After All

By Jerry FoltzNovember 4, 2002, 5:00 pm
The 2002 PGA Tour season finally came to a close in Jackson, Miss., in a somewhat disappointing manner. After weather suspended play during the final round on Sunday, tour officials were hopeful that a dry Sunday night would result in playable conditions for a Monday finish. Despite the tremendous efforts of an ultra-dedicated grounds crew, the course was deemed unplayable on Monday morning, and the waiting game was finally over.
 
In the end, Luke Donald became the second rookie to win on the PGA Tour in 2002, and his victory came one week following the first rookie to win, Jonathan Byrd. The victory and its importance wasnt lost on Donald, who moved up to 58th on the year-end money list, but it was the tournament within the tournament that provided the widest grins.
 
Jay Williamson finished in a tie for fifth, earned $85,150, and jumped from 134th in earnings to 125th, thus grabbing that coveted final exempt spot on the 2003 PGA Tour. He was almost giddy when interviewed by Curt Byrum. Even though he had a legitimate chance to win his first PGA Tour event, Jay use a football analogy akin to taking points off the board. He then added, Id be lying if I told you I was disappointed in the outcome.
 
Deane Pappas and Brad Elder also made huge jumps up the money list. Pappas second-place finish vaulted him from 170th to 129th, and Elders third-place finish resulted in a climb to 147th. Ultimately, these were probably the biggest two changes. Finishing inside the top 150 guarantees, at the very minimum, some status on the PGA Tour next year and it also includes an exemption through the preliminary stages of Q-School. Outside the top 150 only carries the benefit of being a conditional member of the Nationwide Tour for 2003.
 
My mother always said that a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush, said Pappas in responding to the question about whether he was disappointed not to have a chance to play the final round and win the tournament. In truth, his professional outlook just got much brighter due to the dark clouds. This is the biggest check, by far, of my career and itll help pay for that new house. But my world is now much better than it was when I got here, said a smiling Pappas. I certainly didnt want to play in these conditions.
 
As is always the case at the final tournament, there were a few disappointed players. Most notably was David Frost who missed the cut and ultimately fell out of the top 125. Short of a successful Q-School, Frost will still have a full schedule, but it wont always be at his choosing. Hell be relegated to sponsors exemptions and entry into some of the smaller tournaments.
 
One of the stories that didnt get much publicity but certainly provided some heartache was the plight of Bryce Molder. This story is a bit more complicated to explain because Molder isnt a member of the PGA Tour. Well, sort of.
 
Earlier this season, Bryce earned enough money to equal the top 150 from the 200 money list. This feat earned Molder a special temporary member designation and allowed him to receive unlimited sponsors exemptions. Entering the Southern Farm Bureau Classic, Bryce was just inside the top 150. Well, sort of. He was listed on the non-members money list. This list was created so that the WGC tournaments didnt skew the PGA Tour money list by including players who didnt otherwise compete on the PGA Tour. Now this is where it gets a little confusing.
 
Had Bryce Molder earned enough money to finish inside this years top-150, his name still wouldnt be included on the official money list, but he would have received an exemption into the finals of Q-School. However, he still wouldnt have received the same conditional status that is guaranteed to both Pappas and Elder on next years PGA Tour. Well, he missed the cut and fell just outside the top 150.
 
Now if Molder were a PGA Tour member and finished in that same position, he would have been included in the top 151-200 category. This category is guaranteed conditional status on the Nationwide Tour and is granted access ahead of most of the other conditional categories. As it stands for Bryce, he earned nothing of the kind by his PGA Tour performance this year. He did, however, earn conditional status on the Nationwide Tour based on his play on that tour this year in limited starts.
 
What all this means is that if he doesnt have a successful Q-School, Molder is basically starting from scratch in 2003. When he was explaining all this to my puzzled face on Friday afternoon, he said, I dont really understand it either. I didnt make the rules, but those same confusing rules are what allowed me to play 22 events on the PGA Tour this season. He seemed grateful. The kid has a great attitude, and his eventual success is all but a given. Hopefully, it wont take him long to earn his permanent place on the PGA Tour.
 
Included were a record 18 first-time winners on the PGA Tour including back to back rookies to end the year; two veterans, Sauers and Forsman, resurrecting their careers with victories; a surprise name change on the Senior Tour; one of the greatest seasons in the history of the LPGA Tour authored by Annika Sorenstam; a high school junior contracting mono and getting a medical exemption for next year; and a technicality mandated the rain-shortened Buy.Com Tour Championship all combined to make this one of the most unusual seasons ever.
 
I cant wait to do it all again next year.
 
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Schauffele just fine being the underdog

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Jordan Spieth: 7/4

Xander Schauffele: 5/1

Kevin Kisner: 11/2

Tiger Woods: 14/1

Francesco Molinari: 14/1

Rory McIlroy: 14/1

Kevin Chappell: 20/1

Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

Alex Noren: 25/1

Zach Johnson: 30/1

Justin Rose: 30/1

Matt Kuchar: 40/1

Webb Simpson: 50/1

Adam Scott: 80/1

Tony Finau: 80/1

Charley Hoffman: 100/1

Austin Cook: 100/1

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Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

“This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

“I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

“I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

“We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

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Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”