Pressure Packed Week Begins

By Sports NetworkOctober 28, 2003, 5:00 pm
What's at stake? Only your livelihood and a chance to play with the big boys in 2004. That's what the top-55 players on the Nationwide Tour's money list will be experiencing this week at the Nationwide Tour Championship, as they try to gain entrance to the PGA Tour next season.
 
The rules have changed for 2003, as the top 20 players on the season-ending money list (top 15 in 2002) will graduate to the PGA Tour next year. Only $8,542 separates number 20 from 25th on the money list, as Kyle Thompson holds down the 20th position. Players who finish 21-55 are exempt for the 2004 season on the Nationwide Tour.
 
Last season, weather played a key role in determining the champion, as the event was shortened to 54 holes. When it was all said and done, Patrick Moore came out on top, as he posted a two-shot win over Steven Alker, Mike Heinen and Jeff Klauk.
 
With the victory, he earned the automatic Battlefield promotion to the PGA Tour. Earlier in the season, Moore won the Richmond Open and Lake Erie Charity Classic. He became just the fifth player in history to receive the promotion. For the first time since 1993, a player in the top-15 on the money list entering this event wasn't bumped out.
 
Klauk is once again in need of a top finish, as he ranks 36th on the money list and must win or place second to gain his PGA Tour card for 2004. Among the notable players who won this event are: former British Open champion David Duval, who titled in 1993, Allen Doyle in 1995, who is once again having a sensational year on the Champions Tour and former U.S. Ryder Cup player Stewart Cink, who earned the title in 1996.
 
There has never been a wire-to-wire winner of this event. The first two years, Pumpkin Ridge in Oregon played host to this tournament while the event was held at Settindown Creek in Georgia in 1995-96. The 1997 event was held on the Lake Course at Grand National Golf Club in Opelika, Alabama, while the 1998 tournament was staged at Magnolia Grove outside of Mobile, Alabama. The 1999-2000 events were held at Highland Oaks, part of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, which has hosted this event since 1997.
 
This is the third consecutive year in which the Senator Course at Capital Hill is hosting the tournament. The state of Alabama is hosting the tournament for the seventh time in 11 seasons.
 
There have been two playoffs in event history, the last coming in 1999 when Bob Heintz defeated Marco Dawson. The 2001 winning total of 284 was the highest in event history, bettering the mark of 283 set in 1995 by Allen Doyle and John Maginnes, Bob Burns in 1998 and Heintz and Dawson in 1999.
 
The only two players who were outside the top 15 heading into the Tour Championship and jumped in by winning the event were: Bob Heintz and Steve Flesch. Flesch captured the event in 1997 and gained his PGA card after beginning the tournament 24th on the money list.
 
Heintz, who won in 1999, started the event in the 16th spot and shot up to sixth on the money list. The purse was increased by $25,000 from last year. Heintz is the only past champion of this event in the field this week.
 
The hottest player on Tour has to be Jason Dufner, who has surged into the top-20 with three consecutive top-five finishes. Dufner, who ranks 10th on the money list, is the only player in the top 19 without a win.
 
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    Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

    Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.

    Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.

    Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.


    Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


    "I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."

    Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:

    Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.

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    Immelman misses Open bid via OWGR tiebreaker

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:25 pm

    A resurgent performance at the Scottish Open gave Trevor Immelman his first top-10 finish in more than four years, but it left him short of a return to The Open by the slimmest of margins.

    The former Masters champ turned back the clock this week at Gullane Golf Club, carding four straight rounds of 68 or better. That run included a 5-under 65 in the final round, which gave him a tie for third and left him five shots behind winner Brandon Stone. It was his first worldwide top-10 since a T-10 finish at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.

    There were three spots available into The Open for players not otherwise exempt, and for a brief moment it appeared Immelman, 38, might sneak the third and final invite.


    Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


    But with Stone and runner-up Eddie Pepperell both not qualified, that left the final spot to be decided between Immelman and Sweden's Jens Dantorp who, like Immelman, tied for third at 15 under.

    As has been the case with other stops along the Open Qualifying Series, the tiebreaker to determine invites is the players' standing in the Official World Golf Rankings entering the week. Dantorp is currently No. 322 in the world, but with Immelman ranked No. 1380 the Swede got the nod.

    This will mark Dantorp's first-ever major championship appearance. Immelman, who hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2013 Masters, was looking to return to The Open for 10th time and first since a missed cut at Royal Lytham six years ago. He will instead work the week at Carnoustie as part of Golf Channel and NBC's coverage of The Open.

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    Stone (60) wins Scottish Open, invite to Carnoustie

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:06 pm

    There's never a bad time to shoot a 60, but Brandon Stone certainly picked an opportune moment to do so.

    Facing a jammed leaderboard in the final round of the Scottish Open, Stone fired a 10-under 60 to leave a stacked field in his wake and win the biggest tournament of his career. His 20-under 260 total left him four shots clear of Eddie Pepperell and five shots in front of a group that tied for third.

    Stone had a mid-range birdie putt on No. 18 that would have given him the first 59 in European Tour history. But even after missing the putt on the left, Stone tapped in to close out a stellar round that included eight birdies, nine pars and an eagle. It's his third career European Tour title but first since the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December 2016.


    Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


    Stone started the day three shots behind overnight leader Jens Dantorp, but he made an early move with three birdies over his first five holes and five over his first 10. Stone added a birdie on the par-3 12th, then took command with a three-hole run from Nos. 14-16 that included two birdies and an eagle.

    The eye-popping score from the 25-year-old South African was even more surprising considering his lack of form entering the week. Stone is currently ranked No. 371 in the world and had missed four of his last seven worldwide cuts without finishing better than T-60.

    Stone was not yet qualified for The Open, and as a result of his performance at Gullane Golf Club he will tee it up next week at Carnoustie. Stone headlined a group of three Open qualifiers, as Pepperell and Dantorp (T-3) also earned invites by virtue of their performance this week. The final spot in the Open will go to the top finisher not otherwise qualified from the John Deere Classic.

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    Daly (knee) replaced by Bradley in Open field

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 12:13 pm

    Former champion John Daly has withdrawn from The Open because of a right knee injury and will be replaced in the field at Carnoustie by another major winner, Keegan Bradley.

    Daly, 52, defeated Costantino Rocca in a memorable playoff to win the claret jug at St. Andrews in 1995. His lingering knee pain led him to request a cart during last month's U.S. Senior Open, and when that request was denied he subsequently withdrew from the tournament.

    Daly then received treatment on the knee and played in a PGA Tour event last week at The Greenbrier without the use of a cart, missing the cut with rounds of 77-67. But on the eve of the season's third major, he posted to Twitter that his pain remains "unbearable" and that a second request for a cart was turned down:

    This will be just the second time since 2000 that Daly has missed The Open, having also sat out the 2013 event at Muirfield. He last made the cut in 2012, when he tied for 81st at Royal Lytham. He could still have a few more chances to improve upon that record, given that past Open champions remain fully exempt until age 60.

    Taking his place will be Bradley, who was first alternate based on his world ranking. Bradley missed the event last year but recorded three top-20 finishes in five appearances from 2012-16, including a T-18 finish two years ago at Royal Troon.

    The next three alternates, in order, are Spain's Adrian Otaegui and Americans Aaron Wise and J.B. Holmes.