Notes More money needed to keep card

By Doug FergusonOctober 13, 2010, 2:24 am
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – It’s going to take a lot more money to stay on the PGA Tour this year.

Blame some of that on Tiger Woods.

Woods has gone over $10 million in earnings three of the last five years. The exceptions were 2008, when he played only six PGA Tour events before season-ending knee surgery and still made $5.75 million; and 2006, when he earned $9.94 million.

With chaos in his personal life and changes in his swing, Woods is at No. 65 on the money list with just under $1.3 million. It stands to reason that Woods failing to rake in so much cash means it has been disbursed down the ladder.

Another big factor is the tour has one extra tournament this year – the Viking Classic was washed out in 2009 because of rain.

A year ago, Jimmy Walker finished at No. 125 on the money list with $662,683. With three tournaments left in the season, Aron Price is at No. 125 and already has surpassed that amount. Price has $693,502.

Tour officials expect it will take as much as $775,000 to finish in the top 125 and keep full status for next year. Among those who might still have some work left are David Duval (No. 109), Canadian Open runner-up Dean Wilson (No. 122) and Kevin Sutherland (No. 116), who has not finished out of the top 125 since his lone victory in the 2002 Match Play Championship.

The two biggest spikes in money required to finish No. 125 came in 2007, the first year of a new six-year television contract, and in 2008, the year Woods played a limited schedule.

It also affects the top part of the money list.

Matt Kuchar is at No. 1 with about $4.9 million, and Sea Island was his last official event of the year. Whether he wins the money title depends on Jim Furyk, who is just over $100,000 behind and has not decided whether to play Las Vegas next week.

Either way, it will be the lowest amount to win the PGA Tour money title since Duval earned just under $2.6 million in 1998, the year before the tour signed its first big TV contract.
British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen had to pull out of the PGA Grand Slam of Golf after damaging ligaments on the outside of his left ankle while at home in South Africa.

Oosthuizen already had to withdraw last week from the Dunhill Links Championship, preventing his return to St. Andrews.

The PGA Grand Slam is only for major champions, so Oosthuizen will be replaced in the four-man field by David Toms, who hasn’t been to this event since he won the PGA Championship in 2001. Only past major winners can be alternates, and Toms accepted the spot after Retief Goosen (schedule conflict) and Zach Johnson (new baby) declined.

Alternates at the Grand Slam are nothing new.

Last year was the first time since 2004 that the field had the four major champions. There have been years when Tiger Woods (2005, 2006) and Padraig Harrington (2008) won multiple majors, and years when major champions (Woods, Phil Mickelson) stopped going.

This is the first time in 20 years that the Grand Slam has two alternates in a season when four players won majors. The other alternate is Ernie Els, who is filling in for Mickelson. The PGA Grand Slam is Oct. 19-20 at Port Royal in Bermuda.
Matt Kuchar is virtually a lock to win the Vardon Trophy for the lowest adjusted scoring average. He tied for 25th last week at the McGladrey Classic with a 7-under 273, lowering his average to 69.57. That’s 0.04 ahead of Steve Stricker, who is done for the year, and Kuchar is 0.21 ahead of Jim Furyk, which likely is too much ground to make up.

It would be the highest average to win the Vardon Trophy since Steve Elkington (69.92) in 1995.

The real perk for Kuchar would be if he holds his lead on the money list.

Players to win the money title on the PGA Tour are given a five-year exemption, which has not been relevant over the last decade with Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh winning it. Both are lifetime members. Kuchar, however, was on the Nationwide Tour just four years ago.

Furyk already gets five-year exemption for winning the FedEx Cup.
Johnson Wagner already is resigned to going back to Q-School just two years after winning the Houston Open. His hope is that expecting the worst can lead to a change for the better.

Wagner was forced into a five-week break when he failed to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs. After taking two weeks away from golf, he spent time with his coach and got after it so he would have no excuses.

He tied for eighth in the Viking Classic, then tied for 25th at Sea Island. That at least has moved him to No. 147, with the belief he at least is headed in the right direction.

“I’m looking at these five weeks as basically Q-school,” Wagner said. “It’s looking like I might have to go back, and I don’t want to. I’ve been playing to protect something all year, and now I have nothing to protect.”

What was he trying to protect?

“My job,” he said.

He was hurt by finishing at No. 153 a year ago. While he was exempt from his 2008 Houston Open win, Wagner was not eligible for limited-field events like the Colonial, Memorial and AT&T National.

“I just wasn’t getting the starts when I was playing well,” he said.

The bigger problem was being consumed with results – making the cut, climbing the leaderboard, trying to get into the top 125 to qualify for the playoffs, trying to cash a decent check.

“The point is to win and have chances to win,” Wagner said.

He has three more weeks to sort that out.
Michael Allen was runner-up for the second straight week – first at the Viking Classic on the PGA Tour, then at the Senior Players Championship on the Champions Tour. … Rick George, the PGA Tour’s chief of operations, is leaving to become the chief operating officer of the Texas Rangers. … Davis Love III now has played 2,100 rounds on the PGA Tour. The McGladrey Classic was his 619th career tournament. Among players under 50, only Brad Faxon (692) has played more. … The McGladrey had a stronger field than three tournaments during the FedEx Cup portion of the schedule.
Padraig Harrington has played six consecutive Ryder Cup matches without reaching the 18th hole.
“If it had been 10 or 15 degrees colder, it would have been absolutely miserable – as opposed to just miserable.” – Matt Kuchar, on the weather at Celtic Manor during the Ryder Cup.
Getty Images

Reed: 'Back still hurts' from carrying Spieth at Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 10:48 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Friday’s marquee match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, who are both undefeated in pool play, just keeps getting better and better.

Following his 1-up victory over Charl Schwartzel on Thursday, Reed was asked what makes Spieth, who defeated HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, so good at match play.

“I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, who teamed with Spieth at Hazeltine National.

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

The duo did go 2-1-1 at the 2016 Ryder Cup and have a combined 7-2-2 record in Ryder and Presidents Cup play. Reed went on to explain why Spieth can be such a challenging opponent in match play.

“The biggest thing is he's very consistent. He hits the ball well. He chips the ball well. And he putts it really well,” Reed said. “He's not going to give you holes. You have to go and play some good golf.”

The winner of Friday’s match between Spieth and Reed will advance to the knockout stage.

Getty Images

Reed vs. Spieth: Someone has to go

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 10:11 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – The introduction of round-robin play to the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was a necessary evil. It was needed to stem the tide of early exits by high-profile players, but three days of pool play has also dulled the urgency inherent to match play.

There are exceptions, like Friday’s marquee match between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, which is now a knockout duel with both players going 2-0-0 to begin the week in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

That the stars aligned so perfectly to have America’s most dominant pairing in team play the last few years square off in a winner-take-all match will only add to what promises to be must-see TV.

Sport doesn’t always follow the script, but the pre-match subtext on this one is too good to dismiss. In one corner, professional golf’s “Golden Child” who has used the Match Play to wrest himself out of the early season doldrums, and in the other there’s the game’s lovable bad boy.

Where Spieth is thoughtful and humble to the extreme, Reed can irritate and entertain with equal abandon. Perhaps that’s why they’ve paired so well together for the U.S. side at the Ryder and Presidents Cup, where they are a combined 7-2-2 as a team, although Spieth had another explanation.

“We're so competitive with each other within our own pairing at the Ryder Cup, we want to outdo each other. That's what makes us successful,” Spieth said. “Tiger says it's a phenomenon, it's something that he's not used to seeing in those team events. Normally you're working together, but we want to beat each other every time.”

But if that makes the duo a good team each year for the United States, what makes Friday’s showdown so compelling is a little more nuanced.

The duo has a shared history that stretches all the way back to their junior golf days in Texas and into college, when Reed actually committed to play for Texas as a freshman in high school only to change his mind a year later and commit to Georgia.

That rivalry has spilled over to the professional ranks, with the twosome splitting a pair of playoff bouts with Reed winning the 2013 Wyndham Championship in overtime and Spieth winning in extra holes at the 2015 Valspar Championship.

Consider Friday a rubber match with plenty of intrigue.

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

Although the friendship between the two is genuine, there is an edge to the relationship, as evidenced by Reed’s comment last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he was denied relief on the 11th hole on Sunday.

“I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth, guys,” Reed said.

While the line was clearly a joke, Reed added to Friday’s festivities when he was asked what makes Spieth such a good match play opponent. “I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, a not-so-subtle suggestion that he carried Spieth at Hazeltine.

For his part, Spieth has opted for a slightly higher road. He explained this week that there have been moments in the Ryder Cup when his European opponents attempted some gamesmanship, which only angered Reed and prompted him to play better.

“I've been very nice to [Reed] this week,” Spieth smiled.

But if the light-hearted banter between the duo has fueled the interest in what is often a relatively quiet day at the Match Play, it’s their status as two of the game’s most gritty competitors that will likely lead to the rarest of happenings in sport – an event that exceeds expectations.

Both have been solid this week, with Speith winning his first two matches without playing the 18th hole and Reed surviving a late rally from Charl Schwartzel on Thursday with an approach at the 18th hole that left him a tap-in birdie to remain unbeaten.

They may go about it different ways, but both possess the rare ability to play their best golf on command.

“I’m glad the world gets to see this because it will be special,” said Josh Gregory, Reed’s college coach who still works with the world No. 23. “You have two players who want the ball and they aren’t afraid of anything. Patrick lives for this moment.”

 Where Reed seems to feed off raw emotion and the energy of a head-to-head duel, Spieth appears to take a more analytical approach to match play. Although he admits to not having his best game this week, he’s found a way to win matches, which is no surprise to John Fields, Spieth’s coach at Texas.

“Jordan gave us a tutorial before the NCAA Championship, we picked his brain on his thoughts on match play and how he competed. It’s one of those secret recipes that someone gives you,” Fields said. “When he was a junior golfer he came up with this recipe.”

Whatever the secret sauce, it will be tested on Friday when two of the game’s most fiery competitors will prove why match play can be the most entertaining format when the stars align like they have this week.

It was a sign of how compelling the match promises to be that when asked if he had any interest in the Spieth-Reed bout, Rory McIlroy smiled widely, “I have a lot of interest in that. Hopefully I get done early, I can watch it. Penalty drops everywhere.”

Getty Images

Watch: Bubba casually hits flop shot over caddie's head

By Grill Room TeamMarch 22, 2018, 9:20 pm

We've seen this go wrong. Really wrong.

But when your end-of-year bonus is a couple of brand new vehicles, you're expected to go above and beyond every now and then.

One of those times came early Thursday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, where Bubba Watson’s caddie Ted Scott let his boss hit a flop shot over his head.

It wasn’t quite Phil Mickelson over Dave Pelz, but the again, nothing is.

And the unique warm-up session paid off, as Watson went on to defeat Marc Leishman 3 and 2 to move to 2-0-0 in group play.

Hey, whatever works.

Getty Images

Spieth explains why he won't play in a 'dome'

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 9:01 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – No one at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was as excited about Thursday’s forecast as Jordan Spieth.

Winds blew across Austin Country Club to 20 mph, which is typical for this time of year in Texas, and Spieth put in a typical performance, beating HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, to remain undefeated entering the final day of pool play.

The windy conditions were exactly what Spieth, who never trailed in his match, wanted. In fact, demanding conditions factor into how he sets his schedule.

“I have, and will continue to schedule tournaments away from a dome, because it's just unusual for me. I like having the feel aspect,” said Spieth, who attended the University of Texas and played Austin Country Club in college. “Places with no wind, where it's just driving range shots, it's just never been something I've been used to. So I don't really know what to do on them.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

Spieth used the CareerBuilder Challenge as an example. The Coachella Valley event rarely has windy conditions, and as a result he’s never played the tournament.

“I played in a dome in Phoenix, and I didn't strike the ball well there. Actually I've had quite a few this year, where we didn't have very windy conditions,” said Spieth, who will face Patrick Reed in his final pool play match on Friday. “I don't go to Palm Springs, never have, because of that. Look at where you can take weeks off and if they match up with places that potentially aren't the best for me, then it works out.”