Plenty of pressure looms in Web.com Tour finale

By Jason CrookSeptember 20, 2014, 11:44 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – It’s rare to find a sporting event that’s equally captivating at both ends of the leaderboard, yet that’s exactly what Sunday at TPC Sawgrass promises. The winner gets a trophy, but so do the losers, metaphorically speaking. Forty-nine of them, to be exact.

Sunday will be all about establishing position on the priority list for the 2014-15 PGA Tour season. Who’s in? Who’s out? Where does everyone fall on the list? If you can keep up with that, then you deserve a cookie. Everyone else … sit back, relax and enjoy the drama as it unfolds.

While technically 50 cards are up for grabs, 25 of them are already spoken for. The top 25 regular-season money earners from the Web.com Tour are all heading to the PGA Tour next season, with their priority ranking determined by their finish here on Sunday.


Numbers game: How the priority rankings work


The remaining 25 cards will go to the top earners from the month-long Finals series, where Bud Cauley, Adam Hadwin and Justin Thomas won the first three events.

“It’s tough. It’s what it is, you’ve got to grind it out, it’s the last tournament of the year, a lot of things can happen and we’re doing the best we can,” Chad Collins machine-gunned a volley of clichéed yet accurate observations. Collins, after an even-par 70 on Day 3, sits 52nd in the projected priority rankings, two spots out of a PGA Tour card.

Never mind the lack of names you’re used to pulling for (or against) in final rounds. Sunday is arguably the most pressure-packed day in golf.

When Rory or Phil or Tiger have a less-than-stellar final round, they are consoled with a private jet ride home. If Tag Ridings (No. 51) or Vaughn Taylor (No. 53) or Roberto Castro (No. 50) don’t bring their best stuff on Sunday, it means another year of not reaching their ultimate goal. Another year of – another cliché alert – “every shot counts.”

Those guys that go by one name, they get as many shots as they want. These guys tomorrow are playing for their livelihood.

“It turns your hair gray, you lose some hair,” said Ridings, who is just one spot out of the final Tour card through 54 holes.

At the other end of the spectrum – you know, at the top of the leaderboard, where you’re used to looking – we have players playing for more than a Tour card. Derek Fathauer, who leads by one shot through 54 holes, and some others are playing for a real chance to excel on the PGA Tour next year.

The higher you can climb on the priority list, the more events you can ultimately play. Thanks to Carlos Ortiz’s missed cut, Hadwin has a chance to finish first in the priority rankings, guaranteeing a fully exempt Tour card next season and a spot in the 2015 Players Championship.

“I really haven’t worried about it, these playoffs. I’ve just tried to go out and have some fun and tried to enjoy myself and just pick targets and fire at pins when I feel the need to,” said Hadwin, who’s four off the lead after a 3-under 67 and projected to finish No. 1 in the priority rankings.

Whether you’re watching the top or the bottom of the leaderboard Sunday, at the end of the day, there will be 50 men leaving TPC Sawgrass with their 2014-15 PGA Tour cards, a harsh reality that some will take better than others.

“Hopefully I can play well tomorrow and slip in there in [the] top 50 and get my card back, but if not, I’m looking forward to deer season the rest of the year and hanging the clubs up until January and then start back up again,” said Collins.

Let’s hope there are some other hunters playing Sunday, or at least some guys with hobbies besides golf. Because there’s a good chance one shot will be the difference between someone realizing their dream, and someone taking solace in “there’s always next year.”

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 9:20 am

Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.


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McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

Said Harmon:

“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.

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How The Open cut line is determined

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:57 am

Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.

The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


• After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.

• There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.

• There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.

The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.