Westwood McIlroy get an extra US event

By Doug FergusonNovember 24, 2010, 2:38 am
PGA Tour

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy are among five international players who can play one additional PGA Tour event next year if they are eligible for The Players Championship.

The policy board adopted the change at its quarterly meeting last week. It allows a player like Westwood, who ordinarily could have played no more than three regular PGA Tour events, from having to choose between The Players Championship and another tournament.

Westwood said the tour informed him of the change last week.

Players who resign their membership or fail to play the minimum 15 events face a five-year period of playing only 10 tour events. Westwood gave up his U.S. membership in 2008 when he played only 10 times, while McIlroy decided this year to resign his membership.

Westwood prefers to play the Honda Classic (situated between two World Golf Championships), the Houston Open (the week before the Masters), and the St. Jude Classic, where he is the defending champion. Throw in The Players Championship, which has the deepest field and offers the highest purse in golf, and he would have to decide.

“That adds up to 11,” Westwood said Tuesday in Dubai, according to the London-based Guardian newspaper. “I would then have to pick between the Players and Memphis, and I don’t think anyone would have wanted that – not the PGA Tour or the sponsors.”

PGA champion Martin Kaymer said Tuesday he would not take up PGA Tour membership, but since he has never been a member, he can play 12 tournaments and the new policy would not effect him.

Along with Westwood and McIlroy, the policy could also help David Howell, Darren Clarke and Patrick Sheehan of Australia. That would depend if they are in the top 50 in the world and eligible for the four majors, three WGCs and Players Championship.

McIlroy is the defending champion at Quail Hollow. The new policy will enable him to play in the Honda Classic and the Memorial, along with The Players Championship.


TOUR BALLOTS: One way players could decide on their vote for player of the year would be to ask themselves this question: “Who’s season would I trade for mine?” That yielded this answer from Tiger Woods.

“Just about anyone else’s,” he said with a self-deprecating laugh.

The ballots have been mailed to PGA Tour members, who have until next Tuesday to submit their votes.

According to one player studying the ballot, the tour has offered up five candidates for player of the year – Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Phil Mickelson.

Mickelson is the only major champion (Masters). Furyk figures to be the favorite with three victories, including the Tour Championship and Transitions Championship against a strong field, and the FedEx Cup. Johnson and Els won twice, with Johnson twice playing in the final group of a major; while Kuchar captured only one tournament, but led the money list and won the Vardon Trophy.

Four players are on the ballot for rookie of the year, and while it would seem to be an easy choice – Rory McIlroy winning at Quail Hollow and finishing in the top three of two majors – it will be interesting to see how the membership regards his status as a rookie, and his decision not to join the tour next year.

The other candidates are Rickie Fowler (No. 22 on money list, Ryder Cup team), Puerto Rico winner Derek Lamely and Alex Prugh.

As for comeback player of the year, the popular choice is likely Rocco Mediate, who won the Fry’s.com Open after starting the year with only past champion’s status. He’s on the ballot with Greensboro winner Arjun Atwal and Stuart Appleby.


PRICE IS RIGHT: Among those who have decided to take one-time exemptions on the PGA Tour for being in the top 50 in career money was a former No. 1 player in the world – Nick Price.

Price, who turns 54 in January, is not expected to play much on the PGA Tour. There are enough gaps in the Champions Tour schedule that he wants to have the opportunity to play regular tour events to stay sharp, likely on courses where he feels he can still compete.

Three other players taking one-time exemptions from the top 50 are Tim Herron, Chris DiMarco and Steve Flesch.

Herron thought about taking his exemption last year, but decided to try to earn his card back through sponsor exemptions and his status as a past champion. He started the year at No. 42 in career earnings and slipped to only No. 44.


BIG WEEK OF GOLF: The strongest week in golf after the majors might be the week right after Thanksgiving, with two tournaments halfway around the world.

Phil Mickelson will be the only player from the top 10 in the world not playing. The two fields have combined to produce 25 of the top 30 in the world, with the others on the sidelines being Francesco Molinari, Adam Scott, Rickie Fowler and K.T. Kim.

Most of them will be at the Chevron World Challenge, hosted by Tiger Woods. The field at Sherwood Country Club features 13 of the top 20 in the world. Over in South Africa is the Nedbank Challenge, which has new No. 1 Lee Westwood. All but two players in its 12-man field – Tim Clark and Anders Hansen – are among the top 30.


MAJOR ENCORE: It’s been a tough year for the most recent batch of major champions.

Angel Cabrera (Masters), Lucas Glover (U.S. Open) and Stewart Cink (British Open) have failed to win a tournament since capturing their majors in 2009. Y.E. Yang (PGA Championship) went 17 events without a trophy until he won the Volvo China Open a week after the Masters, and he recently added the Korea Open for his second win this year.

Even so, none of the major winners from last year is among the top 35 in the world ranking. Yang is the highest at No. 40, followed by Cink (46), Glover (52) and Cabrera (53). They have combined to earn 343.11 world ranking points in 2010, which is 2.7 points more than Martin Kaymer has earned by himself.


DIVOTS: British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell and Charl Schwartzel have taken up PGA Tour membership for 2011. … John Merrick, Joe Ogilvie, James Nitties and Ted Purdy were among those who finished out of the top 125 on the PGA Tour money list to play in at least 30 tournaments. … Ron Balicki, with Golfweek magazine since 1983, will be the first noncoach inducted into the Golf Coaches Association of America Hall of Fame. Balicki was selected for his contributions to college golf. … Four players who won PGA Tour events in 2008 and earned two-year exemptions failed to get past the second stage of Q-School – Daniel Chopra (Kapalua), Parker McLachlin (Reno-Tahoe), Chez Reavie (Canadian Open) and Greg Kraft (Puerto Rico Open).


STAT OF THE WEEK: Of the top 10 players on the PGA Tour money list this year, Matt Kuchar was the only one to play in more than 25 tournaments. He played in 26.


FINAL WORD: “All he has to do is play like he did before and he’s going to be tough to beat.” – Phil Mickelson, on whether Tiger Woods can get back his aura.

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Watch: Tiger 'drops mic' in long drive contest

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 20, 2018, 12:44 am

Tiger Woods is in Las Vegas this weekend for the 20th annual Tiger Jam charity event that benefits his foundation.

During the tournament on Saturday afternoon, Woods challenged World Long Drive competitor Troy Mullins to a long drive contest.

 

A post shared by TROY MULLINS (@trojangoddess) on May 19, 2018 at 1:25pm PDT

Safe to say it looks like Tiger won.

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Sunday showdown for Wise, Leishman at Nelson

By Will GrayMay 19, 2018, 11:40 pm

DALLAS – While the swirling Texas winds may still have their say, the AT&T Byron Nelson is shaping up to be a two-horse race.

With a four-shot gulf between them and their closest pursuers, co-leaders Marc Leishman and Aaron Wise both stepped up to the microphone and insisted the tournament was far from over. That it wouldn’t revert to a match-play situation, even though the two men didn’t face much pressure from the pack down the stretch of the third round and have clearly distanced themselves as the best in the field through 54 holes.

But outside of an outlier scenario or a rogue tornado sweeping across Trinity Forest Golf Club, one of the two will leave with trophy in hand tomorrow night.

That’s in part because of their stellar play to this point, but it’s also a byproduct of the tournament’s new and unconventional layout: at Trinity Forest, big numbers are hard to find.

Even with the winds picking up during the third round and providing the sternest challenge yet, the field combined for only 16 scores of double bogey, and nothing worse than that.


Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos


There’s irony in a course called Trinity Forest offering a tree-less test, sure, but there are also no water hazards in play here. For the most part, players have been maxing out with bogey – and Leishman and Wise have combined for only six of those so far this week.

If someone from the chase pack is going to catch them, the two sharing the pole position aren’t going to do them any favors.

“I don’t really want to give them a chance,” Leishman said. “I’d love to go out and shoot a low one and make Aaron have to shoot a good score tomorrow to beat me, which, I fully expect him to shoot a good score.”

While Leishman has been somewhat of a late bloomer on the PGA Tour, with only one win across his first eight seasons, he now has a golden opportunity to add a third trophy in the last 14 months. He has felt right at home on a sprawling layout that reminds him of a few back in his native Australia, and he’s part of a Down Under invasion on a leaderboard that also includes Matt Jones (-13) and Adam Scott (-9).

While Wise briefly held sole possession of the lead, Leishman has seemingly held an iron grip on the top spot since opening his week with a blistering 61.

“Before last year, I was a pretty slow starter. I always got off to a slow start Thursday, or I’d be fighting to make the cut and have a good weekend to slide into the top 10,” Leishman said. “Getting into that round straight away on the first tee rather than the ninth green or something, which sounds like a really basic thing, but it’s something I didn’t do very well until last year.”

But as Leishman acknowledged, he likely can’t count on a stumble from Wise to help finish off a wire-to-wire victory. As the youngest player to make the cut this week, Wise is facing a challenge of taking down a top-ranked Aussie for the second time in as many starts.

While he came up short at the Wells Fargo Championship, tying for second behind Jason Day, he remains supremely confident that he can put those hard-earned lessons to use this time around.

“I feel like it’s a great opportunity,” Wise said. “It will obviously be a huge day for me. I feel like having one go at it already, I’m a little more confident going into it this time.”

Even among the landscape of the Tour’s promising next wave, Wise stands out as a particularly young gun. Still only 21, he could feasibly be heading to Karsten Creek next week with his Oregon Duck teammates to close out his senior season with another NCAA championship appearance.

But Wise turned pro after winning the NCAA individual title as a sophomore, and he steadily worked his way through the professional ranks: first a win on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada, then one last summer on the Web.com Tour.

Now he’s poised to turn what he described as a “lackluster” season before his Quail Hollow runner-up into one that defies even his own expectations.

“Absolutely, I am way ahead of the curve. It’s pretty hard to do what I’ve done at such a young age. Only a few have done it,” Wise said. “I feel like I’m getting some great experience for a kid this young. It’s only going to serve me well down the road.”

An unpredictable Coore-Crenshaw layout will have one more day to star, and outside of Wise the top six names on the leaderboard have at least one Tour win to their credit. But after the two men traded punches on a firm and fast afternoon, it sure feels like the final round is shaping up to offer more of the same.

For Leishman, it’s a chance to add another notch to some quickly expanding credentials; for Wise, it’s an opportunity to win on the one level he has yet to do so.

“It’s golf, at the end of the day. If you play better than everyone else, you’re going to win,” Wise said. “That’s why I play it. That’s why I love this sport, and tomorrow is nothing different.”

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5 thoughts from NCAA Women's Championship Day 2

By Ryan LavnerMay 19, 2018, 11:35 pm

The field is almost halfway through stroke-play qualifying at the NCAA Women’s Championship. Here are some thoughts on the first two days at Karsten Creek:

1. UCLA is on a mission. Just a year ago, the Bruins were headed home from regionals after becoming the first No. 1 seed that failed to advance out of the qualifying tournament. This year, with the core of the team still mostly intact, the Bruins have opened up a five-shot lead on top-ranked Alabama and a comfortable 16-shot cushion over Southern Cal in third place. On one of the most difficult college courses in the country, UCLA has received contributions from all four of its usual counters – standout Lilia Vu shot 68 on Saturday, while Mariel Galdiano posted a 69. Freshman Patty Tavatanakit and junior Bethany Wu also broke par. This is a strong, deep lineup that will pose issues for teams not just in stroke-play qualifying, but also the head-to-head, match-play bracket.

2. What happened to Arkansas? Riding high off their first SEC Championship and a dominant regional performance, the Razorbacks were considered one of the top threats to win the national title. But entering Sunday’s third round of stroke play, they need to hold it together just to ensure they make the top-15 cut. Arkansas is 32 over par through two rounds. The Razorbacks had shot in the 300s just once this season in the play-five, count-four format. Here at Karsten Creek, they’ve now done so in consecutive rounds.

3. The Player of the Year race is heating up. With a decent showing at nationals, Arkansas’ Maria Fassi should have been able to wrap up the Annika Award, given annually to the top player in the country. She has six individual titles, plays a difficult schedule and is well-liked among her peers. But through two rounds she’s a whopping 15 over par while spraying it all over the map. If the Razorbacks don’t survive the 54-hole cut, neither will Fassi. That’d open the door for another player to steal the votes, whether it’s UCLA’s Vu or Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho. There’s a lot still to be decided.

4. Stanford has steadied itself. One of the biggest surprises on Day 1 was the horrendous start by the Cardinal, one of just two teams to advance to match play each of the three years it’s been used to determine a national champion. They were 19 over for their first nine holes Friday, but instead of a blowup round that cost them a shot at the title, they’ve found a way to hang tough. Stanford has been just 4 over par over its last 27 holes. Andrea Lee made only one bogey during her second-round 69, Albane Valenzuela eagled the 18th hole for a 73 and senior leader Shannon Aubert – who has been a part of each postseason push – carded a 74. And so, even with its early struggles, coach Anne Walker once again has Stanford in position to reach match play.

5. Karsten Creek is identifying the best teams. The top teams in the country want a difficult host venue for NCAAs – it helps separate the field and draws an unmistakable line between the contenders and pretenders. Only one team (UCLA) is under par after 36 holes. Fewer than a dozen players are under par individually. The dearth of low scores might not be the greatest advertisement for how talented these players are, but the cream has still risen to the top so far: Five top-10 teams currently sit inside the top 7 on the leaderboard (and that doesn’t even include last year’s NCAA runner-up Northwestern). This is all any coach wants, even if the scores aren’t pretty.

Quick hits: Cheyenne Knight, part of Alabama’s vaunted 1-2-3 punch along with Lauren Stephenson and Kristen Gillman, shot rounds of 70-69 to figure in the mix for individual honors. The junior will turn pro after nationals. …  Arizona’s Bianca Pagdanganan made a hole-in-one on the 11th hole Saturday en route to a 68 that tied the low round of the day. She’s at 5-under 139, same as Knight. ... Defending champion Arizona State, which lost star Linnea Strom to the pro ranks at the halfway point of the season, is 35 over par after two rounds. … Play was delayed for nearly an hour and a half Saturday because of inclement weather.

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Wise (21) makes Leishman (34) feel a little old

By Will GrayMay 19, 2018, 10:55 pm

DALLAS – With the final round of the AT&T Byron Nelson likely to take on a match-play feel, Marc Leishman likes his chances to close out another win – even if his opponent makes him feel a little old.

Leishman, 34, shares the lead at Trinity Forest Golf Club with 21-year-old Aaron Wise, who was the youngest player to make the cut at the tournament’s new venue. The two men will start the final round at 17 under, four shots clear of their next-closest pursuers.

Leishman played the third round alongside Wise and Brian Gay, and he originally didn’t realize just how fresh-faced his fellow co-leader is.


Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos


“He’s a solid player for, I heard this morning he’s only 21. I didn’t realize that,” Leishman said. “I guess I was in high school before he was born, so that’s – I don’t know. You hear guys talk about that all the time but I’ve never said that, I think. Yeah, he’s a good player.”

Wise won the 2016 NCAA individual title while at Oregon, and he opted to turn pro after his sophomore season. While he could have been capping his senior season with a return to the NCAAs next week, Wise is pleased with the career choice and remains eager for a chance to close out his first career PGA Tour win against a seasoned veteran.

“I feel like I’m in a great spot for tomorrow,” Wise said. “I feel like I’m getting some great experience for a kid this young. It’s only going to serve me well down the road.”