Notes: Hadley, others still playing for Masters invitation

By Doug FergusonMarch 25, 2014, 6:08 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Texas Open is the last chance for players to crack the top 50 in the world ranking and earn a spot in the Masters.

The drama is lacking this year.

Richard Sterne is No. 53 and George Coetzee is No. 55 – except they're not in the field at San Antonio. The only players at the Valero Texas Open who can move into the top 50 are Chesson Hadley (No. 56) and Ryan Palmer (No. 62). Everyone else who could make it to the top 50 would have to win – and that's an automatic invitation, anyway.

Without any movement, Stephen Gallacher of Scotland (who won Dubai) is the only player who will have moved into the top 50 since the end of last year.

Augusta National began relying on the world ranking in 2000, only it was slightly different. The top 50 at the end of the preceding year received invitations, along with the top 50 a month before the Masters. Starting in 2003, the final cutoff was moved to one week before the Masters.

The club has never said why it takes the top 50 at the end of a calendar year. Perhaps it's so players can make travel arrangements, or perhaps it was to give an advantage to overseas players, who compete deep into the year. PGA Tour members have more avenues to qualify throughout the season.

But imagine what would happen if there was only one cutoff for the top 50 in the world, and it followed the Florida swing.

Matteo Manassero (51), Branden Grace (57), David Lynn (65) and Peter Hanson (70) all were in the top 50 in December. They would have spent the Florida swing trying to stay in the top 50 or move back in. That change might be something for Augusta National to consider if it feels the field is getting too close to 100 players.

As it is, the Masters virtually is assured of having fewer than 100 players for the 48th straight year. But just barely.


FURYK FOUNDATION: Jim Furyk never minded showing up for a charity event, especially if another athlete asked him.

Furyk said he had a harder time asking others to help him. Nevertheless, he assembled quite a crew last weekend for the fourth ''Furyk & Friends Concert and Celebrity Golf Classic” at Sawgrass Country Club.

He raised $450,000 at last count for the Jim and Tabitha Furyk Foundation, which serves needy children and families in the Jacksonville area. The event now has raised over $1.2 million since it began in 2011.

Among those who participated were Reggie Jackson, Lynn Swann and Jerome Bettis, along with golfers Davis Love III, Zach Johnson and Justin Leonard.


THE APPLE DIDN'T FALL FAR: Few players are as confident as Ian Poulter. Geoff Ogilvy once told about playing with Poulter for the first time with Justin Rose and Rose's brother, right after Poulter had earned his European Tour card. He said Poulter talked about how he would win in Europe as a rookie and eventually move onto the PGA Tour and all the big events. ''He couldn't even beat Justin's brother that day,'' Ogilvy said.

Sure enough, Poulter won the Italian Open as a rookie. He reached as high as No. 5 in the world and has become Europe's best performer in the Ryder Cup.

Sunday at Bay Hill, he was on the putting green as his 9-year-old son, Luke, watched him from the side. Someone turned to Poulter's son and playfully said, ''Luke, how long until you're out here?'' The boy didn't blink.

''Two years,'' he said.

Poulter heard the conversation and burst into laughter, telling his son, ''Luke, don't you change.''


GMAC AND MAHAN: Graeme McDowell and Hunter Mahanhave been paired twice in the last month - the third round of the Match Play Championship, and the third round at Bay Hill. They mainly are linked by the final match of the 2010 Ryder Cup, which McDowell won to clinch victory for Europe.

But they go even further back than that.

McDowell was asked Saturday if he had even blown a big lead, and he could only think of the NCAA Championship in 2002 on the Scarlett Course at Ohio State. He won six tournaments his last year at Alabama-Birmingham. Playing only for the individual medal, he had a one-shot lead over Mahan, the best from Oklahoma State.

''I threw up all over myself in the last round,'' McDowell said. ''We were individuals because we played so well, but our team was well back. That was the first time I played with him. We're playing together a bit more lately. He's a great player. I enjoy playing with him. I love the way he hits it.''

McDowell closed with a 74 that day in Ohio. Mahan had a 72. Both were overtaken by Troy Matteson, who won the NCAA title with a 67.

Mahan's memory wasn't as clear.

''I don't remember much about that that,'' Mahan said. ''But I knew about Graeme because he was winning all these tournaments. And it's kind of unusual to get some Irish kid at Alabama-Birmingham.''


MOLINARI MOVEMENT: Francesco Molinari of Italy tied for fifth at Bay Hill, leaving him 39 points (FedEx Cup) away from being able to take up special temporary membership on the PGA Tour. That would allow him unlimited exemptions the rest of the year.

Molinari would need to be at least equal to No. 125 – either FedEx Cup points or money - after the Wyndham Championship, which would make him eligible for a PGA Tour card next season. But that assumes he wants to play more in America.

He has been one of the few European players from the top 50 who has not shown an inclination to be a PGA Tour member. The other is Paul Lawrie. Molinari had a chance a few years ago when he tied for third at Doral, but he chose to stay in Europe.

''It was not great timing,'' he said. ''We had just moved to London and my son was born.''

And now?

''You never know,'' Molinari said before going into the weekend at Bay Hill. ''The best players in the world are playing here, and you want to challenge yourself.''

Molinari won the HSBC Champions in its first year as a World Golf Championship in 2010, but the PGA Tour did not treat it as a regular WGC (complete with official money and a three-year exemption) until last year.


DIVOTS: Nick Watney returns to work next week in the Shell Houston Open, his first tournament as a father. His wife, Amber, gave birth to their first child the day after the Cadillac Championship. They named their daughter Harper. ... Karrie Webb has won 11 times on the LPGA Tour (including a major) since her 2005 induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame. The 39-year-old Australian won in Phoenix for her 41st career LPGA title. ''I probably celebrate those wins a lot more than I used to,'' she said. ... Poppy Hills is open again. The course that once was part of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-am reopened last week after an overhaul by original architect Robert Trent Jones II. Even though Poppy has been replaced by Monterey Peninsula at the AT&T, it will be part of the rotation for the First Tee Open on the Champions Tour.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Major champions played in the final group in three of the four PGA Tour events on the Florida swing - Rory McIlroy at the Honda Classic, Jason Dufner at Doral and Adam Scott at Bay Hill. None went on to win.


FINAL WORD: ''Arnold Palmer was on 16 and he gave me the thumbs-up. It's kind of hard to hit a shot when you're in contention and he's looking at you.'' – Erik Compton, who tied for fifth in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

 

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”