PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: The best from the PGA TOUR, Web.com Tour and European Tour
What is going on between Bill Murray, Paul Casey and Michael Phelps last week at St. Andrews? Leave your best answer below -- and please, keep it clean!
SAN FRANCISCO -- Andy Zhang will become the youngest player to compete in the U.S. Open since World War II when he tees it up at the Olympic Club later this week.
The 14-year-old earned the opportunity on Monday when Paul Casey withdrew with a shoulder injury. On Tuesday, he went out with the first practice group of the day – Aaron Baddeley and Masters champ Bubba Watson.
"(When I got the call), my mind just went blank," Zhang told GolfWeek. "Then, I said 'Wait! What? I am in the U.S. Open?' “
Tadd Fujikawa previously held the distinction of being the youngest post-war competitor when he played in the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot at the age of 15.
Zhang, who was born Dec. 14, 1997, was the first alternate after shooting rounds of 70-72 at Black Diamond Ranch in Lecanto, Fla. He is originally from the People's Republic of China but has lived in the U.S. for the last four years.
Zhang tees off at 11:21 a.m. ET on No. 1 with Mark Wilson, who won the Humana Challenge earlier this year, and Hiroyuki Fujita.
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy columnist
While the brightest lights of the year thus far are locked in on the likes of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson, the Masters is very much just another golf tournament in the comebacks of the healing. Certainly, Woods has spent time on the disabled list already, but others in this week's field haven't fulfilled the kind of success he experienced in the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard two weeks ago.
Tim Clark (right elbow), Scott Verplank (left wrist), Mike Weir (right elbow), Paul Casey (right shoulder), Lucas Glover (right knee) and Scott Stallings (ribs) are a combined 4-for-21 with one top-45 finish (Stallings' T22 at the 27-man Hyundai Tournament of Champions). All entered 2012 with some form of fantasy value but the outlook for each remains very much for the long-term. All are in the field at the Masters.
A regular emailer hit me earlier this week with the following quandary:
Hey Rob. So, we decided to be patient with Paul Casey. We have Y.E. Yang as well, who is not playing well. Jimmy Walker, Bud Cauley, Harris English, Ryo Ishikawa, John Huh, Trevor Immelman, Charlie Wi and Scott Piercy are some of the players available. Would you cut either Casey or Yang for any of these players? -- Craig
Note: It's important to know that Craig participates in an eight-team league of 10 golfers per. Top-15 finishes determine value and he's limited to five moves for the season. His current roster consists of Casey, Yang, Matt Kuchar, Jim Furyk, Justin Rose, Zach Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els, David Toms and Kyle Stanley.
Inquiries such as this are common in my email in-box. Formats like Craig's require a balanced attack. You don't want to load up on guys that are going to face the deepest fields of the year as it makes it more difficult to crack the top 15. However, Kuchar and Rose are cornerstones; Furyk and Els are coming on strong; Johnson is a great fit for certain courses; and Toms will get his as he usually does.
In addition to the objective, with only 10 golfers in play, one must be frugal. Stanley is a stud, so I don't mind him occupying a maximum one slot on the roster invested in potential.
Garcia is a tasty option but he doesn't play enough or at a high-enough level with consistency. That said, there are plenty of starts to go around on a good team so the Spaniard can hide a bit. He's a keeper.
That brings us back to Casey and Yang. The Englishman is rapidly burning his bridge with fantasy gamers. He's plummeting in the Official World Golf Ranking (currently 38th), which qualifies him as a bubble boy for the U.S. Open. (He's already eligible for the British Open and should have no problem getting into the PGA Championship.) That he's on conditional status doesn't concern me as much as his play since returning to competition from his mishap on the snowboard. If I owned him, the Masters would serve as his final audition.
Yang is in a different situation. He, too, was bothered by a sore shoulder in December, but he's played a full schedule and has made the weekend in each of his last three strokes-play starts that had a cut. The problem is, he's not posting top 25s in those starts, much less top 15s. He's already eligible for the limited-field World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, but is that enough to warrant his inclusion moving forward?
At this point, we need to eliminate free agents. Ishikawa is a non-member and will play less than Garcia. Wi will find his spots but he doesn't pack the same kind of week-in, week-out punch as other options. Cauley and English are rookies with incredible cachet but I struggle in spending even one roster spot on a 10-man club on first-time PGA TOUR members. Huh is also a rookie but he's illustrated an uncanny knack for wedging his way onto leaderboards as evidenced by his win in Mexico and three other top 15s. Tough call there, but he's still a rookie.
Walker continues to serve as great value across the board but he's played his best golf on the West Coast the last couple of years when he's been healthy. That sets him up as a bit of a trap. Immelman still fights with his nagging wrist, which is not what you want on a short squad.
That leaves Piercy, who I love. He's aggressive. He plays a ton. He's fully exempt through 2013. I'd plug in Piercy for Casey after the Masters and let Yang marinate a little longer. Moreover, the dynamics shift so quickly week to week that Craig's strategy just might sort itself out.
If you play a similar format, consider these angles. Use tournaments are tests and lines in the sand to create conviction. It's within that quantifiable decision-making where confidence and clear thinking originates.
By Brian Wacker, PGA TOUR.COM
DORAL, Fla. -- As Paul Casey warmed up on the practice range at TPC Blue Monster at Doral on Tuesday, a few players stopped by to say hello. After all, it’s been a while since Casey has been out here.
On Dec. 24 of last year, Casey separated his shoulder while snowboarding in Colorado, where he stuck his right arm out to break his fall only to suffer the latest of a long list of injuries for a player who was once as high as third in the Official World Golf Ranking.
“I’ve got a snowboard for sale,” Casey joked. “Unfortunately I don’t have any snowboarding trips planned, but I hear the snow is quite good in Colorado right now.”
Casey’s game is another story. He only began hitting balls a half-dozen weeks ago and says he is rusty entering this week’s World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship.
This of course isn’t the first time Casey has returned from a significant injury.
In 2009, he suffered a rib injury the week before the British Open. He briefly tried to play through it before missing the rest of the season.
Last year, Casey battled turf toe much of the season and finished outside the top 125 on the PGA TOUR money and missed the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup.
After rehabbing his latest injury with former Arizona Diamondbacks trainer Dave Edwards, Casey hopes his latest setback is his last. This will be his first start since the Dubai World Championship last December.
“This [injury] was the most painful,” said Casey, who just six years ago was the European Tour Player of the Year and climbed as high as third in the world in 2009. “But [the time off] may be a good thing. I’ve got excitement about the game and am enthusiastic and hungry.”
Casey, who has one career win on TOUR and 11 on the European Tour, is tempering his expectations, though.
“I’m rusty,” he said. “I’ve been hitting golf balls, but I just haven’t played.”
Paul Casey has told tournament officials he will not be competing next week in the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Marana, Ariz.
The Englishman, who was the runner-up in 2009 and 2010, dislocated his shoulder in a snowboarding accident last month. Casey, who is ranked 23rd in the world, hopes to be ready to make his 2012 PGA TOUR debut at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship in three weeks.
Casey will be replaced by South Africa's George Coetzee, who is ranked No. 66 in the world. Coetzee will be making his World Golf Championships debut.
The field for the Accenture Match Play Championship is comprised of the top 64 available players in the world rankings. World No. 11 Phil Mickelson has already said he won't play due to a family vacation so he was replaced by No. 65 Ernie Els.
Should another player withdraw Ryan Moore would be the next player in the field.
After battling a rib injury and turf toe over much of the last two seasons, a finally healthy Paul Casey was looking forward to a fast start in 2012.
His season’s debut has been delayed, though, after Casey dislocated his right shoulder in a snowboarding accident. According to the Associated Press, the Englishman will miss the first two months of the year.
As a result, Casey will miss the European Tour’s Middle East swing – including the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship where he is a two-time champion. His participation in the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship – where Casey has two runner-up finishes in the last three years – could also be in doubt. The tournament is scheduled for the last week in February.
Casey closed the 2011 campaign out on a strong note with top-10 finishes in two of his last three PGA TOUR starts, as well as solo third at the Chevron World Challenge. He won twice last year at the Volvo Golf Champions on the European Tour and the Shinhan Donghae Open in Korea.
The late start to the season could also throw a wrench into Casey’s bid to make the European Ryder Cup team for the biennial matches in September at Medinah Country Club. He was ranked among the top 10 in the world two years ago but didn’t get one of Colin Montgomerie’s Captain’s Picks after failing to qualify automatically.
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Tiger Woods is six holes away from his first win in two years -- if he can hold onto the one-shot lead he has over Zach Johnson.
Woods briefly had a two-shot advantage after back-to-back birdies on Nos. 10 and 11. but he gave one back with a bogey on No. 12. Woods has not played the last six holes at Sherwood particularly great this week with four bogeys, one double bogey and two birdies.
Johnson, meanwhile, is 1 over on the day, though he’s parred each of his last four holes.
Paul Casey is 3 under on his round and within three of the lead but he has just two holes left.