PGA TOUR rookie Harris English led the list of eight players who qualified Monday for this year's British Open. He also set a course record in the process.
The qualifier, the only one held in the United States, took place Monday at Gleneagles Country Club in the Dallas suburb of Plano. As in previous years, it comes in between the PGA TOUR's two tournaments in the North Texas area, last week's HP Byron Nelson Championship and this week's Crown Plaza Invitational at Colonial.
English opened the 36-hole qualifier with a course-record 10-under 60 in the first round, with a string of six consecutive birdies at one point. He followed with a bogey-free 63 in the second round for a two-round total of 17 under. That was three shots better than Greg Owen.
Besides English and Owen, the other six qualifiers are Stephen Ames, Andres Romero, Justin Hicks, Bob Estes, Daniel Chopra and James Driscoll.
Another PGA TOUR rookie, Russell Knox, was tied with Estes, Chopra and Driscoll at 9 under but was the odd man out in the four-man playoff.
QUALIFIERS FOR BRITISH OPEN
|Pos||Player||Country||Round 1||Round 2||Score|
|1||Harris English||USA||60||63||17 under|
|2||Greg Owen||England||66||61||13 under|
|T3||Stephen Ames||Canada||69||61||10 under|
|T3||Andres Romero||Argentina||67||63||10 under|
|T3||Justin Hicks||USA||67||63||10 under|
|T6||Bob Estes||USA||66||65||9 under|
|T6||Daniel Chopra||Sweden||64||67||9 under|
|T6||James Driscoll||USA||66||65||9 under|
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Stephen Ames withdrew from the Waste Management Phoenix Open prior to the start of the first round.
Ames, who cited a bad back, was replaced by Scott Brown, a PGA TOUR rookie. The Nationwide Tour grad has missed the cut in his first three starts on TOUR.
Gary Christian is now the first alternate.
Ever play in a charity scramble where you get a free throw of your golf ball? Well, that wasn’t exactly on the rules sheet for Monday’s Telus Skins Game in Alberta, Canada, but avid cricket player Paul Casey saw a 132-yard par-3 and could only think of one thing.
“I played a lot of cricket growing up and I am good at throwing balls … it just looked like the perfect yardage and I thought ‘why not,’” Casey told The Canadian Press.
Playing in a group with Jhonattan Vegas, Lucas Glover, Anthony Kim and Canadian Stephen Ames, Casey figured he’d make things interesting with the throw – which sailed over a pond and landed on the green, some 30 feet from the hole. He then hit a wedge which landed closer to the pin, but spun into the rough.
“I was a little disappointed I didn't get the wedge shot closer than my throw,” he said.
He had hoped to get his partners to bet him on whether he could throw the ball on the green – and his partners wisely declined. In the official action, Jhonattan Vegas was the big winner with $55,000 won on the first nine holes of competition.
The event raised $28,000 for charity on the first of two days of play, which concludes Tuesday.
DORAL, Fla. -- Francesco Molinari and Anthony Kim took a break from their preparation for the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship on Monday evening to entertain the media and promote the new Nike 20XI ball.
Nike's braintrust, in collaboration with engineers at DuPont, took four years to develop the technology for the 20XI. Instead of a rubber core, the ball uses a resin material that is designed to produce more distance, straighter ball flight and more controlled shots.
“I have never been more excited about a new golf ball innovation than I am now,” said Rock Ishii, Nike Golf’s Product Development Director for golf balls. “For many years, golf ball development has primarily been focused on the number of layers with a solid rubber core.
"We believe that there wasn’t really anywhere else to go as far as technology advancement in these areas, and felt that the next window of opportunity was in the exploration of various materials for the core.”
In addition to Kim – who put the ball in play the same week he tested it -- and Molinari, Stephen Ames, Stewart Cink, Lucas Glover, Justin Leonard, Jamie Lovemark, Pablo Martin and Carl Pettersson are among other Nike athletes who have switched to the 20X1.
The new balls will be available to the general public on April 29. There are two in the series. The 20XI-X is optimized for distance while the 20XI-S has a softer cover and offers better control around the greens.
D.A. Points turned in the wedge shot of the year so far on TOUR at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, using a 52-degree Ping Tour-W wedge for his Sunday holeout eagle on the 14th at Pebble.
Suffice to say, his gap wedge delivered better last week than he remembered on a similar shot a few years prior.
“It was a couple years ago, I was playing pretty well here and I was in the Top-10 and I was making a lot of
birdies,” Points said. “I came down there and I had a gap wedge, similar kind of shot and I spun it left off the green and rolled down the hill under the tree and I made double bogey.
“Most of the time we are worried about putting too much spin on it. This year we are trying to get as much spin on it so we can hold it up there.”
-- Speaking of ball spin, Nike introduced a new TOUR-level golf ball Tuesday, the 20XI. The conventional rubber core is replaced with a resin core, engineered to produce more distance and control. Nike says the ball has perimeter weighting between the lighter core and heavier outer layers.
The ball, which comes in distance and spin models, is being used by Stephen Ames, Stewart Cink, Lucas Glover, Anthony Kim, Justin Leonard, Jamie Lovemark, Francesco Molinari and Carl Pettersson, among others.
Whether Tiger Woods switches to the 20XI remains to be seen, though he is said to be considering it. He still plays the Nike Tour One.
-- Golfweek’s Gene Yasuda writes that Wilson Golf spent $4 million on research and development last year – five times what it spent five years ago – in order to help implement to a two-year product cycle. The company’s marketing message has been simplified, touting 61 major championships won with Wilson irons, and Kevin Streelman has been added to a stable of TOUR pros that includes Ricky Barnes and Padraig Harrington.
Wilson posted an entertaining YouTube video of commercial outtakes including Barnes. Look for the wedge-bouncing ball trick, similar to the old Woods Nike commercial, here.
-- What was in amateurs’ bags at the AT&T? TaylorMade said its R11 was the No. 1 driver, with 24 in play.
Bill Murray won the Pro-Am with new Titleist Vokey wedges. Check out the BM stamps on his custom clubs here .
--Odyssey just released their D.A.R.T. putters and E. Michael Johnson of Golf World writes that the company is making a handful of “TOUR-only” options including a mid-length version with a 400-gram head, a long version with a 450-gram head, a black PVD version and one with a red D.A.R.T. alignment device. Some of those putters may be put in play at Riviera.
-- In a Masters conference call this week, Phil Mickelson lent some insight into his bag.
On putting two drivers into play at Augusta:
“That particular year, I believe, was one of the first years, if not the first year, that the golf course was lengthened extraordinarily. I think that was the first year that a lot of length was added; tee boxes were moved back quite a few yards. And to combat that, I tried to get a driver that I could hit an initial 20 yards.
“Although I called one a draw driver and one a fade driver, the long driver was the driver that I drew. But I also hit it 20 to 25 yards longer than I did my regular, was a longer shaft and so forth. And I believe that it played a big factor in me winning the golf tournament.
“Now the driver that I have, is very similar to that distance. It might only be five or seven yards shorter than that driver, and so there's really not a benefit to putting another longer driver in play. And so that frees me up to add another club.”
On his wedges:
“I've set my wedges now -- I used to have as much as five wedges, as you know. And what I did was took the gap and sand wedge and kind of created a club in between.
“So every week now, I am set with four wedges. I have a 64 and a 60. I have a strong sand wedge. Which is about 54, 53 1/2, 54 degrees, and then I have a pitching wedge that's a 47 1/2, 48. So that allows me to add some other clubs longer in the bag.
“And usually at Augusta, I don't have a hybrid. I usually carry a 3-iron. And the reason for that is, if I'm not able to reach the par 5s, like 13 and 15, with a 3-iron or less, I usually don't want to go for it, anyways.
“And second, the additional length on No. 4 puts me a lot of times right between clubs, between a 4-iron and sometimes a 3-iron. And so having a 3-iron in the bag at Augusta is what has helped me the last couple of years in some of those in-between shots from 220 to 245.
“So that is usually how my setup, club setup, is. And I no longer play with five wedges. I've had four wedges now and the same wedges for the last couple of years.”
Tiger Woods has just teed off, and it’s a sure bet at least one fan in his massive gallery will be easy to spot. One young man in an orange Tony-the-Tiger suit was walking into the gates at TPC Boston, carrying the oversized head under his arm.
Marc Leishman really turned things around after that 77 he shot on Sunday. He fired a final-round 68 that got him back into red numbers for the tournament – and more importantly positioned him safely inside the top 70 projections at No. 58. A year ago, Leishman had to eagle the 72nd hole to earn his spot at the BMW Championship.
Stephen Ames, who was among the leaders through two rounds, is now fighting to make it to the BMW Championship. He shot 75 in the third round and is currently 1 over for the day and the tournament. That means he’s projected at 72nd so he needs to start making birdies.
If the tournament were to end right now, six players would have played their way to Cog Hill. There will be plenty of pros with their eyes on the projections when they sign their scorecards.
Garrett Willis has withdrawn due to illness. He started the week ranked 97th in the FedExCup and currently is projected two spots lower. So he’ll have several weeks to get well.
Another player who had to withdraw, Scott Verplank, is currently projected at No. 71, down 17 spots from 54th but still with a chance at advancing.
Stephen Ames went out in 30 and quickly climbed to the top of the leaderboard at 9 under. A birdie at the second hole, his 11th of the day, increased his lead to two strokes.
The Canadian fell just as quickly, though, when he bogeyed the fifth hole and made a double bogey at the par-5 seventh. He’s now tied for eighth at 7 under for the tournament and 3 under for the day.
Ames hit his tee shot left into the trees at No. 7 and his second into the fairway bunker. After his third, Ames was still 152 yards from the green. He was on in four and then three-putted from 30 feet for the double that left him in a tie for eighth.