LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Most players used to come to Disney to play golf and enjoy the theme parks. As the final tournament of the PGA Tour season, the Children’s Miracle Network Classic has a much more serious tone this year.
Most guys here are simply trying to save their jobs.
No one feels it quite like Ted Purdy, who has plunged from No. 110 on the money list at the start of the Fall Series to No. 125, giving him a $4,118 lead over J.B. Holmes.
If he misses the cut and Holmes makes it to the weekend, Purdy will lose his full exemption for 2008.
“Never was I worried about keeping my card until the last couple of weeks,” Purdy said. “I’ve played my way into this situation.”
He’s not alone.
Since the Fall Series began, nine players have fallen outside of the top 125 in what has proven to be an unpredictable set of circumstances. Tour officials figured something around $700,000 would be enough to finish in the top 125, but that number has been moving north every week.
One reason is because the top stars have taken the year off, leaving more players out of the top 100 on the money list into fields and raising the chances of them either winning (George McNeill) or doing well enough to secure their cards (Mark Hensby, Michael Allen).
Other bubbles for the week:
– Anders Hansen is at No. 150, the cutoff for conditional status. Hansen, however, is not at Disney, and he would be bumped if Tripp Isenhour, Robert Gamez or Jeff Gove make the cut.
– Carl Pettersson is at No. 32 on the money list, needing at least $84,926 to have any hope of moving into the top 30 to qualify for the Masters. Heath Slocum (No. 31) already is eligible, as is David Toms (No. 30). Also in range of a trip to Augusta National is Justin Leonard (No. 35) and Ken Duke (No. 36).
TIGER TALKS: Tiger Woods said any rumors about him leaving Hank Haney are just that.
“I have not split with Hank Haney, my friend and swing coach,” Woods said in his monthly newsletter. “He’s spent more time at home helping his wife deal with health issues, which is the way it should be. Besides, I’ve become much better at correcting my swing flaws, and that’s ultimately where you want to get to with a coach-pupil relationship. Hank is still going to be my coach; that’s not changing.”
Haney has not been at a tournament with Woods since the Bridgestone Invitational, fueling rumors about a split.
Woods won’t play again until the Target World Challenge in California on Dec. 13-16, and about the only one touching a club in the house appears to be 4-month-old daughter Sam.
“She can grab things now and has held a golf club in her hands,” he said. “I didn’t start swinging a club until I was 11 months, so she’s got seven months until that happens.”
USGA PRESIDENT: Jim Vernon has been nominated to a one-year term as president of the USGA, replacing Walter Driver. The election of Vernon, other officers and the 15-member executive committee will take place Feb. 9 in Houston at the annual meeting.
Vernon has been vice president for two years and spent four years as chairman of the Equipment Standards Committee. He is a past president of the board of the California Golf Association and the Southern California Golf Association.
Jim Hyler of Raleigh, N.C., and Cameron Jay Rains of San Diego were nominated as vice presidents.
COLONIAL: Six more players will have a chance to play at Colonial next year.
Stewart Cink, a member of the PGA Tour policy board, said Tuesday the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial has agreed to increase the size of its field from 114 to 120. Past champions who want to play, such as Rod Curl, would be added to the field.
He was not certain if the Memorial Tournament had agreed to increase its field from 105 to 120 players.
The tour has been trying to make the field size more uniform at the invitational events, particularly after some grumbling last year when Tiger Woods’ new tournament (AT&T National) featured a limited field.—=
FIRE RELIEF: The Nationwide Tour plays its Tour Championship this week in Barona Creek in San Diego County, where more is at stake than the top 25 players on the money list earning PGA Tour cards. Through a program called “Birdies for Relief,” the tournament will donate at least $200,000 to the Red Cross Fire Relief Fund to support victims of the California fires.
Nationwide Insurance and the PGA Tour has pledged to donate $100 for every birdie made at Barona Creek.
Tournament organizers said admission would be free, and they have encouraged fans to donate to the relief fund instead of buying a ticket. The Century Club of San Diego also invited eight firefighters to play in the pro-am Wednesday.
MOLDER’S MOMENTUM: Bryce Molder finished 10 shots off the lead last week at the Ginn sur Mer Classic, earning $52,200. What might sound fairly ordinary to most represented a great turn of fortunes for Molder.
Molder didn’t make the cut in any of his first 11 events of the year, didn’t cash a tour check until late July, and the tie for 21st at Tesoro Club was by far his best showing of the season.
“There’s about three or four things you need to do well, and I was not doing any of those well,” Molder said. “I wasn’t driving it well, I wasn’t hitting any of my irons very well … I wasn’t scoring well, I wasn’t putting well. Everything was bad.”
Molder persevered, and wound up more than doubling his 2007 last week.
It would take a win this week at Disney to keep Molder from having to endure Q-school. Understanding that victory doesn’t exactly seem realistic, Molder is simply trying to build some momentum for ’08 now.
“I know how well I can play when things are going my way, so it’s very frustrating and it’s a little bit humiliating to go that long without making a cut,” Molder said. “But it happens – it happens to good players – and you just have to be able to try to put it behind you so that you can give yourself a chance the next time.”
DIVOTS: U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera made eagle on the final hole to force a playoff, and he beat Ricardo Gonzalez in the Argentina Masters. Cabrera also eagled the 18th and won in a playoff in his previous event, the PGA Grand Slam of Golf. … Chris DiMarco, who had shoulder surgery on Sept. 12, withdrew from the final PGA Tour event of the year. … Nine players outside the top 125 on the PGA Tour money list have played at least 30 times this year.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Three years after Todd Hamilton won the British Open and rose to No. 16 in the world ranking, he has fallen to No. 894 going into the final event of 2007.
FINAL WORD: “I like time off, but I golf. So that’s why we play.” — Mark Calcavecchia on playing in the Fall Series.