Lets Get to the Masters

By Kraig KannFebruary 11, 2005, 5:00 pm
Were heading into the weekend at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and while we dont know whos going to win, we do have quite a collection of winners so far on the PGA Tour.
In order, Stuart Appleby, Vijay Singh, Tiger Woods, Justin Leonard and Phil Mickelson. Gee whiz, thats strong! And Ernie Els has been within a whisker of winning not once but twice thus far. So check out the World Golf Rankings. Three of the top four players have a victory already.
Im as big a fan of the PGA Tour as youll find, but given the way the season started, Im ready for the Masters. No more tournaments necessary.
Im a bit sorry to say that because I absolutely love the Players Championship. But unless you can guarantee me another Sunday 64 by the likes of a champion like Davis Love III, Ill gladly sacrifice, pass, and start thinking azaleas and dogwoods pronto.
OK, we all know that wont happen. So lets be realists about things and given that the schedule gives us another month and a half of tournaments before Phil Mickelson begins Round 1 of his title defense, here are some things that could give us a few other good stories leading up to the drive to Magnolia Lane:
  • How about Colin Montgomerie finds his way into the World Golf Rankings Top 50 the week prior to the Masters? Hes 71st right now. Monty is always capable of a good storyline and contention. Id like to see him in the field.
  • Id like to see Joey Sindelar in the field. Joey just missed out on the Top 40 on the PGA Tour money list last year. Hed need to be among the Top 50 in the world, be among the PGA Tours Top 10 in money or have won the 2005 Players Championship by the time we are a week away from Augusta.
  • Lets get Mike Weir going. Hes been too good over the last few years not to arrive at the Masters without some gusto. The year after his Masters win was a honeymoon. This year it would be nice to see him arrive as a serious contender. Come to think of it, a Weir-Mickelson Sunday left-handed duel at Augusta would be rather entertaining in my book.
  • Could we get a rookie on the PGA Tour to make some noise? How about a guy like D.A. Points? Im not expecting a blast into the Top 50 in the world. But a surprise win would sure bring up the talk of should the Masters field include winners again. Im all for it.
  • I might not tell you which players are my rooting favorites very often. At least thats the goal unless you read well between the lines. But Id really like to see Darren Clarke get hot. A win at the WGC Accenture Match Play would be just fine. Clarke is as good for the fans as he is for the media. His wife has been battling cancer which has really thrown the Northern Irishman for a loop. Lets send him some magic, get him a win or two and bring him to the Masters looking to win a major for himself and for his family.
  • Call me crazy, but I still think Bernhard Langer has a chance at another Green Jacket. The European Ryder Cup captain pulled his name from contention to lead the team the next time around because he really believes he can play his way onto the team. Check his record of late ' I believe him. Watch him in the weeks leading up to Augusta. If Crenshaw could find a way in 1995 then so too can Bernhard.
  • Go crazy Ernie! Go crazy! At the beginning of the year I picked Els to win the Masters. I also picked him to win PGA Tour Player of the Year honors. Els walked away from last years Masters a bit of a broken man. Hell get a Green Jacket before hes done. If he gets back to the States and picks up a few wins - or at least one - hell be just where he needs to be to get the job done.
  • Wheres Davis been? Davis Love III opened at the AT&T with a low round. A two-time winner of the event at Pebble Beach, if IIIrd can get a third, hell gain some confidence and make us wonder about his chances once again.
  • Apparently Phil Mickelson is serious about a successful defense. Period. Enough said.
  • The single best thing that could happen in the coming weeks is for the big names to keep on winning. But if Tiger, Vijay, Mickelson and company keep it up, were in for the biggest media circus youve seen heading into the Masters in years.
    By the way, as it currently stands 96 players have qualified for the Masters in April. Id like to see a few more names added to that list. Go ahead, find me some who arent already qualified ' Ill listen. Tell me what the best story might be heading into Mondays practice round on April 4th ' Im all ears.
    And FYI the gates open at 8 A.M.
    Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
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    Stricker shares first-round lead in South Dakota

    By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2018, 12:48 am

    SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Steve Stricker shot a 7-under 63 on Friday to share the first-round lead at the Sanford International.

    The 51-year-old Stricker was 8 under through 17 holes at chilly, rain-softened Minnehaha Country Club but closed with a bogey to fall into a tie with Jerry Smith, Brandt Jobe and David McKenzie.

    Stricker only got to play seven holes in the pro-am because of rain that prevented the field from getting in much practice.

    ''You've just kind of got to trust your yardage book and hit to the spots and then try to make a good game plan on the way into the green, too, not really knowing where to hit it or where to miss it up there on the green. Sometimes it's good, too,'' Stricker said. ''You go around and you're focused a lot more on hitting it to a specific spot and not knowing what lies ahead in the course. So I guess today was the ultimate 'Take one hole at a time' because we didn't really know anything else, what was coming.''

    Full-field scores from the Sanford International

    Stricker has two wins and has not finished worse than fifth in six starts this season on the over-50 tour as he continues to play a part-time schedule on the PGA Tour. Next week, he will be one of U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk's assistants at the matches outside Paris.

    McKenzie, a 51-year-old Australian, had two eagles on the back nine, holing a wedge from 116 yards on the par-5 16th.

    ''We got told ... to play faster on No. 16, and so my caddie just said, 'Hit it in the hole so you don't have to putt it,' so I just did what he told me,'' McKenzie said.

    Smith had eagles on Nos. 4 and 12.

    ''Honestly, I was just trying to hit some good shots and I really wasn't with the irons,'' Smith said. ''I just really didn't like the way I hit them today. You know, just the putter was the big difference for me. I just felt good with it all day, especially say outside of 10, 15 feet, where I felt like I was a lot.''

    Scott McCarron, Lee Janzen and Paul Goydos were one shot back. McCarron came in second in the Charles Schwab Cup money standings behind Miguel Angel Jimenez, who is not playing this week.

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    Glover (64) leads Web.com Tour Championship

    By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2018, 12:12 am

    ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover shot his second consecutive 7-under 64 on Friday to take a one-shot lead at the Web.com Tour Championship.

    The 38-year-old Glover, who won the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, can still regain his PGA Tour card through a medical extension if he fails to earn enough money in the four-tournament Web.com Tour Finals. But a high finish this weekend at Atlantic Beach Country Club would take care of everything.

    ''I've got a lot to fall back on regardless of this week, but any time I tee it up, I want to play well,'' Glover said. ''Tomorrow won't be any different. Sunday won't be any different.''

    Glover had arthroscopic knee surgery in June and will have eight starts to earn 53 FedEx Cup points and keep his card. He earned $17,212 in the first three Web.com Tour Finals events. The top 25 money winners in the series earn PGA Tour cards, and the final card went for $40,625 last year.

    Glover was at 14-under 128. Denny McCarthy, who has already earned enough money to secure a return to the PGA Tour, was one shot back. McCarthy, a former Virginia player, has a shot at winning the Finals money list, which would guarantee him fully exempt status and entry into The Players Championship.

    Full-field scores from the Web.com Tour Championship

    ''There's no secret about it. I'll come out and tell you I'm here to win this tournament and get that No. 1 spot,'' McCarthy said. ''I've been hungry for a while. I have a pretty hungry attitude and I'm going to stay hungry.''

    Tour veteran Cameron Tringale, who has earned just $2,660 after missing two of the first three cuts, was 12 under after a 67. Last year, Tringale entered the Web.com Tour Championship at 63rd on the Finals money list and finished tied for fifth to get back onto the PGA Tour. He struggled again this season, though, missing 19 cuts in 26 starts.

    ''Yeah, I was hoping last year was my last time here, but I do have a comfort at this golf course and I'm excited to keep pressing,'' Tringale said.

    The four-tournament series features the top 75 players from the Web.com regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top 25 finishers on the Web.com regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals.

    Sepp Straka and Ben Silverman were three shots back. Each would likely need a top-5 finish to earn his card.

    Peter Malnati, who regained his card with a second-place finish in the opening finals event, followed his opening-round 74 with a 9-under 62, shooting an 8-under 27 on his second nine.

    Four-time PGA Tour winner Aaron Baddeley was among those who missed the cut. He was 22nd on the finals money list going in and likely will fall short of earning his card.

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    Thomas (69) only three back with 'C' or 'D' game

    By Rex HoggardSeptember 21, 2018, 11:56 pm

    ATLANTA – Justin Thomas was tied for fourth place following his second-round 69 on Friday at the Tour Championship, which considering the state of his game on Day 2 was an accomplishment.

    “I wish I had my 'B' game today. I would say I had my 'C' or 'D' game today,” he laughed.

    Thomas’ struggles were primarily with his driver and he hit just 6 of 14 fairways at East Lake, but he was able to scramble late in his round with birdies at Nos. 15 and 18 to remain three off the lead.

    Projected FedExCup standings

    Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

    Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    “I drove it so poorly today, this is probably in my top 5 rounds of the year I'm most proud of just because I easily could have shot 4- or 5-over par today and not had a chance to win the tournament,” he said. “I hung in there and birdied two of the last four, and I have a chance.”

    Thomas was slowed the last two weeks by a right wrist injury that limited his preparation for the finale and said the issue with his driver is timing and the byproduct of a lack of practice.

    Thomas made up for his erratic driving with his short game, getting up and down four out of seven times including on the fourth hole when he missed the fairway well left, punched out short of the green and chipped in from 81 feet.

    “[Rory McIlroy] just kind of said it looked like a ‘3’ the whole day and I kind of laughed because I played with him at The Players and I chipped in three times that first round with him, so I guess he's good luck for me,” Thomas said.

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    McIlroy two behind Woods, Rose after 68

    By Rex HoggardSeptember 21, 2018, 11:46 pm

    ATLANTA – Maybe it should be no huge surprise that Rory McIlroy finds himself back in contention at the Tour Championship. It is, after all, a Ryder Cup year.

    In 2016, McIlroy won the finale before heading to Hazeltine and posting a 3-2-0 record. In ’14, he finished runner-up to Billy Horschel and went 2-1-2 at the Ryder Cup; and in ’12 he finished tied for 10th place at East Lake and went 3-2-0 at Medinah.

    “I was on such a high a couple of years ago going into Hazeltine after winning the whole thing, and I felt great about my game that week and played well. I won three matches,” McIlroy said. “I guess it doesn't matter whether it's a match play event or whatever. If you're playing well and you've played well the week before, I think most people can carry it into the next week, whatever that is.”

    Projected FedExCup standings

    Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

    Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    McIlroy’s performance this week certainly qualifies as “playing well.” He charged out on Friday with birdies at two of his first three holes and bounced back from a pair of late bogeys to shoot a 68 and was in third place and two strokes off the lead held by Tiger Woods and Justin Rose.

    “I've made 12 birdies in 36 holes, which is really good around here, and that's with not birdieing either of the par 5s today,” he said. “So yeah, just tidy up the mistakes a little bit.”