In an announcement last Wednesday, Tiger Woods withdrew his name from consideration as a Captain’s pick for the upcoming Ryder Cup. In doing so, Woods avoided the potentially uncomfortable situation of being chosen when his health and play clearly didn’t merit a selection or the ignominy of not being picked at all by U.S. Captain, Tom Watson. Since Woods is not in the Top 125 in this year’s FedEx Cup points, he is not qualified to play in the next three weeks’ Playoff events, so it may be 2015 before we see Woods play in another Tour event.
The Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, NC was the host for the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship this weekend and was witness to the re-emergence of one the Tour’s biggest stars. Winless since 2010, dashing Columbian, Camilo Villegas, closed with a superb 7-under par, 63, in Sunday’s final round for a 4-day total of 17-under and a one shot win over Bill Haas and Freddie Jacobson. After becoming one of the Tour’s marquee players, Villegas lost his game and even his card in 2012 when mired in an inexplicable slump. Now a seasoned veteran at 32, Villegas has seen the professional game from all angles (he is famous for his “Spiderman” method of lining up his putts) and this win may give him the impetus to once more be at it’s forefront.
Journeyman professional, Kevin Sutherland, made Champions Tour history in Saturday’s second round of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open by shooting the first 59 in the 50 and over Tour. Playing the par 72 En-Joie Golf Club in Endicott, NY, Sutherland was an amazing 14-under par before making a bogey on the closing hole. Hard to imagine any disenchantment with a 59, but a 58 would have been the first recorded at a PGA Tour sanctioned event. What a difference a day makes. On Sunday all of Saturday’s aura evaporated for Sutherland as he would shoot a 2-over par, 74 and tie for 6th behind Bernhard Langer. This was Langer’s fourth win of the year on the Champions Tour and he has now logged an incredible 14 top 10 finishes in 15 events.
The U.S. Ryder Cup team’s 9 automatic qualifiers were determined after last week’s PGA Championship. On paper the Americans appear to be a decided underdog to the European side. Compelling evidence of Europe’s strength is that 4 of the 5 OWGR players (“Official World Golf Rankings”) are European; Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose, each of whom are stalwarts of Europe’s recent domination. The 9 Americans in order of qualifying are, Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, Jimmy Walker, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Zach Johnson. Tom Watson will have three players to select after the Tour Championship and the finale of the FedEx Cup in three weeks.
There was a great deal to play for at the regular season-ending Wyndham Championship. The Wyndham is the last event for players to earn an exemption into the Top 125 on either the FedEx Cup or the Money list (they are calculated differently) and thereby secure their playing privilege for the 2015 season. Players inside that magical 125 are also eligible to play in the first FedEx Cup playoff event next week while those outside the number play the next four events (played concurrently with the FedEx events and the Ryder Cup) now known as the Tour Finals on the Web.com Tour. Players who finish between #’s 126-200 are eligible to play the Tour finals and try to reclaim their cards so while they may be disappointed, they must immediately re-group as they still have much to compete for.
The LPGA Tour’s fourth Major Championship of the year was contested at the Donald Ross designed Monroe Golf Club in Pittsford, NY. Monroe GC is a long course that rewards players who are long off the tee, so it came as no surprise that the ladies at the top of the leaderboard were some of the game’s longest hitters. Brittany Lincicome is exactly that type of player and had her second Major (she won the 2009 Kraft Nabisco) well in hand until she took three putts from the fringe of the 18th green in Sunday’s final round and fall into a playoff with Inbee Park. The fidgety Lincicome succumbed to all of the butterflies that haunt us on the first extra hole of the playoff. Making a bogey-5 on what was her nemesis, the par-4, 18th to Park’s par-4 on the first extra hole would relegate her to second behind to Park. This win is Park’s fifth Major Championship and her fourth in the last 17 months.
One of the reasons we love the LPGA Championship is that our very own, Mary Mills (Bird Golf Academy’s, East Coast Director of Instruction) was a two time winner of the LPGA’s second oldest Major Championship. To read about Mary and her amazing career please see http://www.birdgolf.com/lpga-championship-tribute-to-mary-mills/
Was this week the last for David Duval on the Tour after he missed the cut by one shot at the Wyndham? The once great Duval who rivalled Woods for golf’s supremacy at the turn of the century. Winning 13 times on the Tour in a 4 year span that culminated with what now appears to be his final win, in the 2001 Open Championship, Duval seemed to be the only golfer capable of challenging Woods. For the last several years, Duval has relied on sponsor’s exemptions and his past Champion status to compete, but they have largely been exhausted. Duval has battled swing changes and a list of injuries for the last decade and had declared earlier this year that this would be his last if he did not regain his status. An elbow injury for the majority of the summer that required injections definitely affected Duval’s game so the 42-year old may re-evaluate his options. It would have been hard to imagine 13 years ago that we would be writing this history for Duval who seemed so assured of a celestial career.
Paula Creamer’s record streak of making the cut in 39 consecutive Major Championships came to an end at the LPGA Championship. Creamer’s caddie, Colin Cann, had to be taken to the hospital before Creamer teed off in Friday’s second round suffering from acute back pain. Being without Cann on the bag obviously shook Creamer as she struggled to finish with a 5-over par, 77. At the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst last month, Creamer had bettered Woods’s record of 38 straight made cuts in Majors. Creamer, who has never had anybody but Cann caddy for her said that: “It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve had to do in a long time was come out here without him. He’s my brother. We’ve been together 10 years.”
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