AP News

Jeff Quinney, No. 71 in world ranking, is the latest golfer to suffer sophomore ranking slump

PALM HARBOR, Fla. (AP) — Jeff Quinney, No. 71 in the world ranking, must play well the next few weeks to qualify for the World Golf Championship at Doral and keep alive his hopes of playing the Masters for the first time as a pro.

Take away his Nationwide Tour record, and Quinney would be No. 40.

Because the world ranking measures two years, Nationwide alumni in their second straight PGA Tour season still have as many as two dozen Nationwide events on their ledger. In Quinney's situation, it works out like this:

— He has earned 106.35 points in 60 tournaments the last two years for an average of 1.77.

— Without the 24 Nationwide events (worth 7.77 points), he would have 98.58. There is a minimum divisor of 40 events, so his average would be 2.46.

Like many players, Quinney's only concern on the Nationwide Tour was earning enough money to finish in the top 25 and move up to the big leagues. But the PGA Tour felt the Nationwide was a credible circuit that was worthy of ranking points.

"We're aware of the situation, and we knew that as we fought to have the Nationwide Tour included in the world ranking," said Andy Pazder, senior vice president of competition. "Where it may be working against Jeff Quinney, it helped him his first year."

Pazder said Quinney's ranking points from the Nationwide last year helped him squeak into the top 100 and earn a spot into the PGA Championship. Two years ago, Zach Johnson won on the PGA Tour as a rookie, and his Nationwide points (two wins, two second-place finishes) helped him get into the U.S. Open and a world event.

The trade-off is being held back the second season. Stephen Marino is in the same quandary. He has made the cut in all seven events this year and is No. 121 in the world. Remove his Nationwide events and points, and he would be No. 72.

Brandt Snedeker would be at No. 21 in the world, but his Nationwide events pulled his ranking to No. 49. But because he had such a strong rookie season, he's eligible for all majors and world events.

Johnson said he believes credibility for the Nationwide Tour comes from more than ranking points.

"You throw in what the players are doing now ... that's all the credibility you need," he said.

In nearly two decades, 99 players who spent time on the Nationwide Tour have won on the PGA Tour.

TROUBLE AT BAY HILL: Players headed to Bay Hill next week have been warned not to expect smooth conditions on the greens.

Due to a severe turf disease and invasion of nematode (tiny worms), the PGA Tour brought in several agronomy experts to try to mend the putting surfaces for the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Some sod plugs were used, and there was a second dose of overseeding a month ago. Although officials say conditions have improved, a notice in the locker room at Innisbrook said conditions would not be ideal.

FEDEX CHANGES: The new FedEx Cup playoff points structure might be known as the Rich Beem Rule.

Last year, Beem complained the playoffs did not have enough volatility. He started at No. 134, tied for seventh at The Barclays and only moved up to No. 113. Beem was eliminated a week later when he failed to get inside the top 70.

Under the new points system, Beem would have moved up to No. 69 after one week. Should the No. 144 player win The Barclays, he could move all the way up to No. 1.

PGA Tour officials said the change should increase the number of chances for players to win the $10 million prize from six to 12 mathematically, and from four to about a half-dozen realistically.

But it should be noted who won last year — Steve Stricker (No. 12), Phil Mickelson (No. 2) and Tiger Woods (No. 1) twice. Not often do so many highly ranked players win so many tournaments played in a row.

If anyone down the list should win a playoff event — No. 50, for example — even more players would be in the mix.

ELEMENTARY, MY DEAR: Golf fans working a crossword puzzle Feb. 22 in the Chicago Tribune must have thought they were getting old or the standard for fame was getting lower.

The clue for 23-down was "Watson of Golf."

It couldn't be the obvious — eight-time major champion Tom Watson — because there were five spaces.

Nor was it Denis Watson, who won three times on the PGA Tour in 1984.

The correct answer was "Bubba."

He's still looking for his first PGA Tour victory.

DOTTING THE I: Ever since felt pens have been in vogue, Joey Sindelar has marked his golf ball with one blue dot above and below the number. But over the last few months, he has switched to a single red dot.

That's a tribute to his son, Jamie, a high school senior who recently decided to attend Ohio State.

"I said to him, 'When you pick a school, that's going to be the color,"' said Sindelar, who played for the Buckeyes in the late 1970s.

As he went to mark his ball, Sindelar figured he should incorporate the marching band's tradition of the incomparable "Script Ohio" at football games.

That red dot is strategically placed over the "i" in Titleist.

DIVOTS: Brett Quigley tied for 12th at the Honda Classic and earned $115,500, enough to keep his card the rest of the year and compete in The Players Championship. Quigley started the season on a minor medical extension because of knee surgery. He had seven events to make $67,769. ... Scott Verplank enters the PODS Championship with 27 consecutive rounds at par or better. The PGA Tour record belongs to Tiger Woods, who had 52 straight rounds in 2000-01. ... The English Open will return to the European Tour schedule next year for the first time since 2002.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Among PGA Tour events that have been around at least seven years, the PODS Championship is the only tournament not won by a former Nationwide Tour player.

FINAL WORD: "I didn't realize that Tiger was going to win 10 times since I said that." — Ernie Els, on his three-year plan to overtake Tiger Woods at No. 1 in the world.

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