Dangling the Same Carrot
Everyone wants the year only Tiger Woods seems to be able to put together. And the great thing about the PGA Tour is that every card-carrying member has the same opportunity that Tiger has. In fact, some would argue that with Woods playing a significantly fewer number of events than others, the true 'iron men' have the chance to dwarf Woods' money total at year's end.
Of course, they have to play like Tiger to do it. And that's not easy to do. Still I always find it funny that some players find a way to see the deck stacked against them instead of looking at just how high the deck is stacked with opportunity.
Earn your way to the PGA Tour and you can set yourself up for life with a couple of good weeks. Heck, the way the Tour is right now with purses approaching unheard-of millions, you might lose your card but still find a way into a bigger house with a new boat to boot.
And so, as the New Year dawns with the first full-field event of the year taking place this week in Honolulu (the Sony Open), you can once again root for the likes of Sergio Garcia, David Toms or Davis Love III. All of them are scheduled to compete and try to chase down Woods atop the money list while holding off the surging superstar Charles Howell, who figures to make a bigger impact in 2002.
But also think about what it might be like to be Australian John Senden or Australian Buy.Com grad Rod Pampling. They've come to the United States in search of the world's best competition and now have a chance to reach next year's Mercedes Championships just like Tiger can do by winning a tournament.
So who might be a player to watch if you like rooting for the new breed? How about starting with 27-year-old Chad Campbell. All he's done since turning pro is win at every level. He made more than $800,000 in a few years on the Hooters Tour, and then jumped ahead to the Buy.Com Tour to win three times in his rookie season. Now he's at golf's grandest stage and you can expect the consistent success to continue. A win wouldn't be a shock.
Everybody knows about Matt Kuchar, the humble man with the megawatt smile and the solid game. He earned his way with sponsor invites and has the game to capitalize on the moment. But keep an eye on a pair of Q-School grads from Northwestern University. Englishman Luke Donald is more well known than his former All-America teammate, Jess Daley. But both could have big weeks with the big boys. They each had rounds of 65 at the Q-School finals, and neither man shot higher than 71 that week. While Donald won the NCAA individual title as a Wildcat, Daley was an All-America in only his senior season. But Daley is a big, powerful swinger with a good sense of the game and a lot of maturity.
All 15 of the Buy.Com Tour's graduates are set to play in the Sony. Aside from Campbell, watch out for young gun Jonathan Byrd. The Clemson University grad won early on the Buy.Com Tour in 2001 and heads to the next level with a huge work ethic. I've always liked Virginian John Rollins. He's been to the Tour before and fared fairly well. This is his second crack at it. He's coming off a very successful season on the Buy.Com Tour, and will stare down almost anybody. He's not afraid to win.
Thirty of the 36 who earned cards at Q-School are set to play the Sony. That number will grow as alternates get the call. But Boo Weekley is inand you'd be wise to take note. If nothing else, the laid back self-proclaimed Pensacola, Fla., 'good ol' boy' is entertaining. Playing in rain pants because of a skin condition and sneakers because golf shoes hurt his feet, the 28-year-old is more mild-mannered than Clark Kent and more well-mannered than Forrest Gump. Listen to him and you'll know why people have taken notice and want the best for him.
Remember that everybody has a chance to win a tournament, make the big money and hit the celebrity jackpot. It's not just about getting the card to play on tour - it's what you do with it once you get there.
Just imagine - the Mercedes Championships in January of 2003 WITHOUT Tiger Woods. It could happen. Because on the PGA Tour, it doesn't matter if you've come from Q-School or high school, the opportunity is the same and that carrot that's dangling in front of the pros is bigger than ever.
Simpson overtakes DeChambeau in Ryder Cup race
A T-12 finish at The Open allowed Webb Simpson to move past Bryson DeChambeau into the eighth and final automatic qualifying spot in the U.S. Ryder Cup points race with just three weeks to go.
Simpson finished the week at 3 under, five shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. Adding another strong result to his win at TPC Sawgrass and T-10 finish at the U.S. Open, he's now edged in front of DeChambeau by less than 41 points. But with players earning one point per $1,000 each of the next two weeks and 1.5 points per $1,000 at the PGA Championship, the race is far from over.
Jordan Spieth's T-9 finish strengthened his position at No. 6, as the top six players are essentially assured of qualifying automatically. Rickie Fowler held onto his spot at No. 7, while Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner both moved onto the bubble following T-2 finishes at Carnoustie. After a T-6 finish, Tiger Woods jumped from 31st to 20th.
Here's a look at the updated American standings, with the top eight after the PGA qualifying automatically and captain Jim Furyk adding four picks in September:
1. Brooks Koepka
2. Dustin Johnson
3. Patrick Reed
4. Justin Thomas
5. Bubba Watson
6. Jordan Spieth
7. Rickie Fowler
8. Webb Simpson
9. Bryson DeChambeau
10. Phil Mickelson
11. Xander Schauffele
12. Matt Kuchar
13. Kevin Kisner
14. Tony Finau
15. Brian Harman
On the European side, Molinari was already in position to qualify automatically but is now assured of a spot on Thomas Bjorn's roster this fall. Fellow major champs Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy also solidified their footing with runner-up performances.
Here's a look at how things look for the Europeans, with the top four from each list after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:
1. Francesco Molinari
2. Justin Rose
3. Tyrrell Hatton
4. Tommy Fleetwood
1. Jon Rahm
2. Alex Noren
3. Rory McIlroy
4. Paul Casey
Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish
NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.
Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.
The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.
Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.
The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.
Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him
It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.
Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.
The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:
The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.
For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.
Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter
After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.
But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.
Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":
Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.