Notebook: 39 players with Tour roots in Open field

July 16, 2013

'DOWN UNDER' PAIR SQUARE OFF – In a friendly rivalry between New Zealand and Australia, Kiwi Steven Alker defeated Ashley Hall of Melbourne with a par-3 on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff at the Utah Championship presented by Utah Sports Commission on Sunday. The win was Alker’s third on the Tour.  The 41-year-old who has won in a handful of countries made a huge leap from 149th on the money list to 20th and into serious contention for one of the 25 PGA TOUR cards for 2013-14 that will be locked up when the Tour’s Regular Season concludes next month in Omaha.

59 WATCH – One did and two others toyed with it. Shooting 59 that is! On Sunday, Will Wilcox of Birmingham, Ala. birdied his last two holes to reach the magic number, joining only three others who have done so in the Tour’s 24-year history.  A 12-under score (30-29) in the Utah Championship matched Notah Begay III (1998), Doug Dunakey (1998) and Jason Gore (2005), who was on hand to congratulate Wilcox at the scoring tent after his round.  “I appreciated that,” Wilcox said.  On Friday, Chad Collins needed to make a 30-foot birdie putt on his last hole to shoot 59, but was unsuccessful.  Then on Saturday, Steven Alker missed birdie putts of 15 and eight feet on his last two holes to finish with 61.

MORE ON WILCOX – Will Wilcox’s 59 was five shots better than the next best score on Sunday, 64. The round included a miss from two-and-a-half feet during the middle of the round.  He sealed the 59 with a six-footer on No. 9 (his 18th hole). Wilcox started the fourth round 10 shots back of 54-hole leader Chad Collins. His 21-under-par 263 total missed the playoff by one.

JUST SIX REGULAR SEASON EVENTS LEFT – The Midwest Classic is the 16th of 21 Regular Season events. This means there are just six tournaments remaining for players to secure one of the first 25 available PGA TOUR cards for 2013-14 and to set the table for September’s Tour Finals.  Whee Kim is this week’s No. 25 on the money list and Joseph Bramlett No. 75.  No. 75 represents the cutoff point for Finals’ eligibility among Tour participants.

2012 GRADS ARE OPEN PARTICIPANTS – The last first-time winner of this week’s Open Championship in Scotland was Ben Curtis in 2003. Two PGA TOUR rookies with recent Tour experience, Russell Henley and Luke Guthrie, are looking to be the first to do so in the last decade. Both are two-time winners on the Tour in 2012 who earned their PGA TOUR cards last October.  Henley is already a winner on the PGA TOUR having done so at the Sony Open in Hawaii in January. He is 16th in FedExCup points, while Guthrie, whose best finish this year is third at The Honda Classic, is 63rd. A total of 39 players with Tour roots is in the Open field.

MYLAN CLASSIC ANNOUNCES “ALL-AMERICAN” LINEUP – The Mylan Classic will feature the unique “All-American” component that had been a part of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship in Columbus, Ohio since the format made its debut in 2007.  The following 12 players have accepted invitations to be at Southpointe Golf Club near Pittsburgh Aug. 1-4:

2013 Division I PING First-Team All-Americans:  Daniel Berger (FSU), James Erkenbeck (U. of New Mexico), Julien Brun (TCU), Greg Eason (U. of Central Florida), Max Homa (U. of California)

2013 Division I PING Second-Team All-Americans:  Albin Choi (NC State), Sean Dale (U. of North Florida), Brinson Paolini (Duke), Joel Stalter (U. of California)

2013 Division II Player of the Year:  Alex Carpenter (Abilene Christian U.)

U.S. Team from 2011 Walker Cup:  Nathan Smith (Allegheny College) and Blayne Barber (Auburn)

MATT WEIBRING BATTLES BELL’S PALSY – Former Georgia Tech star Matt Weibring has been fighting Bell’s Palsy disease since April when it was discovered at the WNB Golf Classic.  The disease paralyzes the muscles on one side of the face, prompted by inflammation of the nerve that controls those movements. The condition is believed to stem from a viral infection.  Oddly enough, Weibring’s father and PGA TOUR / Champions Tour winner D.A. dealt with the disease in the mid-1990s.  Matt continues to compete, though clearly with challenges.  In June, he qualified for the U.S. Open and made the 36-hole cut. He spoke to Jeff Shain of recently.  Read the story here.

PLAYOFFS – After no playoffs in the first 13 events of the 2013 season, the last two, the United Leasing Championship (won by Ben Martin over three others) and the Utah Championship (Steven Alker over Ashley Hall), have ended in one-hole playoffs.  Hall has been a participant in both, advancing him from 167th on the money list to 21st.

STANDSTILL – There was no movement among the top 12 on the money list between the finishes of the United Leasing Championship and the Utah Championship.  No. 1 Michael Putnam maintains a healthy lead of $124,401 over Edward Loar.

BEST ‘STACHE – Rob Oppenheim was the winner of last week’s seventh annual “Mustache Week”, held in conjunction with the Utah Championship.

DID YOU KNOW? – Leading money winner Michael Putnam is taking his first week off this week. Putnam played the first 15 events, along with 21 other players.

DID YOU ALSO KNOW? – The leading money winner at the end of both the 21-event Tour Regular Season and the Tour Finals will be fully-exempt on the PGA TOUR in 2013-14 and receive an invitation to next year’s PLAYERS Championship. The Finals will have its own money list for the four events.

NEXT WEEK – Boise, Idaho hosts the Tour for the 24th year in a row.  The Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft returns to Hillcrest Country Club, also for the 24th year, July 25-28.