The short game:
Paul Casey moved up to No. 1 on my sponsor’s exemption leaderboard. He’s made four cuts on five exemptions and won more than $332,000, passing Brooks Koepka.
Max Homa got his seventh sponsor’s exemption in New Orleans, tying Koepka for the most exemptions received this year. Koepka made $73,440 in New Orleans but didn’t get in on an exemption, he Monday qualified.
This is a nice little comeback by Casey, who’s had a tough couple of years, but he’s not exactly making a run for the Ryder Cup yet. Casey is up to only 90th in the world, which means he’s still 23 spots behind Anirbin Lahiri. And I did not make up that name.
I know it’s the new wraparound season, but April still seems kind of early for Bubba Watson and Jimmy Walker to have passed the $4 million mark in winnings. FYI, Tiger Woods ranks 186th in money this season.
Putting stats don’t always mean much, but how about a hand for rookie Peter Malnati leading the PGA Tour in one-putts per round with 8.35. Peter, a Web.com grad, also ranks second in putts per round with 27.58, just behind former Masters champ Charl Schwartzel, who’s at 27.30. By the way, Malnati is 163rd on the money list, and he’s got two other interesting stats, one good, one bad. He ranks first in final-round scoring average at 65.67… but has played only three final rounds this season. Once he gets there, though, the man is on fire.
I wonder whether Tiger Woods watched Golf Channel’s “Arnie” documentary, and if so, what did he make of all the stories about Arnold Palmer being popular with his fellow players and the media and never turning down a fan’s autograph request?
John Daly turned 48 on Monday. What’s harder to believe, Daly’s age or that Tom Kite turns 65 in December?
There are a few new names among the Ryder Cup points leaders on the American side, but nothing as surprising as the two players leading the European team’s point list right now, Victor Dubuisson of France and Jamie Donaldson of Wales. Didn’t see them coming. Here’s your Jamie Donaldson trivia of the day: He was born in Pontypridd, Wales. I’m not sure, but that may be due west of Pantyraidd, England.
I don’t want to be an alarmist but Korea’s Lydia Ko turned 17 while scoring her first LPGA victory as a professional in the Swinging Skirts Classic. Wow, she is really getting old fast.
Rory McIlroy was No. 1 in the world rankings just a little over a year ago. This week, he slipped out of the top ten for the first time in more than three years. McIlroy is in the field in Charlotte for this week’s Wells Fargo Championship, as is Phil Mickelson. Also playing is the defending champ. If you can name him (Derek Ernst), then you’re a real golf fan. Give yourself two Demarets. (Demarets are good; demerits are bad.) Take two more if you remember that he won in a playoff with…David Lynn.
Quote of the week, only because I just happened to run across this old Dilbert comic strip. Dilbert: “I decided to take up golf so I can be useless on weekends, too.”
Let’s strap on the Van Cynical Mailbag:
Van Cynical, Where is Anthony Kim and why is no one talking about this? -- Dean Demitropoulos via Twitter
You’re not bitter because you drafted him in your fantasy league, are you, Double D? Actually, we talked about him a lot last year, and the year before that, and now we kinda don’t care because Kim is old, old news. He has been out for two full years with assorted injuries, and with no sign of returning. His odds of coming back this year seem to be dwindling, because at last report, he’s not even playing recreational golf yet.
Gary, Do you see the PGA Tour adopting a policy similar to the Asian tour to allow a ball to be moved out of a divot? Why penalize players who play later in the day? If a ball rolls into a divot, moving a few inches doesn’t provide an advantage. -- Tej Sahota via Twitter
It’s not likely, Tej. For three centuries, the game has been about playing the ball as it lies. You catch a bad break, like winding up in a divot or plugged in a bunker, that’s the rub of the green. It’s the very core of the game. It’s why the USGA and the Masters don’t play lift, clean and place on rainy days. The Tour won’t allow a free drop from a divot because what’s a divot? A hole in the ground? What if the divot is 90 percent grown over and healed? Do you still get a drop? Is a bare spot a divot? How about a heelprint? Or a ballmark? What if the ball is teetering on the front edge of the divot? Is that a free drop because that’s a hard shot? You’re opening up a can of worms, Tej. You want to see something in golf that requires skill and practice, watch a touring professional play a shot from a divot. There’s absolutely no reason to change that.
Van Cynical, Does anyone want to play in the Ryder Cup? Dustin Johnson is barely playing. Jason Dufner skipped New Orleans, where he won two years ago, to chase $$ in China. Most of the best young Americans aren’t playing in Charlotte. I get pacing yourself, but they’re passing up a ton of chances. -- Brian Rosenwald via Twitter
That’s an interesting take, BriRo. If you could get these young guys to be honest, how much does the Ryder Cup really mean to them? Quite a bit to some, I think, but maybe not as much to others. But hey, the majors count for double points, so one U.S. Open appearance makes up for two starts in, say, New Orleans and Charlotte. Plus it’s only April, so not many players are looking ahead to the Ryder Cup yet. Come August, it’ll be a different story, and some may wish then that they’d played more often and sooner.
Is Keegan Bradley just not a good wind player, as seen in New Orleans in the final round, or has he been overhyped by the media? -- Phil via email
The guy has three wins. One is a major championship and one is a World Golf Championship. So he’s earned the attention he’s gotten. That said, he got some help in those three wins. In each case, another player should have won (Jason Dufner at the PGA, Jim Furyk in Akron) but slipped up on the closing holes and Bradley took advantage of their mistakes and ultimately won in a couple of playoffs. It’s been two years since he won, but nobody plays his best golf all the time. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t play his way onto the Ryder Cup team.