Punch Shot: Web.com Finals vs. Q-School?

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 30, 2013, 8:23 pm

The inaugural Web.com Finals have come and gone with 50 players earning their PGA Tour cards for the 2013-14 season on Sunday. And while the new qualifying system is here to stay, there is some debate over whether it is better than the old Q-School. GolfChannel.com writers debate which system they prefer.


By REX HOGGARD

There were moments on Sunday afternoon at TPC Sawgrass when the Web.com Tour Championship delivered the kind of excitement we’ve come to expect when players face the ultimate opponent – unemployment. But those moments were few and far between, at least compared to the annual drama Q-School produced.

Andres Gonzales’ plight – a missed 18 footer for par at the last hole that cost him his 2013-14 PGA Tour card – was heartbreak in HD; while Brad Fritsch and Andrew Loupe’s final-round charges were the stuff of legend. But it wasn’t Q-School.

One golf scribe summed up the central difference between the old qualifying process and the new – this season’s four-event Web.com Tour Finals – is that at the Fall Classic you play for score, at the Finals you play for money.

Confusion, more so than a climactic finish, ruled the day on Sunday at TPC Sawgrass, with calculators replacing clinched fists as family and friends tried to track the progress of big league hopefuls. Brendon Todd shot the round of the day (a 5-under 65), but he was already exempt for next season via his finish in the top 25 on the regular-season Web.com Tour money list.

And what drama there was on Sunday at the finale was largely absent for the first three Finals events as a byproduct of the new system’s volatility. Consider that Loupe missed the cut in the first three qualifying events yet earned his card with a tie for sixth at the Tour Championship.

The new system is here to stay, but that doesn’t mean it’s better. 


By RYAN LAVNER

The Web.com Tour Finals represent a marked improvement, assuming, of course, that the necessary tweaks are made before next fall.

At its core, the Finals better identifies the players that will graduate to the PGA Tour because it is a four-week series, not a six-day marathon. In the old format, with so many good players, with everyone so desperate to secure playing privileges, one poor round could be the difference between competing on the PGA and Web.com tours. Now, players can afford an off-week – or three – and still receive their card.

The tweaks to the current system are obvious: The money breakdown is so drastic that it required players to post only one good finish to lock up their Tour card, and the priority ranking should be skewed more toward the 25 players who earned their card through the season-long money list.

Even so, just like the FedEx Cup, this new series will only get better with age.


By JASON SOBEL

After the first implementation of the Web.com Finals, this much is evident to me: It’s a much improved alternative to Q-School.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m neither heartless nor unromantic. I do love the idea that a guy can go from working in a pro shop, then pay his thousands of dollars to play Q-School and be teeing it up alongside the Tigers and Phils of the world a few months later. And really, I wish there were still a few PGA Tour cards – five sounds about right – still handed out at the annual grindfest.

But if the PGA Tour is looking to promote the best players to its most elite circuit, then the Web.com Finals will accomplish that goal. Rather than six rounds in a single location, players are tested during 16 rounds in four different locations. A greater sample size should equal a greater return in talent, too.

This isn’t unique to golf, either. Think about it: If you were running a business and hiring candidates, would you want to promote those who proved their worth over the longer haul or those who showed one brief flash of brilliance? Give me longevity every time.

In golf, many are often reluctant to change, viewing anything new as similarly unsatisfactory. That’s not the case here, though. While the Web.com Finals could use some tweaks, it’s clear that it beats the previous system.


By RANDALL MELL

Give me the Web.com Tour Finals with a few tweaks.

And give me Q-School, too.

Hey, if you can have your cake, why not eat it, too?

There was an appeal to the Web.com Tour Finals, though the drama doesn’t build as intensely as it does at Q-School. What drama that exists does unfold with more confusion than Q-School did. That’s where the PGA Tour needs to do some tweaking. How about just giving Tour cards to the top 15 money winners from the Web.com Tour regular season and forego the nonsense of making them play for priority rankings in the Web.com Tour Finals? Give them the top 15 priority rankings from these categories.

After that, stage your Web.com Tour Finals using players who finished Nos. 16-75 on the Web.com Tour regular-season money list with players who finished Nos. 126-200 on the PGA Tour money list and let them play for 25 Tour cards. Priority rank them behind the top 15 from the Web.com Tour regular season.

And then bring back PGA Tour Q-School but cut the cards awarded to 10.

That’s 50 PGA Tour cards won via three different routes. Doing it this way, the Web.com Tour’s regular season would be more justly rewarded, you would still have the new appeal of the Web.com Tour Finals – and you would keep the romantic notion of Q-School where players (including collegians) can come out of nowhere and win a Tour card.

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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”

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Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06

By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.

Hoylake in 2006.

That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.

So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”

With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?

“The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”