Notes: All the Presidents Cup men almost finalized; Belly blunder

By Doug FergusonSeptember 6, 2011, 8:45 pm

NORTON, Mass. – Brandt Snedeker has made the biggest jump without winning in the FedEx Cup playoffs, going from No. 18 to No. 5 with a tie for third at The Barclays and the Deutsche Bank Championship. He also has made a swift climb in the U.S. standings for the Presidents Cup, and now is only the equivalent of $28,016 behind David Toms at No. 10.

There was some movement in Boston, but not enough to clarify everything. The top 10 players earn spots on the U.S. team before Fred Couples doles out his captain’s pick (one already goes to Tiger Woods).

Jim Furyk finished sixth, moving him up to No. 9 – but he is only $15,809 ahead of Toms, and $43,825 ahead of Snedeker (each dollar counts two points in the standings). Toms is $28,016 ahead of Snedeker –  that’s how much 44th place earns at the BMW Championship, which is the last qualifying event.

Charles Howell III at No. 23 is as low as anyone on the list with a mathematical chance of qualifying.

Rickie Fowler might have hurt his chances the most. He started the final round only three shots out of the lead, but closed with a 77 and tied for 52nd, leaving behind big points. He now is $700,287 behind the 10th spot and would have to finish alone in second or win at the BMW Championship to assure playing his way onto the team.


COMPANY MEN: Acushnet chief Wally Uihlein believes the relationship between manufacturers and ruling bodies is “180 degrees improved” from where it was 20 years ago.

That doesn’t mean the two sides do not – nor should no –  disagree on technology issues.

“I really think we need to let the ruling bodies define the issues and the manufacturers, in the spirit of those ruled upon, need to continue to provide the tension, which ensures the dialogue is open and progressive,” Uihlein said.

He spoke last week at the Bay Club, where he introduced Acushnet’s new ownership, a Korean consortium called Alexandria Holdings. The new Acushnet chairman is Gene Yoon, who said that all operations at Acushnet’s headquarters of Fairhaven, Mass., will stay the same.

The debate between tradition and technology has been around more than a century, and that is not likely to change. Uihlein said he can make an argument “for or against bifurcation” – different equipment rules for pros and amateurs – although that should not be an agenda that any manufacturer could promote.

“We still have a commercial genesis to that thought process,” he said. “We can’t argue that we have the best interest in the game. We can make that argument, but the fact is we represent the commercial landscape. And so, it doesn’t matter how noble our argument is. It’s still going to be seen as to some degree commercially prejudiced.”

Uihlein said it’s up to the R&A and the USGA to not only set the rules, but to assume greater responsibility in the game’s future.

“If not, who does?” he said. “There’s always going to be that question of whose game is it, and who’s responsible for its perpetuation and sustenance.”


BELLY BLUNDER: Brandt Jobe has been so frustrated with his putting over the last few months that he stopped having fun. It reached a point at the Deutsche Bank Championship that he decided to use a belly putter in the third round.

This is nothing new for Jobe, who briefly used a belly putter some five years ago. But it had been so long that he didn’t want to make a full commitment, so he kept two putters in the bag for the third round –  his belly putter and the conventional model.

“I’ve been hitting it real good and putting so bad that the last month hasn’t been fun,” Jobe said. “It was getting to the end of the year and I had nothing to lose, but I didn’t want to shoot 80 if it didn’t go well.”

With an extra putter, something had to give to stay at the 14-club limit, so he removed his 4-iron.

Bad move.

“I needed a 4-iron four times today,” Jobe said, laughing at himself.

He figured he would use his hybrid off a couple of tees, and he was counting on the tee at par-3 11th being a 3-iron. But the wind shifted and Jobe was stuck. He used 3-iron on the par-3 eight and went long, and 5-iron on the 11th and came up short.

Even more comical was the belly putter, and his caddie’s reaction.

On the first three holes, Jobe missed a birdie putt from about 15 feet, a par putt from 6 feet and he three-putted his third hole. He drove the green at No. 4, and his caddie handed him the short putter.

“I said, `What are you doing? No, we’re going to stick it out,”’ Jobe said. “And we made eagle.”


WORLD CUP: The Presidents Cup could feature about 18 of the top 50 players in the world ranking on Nov. 17-20 in Melbourne.

The World Cup is the following week in China, and it could have just as many.

An event that seemed to be losing top players –  particularly from America –  is attracting one of its strongest fields. Six of the two-man teams have both players currently in the top 50 in the world, while Northern Ireland (Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell) and South Africa (Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen) have two major champions.

The United States offers its strongest team in nearly 10 years by sending Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland. The defending champion from 2009 is Italy with Francesco and Edoardo Molinari, while England again puts up a strong tandem of Ian Poulter and Justin Rose.

Then there’s Denmark, with Anders Hansen and Thomas Bjorn both inside the top 30.

Five players from Australia passed on the opportunity to play until Richard Green accepted a spot. Then again, the World Cup is the same week as the Australian PGA Championship, and comes right in the heart of the Australasian Tour schedule.


DIVOTS: Starting in 2014, the British Open will move away from holding final local qualifying at links courses near where the Open is held that year. Instead, the four qualifiers will be held at four courses each year in three parts of England (Hillside, Woburn and Royal Cinque Ports) and Scotland (Glasgow-Gailes). The R&A said the change is to make it more convenient for players to qualify. … Patrick Cantlay has won the Mark H McCormack Medal as the No. 1 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking at the end of the amateur summer season. He secured that spot with his runner-up finish in the U.S. Amateur. Cantlay had been No. 1 for the previous 13 weeks. Cantlay will receive his award this week at the Walker Cup in Scotland. … The LPGA has launched an official Korean version of its website that will feature live scoring, player information and enhanced blogs with special Korean content. The LPGA already has a website geared toward the Japanese audience.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Ten players on the PGA Tour already have earned more than $2 million this year without winning a tournament.


FINAL WORD: “The season is so condensed that it’s a weird feeling. It’s early September and it feels like October.” –  Brandt Jobe, competing in his first FedEx Cup playoffs.

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OB tee shot, bunker trouble dooms Rahm to MC

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:24 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The key to surviving Carnoustie is avoiding the bunkers.

Jon Rahm found three bunkers to close out the front nine Friday, the start of a triple bogey-double-bogey run that led to a second-round 78 and missed cut at The Open.

“All of them were as bad a lie as they could have been,” he said. “Besides that, things didn’t happen. I can’t give an explanation, really. I don’t know.”

Rahm’s troubles started on the seventh hole, a par 4 with a steady left-to-right wind. Out of bounds loomed left, and Rahm, who primarily plays a cut shot, hadn’t missed left all week. This time, his ball didn’t curve, and the OB tee shot led to a triple.

“Whenever I start missing shots to the left,” he said, “it’s really hard for me to play.”  

After a career-best fourth-place finish at the Masters, Rahm has now missed the cut in consecutive majors.

“Right now I’m not in any mental state to think about what happened, to be honest,” he said.

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Three of world's top 5 MC; not 60-year-old Langer

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 7:04 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Three of the top five players in the world missed the cut at The Open.

Bernhard Langer did not.

The 60-year-old, who is in the field via his victory in last year’s Senior Open Championship, shot even-par 71 on Friday. At 2 over through 36 holes, he safely made it under the plus-3 cut line.

"You know, I've played the Masters [this year], made the cut. I'm here and made the cut. I think it is an accomplishment," he said. "There's a lot of great players in the field, and I've beaten a lot of very good players that are a lot younger than me."

Langer had three birdies and three bogeys in the second round and said afterwards that he was “fighting myself” with his swing. He’s spent the last few days on the phone with his swing coach, Willy Hoffman, trying to find some comfort.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Despite his score, and his made cut, Langer the perfectionist wasn’t satisfied with the way he went about achieving his results.

"I wasn't happy with my ball-striking. My putting was good, but I was unlucky. I had like four lip-outs, no lip-ins. That part was good. But the ball-striking, I wasn't really comfortable with my swing," he said. "Just, it's always tough trying stuff in the middle of a round."

Langer, a two-time Masters champion, has never won The Open. He does, however, have six top-3 finishes in 30 prior starts.

As for finishing higher than some of the top-ranked players in the world, the World Golf Hall of Famer is taking it in stride.

"I'm not going to look and say, 'Oh, I beat Justin Rose or beat whatever.' But it just shows it's not easy. When some of the top 10 or top 20 in the world don't make the cut, it just shows that the setup is not easy," Langer said. "So I got the better half of the draw maybe, too, right? It wasn't much fun playing in the rain, I guess, this morning for five hours. I had to practice in the rain, but I think once I teed off, we never used umbrellas. So that was a blessing."

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Kisner doubles 18, defends not laying up

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 6:42 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It was only fitting that Jean Van de Velde was there working as an on-course reporter on Friday as Kevin Kisner struggled his way up Carnoustie’s 18th fairway.

Rolling along with a two-stroke lead, Kisner’s 8-iron approach shot from an awkward lie in the rough from 160 yards squirted right and bounced into Barry Burn, the winding creek where Van de Velde’s title chances at the 1999 Open Championship began to erode.

Unlike Van de Velde, who made a triple bogey-7 and lost The Open in a playoff, Kisner’s double bogey only cost him the solo lead and he still has 36 holes to make his closing miscue a distant memory. That’s probably why the 34-year-old seemed at ease with his plight.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“It just came out like a high flop shot to the right. It was weird. I don't know if it caught something or what happened,” said Kisner, who was tied with Zach Johnson and Zander Lombard at 6 under par. “You never know out of that grass. It was in a different grass than usual. It was wet, green grass instead of the brown grass. So I hadn't really played from that too much.”

Like most in this week’s field Kisner also understands that rounds on what is widely considered the most difficult major championship venue can quickly unravel even with the most innocent of mistakes.

“To play 35 holes without a double I thought was pretty good,” he said. “I've kept the ball in play, done everything I wanted to do all the way up into that hole. Just one of those things that came out completely different than we expected. I'll live with that more than chipping out and laying up from 20 feet.”

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Wind, not rain more a weekend factor at Open

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:39 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – After a half-day of rain in Round 2 of the 147th Open Championship, the weekend offers a much drier forecast.

Saturday at Carnoustie is projected to be mostly cloudy with a high of 62 degrees and only a 20 percent chance of rain.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Sunday calls for much warmer conditions, with temperatures rising upwards of 73 degrees under mostly cloudy skies.

Wind might be the only element the players have to factor in over the final 36 holes. While the winds will be relatively calm on Saturday, expected around 10-15 mph, they could increase to 25 mph in the final round.