|Year||No. 125 points pre-Week 30||No. 125 points before Playoffs||Difference|
If this year’s change is similar, anyone inside the top 105 in the standings is in good position to secure a tee time at The Barclays for the start of the Playoffs. In 2009, 10 players ranked inside the top 125 prior to Week 30 fell out of the Playoffs with the highest being No. 110. Last year, only six players -- all ranked between Nos. 118 and 125 -- lost their spots in the Playoffs in the Regular Season’s final four weeks. AUSTIN’S CHANCE? Woody Austin, currently 99 points outside the top 125, picked up his first top-10 finish of the season last week with a T6 at the RBC Canadian Open. A top-6 finish this week at The Greenbrier Classic, an event he tied for fourth in last year, could put him inside the top 125 and in position to make his fifth consecutive Playoffs appearance. Check out our bubble watch for more on players close to the cut line. WHO’S UP, WHO’S DOWN: Sean O’Hair, Kris Blanks and Andres Romero each assured themselves of a spot in the Playoffs, and possibly the Deusche Bank Championship, as they moved from outside the top 100 and into the top 70 last week. Two players -- Michael Putnam and Tim Clark -- fell outside the top 125 as O’Hair and David Hearn moved in. MORE ON LAST WEEK’S WINNER: Another player who has made the Playoffs in each of the last four seasons, O’Hair locked up his fifth appearance by moving from 147th to 43rd after winning the RBC Canadian Open. O’Hair’s last top 10 in an official TOUR event came at last year’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. A 2011 season that had featured 10 missed cuts in 17 starts prior to last week, as well as splits with his caddie and swing coach, may finally be turning around for O’Hair.
In a word, Kris Blanks was “pissed,” as he said following his playoff loss to Sean O’Hair Sunday the RBC Canadian Open.
Specifically, Blanks was upset with the bunker shot he hit on the first hole of sudden death. His ball came out of the greenside bunker hot and rolled through the green and onto the fringe. His chip shot then skidded a good 5 feet past the hole and he missed the bogey putt. Game over.
“It's funny, the one in regulation, it was heavier than I wanted it to be,” Blanks said of the same shot he faced in regulation. Only he converted that one, getting up-and-down for par. “Thought I hit it pretty good. It just was a bit too far. Got down there and obviously it rolled down against the grass. There was a little tuft of grass behind the ball. I chipped and I didn't get it up-and-down.”
With Blanks’ ball having too much grass behind it on the fringe, he had no choice but to hit a wedge shot from the fringe -- “I couldn't get a putter on it,” he said.
He’d also three-putted three times from just off the fringe earlier in the round. That’s not exactly a confidence boost when the tournament is on the line.
“The more I think about it, the more I'll probably get upset at the shots I gave away today,” Blanks said.
If there was an upside for Blanks, it’s that he all but sewed up his card for next year.
”It was definitely the week I needed,” Blanks said. “Definitely makes the whole rest of the year a lot easier.”
It won’t go down as the most gracious of wins, but Sean O’Hair’s first victory in two years wasn’t any less deserved or emotional on a difficult day of scoring at Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club.
Perhaps it was appropriate O’Hair beat Kris Blanks with a bogey on the first hole of sudden death. The lead, after all, went backwards a stroke after Bo Van Pelt began the final round at 5 under and O’Hair and Blanks ended it tied at 4 under.
It wasn’t pretty with both O’Hair and Blanks both finding the rough off the tee and both coming up short of the 18th green in the playoff, and neither played very good third shots, either. But O’Hair managed to save bogey with a two-putt, while Blanks, whose chip from the fringe scooted a good 5 feet past the hole, wasn’t able to save his.
With the win, O’Hair not only gets his first victory since 2009, he earns 500 FedExCup points to move to 43rd. Blanks, meanwhile, moved up to 54th.
Kris Blanks is looking for his first career victory, while Sean O’Hair is looking for his first win. Here’s a play-by-play of their playoff:
18th hole: Neither Blanks or O’Hair found the fairway off the tee. As a result, neither one of them was able to hit the green on their second shots, either. On O’Hair’s third, he came up woefully short of the hole on his pitch shot. Meanwhile, Blanks sent his bunker shot sailing past the hole and off the green onto the fringe. O’Hair two-putted for bogey, but Blanks wasn’t able to get up-and-down and made double bogey to give O’Hair the win.
On another day of tough scoring, the lead went backwards a stroke with Kris Blanks and Sean O’Hair each finishing at 4 under. The two will now head to the 18th hole for a sudden-death playoff.
Blanks is trying to win for the first time in his career, while O’Hair is looking for his first victory since 2009. Neither has played in a playoff before.
Andres Romero had a chance to join the playoff, but he bogeyed the 18th hole after missing the fairway and then hitting it into a greenside bunker.
Bo Van Pelt is nearing the turn and still leading, but he now he has company in Kris Blanks, who just birdied the ninth hole to pull even with Van Pelt at 5 under. Van Pelt, meanwhile, has played his first eight holes in even par.
This isn’t a U.S. Open, but it’s sure played like one with a premium on par -- John Daly said Saturday the rough is similar to that of the U.S. Open and the greens similar to a PGA Championship.
As for who else is in contention, Sean O’Hair just made the turn in 2 under and is within one at 4 under for the week. After that there’s some separation with three others at 1 under -- John Daly and Geoff Ogilvy are among that group.
Meanwhile, Canadian Adam Hadwin’s hopes appear to be dashed. He’s 4 over through eight holes after two bogeys and a double bogey through eight holes. He’s now back to even par and five strokes back.
The PGA TOUR Network’s Bill Rosinski said the most important statistic this week at the RBC Canadian Open will be fairways hit. That’s because the rough at Shaughnessy is so thick that any wayward tee shots will be gobbled up and severely punished.
“If you hit the ball in the rough, you’re going to be penalized,” Rosinski said on Friday’s edition of PGA TOUR Today. “Most of the time, you’ll probably make bogey.”
Kris Blanks, the first-round leader after shooting his 3-under 67 on Thursday, hit 11 of 14 fairways. That was well above the average of 56 percent for the field. Blanks acknowledged after his round that he played “a little passive off the tee,” just to make sure he stayed in the fairway.
Thursday’s first round was the third most difficult round on TOUR this year, with the field average more than three strokes over par.
“That’s the big story,” Rosinski said of fairways hit. “Look at that stat over the next three days here at the Canadian Open.”
At 116th in the FedExCup standings, the next six weeks are vital for Kris Blanks.
Two weeks ago, he tied for 12th at the John Deere Classic. That certainly helped. So could Thursday’s 3-under 67 at the RBC Canadian Open, where Blanks had the lead after the morning wave.
Blanks did everything a player needs to do to be successful at Shaughnessy G&CC: He kept his tee shots in the fairway, and he hit a lot of greens. Specifically, Blanks hit 83 percent of his greens and 79 percent of his fairways.
The result? An eagle, three birdies and just two bogeys. The eagle for Blanks came on the par-5 seventh, where he holed out from a greenside bunker.
Blanks is also playing with at least a little bit of a home course advantage this week. His wife, Tami, who was a good player in her own right at Ohio State, grew up just south of Vancouver and Blanks has been to the area often.
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
A switch to some new equipment at the start of the season is continuing to pay off big for Steve Stricker.
The Wisconsin native and Titleist player picked up 710 AP2 irons and the new-generation ProV1x ball months ago, and now has two Midwest-based wins to show for it – the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance in June and last week’s John Deere Classic.
That’s also all the more reason not to make another switch, to the new 712 AP2 irons, as some other Titleist TOUR pros have. Nick Watney picked up the clubs and almost immediately won at the AT&T National two weeks ago.
But the way he’s playing now, and on the eve of the season’s third major, Stricker’s bag at the moment is on lockdown.
“I hit them and I really liked them,” said Stricker of the new irons, “but I want to hit them some more at home, so probably after the British I'll give them some more time to hit.
“I changed earlier this year to a different set of irons, different shaft, different ball early in the year. So yeah, I'm open for change, but I want to make sure and have the repetitions in with them before I make the change.”
BLANKS SHOOTING: Kris Blanks came to the John Deere Classic near the bottom of the TOUR’s putting stats but finished T10 in putts per GIR for the week after going back to an old Scotty Cameron Del Mar model with a custom slant neck.
“That makes it hang a little more towards the sky. Most putters will hang at a quarter,” said Blanks, who led after the first round at TPC Deere Run and finished T12. “This one’s a little more face-down so it doesn’t rotate as much through the hitting zone.”
Ironically, Blanks made the switch after using Ping’s iPhone putting app, Golf World Monday reports.
CRACKING THE CODE: Since 2003, TaylorMade has designed special logos for each of the major
Can you figure out all the details? We’ll give you one – the “V” and “6” in the weathervane (since British Opens always have wind) stand for Harry Vardon and his record six titles.
Read about the rest of the logo here.
CLARKE’S CLASSIC: Scotty Cameron putter junkies will enjoy the saga about Darren Clarke’s old friend, a 1997 Titleist Teryllium Santa Fe that the Northern Irishman used for a while, then parked for years, then exhumed in May to win in Spain.
Clarke brought the putter to Royal St. George’s this week to hand off to Titleist reps, who will take it back to the home office in California to restore. The putter was one of Cameron’s first with an insert made of Teryllium, a copper-colored metal that is soft but expensive.