Tour players rank awards, wins

By Rex HoggardOctober 15, 2011, 7:59 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – It is shaping up to be the “Showdown in O-Town,” a mano-a-mano title bout for all the cash and historic considerations complete with a smidge of trash talking.

“There was never really a decision to be made, I have a chance of making history. See you all at Disney next week,” Luke Donald tweeted on Friday after news surfaced he would join Webb Simpson next week at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic. The post came complete with a hash-tag kicker, “bring it on.”

Donald and Simpson have turned the often foregone race for the PGA Tour money title into something worth watching because both have proven the cash crown is something worth wanting.

Where, however, the money title ranks on Tour types' “to do” lists depends almost entirely on who you ask. On Saturday at the McGladrey Classic an impromptu poll of players resulted in an eclectic mix of opinions.

Asked to rank the importance of winning a major championship, the FedEx Cup, the money title, the Player of the Year Award and taking over the top spot in the World Golf Ranking, every player began their list with Grand Slam glory.

“If you’ve had a really good career but when you’re done if you look back and don’t have (a major) you’d probably have some regrets,” Shaun Micheel said.

That Micheel already has his Grand Slam keepsake (2003 PGA Championship) speaks to the divergent motivations that are the basis of players’ “bucket lists.” Despite his major victory Micheel has finished inside the top 80 in earnings just twice since 2000, which would at least partially explain his affinity for the money title, which he ranked second.

“The (FedEx) Cup winner is kind of like the winner of the Super Bowl, but at the end of the year winning the money title shows how consistent you were,” he said. “There’s a reason Luke is coming back: He wants that money title.”

Combined, Donald and Simpson have 23 top-10 finishes this year, three victories and just five missed cuts. Although both came up short in the race for the FedEx Cup the allure of the money title has drawn both players to next week’s finale.

“I was talking to my wife about it; if you win the money list you're probably added to a list of maybe 50 guys,” said Simpson, who trails Donald on the money list by about $69,000. “So it would be a pretty prestigious list to be a part of.”

Actually, there have been 37 players who have claimed the Tour money title since 1934, a club almost as exclusive as the 10 players who have won the Jack Nicklaus Trophy for Player of the Year since it was first awarded in 1990.

Most players, however, don’t share the would-be cash king’s desire for green gold. In fact, the money title was a middle-of-the-pack entry on most players’ lists.

“A major is No. 1, being No. 1 in the world is 1B . . . if you ask my accountant the FedEx Cup would be 1A,” Charles Howell III smiled. “Fourth would be the Player of the Year and fifth would be the money title.”

It’s telling that the rank and file preach consistency, particularly when asked who may get their vote for Player of the Year, but based on unofficial polling it’s the quick hit (a major) that is the most coveted accolade.

To win a major a player needs to have a great week, the FedEx Cup requires a great month, the Player of the Year Award may come down to a great news cycle, the money title is the result of a great year and the top spot in the World Ranking requires two solid years.

“We base everything off how many times we get in contention,” Robert Garrigus said. “The money title is a five-year exemption, a major is a 10-year exemption and the FedEx Cup is a lot of money, and that’s all good, but I’d rather win a major, preferably the Masters.”

Although the Player of the Year Award – which is an even more crowded race than the money title with five legitimate players vying for votes – was often at the bottom of many players' “bucket lists,” Jonathan Byrd ranked the Nicklaus Trophy second on his list. Having won the 2002 Rookie of the Year Award Byrd considers a nod from the frat brothers something that should not be taken lightly.

“With the Player of the Year you’d look back and say you’re the best that year,” Byrd said. “If I were to win that I’d consider it very special.”

Similarly, the convoluted nature of the World Golf Ranking – combined with Tiger Woods’ stranglehold on the top spot for the better part of a decade – relegated the No. 1 ranking to also-ran status on most lists.

Byrd, for example, ranked the top spot in the world third on his list “because the (points) system is not perfect.” But Kevin Streelman and D.A. Points had a much greater affinity for the perception, if not the points, of being world No. 1.

“If you don’t want to be No. 1, if that’s not high on your list then why are you out here?” Points figured.

While Streelman took the long view, factoring in the two-year window needed to climb to the top of the global heap and the need to be consistent throughout to stay atop the pack.

“It’s great golf consistently,” he said. “There’s a lot of talk about the way they do the points system, but if you look at the guys who have held it over the past couple of years it’s pretty tough to debate.”

In short, majors rule, but we already knew that. It is telling that the FedEx Cup has 10 million reasons to inspire the masses but is still considered something of a result, not a reason to work harder.

It is the money title, the historical benchmark for greatness, and World Ranking, reviled by many as convoluted, that are still highly coveted by Tour types. Just ask Donald and Simpson.

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Dunlap, in 'excruciating pain,' shares early Dominion lead

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:29 pm

RICHMOND, Va. – Scott Dunlap and Fran Quinn shot 5-under 67 on Friday to share the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Fighting a left wrist injury that will require surgery, Dunlap matched Quinn with a closing birdie on the par-5 18th on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''Maybe excruciating pain is the key to playing good golf because I'm not getting nervous on a shot, you're just trying to get through it,'' Dunlap said. ''The worst parts are gripping it and getting the club started ... that's when that bone hits that bone.''

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic

The 55-year-old Dunlap entered the week 29th in the standings. Playing through the wrist injury, he's coming off ties for ninth and seventh in his last two starts.

''I think I finally taped it the right way,'' Dunlap said. ''Or maybe it's the pain meds kicking in. I don't know, one of the two.''

Quinn is 64th in the standings.

''I finished up strong last year, too, kind of secured my privileges for the following year making eagle on 18,'' Quinn said. ''I played solid all day. I had a lot of opportunities. A couple hiccups.''

Jay Haas was a stroke back with Kent Jones, Stephen Ames, Woody Austin and Tim Petrovic. The 64-year-old Haas won the last of his 18 senior titles in 2016.

Vijay Singh and Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, were at 69 with Joey Sindelar, Tom Gillis, Billy MayfairLee Janzen, Glen Day and Gene Sauers.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer opened with a 70. The 61-year-old German star won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the points lead. He has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

Defending Charles Schwab Cup champion Kevin Sutherland had a 71. He's 14th in the standings. No. 3 Jerry Kelly shot 72. No. 4 Scott McCarron, the 2016 tournament winner, had a 74.

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Weather continues to plague Valderrama Masters

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 7:55 pm

SOTOGRANDE, Spain  -- Marc Warren helped his chances of retaining his European Tour card by moving into a tie for second place behind Englishman Ashley Chesters at the rain-hit Andalucia Valderrama Masters on Friday.

Bad weather interrupted play for a second straight day at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain before darkness caused the second round to be suspended until Saturday, with overnight Chesters still ahead at 5-under.

Weather delays on Thursday, including a threat of lightning, had kept 60 golfers from finishing their opening round. They included Scottish player Warren, who went out on Friday and finished his first round with a 2-under 69.

He then made three birdies to go with one bogey on the first nine holes of the second round before play was halted. He joined Frenchman Gregory Bourdy one shot behind Chesters.

Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters

''I'm hitting the ball as well as I have in a long time,'' Warren said. ''Hitting fairways and greens is the most important thing around here, so hopefully I wake up tomorrow with the same swing.''

Chesters and Bourdy were among several golfers unable to play a single hole in the second round on Friday.

Warren, a three-time European Tour winner, has struggled this season and needs a strong performance to keep his playing privileges for next year.

Currently ranked 144th, Warren needs to break into the top 116 to keep his card.

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Watch: Is this the up-and-down of the year?

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 3:30 pm

Play away from the pin? Just because there's a tree in your way? Not Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. Watch him channel some Arnie (or, more appropriately, some Seve) with this shot in the Valderrama Masters:

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Cut Line: Johnny's exit, Tiger's fatigue

By Rex HoggardOctober 19, 2018, 2:06 pm

In this week’s edition we bid farewell to the most outspoken and insightful analyst of his generation and examine a curious new interpretation that will require players to start paying attention to the small print.

Made Cut

Here’s Johnny. After nearly three decades Johnny Miller will hang up his microphone following next year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Miller called his first tournament as NBC Sports/Golf Channel’s lead analyst in 1990 at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and he told Cut Line this week that at 71 years old he’s ready to relax and spend time with his 24 grandchildren.

“I was the first guy with an open microphone,” Miller said. “That requires a lot of concentration. It’s not that I couldn’t do it but the handwriting was on the wall; it would be more of a challenge.”

Miller will be missed for his insight as much as his often-blunt deliveries, but it’s the latter that made him one of a kind.

A long ride to the right place. After nearly four years of legal wrangling a group of PGA Tour caddies dropped their class-action lawsuit against the circuit this week.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in early 2015 in an attempt by the caddies to secure marketing rights for the bibs they wear during tournaments as a way to create better healthcare and retirement benefits.

The district court largely ruled against the caddies and that ruling was upheld by an appeals court earlier this year, but better healthcare options may still be in the cards for the caddies.

“I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the Association of Professional Tour Caddies.

Sajtinac told Cut Line that the Tour has offered a potential increase to the longtime stipend they give caddies for healthcare and in a statement the circuit said talks are ongoing.

“The PGA Tour looks forward to continuing to support the caddies in the important role they play in the success of our members,” the statement said.

It’s rare when both sides of a lawsuit walk away feeling good about themselves, but this particular outcome appears to have ended with a favorable outcome for everybody involved.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

A long haul. Tiger Woods acknowledged what many had speculated about, telling a group this week at his annual Tiger Woods Invitational at Pebble Beach that his season-ending push and his first victory in five years took a physical toll at the Ryder Cup.

“It was just a cumulative effect of the entire season,” Woods said on Tuesday. “I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf and on top of that deal with the heat and the fatigue and the loss of weight.”

Woods went 0-4 for the U.S. team in France and appeared particularly tired on Sunday following the European victory at Le Golf National.

For Woods the result was worth the effort with his victory at the Tour Championship ending a five-year drought, but his play and concession that it impacted him at the Ryder Cup does create some interesting questions for U.S. captain Jim Furyk, who sent Woods out for both team sessions on Saturday.

Tweet(s) of the week: @BobEstesPGA (Bob Estes) “I spoke to a past Ryder Cup captain yesterday. We both agreed that there should be a week off before the [Ryder Cup] to adequately rest and prepare.”

Given Woods’ comments this week it seems likely he would agree that a break – which may become the norm with the Tour season ending three weeks earlier – would be helpful, but Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts had a slightly different take in response to Estes’ tweet. “I’m afraid a different schedule wasn’t gonna make the fairways wider. On that particular course with how we played, [the United States] had absolutely no chance. Hasn’t more than half the euros played playoffs too?” Colsaerts tweeted.

It’s never too early to get a jump on the 2020 trash talking.

Missed Cut

By the book. The USGA and R&A’s most recent rulemaking hill involved the use of green-reading materials. On Monday the game’s rule-makers unveiled new interpretations on what will be allowed starting next year.

Out will be the legal-sized reams of information that had become ubiquitous on Tour, replaced by pocket-sized books that will include a limited scale (3/8 inch to 5 yards).

While the majority of those involved were in favor of a scaled-back approach to what to many seemed like information overload, it did seem like a curious line to draw.

Both sides of the distance debate continue to await which way the rule-makers will go on this front and, at least in the United States, participation continues to be a challenge.

Banning the oversized green-reading books may have been a positive step, but it was a micro issue that impacted a wildly small portion of the golf public. Maybe it’s time for the rule-makers to start looking at more macro issues.