Notes: Feeling like a rookie; Poulter is No. 1

By Doug FergusonJune 29, 2011, 12:27 am

NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. – In his second full year on the PGA Tour, Gary Woodland has reason to feel like a rookie for the rest of the season. That’s not a bad thing, either.

Woodland can count on as many as eight big events based on his good performance this year.

His first Tour victory at the Transitions Championship in March earned him a spot in the World Golf Championship at Firestone and the PGA Championship in August. It also helped him earn enough money to get into the British Open, and he has decided to prepare for links golf by playing next week in the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart.

After that is the FedEx Cup playoffs. He didn’t play well enough as a rookie to qualify for any of the four playoff events.

For the rest of the year, the only golf course he will have seen before is at The Greenbrier.

It starts on truly foreign turf. Not only has Woodland never played links golf, he’s never been to Britain. In fact, he’s never even traveled to Europe.

“I’ve been west, I’ve been south and north – but never east,” he said.

That’s why he signed up for the Scottish Open, which should be a treat.

“The closest links I’ve seen is probably Prairie Dunes in Kansas, which I guess is the most links we can get here in the United States,” he said of the Perry Maxwell design. “But I’m looking forward to getting over there. I grew up in the wind, I grew up in bad conditions playing in Kansas. Hopefully the conditions suit me pretty well, and I think we’ll be hitting that 2 iron quite a bit the next couple weeks.”

Woodland is ninth in the FedEx Cup standings. The goal now that he has a taste of it is to keep coming back for more.

“That’s what I’m here for. I’m here for the big events,” he said. “Obviously, world golf is the best players in the world. It’s great because I can take weeks off and prepare for that. I can get ready for that golf course. I’ve seen it on TV. But like I said, any time I can play against the best players in the world on the biggest stage, I’m looking forward to it.”


POULTER REACHES NO. 1: Ian Poulter once told a British magazine that when he reaches his full potential, it will be just him and Tiger Woods. Turns out the battle for No. 1 has come down to Poulter and Stewart Cink.

On Twitter.

Poulter posted a picture on Twitter this week showing that he and Cink had the same number of followers – 1,210,083. That was followed moments later by another tweet: “Here are the numbers now 1,210,086 just moved past Mr Cink.”

It’s all in good fun, but it’s still a big deal to Poulter.

Poulter was talking about the value of Twitter and social media in March, when a reporter mistakenly mentioned that when Poulter and Cink faced each other in match play, Cink (who won the match) picked up some 42,000 additional followers.

Poulter reacted as if he had just been disqualified for his marker moving on the green.

“No, he barely put on any,” Poulter protested. “He’s been on 1.2 million for the last year. I’m telling you. I look all the time. Honestly. I’ll pick it up right now. I’ll pull it up just to prove it to you.”

With that, he took out his mobile phone and called up Cink’s account.

Turns out Cink had only gained 79. Call it a verbal typo.

“Stewart always has been 1.2 million,” Poulter said. “I’ve slowly, slowly, slowly been creeping up on him.”

And he finally passed him. By late Tuesday afternoon, Poulter had 1,210,602 followers, while Cink had 1,210,039. The only other golfer close to them is Tiger Woods, who rarely tweets but had 1,031,065.

Cink, however, still has something on Twitter that Poulter has yet to match: A photo of his first drink from the claret jug.


BRITISH OPEN SPOTS: Only four spots remain for PGA Tour players to get into the British Open, with three spots available at the AT&T National this week at Aronimink.

Two players will be exempt through a special money list that started at The Players Championship and included the last five events through the AT&T National. Those likely will go to Hartford winner Fredrik Jacobson and Memphis winner Harrison Frazar. Both are over $1 million. Paul Goydos is third at $646,000, and likely would need a runner-up finish to pass Frazar.

After that, the leading player – not already exempt – from the top five at the AT&T National and the John Deere Classic next week will get into the British Open.

This is a big week in another respect. The next world ranking will be used as the alternate’s list. The highest-ranked players not already in the British Open are Webb Simpson and J.B. Holmes, separated by one spot (No. 57 and No. 58). Both are playing Aronimink. And there figures to be at least one spot available if Tiger Woods doesn’t play.


CADDIE FOR A CHAMPION: U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy is playing in the Irish Open, as expected, only there’s a twist. Those who buy tickets for the tournament, to be played July 28-31, will be able to enter a competition to be part of McIlroy’s pro-am team.

The winner also gets a room at a four-star hotel for two nights.


DIVOTS: The LPGA Tour has added a new tournament north of the border. The Manulife Financial LPGA Classic will start next year under a three-year agreement. It will be played June 21-24 at Grey Silo Golf Course in Waterloo, Ontario. … The two-year run of the AT&T National at Aronimink ends this year, with the tournament returning to Congressional the next three years. Before leaving, however, the Tiger Woods Foundation is starting a learning center in Philadelphia in conjunction with the KIPP DuBois Collegiate Academy. The program begins this fall and will serve ninth-grade students. … Among the players who have withdrawn from the AT&T National are Ernie Els, Heath Slocum, Fredrik Jacobson and Ben Crane.


STAT OF THE WEEK: The last 10 regular PGA Tour events have been decided by one shot or in a playoff.


FINAL WORD: “I don’t feel sorry for Rory having to bear that burden of expectations now.” – Justin Rose on whether it’s fair for the public to build up Rory McIlroy after his win at the U.S. Open.

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Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 23, 2018, 3:00 pm

Tiger Woods has a three-shot lead entering the final round of the Tour Championship and is alongside Rory McIlroy in the final group. We're tracking him.

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Rose tries to ignore scenarios, focus on winning

By Rex HoggardSeptember 23, 2018, 12:59 am

ATLANTA – No one has more to play for than Justin Rose on Sunday at the Tour Championship.

The Englishman will begin the day three strokes behind front-runner Tiger Woods after a third-round 68 that could have been much worse after he began his day with back-to-back bogeys.

Winning the tournament will be Rose’s top priority, but there’s also the lingering question of the FedExCup and the $10 million bonus, which he is currently projected to claim.

Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“The way I look at tomorrow is that I have many scenarios in play. I have the FedExCup in play. I have all of that to distract me,” Rose said. “But yet, I'm three back. I think that's my objective tomorrow is to come out and play good, positive golf and try and chase down the leader and win this golf tournament. I think in some ways that'll help my other task of trying to win the FedExCup. It'll keep me on the front foot and playing positive golf.”

Although there are many scenarios for Rose to win the season-long title, if Woods wins the Tour Championship, Rose would need to finish fifth or better to claim the cup.

There’s also the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking to consider. Rose overtook Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world with his runner-up finish at the BMW Championship two weeks ago. He will retain the top spot unless Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka or Johnson win the finale and he falls down the leaderboard on Sunday.

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McIlroy needs putter to heat up to catch Woods

By Rex HoggardSeptember 23, 2018, 12:29 am

ATLANTA – Although Rory McIlroy is three strokes behind Tiger Woods at the Tour Championship and tied for second place he had the look of a man with a secret when he left East Lake on Saturday.

Trying to play catch up against Woods is never ideal, but McIlroy’s confidence stemmed from a tee-to-green game that has been unrivaled for three days.

“I definitely think today and the first day were similar,” said McIlroy, whose 66 included birdies at two of his final three holes. “I gave myself plenty of chances, and I think the biggest thing today was only just that one bogey. Got to put your ball in the fairway, put yourself in position, and for the most part, I did that today.”

Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

For the week McIlroy ranks first in strokes gained: off the tee, third in strokes gained: approach to the green and second in greens in regulation. But to catch Woods, who he will be paired with, he’ll need a much better day on the greens.

The Northern Irishman needed 30 putts on Day 2 and ranks 23rd, out of 30 players, in strokes gained: putting.

McIlroy skipped the first playoff event, opting instead for an extra week at home to work on his swing and the move has paid off.

“I hit the ball well. My wedge play has been really good,” he said. “I've done a lot of work on it the last few weeks, and it seems to have paid off.”

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Glover trails Straka at Tour Championship

By Associated PressSeptember 23, 2018, 12:19 am

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Sepp Straka moved into position Saturday to earn a PGA Tour card in the Tour Championship, shooting a 7-under 64 to take the third-round lead.

With the top 25 earners in the four-event Tour Finals getting PGA Tour cards Sunday, Straka birdied the final three holes to reach 18-under 195 - a stroke ahead of Curtis Luck, Lucas Glover and Denny McCarthy at Atlantic Beach Country Club.

''It's always good to get an extra birdie in late. I got three of them to finish, which was nice,'' Straka said. ''It's very bunched up there, so you can't really take off, you've got to keep the pedal down and see where you end up at the end.''

Straka entered the week tied for 80th in the card race with $2,744. The 25-year-old former Georgia player from Austria won the KC Golf Classic in August for his first Tour title. He finished 31st on the money list to advance to the four-tournament series.

''My ball-striking is really good,'' Straka said. ''It's been good all week. It's been really solid. I really haven't gotten in a whole lot of trouble and have been able to capitalize on a good number of chances with the putter. Hit a couple of bad putts today, but some really good ones to make up for it.''

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Luck also shot 64. The 22-year-old Australian went into the week 16th with $41,587.

''Obviously, it just comes down to keeping that momentum going and trying not to change anything,'' Luck said. ''That's the really important thing and I felt like I did that really well. I played really aggressive on the back nine, still went after a lot of shots and I hit it close a lot out there.''

Glover had a 68. The 2009 U.S. Open champion entered the week 40th with $17,212.

McCarthy shot 67. He already has wrapped up a card, earning $75,793 in the first three events to get to 11th in the standings.

The series features the top 75 players from the regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top-25 finishers on the regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. The other players are fighting for the 25 cards based on series earnings.