One-Time Exemption Brings Mayfair Back To the Fold
Even more discouraging was the way he was playing.
I got away from my golf swing, I lost some confidence and I lost confidence in the putter, Mayfair said Tuesday. I was missing putts inside 10 feet for par, and that starts working on you after a while.
At age 38, he had to use his one-time exemption for top 50 in career money to keep his status. He was determined to change his fortunes, and even Mayfair is surprised by his progress. His runner-up finish at the Colonial was his fourth top 10 of the year and moved him up to No. 17 on the money list.
I knew I could do it, said Mayfair, a former U.S. Amateur champion whose five victories include the Tour Championship. My first goal was to get my status back, to stay in the top 125. Im not going to lie; its pretty much a surprise to be as high up as I am.
As much fun as Im having this year, I was not having that much fun last year.
The turning point came after he missed the cut in Milwaukee. Both his wife and his good friend, Phil Mickelson, suggested he seek out swing coach Rick Smith.
Along with changing his grip, Smith suggested a move to the belly putter. Mayfair resisted until he shot 81 in the third round at Greensboro. Leaving the tournament, he saw a man selling clubs from a barrel and picked out a belly putter for $15. The next week, he consulted Vijay Singh and had a model made for him.
Suddenly, everything started to fall into place.
Mayfair played only once from the end of 2004 to the start of 2005, tying for 11th in a PGA Tour-sponsored event in Korea. Then he geared up for what might have been his last shot on tour.
I knew if I didnt play well, I was going to have to go back to Tour school, he said. Obviously, some bad thoughts come into your mind. But one of the things I wanted to do was try to get some confidence back. I didnt want to slide into the year. I went to Hawaii ready to go.
He didnt miss a cut on the West Coast, and the momentum kept building through a 10th-place finish at Quail Hollow that locked up his card, and his runner-up finish at the Colonial that has him thinking about the Tour Championship.
If he makes it to East Lake, Mayfair would be the first player since John Huston in 1998 to use a one-time exemption from career money and finish about the top 30 on the money list.
U.S. OPEN DEADLINE
Colin Montgomerie is No. 53 in the world and needs a strong finish in Europe to avoid having to qualify for the U.S. Open. The top 50 in the world ranking after this week are exempt to Pinehurst No. 2.
On the PGA Tour, it might not be that dramatic.
Jonathan Kaye is No. 51, but he did not enter the St. Jude Classic. Neither did Joe Ogilvie at No. 55, because he is moving into a new house in Austin, Texas. Tim Herron (No. 49) could drop out of the top 50, but Lumpy already is eligible because he was among the top 15 at the U.S. Open last year.
Conspicuously missing from Memphis is Charles Howell III, who is No. 46 in the world and not yet exempt for the U.S. Open. One can only suspect that not playing this week will help him secure his place among the top 50.
(NO) CUT STREAK
When he reached 100 straight cuts on his way to breaking Byron Nelsons record, Tiger Woods said it was impossible to compare the two eras. The difference often cited is that Woods played in 31 tournaments that had no cut, such as the Tour Championship and World Golf Championships.
Take those away and his consecutive cut streak would have ended at 111 -- not 142 -- which seemingly would leave him two short of Nelsons mark of 113 in a row.
Nelson, however, also played tournaments that didnt have a cut.
During his streak from 1941 to the start of 1949, he played in at least 10 tournaments that had no cut. The PGA Championship was match play during those years, paying $85 for those losing in the first round. And the Masters didnt institute a 36-hole cut until 1957, long after Nelson retired.
Nelson also played the Miami Fourball four times during the streak, teaming with Harold McSpaden in match play. He also teamed with McSpaden in the Minneapolis Fourball and Inverness Fourball, although it was not clear whether either of those had cuts (in Nelsons era, making the cut meant getting a paycheck).
Eliminate those five PGAs and five Masters, and Nelsons cut streak would have been 103.
U.S. Amateur champion Ryan Moore has decided to keep his spot in the U.S. Open instead of turning pro and going through sectional qualifying.
Moores future was slightly muddled when he tied for 13th at the Masters, which made him exempt from local qualifying. He signed up for sectional qualifying when he submitted his U.S. Open entry form, and USGA officials gave him a Monday deadline for making up his mind.
If he had failed to make it through sectionals, Moore could not have reclaimed his spot at Pinehurst as the U.S. Amateur champion.
His dad said that Ryan thought about it and, given his schedule is so intense with the NCAAs, he felt he didnt want to take that chance, said Betsy Swain, the USGAs director of championship administration.
The FBR Open contributed a record $5.81 million to Arizona charities, second in giving among PGA Tour events behind the Byron Nelson Championship. ... Going into the year, Chad Campbell has never missed the cut in Texas. He proceeded to miss the cut at the Houston Open and the Colonial, and made the cut on the number at the Byron Nelson Championship. ... Retief Goosen is leading the European tour money list despite playing only one tournament outside the United States. He earned the bulk of his money with a tie for third at the Masters and third place at the Match Play Championship.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Bob Tway was the only player to shoot in the 60s all four rounds at the Byron Nelson Championship and the Colonial. He tied for third at the Nelson and tied for 21st at the Colonial.
I felt like the guy who was pitching a no-hitter. Nobody wanted to talk to me.'Kenny Perry, who won the Colonial by seven shots and nearly broke his 72-hole scoring record.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Phil rubs fan's Donald Duck hat seven times, signs it
There is a case to be made that what Phil Mickelson did on Saturday made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.
There is also a case to be made that the USGA's setup of Shinnecock Hills made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.
Whatever you think about what Mickelson did on Saturday - and how he attempted to justify it after the fact without even a hint of remorse - watch this video.
The next time you hear someone say, "If anybody else had putted a moving ball on purpose and not apologized for it, it would get a different reaction," you can point to this video and say, "Yeah, here's why."
Here's what happened once a still-strident Mickelson was done rubbing Donald Duck hats on Sunday, per Ryan Lavner:
If you’re wondering whether Mickelson would be defiant or contrite on Sunday, we don’t know the answer. He declined to stop and speak with the media, deciding instead to sign autographs for more than a half hour and then offering a few short answers before ducking into player hospitality.
“The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’” he said. “I don’t know.”
The 2024 Ryder Cup at Bethpage is going to be a three-ring circus, and Mickelson, a likely choice to captain the U.S. team, will be the ringmaster.
Separately, shoutout to 2017 Latin Am champ Toto Gana, who does a terrific Donald Duck (skip to end).
We followed our defending champion Toto Gana during his registration! He even did his Donald Duck impression!— LAAC (@LAAC_Golf) January 17, 2018
Acompañamos a Toto Gana, defensor del título, durante todo el proceso de acreditación. ¡Incluso imitó a Donald Duck!#LAAC2018 pic.twitter.com/NGh7hS4cCz
Ryder Cup race: Mickelson out, Simpson in
There's a new man at the top of the U.S. Ryder Cup race following the U.S. Open, and there's also a familiar name now on the outside looking in.
Brooks Koepka's successful title defense vaulted him to the top of the American points race, up four spots and ensuring he'll be on the team Jim Furyk takes to Paris in September. Dustin Johnson's third-place finish moved him past Patrick Reed at No. 2, while Webb Simpson entered the top eight after a a tie for 10th.
While Bryson DeChambeau remained at No. 9, Phil Mickelson dropped two spots to No. 10. Tony Finau, who finished alone in fifth, went from 16th to 13th, while Tiger Woods fell two spots to No. 37.
Here's a look at the latest U.S. standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:
1. Brooks Koepka
2. Dustin Johnson
3. Patrick Reed
4. Justin Thomas
5. Jordan Spieth
6. Rickie Fowler
7. Bubba Watson
8. Webb Simpson
9. Bryson DeChambeau
10. Phil Mickelson
11. Matt Kuchar
12. Brian Harman
On the European side, England's Tommy Fleetwood took a big stride toward securing his first Ryder Cup appearance with a runner-up finish that included a Sunday 63 while countryman Matthew Fitzpatrick snuck into a qualifying spot after tying for 12th.
Here's a look at the updated Euro standings, with the top four from both points lists joining four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn at Le Golf National:
1. Tyrrell Hatton
2. Justin Rose
3. Tommy Fleetwood
4. Francesco Molinari
5. Thorbjorn Olesen
6. Ross Fisher
1. Jon Rahm
2. Rory McIlroy
3. Alex Noren
4. Matthew Fitzpatrick
5. Ian Poulter
6. Rafael Cabrera-Bello
Koepka autographs local kids' 'Go Brooks' sign after win
Brooks Koepka is a two-time U.S. Open winner, but that doesn't mean he's now too big to go sign a couple pieces of cardboard in somebody's front yard in the middle of the night.
Koepka's girlfriend, Jena Sims, posted two pictures to her Instagram story on Sunday of "Go Brooks" signs she says were put up by some local kids in the area where Koepka was staying for the week.
The first is dated prior to Koepka's final-round tee time.
The second is from Sunday night.
And here, separately, for no reason in particular (other than the fact that she posted it) is a video of Sims running over a parking cone at last year's U.S. Open at Erin Hills.
Speaking of kids, just feels those two are gonna make it.
Koepka moves to No. 4 in world with U.S. Open win
After successfully defending his U.S. Open title, Brooks Koepka reached a new career high in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Koepka held off Tommy Fleetwood to win by a shot Sunday at Shinnecock Hills, becoming the first player to go back-to-back in nearly 30 years. As a result, he jumped five spots in the latest rankings to No. 4, six spots higher than he reached with last year's U.S. Open victory at Erin Hills.
Fleetwood finished alone in second place and moved up two spots to No. 10, tying his career-best placement. Patrick Reed moved up two spots to No. 11 by finishing fourth, while fifth-place Tony Finau went from No. 37 to No. 31.
It was a largely quiet week in the rankings despite the fact that a major championship was contested. Outside of Koepka and Finau, the only other player inside the top 50 to move up or down more than three spots was Jason Dufner, who went from 53rd to 48th with a T-25 finish.
Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1 for the second consecutive week, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Koepka and Jordan Spieth. Jon Rahm dropped one spot to No. 6, with Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Fleetwood rounding out the top 10. Hideki Matsuyama fell two spots to No. 12, dropping out of the top 10 for the first time since October 2016.
Despite a missed cut at Shinnecock, Tiger Woods actually moved up one spot to No. 79 in the latest rankings. He plans to play the Quicken Loans National and The Open in the coming weeks, which will be his final two chances to move into the top 50 in time to qualify for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. The event is being held for the final time this summer at Firestone Country Club, where Woods has won eight times.