Matt Kuchar recently moved to Sea Island, joining several other Tour pros who are residents.
Fred Vuich/SI
Friday, December 09, 2011

Graham DeLaet, who won the Canadian Tour Order of Merit in 2009 and made it through Q school to join the PGA Tour in 2010, was languishing at 129th on the money list until he tied for fifth place at last week's Viking Classic. That paid $131,400 and vaulted him to 114th in earnings, which means he will likely keep his card for 2011.

Now the bubble boy from Boise State is Troy Merritt, who like DeLaet played golf for the Broncos. The 2009 Q school winner, Merritt dropped to 123rd in earnings last week, meaning that with only four tournaments remaining on the schedule he's in danger of falling out of the top 125 and being relegated to only partial Tour status next season.

Welcome to the Fall Series, which sounds like a baseball thing but in fact is the last best hope for pros to salvage 2010 and give themselves somewhere to play in 2011.

This week's inaugural RSM McGladrey Classic at Sea Island, Ga., hosted by Davis Love III and featuring a gaggle of other Sea Islanders, is the second tournament of the five-week series and the first to drop into the home of Tour pros Love, Zach Johnson, Lucas Glover, Matt Kuchar and Jonathan Byrd, among others. (Leaderboard: Field and tee times.)

All of them will compete to help get the first-year tournament airborne.

"We believe that when players and spectators come once, it will quickly become their annual seaside tradition," said Mark Love, tournament director and Davis's brother.

The McGladrey is yet another reminder of the Tour's caste system and the dividing line between the haves and the have-mores. Ryder Cup golfers play for God and country and the rest of it in part because they can afford to.

Many of the Fall guys who will be in action over the season's final month are trying to either establish a foothold on Tour (DeLaet, Merritt) or return to prominence. Henrik Stenson, Justin Leonard, Trevor Immelman, David Duval, Todd Hamilton and David Toms are among the onetime A-list stars who will play the McGladrey.

Kuchar, the former Georgia Tech star who just moved from Atlanta to the golf-mad island community, is coming to the end of a breakout year in which he had 11 top-10s, won the Barclays and went 1-1-2 for two points at the Ryder Cup.

Also in the 132-man field is Charley Hoffman, one of the Tour's hottest players after he won the Deutsche Bank and finished sixth at the Tour Championship.

The McGladrey is in the first of a three-year title sponsorship, and will be played at the 7,055-yard, par-70 Seaside Course at Sea Island, a 1929 Harry S. Colt/Charles Alison design that was renovated by Tom Fazio in 1999.

On other tours this week:

• Lee Westwood is one of eight European Ryder Cup team members who will play the Dunhill Links Championship over three courses at St. Andrews, and he will take over the No. 1 ranking with a first- or second-place finish.

Tiger Woods is not expected to play again until the HSBC World Championship in Shanghai and the Australian Masters in Melbourne, both in November.

The loaded Dunhill field will also include Ryder hero Graeme McDowell, his sidekick Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer, Padraig Harrington, Ross Fisher, Peter Hanson, Edoardo Molinari and European captain Colin Montgomerie — who might be a bit rusty.

All of the above are probably still hung over.

• Michael Allen, who finished second to Bill Haas at the PGA Tour's Viking Classic last week, will be among those trying to win the Champions Tour's fifth and final major of the year at the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship.

The field at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm in Maryland will also include Fred Couples, who was victimized by Gary Hallberg's stunning 61 at last week's Ensure Classic; Bernhard Langer, who will be going for his sixth W this season; and former Maryland men's golf coach Fred Funk.

• Just three full-field events remain before the Nationwide Tour Championship, first among them the Chattanooga Classic at Black Creek Club in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Chris Kirk, a two-time winner on the circuit this year, will be noticeably absent as the Sea Island resident got a sponsor's exemption to the McGladrey on the big Tour.

• The Navistar LPGA Classic at RTJ Golf Trail in Prattville, Ala., will feature U.S. Women's Open champion Paula Creamer, Christie Kerr, Christina Kim, Brittany Lincicome and Japan's Ai Miyazato, who will be going for her sixth win this season.

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