Eye on the $10 million prize

By Doug FergusonSeptember 21, 2011, 9:08 pm

ATLANTA – Just being among the 30 players at the Tour Championship should be enough for Geoff Ogilvy.

Only 16 days ago, Ogilvy was on the verge of being eliminated from the FedEx Cup playoffs. Needing a par-birdie finish at the TPC Boston, his tee shot on the 17th hole finished in a crevice behind a rock and he had to take a penalty drop.

What followed is still hard to fathom.

Ogilvy rolled in a 20-footer for par, then holed a 6-foot birdie putt to narrowly advance to the next playoff event outside Chicago. Then, he finished alone in third at Cog Hill – a two-way tie for third would not have been enough – to book a trip to East Lake.

“I definitely wasn’t thinking of being here when I was in that hole,” Ogilvy said Wednesday. “So the fact that I am is pretty nice.”

He is No. 24 among the 30 players who reached the Tour Championship, and while mathematically they all have a shot at the $10 million bonus for winning the FedEx Cup, the higher seeds have the greater odds.

Webb Simpson is the top seed, followed by Dustin JohnsonJustin Rose, Luke Donald and Matt Kuchar. If any of them win, they are assured golf’s richest prize.

Ogilvy’s hopes require a little more math. It starts with him winning, and the odds got even longer the more he studied the other scenarios that must unfold.

“Webb Simpson must finish 17th or worse, which is probably not going to happen, you wouldn’t think,” he said, reading from a chart. “Dustin Johnson has to finish sixth or worse. Justin and Luke have to finish fourth or worse, which isn’t going to happen because Luke doesn’t finish out of the top three anymore, does he?”

That’s when he shifted to a prize that might be just as meaningful.

“I’d love to win this golf tournament,” Ogilvy said. “That would be nice because people are forgetting this one of the tour’s special golf tournaments – The Players Championship, the Tour Championship, the Tournament of Champions. It’s still the Tour Championship, and it would be pretty special to have a Tour Championship on your mantle.

“I guess I’ll view it like that and try to win,” he said. “And if the right things happen, that would be great.”

The FedEx Cup is finishing up its fifth year, and while some promotional bluster created more skeptics than supporters in the early going, it is hard to find fault with what the playoffs have produced – four straight tournaments with the strongest fields, with only the best walking away with the $10 million prize. Tiger Woods has won twice, with Vijay Singh and Jim Furyk the other cup champions.

“I think the system has been validated because it’s had the biggest names in golf as its champions,” Kuchar said.

The leading five candidates this year all are among the top 20 in the world, including top-ranked Donald.

There is reason for others to hope, however, and all that requires is a chat with Nick Watney.

A year ago, Watney narrowly got into the Tour Championship at No. 28 and was 12 shots behind going into the weekend. In the final hour, he was one shot off the lead and had a legitimate chance to win the FedEx Cup until a bogey on the 16th hole.

“I was thinking I had no chance,” Watney said. “Kuchar was leading the FedEx Cup, and he was playing so consistently. They said I had to win and he had to finish worse than 25th or something. There were so many mathematical scenarios. It was like the BCS.”

His message for the guys ranked toward the bottom of the FedEx Cup list was to think about winning – not the FedEx Cup, but a season-ending tournament that still packs some prestige.

“I think that big crystal with the dude on it is pretty special,” Watney said of the Tour Championship trophy. “The FedEx Cup is great, but I mean, there’s a lot to be said for that trophy. It gets lost in this sometimes, at least pre-tournament.”

And that’s from a guy who is No. 7 this year and has a far better chance at $10 million.

Kuchar is the only player who mathematically could capture the FedEx Cup without having won a tournament this year. That nearly happened last year with Paul Casey until he faded over the last few holes.

Adam Scott is No. 19 and thinking about only one trophy – the crystal one with the dude on it.

“It’s just a tournament for me,” Scott said when asked about his chances in the FedEx Cup. “If I go home to Australia next week being a winner at a World Golf Championship (Firestone) and the Tour Championship, I’ll be pretty proud of my year. I’m so far back, I can’t concern myself with money. But I can win the tournament. There’s only 30 guys.”

That might not be bad advice for the guys who do have better odds in the FedEx Cup.

“If you think about money, then you’re not thinking about golf,” Scott said.

Simpson has won two of his last four tournaments, and the fact one of them was a playoff event (Deutsche Bank) is the reason he comes into East Lake as the No. 1 seed. This is his first trip to the Tour Championship, and if none of the top six seeds win, whoever has the highest finish is likely to go home very rich. Or much richer.

“It’s hard not to think about where you stand and the money that comes with playing well from FedEx,” Simpson said. “That being said, we want to focus that much more on the golf course and the conditions we’re going to face, because we feel like the more we can get lost in the golf course and not think about where we’re going to end up in the FedEx Cup, the better we’ll play.”

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M. Jutanugarn finally joins sister in LPGA winner's circle

By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 1:42 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn won the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open by two shots for her first victory in six years on the LPGA Tour, joining sister Ariya as the second siblings to win on the tour.

The 23-year-old from Thailand shot a 3-under 68 for a 12-under 272 total Sunday at Wilshire Country Club in the tour's return to Los Angeles after a 13-year absence.

Jutanugarn won in her 156th start after three career runner-up finishes, including at the Honda LPGA Thailand in February. She had 21 top-10 finishes before winning.

Seven-time winner Ariya tied for 24th after a 70. She joined the predominantly Asian crowd to follow her older sister's final holes, crying as Moriya two-putted to close out the win.

Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam were the first sisters to win on the LPGA Tour.

Hall of Famer Inbee Park shot a 68 to tie for second with Jin Young Ko (70).

Park had opportunities, but she wasn't able to put pressure on Jutanugarn playing in the final threesome. However, Park will return to No. 1 in the world when the rankings come out Monday, knocking off top-ranked Shenshen Fang, who tied for 12th.


Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


Jutanugarn began the final round with a two-shot lead and never wavered in fulfilling the potential she first displayed as the LPGA Rookie of the Year in 2013. After a birdie at the second hole, she reeled off nine consecutive pars before sinking birdie putts at 12 and 13.

She overcame a tee shot that narrowly missed going out of bounds for another birdie at 15 to lead by three.

Jutanugarn ran into trouble on the par-4 16th. Her approach landed on the green and rolled off it, stopping inches from dropping into a bunker. Her chip shot ran well past the hole and her par putt just missed catching the edge of the cup. That left her with a short putt for bogey, her first in her previous 28 holes, trimming her lead to two shots.

Ko's tee shot on 18 landed about 4 feet from the hole, giving her a chance to cut Jutanugarn's lead to one shot with the Thai facing a long birdie attempt.

But Ko missed, leaving Jutanugarn room to maneuver. Her birdie putt came up a couple feet short, but she calmly parred the hole to win. Ariya rushed onto the green and joined others in emptying water bottles on her sister before they embraced.

So Yeon Ryu (68) finished fourth at 7 under. American Emma Talley (67) and Eun-Hee Ji (71) tied for fifth at 6 under, making Ji one of four South Koreans to place in the top five.

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After Further Review: Tour players embracing new ideas

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 23, 2018, 1:26 am

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

On players embracing new ideas on the PGA Tour ...

PGA Tour players are trying to tell commissioner Jay Monahan something: They like new.

In the second year of the two-man team format at the Zurich Classic, 10 of the top 14 players in the world have signed up, including all four reigning major champions. It’s the first time all four have been in the same field since the Tour Championship. If the laid-back event offered world-ranking points – it doesn’t, and that’s part of the appeal – the winner would have received 62 points. That’s the same as the Genesis Open.

Sure, some sponsor obligations are involved in boosting the field here, but there’s no other way to look at this: Today’s PGA Tour players are not only willing to play events that are a departure from the 72-hole, stroke-play norm. They’re encouraging it. - Ryan Lavner


On Moriya Jutanugarn's breakthrough win ...

As much love as there is between the Jutanugarn sisters, it couldn’t have been easy for Moriya, watching her baby sister, Ariya, soar past her as one of the LPGA’s dominant stars the last few years. Mo, though, never betrayed an inkling of frustration or envy.

That’s what made Mo’s breakthrough LPGA victory Sunday at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open especially meaningful for everyone who has admired Mo’s devotion to her sister. Mo was always a fixture, waiting in the wings to celebrate whenever Ariya hoisted a trophy.

So emotions were high late Sunday, with Ariya waiting in the wings this time, with Ariya sobbing in Mo’s arms after the victory was secured. It was heartwarming for more than Apple, the mother who raised these talented, loving sisters. As always, Apple was there, too, soaking both her daughters in tears of joy. – Randall Mell


On the tough scheduling decisions facing the PGA Tour ...

According to multiple sources, officials at Colonial are poised to announce a new sponsorship agreement with Charles Schwab Corporation on Monday.

While this is good news for the folks in Fort Worth, Texas, who were in danger of finding themselves on the wrong side of timing, there remain some tough decisions to be made in the next few weeks.

If the PGA Tour’s plan is to end its season before Labor Day beginning in 2019, something must give. Currently, the Houston Open, a staple on Tour since 1946, and The National are without sponsors. When the music stops in a few weeks and the circuit announces the ’19 schedule, there’s a good chance one, or both, of those events will be the victims of bad timing. – Rex Hoggard

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Triplett hole-out wins Legends of Golf playoff

By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 12:12 am

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - Kirk Triplett holed out from a bunker for birdie on the first playoff hole Sunday in the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf to lift himself and partner Paul Broadhurst past Bernhard Langer and Tom Lehman.

''Well, you're trying to make it, but you know realistically it doesn't go in very often,'' Triplett said. ''You're trying to give your partner a free run at it. You don't want to hit it up there 20 feet past or do something silly. I'm just trying to hit it the right distance and get it on the right line.''

Langer and Lehman took it in stride.

''You kind of learn to expect it,'' Lehman said. ''These guys out here are so good and Kirk Triplett is a magician around the greens. The odds of making that shot are probably not good, but you certainly expect him to hit a great shot and he did and it went in.''

Lehman and Langer missed birdie putts after Triplett holed out.

''I kind of felt like we both hit pretty good putts, misread them, both of them,'' Lehman said. ''I hit mine probably too hard and Bernhard's was too soft, but you have to hand it to the guys who hit the shot when they have to hit it.''


Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf


Broadhurst and Triplett closed with a 6-under 48 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course to match Langer and Lehman at 24 under. Langer and Lehman had a 47, playing the front nine in alternate shot and the back nine in better ball.

The 56-year-old Triplett won his sixth PGA Tour Champions title.

''That's a big roller-coaster - three good shots and mine, right?'' Triplett said. ''I'm feeling a little dejected walking down that fairway there, a little sheepish. To knock it in it just reminds you, this game, you know, crazy stuff.''

Broadhurst claimed his third senior victory.

''I don't get too emotional, but that was something special,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said.

Spanish stars Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jose Maria Olazabal had a 48 to tie for third with 2017 winners Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco. Singh and Franco, the third-round leaders, shot 50.

Mark Calcavecchia-Woody Austin (48), John Daly-Michael Allen (49), Steve Stricker-Jerry Kelly (50) and David Toms-Steve Flesch (52) tied for fifth at 20 under.

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Mullinax (T-2) comes up short of maiden win

By Will GrayApril 23, 2018, 12:06 am

The Valero Texas Open saw an unheralded player break through to earn a maiden victory, but unfortunately for Trey Mullinax his day will have to wait.

Mullinax started the final round within a shot of the lead, having fired a course-record 62 during the final round. He trailed Andrew Landry by one shot for much of the final round while racking up six birdies over his first 11 holes, but a pair of late miscues meant the former Alabama standout had to settle for a share of second place, two shots behind Landry.

A final-round 69 marked a career-best finish for Mullinax, who is playing this season on conditional status and whose lone prior top-10 this season came after he Monday qualified for the Valspar Championship.

"I know my game's there, I'm playing really well," Mullinax told reporters. "Give all credit to Andrew, he played really well today, rocksteady. He was putting great, hitting great shots."


Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos


Given time to reflect, the 26-year-old will likely look back on the final two holes where nerves appeared to get the best of him. Looking to put some pressure on Landry, Mullinax chunked his pitch on the short 17th hole into a greenside bunker, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on the course.

Then Mullinax was unable to convert a 9-foot birdie putt on the final green, which would have forced Landry to make his 8-foot par putt to avoid a playoff. Afforded the luxury of two putts for the win, Landry rolled in his par save to cement a two-shot win.

"Made a bad bogey on 17, but just you've got to hit some bad shots," Mullinax said. "Would have liked to have got the putt on 18 to fall to put a little bit of heat on him, but this experience that I'm gaining right now is just going to help me down the road."