It's penny-pinching time on the PGA Tour, or at least $100 bill pinching time, with just three weeks remaining to make enough cash to remain inside the top 125 on the money list or break into it.
This week's Frys.com Open at CordeValle, a little more than an hour south of San Francisco, will feature the usual suspects — Billy Mayfair (123rd with $601,511) through Rod Pampling (126th with $595,893), and beyond — plus one more. Big-hitting sponsor's exemption Nicolas Colsaerts, who made eight birdies and an eagle to single-handedly beat Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods in a fourball match at the recent Ryder Cup, wants to play the PGA Tour in 2013. "I have to say," Colsaerts said Tuesday, "I have a little thing for Five Guys burgers."
With $652,886 in earnings, non-member Colsaerts, from Belgium, would be 120th on the PGA Tour money list. He must finish this season with at least as much as the 125th man on that list in order to earn full status on the PGA Tour next season. Others in the field at CordeValle include Ernie Els, who shot four rounds in the 60s to tie for fourth there last year; Jeff Overton and Gary Woodland, who are still looking to make something out of a lackluster year; Jonas Blixt, who is coming off a third-place finish in Las Vegas and who, with a victory, could challenge John Huh for Rookie of the Year; and Patrick Cantlay, who has been underwhelming as a pro but lost in a playoff at the Web.com Tour's Chiquita Classic two weeks ago.
This week's tournament should, by one metric at least, be one of the easiest to win on Tour, as there are only two 2012 winners in the field, Els and Ben Curtis. Luke Guthrie, who picked up two quick victories on the Web.com Tour to secure his PGA Tour card for next season, and who led that tour's money list until being passed by Casey Wittenberg last weekend, will play on the big tour at CordeValle.
Langer elbows way to top of Champions tour
The 50-and-over circuit has a new Charles Schwab Cup points leader in Bernhard Langer, whose victory at last week's SAS Championship was his second of the season. With 2,208 points he narrowly leads Tom Lehman (2,139), and both men will be competing in this week's Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn, a 7,046-yard, par-72 Robert Trent Jones Jr. design in Conover, N.C. Also in the field: Jay Don Blake, who has a win and a second in his last three starts.
The Greater Hickory marks the second-to-last full-field event on the Champions Tour, which means players have two weeks in which to make their way into the top 30 on the points list and qualify for the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship at Desert Mountain in Scottsdale, Ariz., Nov. 1-4.
Web.com Tour winding down
The feeder circuit for the PGA Tour also has just two full-field tournaments remaining on the schedule, including this week's Miccosukee Championship at watery Miccosukee Golf & Country Club in Miami. Casey Wittenberg's runner-up finish at last week's Neediest Kids Championship put him back atop the money list. The Web.com Tour Championship at TPC Craig Ranch is set for Oct. 25-28.
Ryder Cuppers set to play Portugal
Winning European Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal will play with two of his players, Martin Kaymer and Francesco Molinari, at the European Tour's Portugal Masters. Vice captains Darren Clarke and Thomas Bjorn will be playing in the groups in front of them and behind them, respectively. Others in the field include Miguel Angel Jimenez, another vice-captain, and Padraig Harrington.
In other news from the European Tour, it was announced Wednesday that the $7 million Turkish Open will be the penultimate event on the 2013 schedule.
LPGA starts four-week Asian Swing
This week's Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club boasts 49 of the top 50 players on the 2012 money list. This is the first of four stops on the tour's Asian Swing; just six tournaments remain this season, with the LPGA's last two events set for Mexico and Naples, Fla.
Second-ranked Stacy Lewis, coming off her third victory this season at the Navistar LPGA Classic two weeks ago, tied for fifth at the 2011 Sime Darby.