Moving day takes on a whole new meaning this week with plenty of guys who could be moving in -- or out -- of the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup picture. Here’s a look at the players closest to getting in and what they need to do (excluding win since that guarantees nearly anyone in the field a spot).
-- This is Henrik Stenson’s first Wyndham Championship and at 133rd in the standings, he obviously needs to be here. In order to advance to next week, though, the 2009 PLAYERS champion needs to finish 13th or better, something that’s unlikely seeing as how he’s outside the top 100 on the leaderboard right now.
-- Mike Weir began his week just six points out of the final spot in the top 125 and he got off to a good start with a 67 in the first round (he’s even through four holes today). In order for Weir to make the Playoffs, he’ll need to finish 44th or better.
-- Jeff Quinney started the week one spot behind Weir, in 127th and only 22 points out of the final spot. He needs to finish 27th or better. Quinney is in good shape after opening with a 65, but he needs to start marking some birdies after playing his first five holes today in even par.
-- Jay Williamson hit all 18 greens in the opening round en route to a 65. Currently ranked 147th in the standings, Williamson will need to finish fifth or better, however, to have any chance of making the Playoffs. He’s tumbled down the board in the second round, playing his first five holes in 2 over. -- Brian Wacker
When Robert Allenby withdrew in advance of Tuesday knee surgery, he was not replaced in the field for the Bridgestone Invitational. Tee times had already been set, too, so that put Henrik Stenson alone in the 9:50 a.m. draw off the first tee.
So David Champagne, an assistant pro at Firestone Country Club, got the call and he is playing as Stenson’s marker. The Swede just birdied the seventh hole and is 3 over for the tournament.
Colin Montgomerie may have shot 62 to qualify for the British Open, but he certainly wasn’t happy with his performance at the Old Course this week. The man who finished second at St. Andrews in 2005 only broke par once in four rounds and finished a disappointing 4 over.
“It’s not happening on the course right now,” Monty said. “I’m not firing on any cylinders at all. I need to be firing on all eight if I’m to contend and I’m not doing that right now, unfortunately.”
That said, the European Ryder Cup captain couldn’t be happier when he looked at the leaderboard. Five of the top six players – Paul Casey, Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson and Rory McIlroy --when Montgomerie finished off his round are potential members of his team for the matches in October in Wales.
Of that group, Casey, Kaymer and Stenson have yet to qualify either off the world points list or the European points list. Four players qualify off the world list and five from the European, then Montgomerie gets three Captain’s Picks.
“I need a few to do me proud,” Monty said. “I don’t want to have to waste picks on world stars like Paul Casey, for instance, and he can seal his spot right now. He’s probably not thinking about the Ryder Cup now, he’s thinking about trying to win the British Open. But at the same time, I am. …
“It’s a big, big day for a lot of these guys just on the fringe.”
Montgomerie said he actually was doing the math Saturday night, trying to see where Casey would end up if he finished second on Sunday. And if Casey did crack the top nine automatic qualifiers, who would be knocked out –- and would that cause another dilemma for Montgomerie as he pondered his picks?
“Of course I’ve got some headaches, but I’ve also got some good headaches,” the captain said. “I can pick two teams here that can beat each other on any given day. That’s the strength and the depth of European golf, especially this year.
“We’ve had our first British winner of the U.S. Open for 40 years, Lee Westwood almost won the Masters, we’re contending here again and who says we won’t do it at the U.S. PGA in a month’s time? Justin Rose winning twice in America – it’s been a fabulous year for British golf.
“In any form of business, and this is one, if standards rise, the competition has to follow suit, which is great for me.” – Helen Ross
As the wind picks up and time ticks off the clock, no one is coming at the lead group.
Louis Oosthuizen has reeled off three pars and his lead has increased to five after Paul Casey found a greenside bunker on the second hole and made bogey.
The three players – Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson and Martin Kaymer – tied for third are a distant eight strokes off the pace. The Old Course undoubtedly has some surprises in store, but you have to wonder if Oosthuizen hasn’t built too large an advantage. --- Helen Ross
On a day when many thought he might come back to the field, Louis Oosthuzien went out and shot 3 under par on the Old Course and maintained his lead at the 139th British Open.
The five-stroke lead he began the day with now is just four over the hard-charging Paul Casey. But the 27-year-old South African now has a chance to follow in the footsteps of countrymen like Bobby Locke, Gary Player and Ernie Els.
Germany’s Martin Kaymer is alone in third, but he is a distant seven strokes behind Oosthuizen, who picked up his first European Tour victory earlier this year. England’s Lee Westwood, Alejandro Canizares of Spain and Sweden’s Henrik Stenson are tied for fourth, eight strokes off the pace.
Sunday’s tee times begin at 7:26 a.m. local time (2:26 a.m. ET). The final group of Oosthuizen and Casey will tee off at 2:05 p.m. (9:05 a.m. ET)
Louis Oosthuizen, who led by five strokes overnight, uddenly has some company at the top of the leaderboard.
The 27-year-old South African lipped out a short par putt on the first hole to drop to 11 under just as several others started making a move. Paul Casey, for example, has joined Henrik Stenson at 8 under after birdies at the second and third holes.
Alejandro Canizares and Robert Karlsson are close behind at 7 under after birdies at Nos. 4 and 7, respectively.
About five minutes before Louis Oosthuizen was due to tee off, Henrik Stenson holed a shot from the 13th fairway for an eagle that moved him to 8 under.
The Swede’s ball had a lot of momentum, but it hit the pin and dropped into the hole. Suddenly, what had been a five-stroke advantage for Oosthuizen had become four – representative of the action going on all over the Old Course.
The Old Course is yielding some birdies right now. Henrik Stenson has just played his first nine holes in 32 to move to 6 under for the tournament while Sergio Garcia rolled in a 3-footer at No. 9 to get to 5 under.
Not to mention, Robert Rock and Ross Fisher have finished off rounds of 67 and 68, respectively. Rock shot 31 on the front that included an eagle at the seventh hole when he holed a pitching wedge from the fairway.
“I played nicely,” said Rock, who shot 68-78 in the first two rounds and made the cut on the number. “I was disappointed to miss from two-and-a-half feet for a par on No. 17 – then I would have had a round without a bogey. … I really had it going on the front and kept it together on the back. I was quite pleased about that.”
Fisher also faltered on the Road Hole, making a double bogey. But he drove the back of the 18th green and two-putted from 25 feet for fifth and final birdie on the inward nine.
“You got to play 18 holes of perfect golf today, but unfortunately, I played 17,” Fisher said. “What a shame. I flushed a 5-iron and thought the wind would move it. I trusted the wind, but that’s golf. Unfortunately, it went out of bounds. … It leaves a sour taste in the mouth. I was swinging it lovely.”
The early results admittedly are impressive. At the same time, though, the wind has picked up considerably in the last half hour. Something tells me the leaderboard will have a very different look when the final putts are struck on Saturday. – Helen Ross