MARANA, Ariz. (AP) — Davis Love III began the year with a No. 77 world ranking. David Toms was at No. 113. They knew they would have to play well on the West Coast to qualify for the World Golf Championships, and eventually the bigger prize of getting in the Masters.
Both made significant progress. But they’re not quite there.
Love, a runner-up at Kapalua, at least made it to the Accenture Match Play Championship, where he beat Henrik Stenson in the opening round. But his loss on the 18th hole to Justin Leonard in the next round might have proved costly.
If he had won that match, Love would have gone inside the top 50 in the rankings and qualified for the CA Championship next week at Doral. Instead, he was at No. 53. Love is playing in the Honda Classic this week, and will have one last chance to qualify for Doral, either through the top 50 in the world or top 10 in the FedEx Cup standings (he is No. 14).
Toms is in a more precarious spot.
He was a runner-up at the Sony Open and tied for fourth in Phoenix, but he narrowly missed out qualifying for Match Play. Toms went to Mexico for the Mayacoba Classic last week, and tied for sixth. That moved him up to No. 11 in the FedEx Cup standings, a mere 36 points behind Mike Weir.
Toms did not enter the Honda Classic, so he will not be eligible for Doral. He is ranked No. 64, so Toms will have only two tournaments to move into the top 50 and qualify for the Masters.
He has had Augusta National on his mind since the start of the year.
“Every time I see the Masters preview come on, it drives me crazy,” Toms said. “I’m working toward that.”
Meanwhile, Bob Hope winner Pat Perez, Buick Invitational winner Nick Watney and Charley Hoffman, a playoff loser in Phoenix, are in the top 10 in FedEx Cup standings, making them eligible for the CA Championship next week.
RESHUFFLE: Webb Simpson opened his rookie season with consecutive top 10s at the Sony Open and Bob Hope Classic, and it paid off. Simpson has earned $401,894 and is 33rd in the FedEx Cup standings, moving him to the top of the priority list for Q-school and Nationwide Tour grads.
This was the first of five reshuffles during the season.
James Nitties, who tied for fourth in Phoenix, when up one spot to No. 2, followed by Scott Piercy.
Q-school winner Harrison Frazar began the year atop that priority list, but he has made only three cuts (two top 20s) and fell to No. 14 after the reshuffle. The higher players are on the list, the better chance they have of getting into tournaments.
TV BIG THREE: Three television producers from different networks ordinarily would be a crowd at any golf tournament, but there was a reason for it at the Accenture Match Play Championship.
Lance Barrow, the golf producer for CBS Sports, was at Dove Mountain for a scouting report. CBS will be televising Match Play next year because NBC Sports will be tied up with the Vancouver Winter Olympics.
The only time Barrow has been involved with this format was the HSBC Women’s World Match Play Championship two years ago.
Tommy Roy, the golf producer for NBC, orchestrated coverage for the week, even the first three days on The Golf Channel. Also at Dove Mountain was Jack Graham, the producer for the Golf Channel.
Graham formerly was the golf producer for ABC Sports, which televised the first Match Play Championship in 1999.
It is among the most difficult golf tournaments to produce early in the week because of 32 matches going on across the course. Still, Roy could think of one other event that might be even tougher – the U.S. Amateur.
“At least we know who these players are,” Roy said.
DIVOTS: Padraig Harrington missed the cut at Pebble Beach and Riviera, lost in the first round at Match Play, then apparently changed his mind. The Irishman entered the CA Championship at Doral on Tuesday, after saying he likely would take that week off. … Boo Weekley’s match play record is 4-0 against Europeans and 0-2 against Americans. … Geoff Ogilvy beat higher seeds in every round when he won the Accenture Match Play Championship three years ago. This time, he beat lower seeds in every round. … Rich Beem, relying on sponsor exemptions and his status as a past champion to get into tournaments, qualified for the Honda Classic with a tie for sixth in Mexico. Beem, however, withdrew from Honda, saying he needed a break. He has played six of the last seven weeks.
STAT OF THE WEEK: The highest-seeded player Paul Casey beat on his way to the Accenture Match Play Championship final was Ross Fisher at No. 35. It was the first time a finalist never had to play any of the top 32 seeds.
FINAL WORD: “It was kind of my Disneyland. Everything I ever wanted was here.” – Paul Casey of England on arriving in Phoenix to play golf at Arizona State. He still lives in Scottsdale.