Ryder Cup qualifying ends auditions to follow

By Associated PressAugust 6, 2008, 4:00 pm
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2008 US Open 81x90BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. ' Paul Azinger loves the way his Ryder Cup team is shaping up going into the PGA Championship, the final tournament to earn one of the eight automatic spots on the U.S. squad.
 
By putting so much emphasis on the majors, though, there could be a surprise addition from Oakland Hills ' even a club pro.
 
The PGA of America announced a purse Wednesday of $7.5 million, with $1.35 million going to the winner. Because each $1,000 is worth one point, and with the majors counting double, the winner gets 2,700 points. And because Steve Stricker is holding down the No. 8 spot at 2,603 points, any American in the field is still mathematically alive.
 
Such are the dynamics of this criteria that Azinger believes will give the U.S. its most qualified team in years. Even so, the captain focused on the players among the top eight going into the PGA Championship.
 
Its going to be impossible to make the team based on last years performance alone, Azinger said Wednesday. You had to have played decent this year. And if you look at the list, I dont think you could make an argument that anybody in that top eight hasnt had a nice year.
 
Jim Furyk and Stricker are the only players among the top eight without a victory this year, and both are in the top 10 in the world. The only reason Stricker is holding down the final spot is because Tiger Woods is out for the rest of the year.
 
It would be really difficult to make an argument that the top eight players are not Americas best, Azinger added.
 
So many others are lining up to join ' or replace ' that group.
 
Woody Austin would need at least 19th place alone to have a chance, while Hunter Mahan needs to finish among the top 12. Rocco Mediate, not even in the back of anyones mind until his runner-up finish in the U.S. Open, is in 12th place and needs to at least finish in the top 10 at Oakland Hills.
 
One more good shot here to get in the top eight is what were all looking to do, Mediate said. I told him a year-and-a-half ago that I want to be on that team, and it wasnt looking good until a few months ago. So Ive got a shot. Thats all you can really ask for. It would be a lot of fun, though, I can tell you that.
 
Azinger is a former PGA champion and among the most popular figures at Oakland Hills, at least among Americans. He still has three weeks before he announces his four captains picks.
 
But its been that way all year.
 
At the Sony Open, the first full-field event of the year, Azinger jokingly said players would not curry favor until they knew they were playing well. One day later, he was walking off the putting green next to Chad Campbell when someone asked the Texan if he were already pandering to the captain. Campbell laughed and shook his head.
 
And I havent seen Zinger since then, Campbell said Wednesday, reminded of that scene. Maybe Ill leave him a note.
 
Campbell and everyone else knows better. It starts with good play, and Campbell is coming off three consecutive tournaments in the top 15 that have moved him up to No. 19.
 
A top three wouldnt be bad, he said, and that might be what it takes.
 
Campbell has made the last two teams, while Scott Verplank has played on two of the last three, both times as a captains pick. He is among the few Americans with a winning record in the Ryder Cup at 4-1-0.
 
But he is 30th in the standings and at least needs a runner-up finish at Oakland Hills.
 
Its going in the right direction, he said of his game. Its pretty simple. If Im on the team, Ill be ready. Ive proven that. Having said that, I need a miracle. I dont think hes interested in anything but young bombers.
 
Verplank also doesnt think Mahans critical comments about Ryder Cup largesse in a magazine article will hurt him.
 
If it were up to me, Id pick him right after I picked me, Verplank said with a laugh.
 
For those who dont make the team, Azinger compared the next three weeks with an audition for him. Even though the points table ends, Azinger has asked the PGA of America to continue keeping score.
 
One reason Azinger overhauled the qualifying system to base points on money was his style of play. He often says the only two things he ever choked over were cash and prestige. And now, theres another element with his picks.
 
Now they are choking for prestige and cash and a chance to make the Ryder Cup team, he said. So whoever is playing the best is being rewarded as far as Im concerned, because they held up under the pressure of three really difficult scenarios.
 
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    Haas nearly shoots age in taking Champions playoff opener lead

    By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 10:05 pm

    RICHMOND, Va.  -- Jay Haas shot a 7-under 65 - missing his age by a stroke - to take a two-shot lead Saturday in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

    Trying to become the oldest winner in tour history, the 64-year-old Haas birdied the par-5 16th and 18th holes to get to 11-under 133 on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

    ''I've been out here too long to know that I can learn to expect anything,'' Haas said. ''While I'm hopeful every day and I've been playing OK, the last couple weeks have not been very good, but this week has been much better. I love this golf course and it looks good to my eye. Most of the holes look like I'm going to hit a good shot, so I enjoy playing here.''

    Mike Fetchick set the age record of 63 years to the day in the 1985 Hilton Head event. Haas is second on the list, taking the 2016 Toshiba Classic at 62 years, 10 months, 7 days for his 18th senior title.

    ''That's a good way to say I'm old, 'experience,''' Haas said. ''I think I'm very nervous most of the time when I play and today was no exception, but I continued to hit good shots and, hopefully, I can put one foot in front of the other, one shot at a time, do what I tell my son to do every time, you know? See if I can put some of those adages to work tomorrow.''


    Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


    Stephen Ames and Scott Dunlap were tied for second after the round that started in light rain. Ames had a 67, and Dunlap shot 68.

    Defending champion Bernhard Langer had a 66 to join Billy Mayfair (67) and Woody Austin (68) at 9 under. Langer won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the season points lead. The 61-year-old German star has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

    The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, California, and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

    Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, was tied for 23rd at 4 under after a 71.

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    Sergio leads by 4 entering final round at Valderrama

    By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 20, 2018, 9:26 pm

    Sergio Garcia closed with three straight birdies to shoot a 7-under 64 on Saturday, taking a four-shot lead into the third and final round of the Andalusia Valderrama Masters.

    The tournament, which Garcia has won  twice (2017, 2011), was reduced to 54 holes because of numerous weather-related delays.

    With his bogey-free round, Garcia moved to 10 under, four shots clear of Englishman Ashley Chesters, who shot a 1-under 70.


    Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


    "Hopefully we'll be able to play well tomorrow and get another win at Valderrama," Garcia said. "Hopefully I can finish it in style."

    Chesters, however, is conceding nothing. "There's always a chance," he said. "There's not a lot of pressure on me."

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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

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    "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."