Charles Warren probably wishes the PGA Tour had left its new cut policy alone.
To avoid clutter on the weekend, the tour came up with a new rule this year that if more than 78 players made the cut, the field would be reduced to the nearest number to 70. That resulted in 18 players among top 70 and ties being sent home Friday from the Sony Open, and 19 players from the Buick Invitational.
After players complained, the policy was changed to include a 54-hole cut whenever there were more than 78 players.
And that’s where Warren comes in.
Three times this year – all of them after the policy was amended in early March – Warren was eliminated after the 54-hole cut and received what amounts to last-place money, give or take $2,000.
He was tied for 25th in Tampa after two rounds and shot 81. He was tied for 66th at the Wachovia Championship and shot 78. And last week, Warren was tied for 32nd at the Fry’s.com Open and shot 73. In two of those cases, he would have been able to play the final round if the policy had been left alone.
That could be worth watching in the final few weeks, for Warren is No. 123 on the money list and just over $12,000 away from losing his card for next year.
Ultimately, Warren has no one to blame but himself for the third-round scores.
The policy will be up for review at the tour’s board meeting next month, although board member Joe Ogilvie believes it worked fine. Ogilvie should know, for he was eliminated three times by the 54-hole cut, too.
“I don’t think it will be changed,” Ogilvie said. “I played well enough to make the cut, but I didn’t play well enough to have a good tournament. If I had shot 64 or had a good round, I probably would have made $5,000 or $6,000 extra. But it helped the tournament, I got paid, I got a retirement credit. I don’t think the product was diminished at all.
“And this is coming from the guy who got the bad end of the stick.”
Ogilvie favors the amended policy because it at least gives players one more chance to improve their scores. In Warren’s case, however, he picked a bad time for a bad round.
PADRAIG’S LAST STAND: A memorable year for Padraig Harrington includes becoming the first European in more than a century to win successive titles at the British Open, and his victory at the PGA Championship made him the only European to win consecutive majors in the same season.
The final act won’t be so easy.
Harrington goes into the season-ending Volvo Masters needing to finish no worse than second to have any hope of capturing the Order of Merit on the European tour for the second time.
Robert Karlsson of Sweden seized the lead with consecutive victories and a tie for third in Portugal, giving him a lead of about $370,000 going into Valderrama. He would be the first Swede to win the Harry Vardon Trophy.
Lee Westwood, who won the Order of Merit in 2000, is about $580,000 behind and would have to win the Volvo Masters. Miguel Angel Jimenez ($842,000 behind) also is mathematically in the hunt.
This will be the final year of the Volvo Masters, which has produced plenty of dramatic moments at Valderrama. The 2009 season, which starts next week in China, next year will conclude in the desert with the Race to Dubai.
FEDEX CUP FIX: PGA Tour officials have been immersed in finding a fix for the FedEx Cup since it ended with so little fanfare at East Lake, with commissioner Tim Finchem making sure his staff doesn’t stray from three key points.
The winner should be decided at the Tour Championship. The right people should be at East Lake (double major winner Padraig Harrington would be an example). And more players should have a chance to win the $10 million prize.
One solution that appears to be getting a lot of attention is not to reset the points until the Tour Championship, which could mean any of the 30 players at East Lake would have a chance to win. Plus, it would be decided over 72 holes and protect the integrity of the competition.
A decision is not expected for another month at the earliest.
TOUR ANOMALY: John Cook and Steve Stricker hold the distinction of a feat so rare it might not be repeated.
Stricker last year became the first player in PGA Tour history – or any other sport, for that matter – to be voted comeback player of the year in consecutive seasons.
Cook earned his spot in the record book of quirkiness with his victory Sunday in the AT&T Championship in San Antonio, making him the first Champions Tour rookie to successfully defend a title.
Turns out that players on the 50-and-older circuit must play six times for it to be considered a rookie season. Cook competed only twice last year on the Champions Tour – one of those a victory in San Antonio – so 2008 is considered his rookie year.
LOVE SURGE: With eight consecutive rounds in the 60s, Davis Love III tied for sixth in Las Vegas and tied for 11th in Arizona, made nearly $245,000 and got off the bubble.
Love, who returned this season after a serious ankle surgery, moved up to No. 115 on the money list to secure his card for next year. For a player of his stature, that essentially means he is assured a spot in The Players Championship.
But he is playing the Ginn sur Mer Classic this week in Florida as he tries to end the year with a victory. And while streaks don’t motivate him, Love still has a chance to extend his PGA Tour record to 14 consecutive seasons earning $1 million or more.
Love is at $867,237.
Phil Mickelson this year went over $1 million for the 13th straight season. Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Justin Leonard are next at 12.
DIVOTS: Tempted by richer offers, British and PGA champion Padraig Harrington decided to continue his relationship with Wilson Golf. The Irish Independent reported it was a $10 million deal for three years. Harrington has been with Wilson since 1998. … It goes in the book as a missed cut, but Kevin Stadler had PGA Tour officials searching the record books after improving by 20 shots in one round – an 81 in the first round, a 61 in the second round. It was the biggest turnaround since Jonathan Kaye went 83-62 at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in 1999.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Ten players who have won on the PGA Tour this year are outside the top 50 on the money list.
FINAL WORD: “Broke.” – Jim Furyk, when asked what he would be if he weren’t a professional golfer.