Top ranking points in Europe but only this month

By Associated PressJanuary 27, 2009, 5:00 pm
Alvaro Quiros is not well-known in the United States, but that might change. When the Spaniard won in Qatar, he climbed from No. 74 to No. 28 in the world ranking, assuring him a spot in the next two World Golf Championships and most likely the Masters.
 
As for Chad Campbell?
 
He was No. 64 in the world, tied for eighth in the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and fell four spots to No. 68. Among those who passed him were Quiros, Qatar Masters runner-up Louis Oosthuizen, Hope winner Pat Perez and Anders Hansen, who tied for 12th in Qatar. Five months after going 2-1 in the Ryder Cup, Campbell is struggling to make the 64-man field for the Accenture Match Play Championship.
 
This kind of movement ' or lack thereof ' fuels speculation that the European Tour is where to make gains in the world ranking.
 
Europe has offered more world ranking points than the PGA Tour the last two weeks, and Qatar was a significant example. Quiros received 54 points by winning in Qatar, while Perez received 32 points for winning the Hope.
 
No doubt, Europe is getting stronger. It had 18 players in the top 50 in the world at the end of last year, compared with 12 Americans. Passports aside, however, 35 of the top 50 were PGA Tour members, while 24 were full European Tour members.
 
So while Europe looks stronger at the moment, consider a bigger picture.
 
Based on the 2008 ratings for strength of field, PGA Tour winners received an average of 50.17 ranking points, compared with an average of 40.65 points for winning on the European Tour.
 
The eight strongest fields ' no surprise here ' were the four majors, The Players Championship and the three WGCs. After that, the next 12 highest-rated events were on the PGA Tour. The highest-rated regular European Tour event was the HSBC Champions in China, which was tied with the Transitions Championship at Innisbrook.
 
Strength of field is calculated by a combination of the players world ranking and their position on the money list of that tour. The BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth is a flagship event, so the points awarded are higher than if it were a regular tournament.
 
If last year is any indication, when Europes Desert swing ends this week in Dubai, ranking points awarded in Europe might not top what the PGA Tour offers until the end of May.
 

 
CALLING CAPTAIN COUPLES: Fred Couples once famously said that he doesnt answer the telephone because someone may be on the other end. So how is he getting by as U.S. captain for the Presidents Cup?
 
With a phone in his hand, but not necessarily up to his ear.
 
Couples text messaged good friend Davis Love III after his victory at Disney, and Love has been impressed ' not only with Couples picking up a new habit, but hanging on to an old one.
 
The tour tried to make him do e-mail and iPhone and all that to try to get him up to speed, Love said. They got him to at least where hes really good with the texting. But you can text him, and then immediately call him, and he still wont answer. So he has not figured out that, Wait a minute ' we know youve got the phone in your hand.
 

 
CAR DEAL: Two months ago, the Northern Trust Open considered renting a fleet of automobiles to use as courtesy cars for the players. Consider its announcement Tuesday to be a major upgrade.
 
Mercedez-Benz has signed a two-year deal to become the official car sponsor of the Northern Trust Open. Not only will it give every player at Riviera a courtesy car, it will offer a Mercedes GLK 350 to anyone making a hole-in-one on the par-3 14th.
 
Thats where Rich Beem made his ace two years ago, creating one of the more memorable scenes at star-studded Riviera by climbing atop the Nissan and hugging the roof. If Beem is to get a sponsors exemption, he might want to consider not leaving spike marks.
 

 
PIT STOP TO DUBAI: Brandt Snedeker might join the Race to Dubai, but it probably wont be this year.
 
Snedeker missed the cut in his European Tour debut (British Open excluded) last week at the Qatar Masters, but it would not have counted toward the minimum 12 starts required because he didnt sign up as an affiliate member before the tournament started.
 
We were trying to figure out if he was to join or not, and we decided to hold off, said Jimmy Johnston, his agent at Crown Sports.
 
Snedeker ended last year at No. 64 in the world, so there was no guarantee he would be in the World Golf Championships, and at the moment he is eligible only for the Masters and British Open. The majors and WGCs count toward the 12 events required by Europe.
 
More than likely, he wont do anything this year, Johnston said. Qatar might be his only tournament over there. Hes going to be playing his normal schedule.
 

 
MARRIED LIFE: Pat Perez says the last six weeks have been the best of his life, from getting married Dec. 13 to winning his first PGA Tour event on Sunday. He wonders whether it was a coincidence, for Paul Casey was married one day after Perez and won last week in Abu Dhabi, and Rory Sabbatini won in Phoenix shortly after his marriage.
 
I figured I would try it, Perez said. If not, I can always get divorced.
 
He was only kidding.
 
But moments later, he was asked the name of his bride.
 
My wifes name is Athena, Perez said. She is the Greek goddess of war. And that holds 100 percent true.
 
Nick Faldo, who has been down the aisle about as often as he has slipped on a green jacket at Augusta National, read the comments from Perez during the Saturday telecast of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and couldnt help but chime in on Athenas name.
 
If shes the goddess of war when you get married, what is she when you get divorced? Faldo said. I could think of a few words.
 

 
DIVOTS: The USGA has awarded $5.1 million in grants to support 230 golf programs for 2008 through its For the Good of the Game initiative. It now has awarded over $63 million over the last 12 years, with $24 million going to The First Tee. Brian Gay is the only player to start the year with four consecutive tournaments. He is 44-under par and is 12-of-13 in rounds under par. The exception was a 72 in the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. CBS Sports embarks on its 59th year broadcasting golf with the weekend rounds of the FBR Open.
 

 
STAT OF THE WEEK: The Tour Championship last year ranked No. 20 in strength of field on the PGA Tour schedule.
 

 
FINAL WORD: I got to a point in my career that I was just tired of being average. I was tired of being nobody. ' Pat Perez
 

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    Rose: T-2 finish renewed my love of The Open

    By Jay CoffinJuly 22, 2018, 9:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Justin Rose made the cut on the number at The Open and was out for an early Saturday morning stroll at Carnoustie when, all of a sudden, he started putting together one great shot after another.

    There was no pressure. No one had expected anything from someone so far off the lead. Yet Rose shot 30 on the final nine holes to turn in 7-under 64, the lowest round of the championship. By day’s end he was five shots behind a trio of leaders that included Jordan Spieth.

    Rose followed the 64 with a Sunday 69 to tie for second place, two shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. His 133 total over the weekend was the lowest by a shot, and for a moment he thought he had a chance to hoist the claret jug, until Molinari put on a ball-striking clinic down the stretch with birdies on 14 and 18.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “I just think having made the cut number, it’s a great effort to be relevant on the leaderboard on Sunday,” said Rose, who collected his third-career runner-up in a major. He’s also finished 12th or better in all three majors this year.

    In the final round, Rose was well off the pace until his second shot on the par-5 14th hole hit the pin. He had a tap-in eagle to move to 5 under. Birdie at the last moved him to 6 under and made him the clubhouse leader for a few moments.

    “It just proves to me that I can play well in this tournament, that I can win The Open,” Rose said. “When I’m in the hunt, I enjoy it. I play my best golf. I don’t back away.

    “That was a real positive for me, and it renewed the love of The Open for me.”

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    Woods does everything but win

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 22, 2018, 8:57 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a proud man who spent the majority of his prime scoffing at silver linings and small victories, Tiger Woods needed little cajoling to look at the bright side Sunday at Carnoustie.

    Sure, after taking the solo lead at The Open with nine holes to go, the first words out of Woods’ mouth were that he was “a little ticked off at myself” for squandering an opportunity to capture his 15th major title, and his first in more than a decade. And that immediate reaction was justified: In the stiffest winds of the week, he played his last eight holes in 2 over, missed low on a 6-footer on the final green and wound up in a tie for sixth, three shots behind his playing partner, Francesco Molinari.

    “Today was a day,” Woods said, “that I had a great opportunity.”

    But here’s where we take a deep breath.

    Tiger Woods led the freakin’ Open Championship with nine holes to play.

    Imagine typing those words three months ago. Six months ago. Nine months ago. Twelve months ago.

    The scenario was improbable.

    Inconceivable.

    Impossible.

    At this time last year, Woods was only a few months removed from a Hail Mary fusion surgery; from a humiliating DUI arrest in which he was found slumped behind the wheel of his car, with five drugs in his system; from a month-long stay in a rehab clinic to manage his sleep medications.

    Just last fall, he’d admitted that he didn’t know what the future held. Playing a major, let alone contending in one, seemed like a reasonable goal.

    This year he’s showed signs of softening, of being kinder and gentler. He appeared more eager to engage with his peers. More appreciative of battling the game’s young stars inside the ropes. More likely to express his vulnerabilities. Now 42, he finally seemed at peace with accepting his role as an elder statesman.

    One major, any major, would be the most meaningful title of his career, and he suggested this week that his best chance would come in an Open, where oldies-but-goodies Tom Watson (age 59) and Greg Norman (53) have nearly stolen the claret jug over the past decade.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    But success at this Open, on the toughest links in the rota?

    “Just need to play some cleaner golf, and who knows?” he shrugged.

    Many analysts howled at Woods’ ultra-conservative strategy across the early rounds here at big, brawny and brutish Carnoustie. He led the field in driving accuracy but routinely left himself 200-plus yards for his approach shots, relying heavily on some vintage iron play. Even par through 36 holes, he stepped on the gas Saturday, during the most benign day for scoring, carding a 66 to get within striking distance of the leaders.

    Donning his traditional blood-red shirt Sunday, Woods needed only six holes to erase his five-shot deficit. Hearing the roars, watching WOODS rise on the yellow leaderboards, it was as though we’d been transported to the mid-2000s, to a time when he’d play solidly, not spectacularly, and watch as his lesser opponents crumbled. On the same ancient links that Ben Hogan took his lone Open title, in 1953, four years after having his legs crushed in a head-on crash with a Greyhound bus, Woods seemed on the verge of scripting his own incredible comeback.

    Because Jordan Spieth was tumbling down the board, the beginning of a birdie-less 76.

    Rory McIlroy was bogeying two of his first five holes.

    Xander Schauffele was hacking his way through fescue.

    Once Woods hit one of the shots of the championship on 10 – hoisting a 151-yard pitching wedge out of a fairway bunker, over a steep lip, over a burn, to 20 feet – the outcome seemed preordained.

    “For a while,” McIlroy conceded, “I thought Tiger was going to win.”

    So did Woods. “It didn’t feel any different to be next to the lead and knowing what I needed to do,” he said. “I’ve done it so many different ways. It didn’t feel any different.”

    But perhaps it’s no coincidence that once Woods took the lead for the first time, he frittered it away almost immediately. That’s what happened Saturday, when he shared the lead on the back nine and promptly made bogey. On Sunday, he drove into thick fescue on 11, then rocketed his second shot into the crowd, ricocheting off a fan’s shoulder, and then another’s iPhone, and settling in more hay. He was too cute with his flop shot, leaving it short of the green, and then missed an 8-footer for bogey. He followed it up on 12 with another misadventure in the rough, leading to a momentum-killing bogey. He’d never again pull closer than two shots.

    “It will be interesting to see going forward, because this was his first taste of major championship drama for quite a while,” McIlroy said. “Even though he’s won 14, you have to learn how to get back.”

    Over the daunting closing stretch, Woods watched helplessly as Molinari, as reliable as the tide coming in off the North Sea, plodded his way to victory. With Woods’ hopes for a playoff already slim, Molinari feathered a wedge to 5 feet on the closing hole. Woods marched grim-faced to the bridge, never turning around to acknowledge his playing partner’s finishing blow. He waved his black cap and raised his mallet-style putter to a roaring crowd – knowledgeable fans who were appreciative not just of Woods making his first Open start since 2015, but actually coming close to winning the damn thing.

    “Oh, it was a blast,” Woods would say afterward. “I need to try to keep it in perspective, because at the beginning of the year, if they’d have said you’re playing the Open Championship, I would have said I’d be very lucky to do that.”

    Last weekend, Woods sat in a box at Wimbledon to watch Serena Williams contend for a 24th major title. Williams is one of the few athletes on the planet with whom Woods can relate – an aging, larger-than-life superstar who is fiercely competitive and adept at overcoming adversity. Woods is 15 months removed from a fourth back surgery on an already brittle body; Williams nearly secured the most prestigious championship in tennis less than a year after suffering serious complications during childbirth.

    “She’ll probably call me and talk to me about it because you’ve got to put things in perspective,” Woods said. “I know that it’s going to sting for a little bit here, but given where I was to where I’m at now, I’m blessed.”

    But Woods didn’t need to wait for that phone call to find some solace. Waiting for him afterward were his two kids, Sam, 11, and Charlie, 9, both of whom were either too young or not yet born when Tiger last won a major in 2008, when he was at the peak of his powers.

    Choking up, Woods said, “I told them I tried, and I said, 'Hopefully you’re proud of your Pops for trying as hard as I did.' It’s pretty emotional, because they gave me some pretty significant hugs there and squeezed. I know that they know how much this championship means to me, and how much it feels good to be back playing again.

    “To me, it’s just so special to have them aware, because I’ve won a lot of golf tournaments in my career, but they don’t remember any of them. The only thing they’ve seen is my struggles and the pain I was going through. Now they just want to go play soccer with me. It’s such a great feeling.”

    His media obligations done, Woods climbed up the elevated walkway, on his way to the back entrance of the Carnoustie Golf Hotel & Spa. He was surrounded by his usual entourage, but also two new, younger additions to his clan.

    Sam adhered to the strict Sunday dress code, wearing a black tank top and red shorts. But Charlie’s attire may have been even more appropriate. On the day his dad nearly authored the greatest sports story ever, he chose a red Nike T-shirt with a bold message emblazoned on the front, in big, block letters:

    LOVE THE HATERS.

    After this unbelievable performance, after Tiger Woods nearly won The Open, are there really any left?

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    Molinari hopes to inspire others as Rocca inspired him

    By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 8:43 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Francesco Molinari was 12 years old when Costantino Rocca came within a playoff of becoming Italy’s first major champion at the 1995 Open at St. Andrews.

    He remembers being inspired by Rocca’s play and motivated by the notion that he could one day be the player who would bring home his country’s first Grand Slam title. As he reflected on that moment late Sunday at Carnoustie it sunk in what his victory at The Open might mean.

    “To achieve something like this is on another level,” said Molinari, who closed with a final-round 69 for a two-stroke victory. “Hopefully, there were a lot of young kids watching on TV today, like I was watching Constantino in '95 coming so close. Hopefully, they will get as inspired as I was at the time, watching him vie for the claret jug.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Molinari had already made plenty of headlines this year back home in Italy with victories at the European Tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, and the Quicken Loans National earlier this month on the PGA Tour.

    A major is sure to intensify that attention. How much attention, however, may be contingent on Sunday’s finish at the German Grand Prix.

    “It depends on if Ferrari won today. If they won, they'll probably get the headlines,” Molinari laughed. “But, no, obviously, it would be massive news. It was big news. The last round already was big news in Italy.”

    Molinari won’t have any competition for the front page on Monday; Ferrari didn’t win the German Grand Prix.

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    Schauffele on close call: Nothing but a positive

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 22, 2018, 8:41 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Playing in a final group at a major for the first time, Xander Schauffele awkwardly splashed out of three pot bunkers, went out in 40 and still somehow had a chance to win at Carnoustie.

    Playing the 17th hole, tied with Francesco Molinari, Schauffele flared his approach shot into the right rough and couldn’t get up and down for par. He dropped one shot behind Molinari, and then two, after the Italian birdied the final hole.

    Just like that, Schauffele was doomed to a runner-up finish at The Open.

    “A little bit of disappointment,” he said. “Obviously when you don’t win, you’re disappointed. Hats off to Francesco. I looked up on 17 and saw he got to 8 under, which is just incredible golf and an incredible finish.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Schauffele did well to give himself a chance. The 24-year-old was in the final group with Spieth, but both youngsters fell off the pace after rocky starts. The Tour’s reigning Rookie of the Year birdied the 14th but couldn’t convert a 15-footer on the treacherous 16th that would have given him a one-shot cushion.

    “It’s going to go in the memory bank as a positive,” he said. “I had a chance to win a major championship. I was in the final group. I had to face a little bit of adversity early in the round, and I still gave myself a chance. Anyone can look at it however they want to, but I’m going to look at is as a positive moving forward and try to learn how to handle the situations a little better next time.”