Notes Ryder Cup players could miss PGA Championship

By Doug FergusonJuly 20, 2010, 11:41 pm

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – For years, one of the perks of making the Ryder Cup team was an automatic spot in the PGA Championship, as both are run by the PGA of America.

Starting last year, the PGA changed its criteria so that Ryder Cup members of the most recent team must be within the top 100 in the world ranking. And with a change in the Ryder Cup selection process to allow for four captain’s picks, that could have ramifications this year for as many as four American players.

Boo Weekley, last seen galloping down the fairway at Valhalla in the Ryder Cup, has plunged to No. 166 in the world with only three top 10s in the last two years. He has not played a major this year.

Justin Leonard is No. 98 in the world, while Ben Curtis is No. 97 and Chad Campbell, who did not qualify for St. Andrews, is No. 93.

“As the process of the Ryder Cup team has changed – the captain now has four picks – there’s more of a chance the players picked are not highly ranked,” said Kerry Haigh, championship director of the PGA. “So those four players had no trouble getting into the PGA Championship last year.”

This year is a different story.

Leonard has yet to finish in the top 10, with his best result a tie for 14th in the U.S. Open. He lost in a playoff the last time the PGA Championship was held at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin in 2004. Curtis, a runner-up in the PGA Championship two years ago, has only one top-10 this year. Campbell started the year with a tie for eighth in the Sony Open, and didn’t have another top 10 until Hartford.

The deadline for being inside the top 100 in the world is Aug. 2, after two more PGA Tour events.

Even if those players fall out of the top 100, that doesn’t mean they will be shut out of the PGA Championship. The top 70 in PGA points automatically get in, and Leonard is 76th. The points are based on money earned on the PGA Tour since the last PGA Championship.

Plus, the PGA retains the right to invite whoever it wants.

“It depends on how they’re playing, but they’ll get all due consideration,” Haigh said. Asked if a player from the most recent Ryder Cup team would get more consideration for an invitation, he replied, “Absolutely.”


SUCCESSFUL 17th: The Royal & Ancient was criticized for adding 40 yards to the famous 17th hole at St. Andrews, although chief executive Peter Dawson said the intent was to bring the road back.

It would be hard to describe the change to the Road Hole as anything but a success.

Among the signature moments from the British Open was Miguel Angel Jimenez going across the road next to the wall, and banging his shot off the wall and back onto the green.

“I think the 17th tee has been a great success in terms of stiffening the test of that hole,” Dawson said. “I said at the beginning of the week, we were hoping that the road might come more back into play, and by gosh, it did. We had far more people on the road this year through the back of the hole than I’ve seen at previous Opens in recent times. To that degree we are very pleased with the hole.”

Only 38 percent of the players hit the 17th green in two.

And while the road got plenty of attention, there wasn’t too much trouble in the Road Hole bunker at the front of the green. There might be an explanation for that. Dawson said the front of the sodden wall was not as vertical as in previous years.

Dawson said the incline was at 67 degrees, which was about 3 or 4 degrees less severe than previous years.

“We wanted to give the players some kind of change of getting out, rather than no chance,” Dawson said.

The 18th hole has to rank among the easiest closing holes in championship golf. Perhaps it’s prudent to look at the 17th and 18th as a package finish of par 4s. The 495-yard 17th had an average score 4.665, while the 357-yard 18th had an average score of 3.629. So for a “par 8” of the two holes combined, the average score was 8.294.


EURO POWER: Justin Rose won two strong PGA Tour events in a span of three starts, putting him at No. 3 in the FedEx Cup standings. But it’s still not enough for him to qualify outright for Europe’s Ryder Cup team.

Such is the strength of European golf at the moment.

Four of the top five players on the world points list have won in America this year – Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter. Then there’s Paul Casey, who played in the final group at St. Andrews, yet is still not eligible. Neither is three-time major champion Padraig Harrington or Henrik Stenson, who tied for third in the British Open.

“I’ve got some headaches, but I’ve got some good headaches,” European captain Colin Montgomerie said Sunday. “I can pick two teams here that can beat each other on any given day. That’s the strength and that’s the depth of European golf, especially this year.”


SOUTH AFRICAN PRIDE: Gary Player, one of five men to have completed the career Grand Slam, looked beyond Louis Oosthuizen’s victory at St. Andrews to all of South Africa. And his plaudits went a lot farther back then the last couple of years.

Oosthuizen was the sixth South African to win a major, and the fourth in the last 10 years.

“Isn’t it incredible?” he said Sunday evening. “And one of the most amazing things is that South Africa, a small country, has won more majors than any country besides the United States post-World War II.”

Player didn’t just pull that number out of the air.

The South Africans – Player, Oosthuizen, Bobby Locke, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Trevor Immelman – have won 20 majors dating to the first of Locke’s first British Open titles in 1949.

Next on the list is Australia with 15 (Peter Thomson, Greg Norman, David Graham, Kel Nagle, Jim Ferrier, Wayne Grady, Steve Elkington, Ian Baker-Finch, Geoff Ogilvy), followed by Britain with 14 (Nick Faldo, Tony Jacklin, Sandy Lyle, Ian Woosnam, Paul Lawrie, Henry Cotton, Max Faulkner).

Player also claims Nick Price of Zimbabwe and his three majors, giving “Southern Africa” a total of 23.


DIVOTS: Louis Oosthuizen became the first player born after 1980 to have won a major. … Most of the 50-and-over players at St. Andrews headed up the coast to Carnoustie for the Senior British Open. Tom Pernice Jr. got on the charter to Toronto for the Canadian Open. “I’m playing the regular tour the rest of the way,” Pernice said. He has an exemption to The Greenbrier Classic, and is hopeful of making enough money the next two weeks to qualify for the PGA Championship. … The best measure of Phil Mickelson’s struggles in the British Open? Only once in 16 tries has he finished closer than nine shots of the winner.


STAT OF THE WEEK: The last three British Opens at St. Andrews have been won by a combined 20 shots.


FINAL WORD: “The SBS Championship is going to be like a European Tour event.” – British agent Chubby Chandler, on the PGA Tour’s winners-only tournament that starts the season in Kapalua.

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After Further Review: Nelson lost in the shuffle?

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 21, 2018, 3:40 am

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

On the Nelson's future ...

If the goal was “different” by bringing the AT&T Byron Nelson to Trinity Forest, consider it achieved. But bringing a world-class field south of Dallas could still be tricky.

Yes, the tournament can always rely on local resident and AT&T spokesman Jordan Spieth to throw his hat in the ring. But even with Spieth strolling the fairways this week, the field strength was among the worst all season for a full-point event.

The debut of the sprawling, links-like layout likely did little to sway the undecideds, with only the third round offering the challenging conditions that course co-designer Ben Crenshaw had envisioned. And the schedule won’t do them any favors next year, as a revamped itinerary likely puts the Nelson right before the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black.

The course will inevitably get better with age, and Spieth expects positive word of mouth to spread. But it might be a while before the stars truly align for an event that, for the moment, feels lost in the shuffle of a hectic schedule. – Will Gray


On Jordan Spieth's putting ...

Jordan Spieth’s putting is plainly bad right now, but it isn’t going to stay this bad forever.

He is the second ranked player on Tour in strokes gained: tee-to-green, just like he was last year. This putting slump has lingered, but it’s unfathomable to think this guy just forgot how to putt.

Sooner rather than later he’s going to remember he’s Jordan Spieth and the 40-footers are going to start pouring in. He’ll be telling Greller to go get the ball because he’s too far away and the tee is in the other direction.

Bottom line, the ball striking is for real and the putting slump will pass. He’ll win soon – maybe even as soon as this week. – Nick Menta


On golf and gambling ...

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court over tuned a federal ban on sports betting in most states, a move the PGA Tour and many professional sports leagues embraced as a tool to both build fan interest and grow revenue.

Experts estimate sports betting could become a $150-$200 billion annual industry, and even a small piece of that could be significant for golf, but there will be risks.

Unlike any other sport, golf is played on multiple fields simultaneously, which inherently creates risks when gambling is introduced to the equation. Although the Tour has gone to great pains to head off any potential problems, like all bets gambling comes with great rewards, and great risks. – Rex Hoggard

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Wise continues whirlwind ascent with first win

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 3:13 am

DALLAS – Still shy of his 22nd birthday, Aaron Wise continues to prove himself to be a quick learner.

Wise went from unheralded prospect to NCAA individual champ seemingly in the blink of an eye while at the University of Oregon. After eschewing his final two years of eligibility in Eugene, he won in Canada on the Mackenzie Tour in his third start as a professional.

He continued a quick learning curve with a win last year on the Web.com Tour to propel him to the big leagues, and he didn’t flinch while going toe-to-toe with Jason Day two weeks ago, even though the result didn’t go his way.

Faced with another opportunity to take down a top-ranked Aussie, Wise made sure he got the job done Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson – even though it took until dark.

With mid-day rains turning a firm and fast layout into a birdie barrage, Wise seamlessly switched gears and put his first PGA Tour title on ice in impressive fashion with a bogey-free 65. Deadlocked with Marc Leishman to start the day, Wise made six birdies in his first 10 holes and coasted to a three-shot win as the leaders barely beat the setting sun to avoid an anticlimactic Monday finish at Trinity Forest Golf Club.


Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos


As it turned out, the hardest part of the day was enduring the four-hour weather delay alongside his mother, Karla, as his afternoon tee time turned into a twilight affair.

“She was talking to me in the hotel about what a win could mean, what a second could mean, kind of taking me through all that,” Wise said. “I was like, I’ve got to calm down. I can’t just sit here. I said, ‘You’ve got to go.’ I kind of made her leave the room.”

Wise displayed some jitters right out of the gates, with a nervy three-putt par on the opening hole. But with several players going on birdie runs to turn what seemed like a two-man race into a much more wide-open affair, Wise went on a tear of his own with four birdies in a row on Nos. 7-10.

That gave him a window over Leishman and the rest of the chase pack, and he never looked back.

“I talked to myself and kind of made myself trust my putting,” Wise said. “These greens out here are really tricky, and for me to roll those putts in on 8 and 9 really kind of separated things.”

Leishman had held at least a share of the lead after each round, and the 34-year-old veteran was looking for his third win in the last 14 months. But a bogey on No. 10 coincided with a Wise birdie to boost the rookie’s advantage from two shots to four, and Leishman never got closer than three shots the rest of the way.

“He holed putts he needed to hole, and I didn’t,” Leishman said. “Hit a couple loose shots where I could have probably put a bit of pressure on him, and didn’t. And that’s probably the difference in the end.”

Instead of sitting next to a trophy in Dallas, Wise could have been closing out his senior season next week with an NCAA appearance at Karsten Creek. But the roots of his quick climb trace back to the Master of the Amateurs in Australia in December 2015, a tournament he won and one that gave him confidence that he could hold his own against the best in the world. He returned to Eugene and promptly told his coach, Casey Martin, that he planned to turn pro in the spring.

The same dogged confidence that drove that decision has been the guiding force behind a whirlwind ascent through every rung of the professional ladder.

“I just have a lot of belief in myself. I didn’t come from a lot. A lot of people don’t know that. I didn’t get to travel a bunch when I played junior golf,” Wise said. “Kind of all along it’s been very, very few moments to shine and I have had to take advantage of them.”

Despite that belief, even Wise admits that he’s “shocked” to turn only his second real chance to contend at this level into a maiden victory. But fueled by the memories of a close call two weeks ago, he put the lessons learned at Quail Hollow to quick use while taking the next step in an increasingly promising career arc.

“It was awesome, everything I dreamed of,” Wise said. “To walk up 18, knowing I kind of had it locked up, was pretty cool.”

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Grace celebrates birthday with final-round 62

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 1:51 am

DALLAS – Branden Grace celebrated his 30th birthday in style, making the biggest charge of the final round at the AT&T Byron Nelson.

Grace closed out a 9-under 62 as the sun began to set at Trinity Forest Golf Club, moving from outside the top 10 into a share of third place, four shots behind Aaron Wise. It equaled Grace’s career low on the PGA Tour, which he originally set last summer at The Open, and it was one shot off Marc Leishman’s course-record 61 from the opening round.

“Good birthday present. It was fun,” Grace said. “Little bit of imagination, little bit of luck here and there. You get more luck on the links golf course than maybe on a normal golf course.”


Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos


Weeks after Grace’s wife gave birth to the couple’s first child, he now has his best result on the PGA Tour since winning the RBC Heritage more than two years ago. As a world traveler and former Presidents Cup participant, the South African embraced an opportunity this week to go off the beaten path on an unconventional layout.

“It feels like a breath of fresh air coming to something different. Really is nice. I really enjoyed the golf course,” he said. “Obviously I think we got really lucky with the weather, and that’s why the scores are so low. It can bite you if it settles in a little bit in the next couple years.”

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Scott barely misses qualifying for U.S. Open

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 1:33 am

DALLAS – A birdie on the 72nd hole gave Adam Scott a glimmer of hope, but in the end even a closing 65 at the AT&T Byron Nelson wasn’t enough to earn an exemption into next month’s U.S. Open.

Scott entered the week ranked No. 65 in the world, and the top 60 in next week’s rankings automatically qualify for Shinnecock Hills. The cutoff was a big reason why the 2008 tournament champ returned for Trinity Forest’s debut, and midway through the final round it seemed like the Aussie had a shot at snagging a bid at the 11th hour.

Scott needed at least a solo ninth-place finish to pass an idle Chesson Hadley at No. 60, and while his 5-footer on the 18th green gave him a share of sixth place when he completed play, he ultimately ended up in a three-way tie for ninth at 15 under – barely short of a spot in the top 60.


Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos


“I tried to make the most of really favorable conditions today, and I did a pretty good job of it. Just never really got a hot run going,” Scott said. “I feel like I struggled on the weekend reading the greens well enough to really get it going, but I think everyone but the leaders did that, too. They’re not the easiest greens to read.”

Scott has played each of the last three weeks in an effort to earn a U.S. Open exemption, and he’ll make it four in a row next week when he returns to the Fort Worth Invitational on a course where he won in 2013. Scott still has another chance to avoid sectional qualifying by earning a top-60 spot at the second and final cutoff on June 11 following the FedEx St. Jude Classic.

Scott has played 67 majors in a row, a streak that dates back to 2001 and is second only to Sergio Garcia among active players. While he’s prepared to play each of the next three weeks in a last-ditch effort to make the field, he’s taking his schedule one event at a time with the hope that one more good result might take care of business.

“I’ll play next week and hopefully play really well, and give myself a bit of cushion so I can take a week or so off and try to prepare the best I can for the U.S. Open,” Scott said.