spieth, who defeated HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, so good at match play.
“I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, who teamed with Spieth at Hazeltine National.
The duo did go 2-1-1 at the 2016 Ryder Cup and have a combined 7-2-2 record in Ryder and Presidents Cup play. Reed went on to explain why Spieth can be such a challenging opponent in match play.
“The biggest thing is he's very consistent. He hits the ball well. He chips the ball well. And he putts it really well,” Reed said. “He's not going to give you holes. You have to go and play some good golf.”
The winner of Friday’s match between Spieth and Reed will advance to the knockout stage.
Reed vs. Spieth: Someone has to go
AUSTIN, Texas – The introduction of round-robin play to the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was a necessary evil. It was needed to stem the tide of early exits by high-profile players, but three days of pool play has also dulled the urgency inherent to match play.
There are exceptions, like Friday’s marquee match between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, which is now a knockout duel with both players going 2-0-0 to begin the week in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
That the stars aligned so perfectly to have America’s most dominant pairing in team play the last few years square off in a winner-take-all match will only add to what promises to be must-see TV.
Sport doesn’t always follow the script, but the pre-match subtext on this one is too good to dismiss. In one corner, professional golf’s “Golden Child” who has used the Match Play to wrest himself out of the early season doldrums, and in the other there’s the game’s lovable bad boy.
Where Spieth is thoughtful and humble to the extreme, Reed can irritate and entertain with equal abandon. Perhaps that’s why they’ve paired so well together for the U.S. side at the Ryder and Presidents Cup, where they are a combined 7-2-2 as a team, although Spieth had another explanation.
“We're so competitive with each other within our own pairing at the Ryder Cup, we want to outdo each other. That's what makes us successful,” Spieth said. “Tiger says it's a phenomenon, it's something that he's not used to seeing in those team events. Normally you're working together, but we want to beat each other every time.”
But if that makes the duo a good team each year for the United States, what makes Friday’s showdown so compelling is a little more nuanced.
The duo has a shared history that stretches all the way back to their junior golf days in Texas and into college, when Reed actually committed to play for Texas as a freshman in high school only to change his mind a year later and commit to Georgia.
That rivalry has spilled over to the professional ranks, with the twosome splitting a pair of playoff bouts with Reed winning the 2013 Wyndham Championship in overtime and Spieth winning in extra holes at the 2015 Valspar Championship.
Consider Friday a rubber match with plenty of intrigue.
Although the friendship between the two is genuine, there is an edge to the relationship, as evidenced by Reed’s comment last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he was denied relief on the 11th hole on Sunday.
“I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth, guys,” Reed said.
While the line was clearly a joke, Reed added to Friday’s festivities when he was asked what makes Spieth such a good match play opponent. “I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, a not-so-subtle suggestion that he carried Spieth at Hazeltine.
For his part, Spieth has opted for a slightly higher road. He explained this week that there have been moments in the Ryder Cup when his European opponents attempted some gamesmanship, which only angered Reed and prompted him to play better.
“I've been very nice to [Reed] this week,” Spieth smiled.
But if the light-hearted banter between the duo has fueled the interest in what is often a relatively quiet day at the Match Play, it’s their status as two of the game’s most gritty competitors that will likely lead to the rarest of happenings in sport – an event that exceeds expectations.
Both have been solid this week, with Speith winning his first two matches without playing the 18th hole and Reed surviving a late rally from Charl Schwartzel on Thursday with an approach at the 18th hole that left him a tap-in birdie to remain unbeaten.
They may go about it different ways, but both possess the rare ability to play their best golf on command.
“I’m glad the world gets to see this because it will be special,” said Josh Gregory, Reed’s college coach who still works with the world No. 23. “You have two players who want the ball and they aren’t afraid of anything. Patrick lives for this moment.”
Where Reed seems to feed off raw emotion and the energy of a head-to-head duel, Spieth appears to take a more analytical approach to match play. Although he admits to not having his best game this week, he’s found a way to win matches, which is no surprise to John Fields, Spieth’s coach at Texas.
“Jordan gave us a tutorial before the NCAA Championship, we picked his brain on his thoughts on match play and how he competed. It’s one of those secret recipes that someone gives you,” Fields said. “When he was a junior golfer he came up with this recipe.”
Whatever the secret sauce, it will be tested on Friday when two of the game’s most fiery competitors will prove why match play can be the most entertaining format when the stars align like they have this week.
It was a sign of how compelling the match promises to be that when asked if he had any interest in the Spieth-Reed bout, Rory McIlroy smiled widely, “I have a lot of interest in that. Hopefully I get done early, I can watch it. Penalty drops everywhere.”
Watch: Bubba casually hits flop shot over caddie's head
But when your end-of-year bonus is a couple of brand new vehicles, you're expected to go above and beyond every now and then.
One of those times came early Thursday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, where Bubba Watson’s caddie Ted Scott let his boss hit a flop shot over his head.
It wasn’t quite Phil Mickelson over Dave Pelz, but the again, nothing is.
And the unique warm-up session paid off, as Watson went on to defeat Marc Leishman 3 and 2 to move to 2-0-0 in group play.
Hey, whatever works.
Spieth explains why he won't play in a 'dome'
AUSTIN, Texas – No one at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was as excited about Thursday’s forecast as Jordan Spieth.
Winds blew across Austin Country Club to 20 mph, which is typical for this time of year in Texas, and Spieth put in a typical performance, beating HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, to remain undefeated entering the final day of pool play.
The windy conditions were exactly what Spieth, who never trailed in his match, wanted. In fact, demanding conditions factor into how he sets his schedule.
“I have, and will continue to schedule tournaments away from a dome, because it's just unusual for me. I like having the feel aspect,” said Spieth, who attended the University of Texas and played Austin Country Club in college. “Places with no wind, where it's just driving range shots, it's just never been something I've been used to. So I don't really know what to do on them.”
Spieth used the CareerBuilder Challenge as an example. The Coachella Valley event rarely has windy conditions, and as a result he’s never played the tournament.
“I played in a dome in Phoenix, and I didn't strike the ball well there. Actually I've had quite a few this year, where we didn't have very windy conditions,” said Spieth, who will face Patrick Reed in his final pool play match on Friday. “I don't go to Palm Springs, never have, because of that. Look at where you can take weeks off and if they match up with places that potentially aren't the best for me, then it works out.”