Par 5: Moneyball

By Randall MellOctober 11, 2011, 2:40 pm

Setting the agenda for the week ahead with five questions for tournament golf at large ...

Will Webb Simpson make Luke Donald squirm?

Simpson can overtake Donald as the PGA Tour’s leading money winner this week.

With a finish of 15th or better at the McGladrey Classic, Simpson can jump over Donald to the top spot. Simpson’s won twice in his last five starts and trails Donald by $68,971 with just two events remaining to decide the money title.

It’s possible Simpson and Donald both turn up at the Children’s Miracle Network Classic next week at Disney World. Though Donald’s commitment seems unlikely, especially with his wife expecting their second child in a couple weeks, he told reporters last week he hasn’t yet ruled out the possibility. Donald is aiming to become the first player to win the money titles on the PGA Tour and European Tour in the same season.

If Simpson and Donald both turn up at Disney, they turn that event upside down. Usually, the season-ending event is all about the other end of the money list, the battle to secure Tour cards with a top-125 finish on the money list.

Where does Rickie Fowler rank among the game’s best young players?

So many young players are stepping up now. We’ve seen Martin Kaymer (26) grab the No. 1 world ranking after winning the last major in 2010, Charl Schwartzel (26) win the Masters, Rory McIlroy (22) run away with the U.S. Open, Keegan Bradley (25) claim the PGA Championship, Jason Day (23) challenge in multiple majors, Simpson (26) make a run at the PGA Tour money title and Matteo Manassero (18) win a pair of European Tour titles.

It seems as if they’ve all buzzed past Fowler in the last year or so, but the buzz is back around Fowler heading to the McGladrey Classic this week. You look at all those players listed above, and nobody carries more potential to excite fans than Fowler should he start winning. Fowler’s Q-rating potential has to rank above even McIlroy’s should Fowler win a major.

With Fowler claiming his first professional victory Sunday at the Kolon Korea Open, he brings momentum and confidence to Sea Island, Ga., this week in his bid to win his first PGA Tour title. Fowler, 22, may not have beaten a deep field in South Korea, but he beat McIlroy by six.

In 55 PGA Tour starts, Fowler’s finished second four times. He was runner up at the Open in just his second PGA Tour start as a pro in 2009, logged second-place finishes last year at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and at the Memorial and finished second this year at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

'Time to get my first win @pgatour!” Fowler tweeted after winning in Korea.

So just how young is the game going to get?

With Fowler jumping into the top 25 of the world rankings this week, the game feels like it’s never been younger at the top.

If you go back to the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black in the summer of 2009, there was just one player in his 20s in the top 10 in the world rankings. Sergio Garcia was the lone wolf, and he barely qualified at 29 years and 6 months.

Today, there are four players in their 20s among the top 10 (McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Kaymer and Day).

The average age of the top 10 in the world back at that U.S. Open in ’09 was 37 years old.

Today, the average age of the top 10 is 31 and threatening to get younger in a hurry.

No. 10 Phil Mickelson, at 40 years old, is vulnerable to getting bumped. Poised to take his place in the top 10 are Nick Watney (30) at No. 11, Simpson at No. 12 and Schwartzel at No. 13.

With Fowler’s move, 10 of the top 25 players in the world rankings today are in their 20s. There were six among the top 25 in the summer of ’09.

What’s the upside for Bud Cauley once he gets a PGA Tour card?

Add Cauley to the growing list of rising young stars.

As predictors of success go, earning your PGA Tour card without having to go to Q-School ranks way up there.

Since 1980, the only players to go from college to the PGA Tour in the same season without a trip to Q-School are Gary Hallberg, Phil Mickelson, Justin Leonard, Tiger Woods and Ryan Moore. They all went on to win PGA Tour events with three of the five winning majors.

Cauley, 21, who turned pro this summer with one year of eligibility left at the University of Alabama, virtually assured he’ll win exempt PGA Tour status next year with his non-member earnings. With a third-place finish at the Open Sunday, Cauley won $340,000, pushing his non-member earnings to $671,150 for the season. That’s the equivalent of 114th on the money list. If his winnings rank among the top 125 at season’s end, he gets a PGA Tour card. 

Cauley will tee it up at the McGladrey’s Classic this week looking to pad his earnings. He gained the spot with his top-10 finish at the Open.

Will Yani Tseng build a larger lead as world No. 1 than Tiger Woods did?

Tseng is putting a stranglehold on the world rankings in women’s golf, extending her reign at the top to a 35th consecutive week.

With Tseng coming off a victory at the LPGA HanaBank Championship last weekend, her sixth LPGA title of the year, she arrives at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia this week as the favorite again.

The LPGA brought the top 10 money winners into a news conference in Malaysia Tuesday, where a reporter asked players if they were beginning to feel like they were playing for second place with Tseng dominating.

ldquo;We never really want to go into a tournament feeling like we’re playing for second, but Yani is having a fantastic year,” Cristie Kerr said. “Any time she’s on the front page of the leaderboard, she is going to be a very strong factor, and she has a lot of confidence right now. Definitely don’t want to feel like that, but she’s very hot at the moment, and we are all trying to do our best job out there.”

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(Not that) Jutanugarn shares lead with (not that) Ko

By Associated PressApril 22, 2018, 1:58 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn overcame a poor start and birdied the 18th for a hard-earned 1-under 70 to tie Jin Young Ko at 9 under on Saturday going into the final round of the HUGEL-JTBC LA Open.

Ko shot a 66 at Wilshire Country Club in her bid to become the year's first two-time LPGA winner. She won the Women's Australian Open in February, her first victory as an official tour member.

Jutanugarn is trying to match younger sister Ariya as a tour champion. Seven-time winner Ariya was tied for 27th after a 72 in the third round.

Hall of Famer Inbee Park was two shots back in third after a 69. Her birdie putt for a share of the lead on 18 slid just by the hole.

Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open

Moriya Jutanugarn's round included a double bogey on the par-4 first hole and a bogey on the par-4 sixth. She eagled the par-4 14th after holing out from the fairway 93 feet away. The ball took once bounce and went in, eliciting a stunned look from Jutanugarn before she high-fived her caddie.

Jutanugarn read the break perfectly to make birdie on 18 and share the lead with Ko.

Playing two groups ahead of Jutanugarn, Caroline Inglis also eagled the 14th. She briefly jumped up and down and smiled. She shot a 69 and was four shots back in a tie for sixth with Minjee Lee.

Aditi Ashok eagled 14 early in the round.

Ko did some scrambling of her own. Her ball found a sandy hazard on the 17th with a scoreboard and a winding creek in between her and the green 190 yards away. Her approach landed just off the green and she made par. Her round included six birdies and a bogey on 16.

Eun-Hee Ji (70) and American Marina Alex (72) were tied for fourth at 6 uner.

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng shot a 70 and was in a six-way tie for 12th at 2 under.

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Defending champs Singh, Franco take senior lead

By Associated PressApril 22, 2018, 12:15 am

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco took the third-round lead Saturday in the windy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

Singh and Franco shot a 7-under 47 in wind gusting to 20 mph on the Top of the Rock par-3 course to get to 19-under 145, a stroke ahead of the teams of David Toms-Steve Flesch and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett.

''It was a tough day,'' Singh said. ''The wind was swirling, have to get the club right and we made some putts. Carlos played really well on the back nine and I played really well on the front nine, so we ham-and-egged it a little.''

Toms and Flesch also shot 47, and Broadhurst and Triplett had a 33 on the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course.

''We just paired well together,'' Toms said. ''I don't think either one of us played great. We picked each other up out there.''

Wind and rain is expected Sunday when the teams finish at Top of the Rock, again playing the front nine in alternate shot and the back nine in better ball.

''Make as many birdies as possible and see what happens,'' Singh said. ''That's all we can do.''

Singh and Franco are trying to become the first to successfully defend a title since Jim Colbert and Andy North in 2001. Singh won the Toshiba Classic in March for his first individual senior title.

Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf

Flesch won the Mitsubishi Electric Classic last week in Georgia for his first senior victory.

Tom Lehman and Bernhard Langer had a 34 at Mountain Top to join Spanish stars Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jose Maria Olazabal at 17 under. Jimenez and Olazabal had a 33 at Mountain Top.

''It's great for me to be able to play with him as a team member,'' Olazabal said. ''We do have great memories from the Ryder Cup and other events, and it's always a great pleasure to play with a great player and a friend.''

Langer took the final-round forecast in stride.

''We've done it hundreds of times before and we'll probably do it again,'' Langer said. ''We'll make the best of it. We both have a good attitude. We're known to play in all sorts of weather and I just look forward to playing one more day with my partner here.''

Wisconsin neighbors Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly were 16 under after a 48 at Top of the Rock.

John Daly and Michael Allen, the second-round leaders after a 46 at Top of the Rock, had a 37 at Mountain Top to drop into a tie for seventh at 15 under.

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Landry shares Valero lead, eyes first career win

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 11:15 pm

After coming up just short of a breakthrough win earlier this season, Andrew Landry has another chance to earn his maiden victory at the Valero Texas Open.

Landry came within inches of winning the CareerBuilder Challenge in January, ultimately losing to Jon Rahm in a four-hole playoff. He struggled to find form in the wake of his close call, missing the cut in each of his four starts following his runner-up finish in Palm Springs.

But Landry took some time off to welcome his first child, Brooks, last month and he made it to the weekend in his first start back last week at the RBC Heritage, where he finished T-42. He made a move up the standings Saturday at TPC San Antonio with a bogey-free 67, and at 13 under shares the lead with Zach Johnson heading into the final round.

"I just did everything really good," Landry told reporters. "I was staying patient and just trying to make a bunch of pars. This golf course can come up and bite you in a heartbeat, and I had a couple bad putts that I didn't really make. I'm happy with it, it's a good 5-under round. Gets me in the final group tomorrow and we'll see what happens."

Landry started the day one shot off the pace and in the final group with Johnson and Ryan Moore, and at one point he took sole possession of the lead after birdies on three of his first six holes. Now he'll have another chance in the day's final tee time where he's grouped with Johnson and Trey Mullinax, who sits one shot back after firing a course-record 62 in the third round.

For Landry, it's another opportunity to break into the winner's circle, and it's one for which he feels prepared after coming so close three months ago.

"I mean, I don't want to go too deep into it because I don't want to sound cocky or anything, but I just believe in myself. There's no other explanation for it," Landry said. "You can totally get out here and play with Zach Johnson, Ryan Moore, two top players in the world, and you can go out there and fold under pressure or you can learn a lot.

"Zach's always been a role model to me the way he plays golf, I feel like we have very similar games, and it's just going to be fun tomorrow getting to play with him again."

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Z. Johnson, Landry share 54-hole Texas Open lead

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 10:56 pm

SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson birdied the par-5 18th Saturday at the Valero Texas Open for a share of the third-round lead with Andrew Landry, a stroke ahead of record-setting Trey Mullinax.

Johnson shot a 4-under 68, holing a 10-footer on 18 to match Landry at 13-under 203 at TPC San Antonio's AT&T Oaks. Landry birdied the 16th and 17th in a 67.

Johnson won the event in 2008 and 2009, the last two times it was played at LaCantera. The 42-year-old Iowan is trying to win for the first time since the 2015 British Open.

''I've got 18 holes to get to that point,'' Johnson said. ''I've got to do exactly what I did on the back side and that was give myself opportunities on every hole. I'm putting great, I'm seeing the lines well, my caddie's reading the greens well, so it's just a matter of committing and executing down the stretch.''

The 30-year-old Landry is winless on the tour.

''I'm a good putter and I just need to give myself a lot of opportunities tomorrow like I did today,'' Landry said. ''I'll be looking forward to tomorrow.''

Mullinax had a course-record 62. He played the back nine in 7-under 29, going 6 under on the last five with eagles on the par-5 14th and 18th and birdies on 16 and 17. He also birdied Nos. 10 and 12 and bogeyed 11.

''It's probably one of the best rounds I've ever had,'' Mullinax said. ''To go out there and shoot 62 on a hard golf course is really good.''

Johnson played the front nine in even par with two birdies and two bogeys. He birdied Nos. 11, 14, 15 and 18 on the back nine.

Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos

''Different wind today early on, misjudged some numbers, misjudged some wind, made some bad swings, all of the above,'' Johnson said. ''But truthfully, my short game was actually pretty good, my putting was great. I missed some putts, but I hit some really good ones, hit some lines and I gave myself opportunities especially on the back side.''

Landry had a bogey-free round.

''I just did everything really good,'' Landry said. ''I was staying patient and just trying to make a bunch of pars. This golf course can come up and bite you in a heartbeat.''

Ryan Moore was two strokes back at 11 under after a 70. Sean O'Hair had a 65 to join 2015 champion Jimmy Walker (67), Chris Kirk (68) and 2013 winner Martin Laird (69) at 9 under.

''I just feel like I'm getting closer and closer to playing better and better golf, more solid golf, putting rounds together,'' Walker said. ''I'm excited for the opportunity tomorrow.''

Mullinax has made 42 of 44 putts from inside 10 feet this week.

''They just kind of remind me of greens from home,'' Mullinax said. ''My caddie, David (Flynn), has been reading them really well. We trusted each other on our reads and I've been hitting good putts. Been working hard on putting on the weeks off that I've had so it's good to see some results.''

The 25-year-old former Alabama player chipped in for the eagle on 14 and the birdie on the par-3 16th.

''It was just a little bit down the hill,'' he said about the 16th. ''All you had to do was just land it just past that little light grass spot. My caddie told me just read it like a putt, so I tried to just read it like a putt and it went in.''

On 18, he hit a 3-iron from 255 yards to 15 feet to set up his eagle putt. He broke the course record of 63 set by Matt Every in 201 and matched by Laird in 2013. The tournament record is 60 at LaCantera, by Bart Bryant in 2004 and Johnson in 2009.