Webb Simpson has earned $5.77 million on the PGA Tour this season, and yet he will tee it up at the McGladrey Classic in Sea Island, Ga., in hopes of finishing the year atop the money list. He is just under $69,000 behind Luke Donald, who would be the first player to win the money title on both sides of the Atlantic. (Donald leads the European Tour money list by a comfortable margin.)
Should Simpson pull ahead, Donald could elect to play Disney next week, which would mean Simpson would have to play it, which would make the Disney less for Charles Howell III fans than Thurston Howell III fans.
At the other end of the money list is Paul Casey, who played well for most of last week's Frys.com Open before fading to a T7 finish. Casey, whose summer was a casualty of a mysterious foot injury, rose from 135th to 127th on the money list at CordeValle, and has more work to do at Sea Island to crack the top 125.
"It's not perfect," Casey said of his right foot after shooting a second-round 64 at the Frys.com at CordeValle, "but now I can walk without limping and I feel like I'm — to be honest it's probably the best I've hit the golf ball all year, and even though the toe isn't 100 percent, it's great news."
Matt Jones, the Australian who played at Arizona State, is 125th, while sometime Golf Channel broadcaster Steve Flesch is 126th. Andres Gonzales, the mutton-chopped, mulleted endomorph who calls himself "half man, half amazing," and who keeps tweeting Tiger Woods to see if they can hook up for a practice round, is languishing at 213th in earnings. He could use a big week.
Among the most intriguing players at Sea Island will be Bud Cauley, the 21 -year-old who left Alabama after his junior year and turned pro in March, and Rickie Fowler, 22, who won for the first time as a pro in Korea last weekend.
Cauley has no status on the PGA Tour, but qualified for the U.S. Open at Congressional, where he finished in the back of the pack, and has made the most of his sponsor's exemptions. He finished third at the Frys.com last weekend, which got him into the McGladrey, an event he'd planned to try to Monday-qualify for after a red-eye flight Sunday. "This is definitely a lot easier," he said at CordeValle.
His $340,000 payday at CordeValle pushed the diminutive Cauley up to $671,150 in earnings after just seven starts, which would put him 114th on the money list. He will almost certainly earn his card for 2012, bypassing Q school and becoming just the sixth player to accomplish the feat, the first since Ryan Moore.
Fowler, who won the Korea Open by six strokes over Rory McIlroy, is perhaps America's most exciting and marketable young golfer, which is no small thing given how fast Tiger Woods has fallen from grace. If the stylish Fowler can leverage that hard-won breakthrough into a string of Ws, golf may attract some attention even in the midst of the baseball playoffs and the NFL and college football seasons.
There isn't much left on the 2011 calendar: two Fall Series events, the HSBC Champions (always a strong field), the Aussie Open, PGA and Masters, and the Presidents Cup — that's about it. Oh, and if you count the Chevron Challenge as a real tournament, there's that, too. Woods did the Chevron media day Tuesday, and said he was grateful to have barely qualified to play in the event he hosts.
"I had points rolling off from '09," Woods said, explaining how he's fallen to 52nd in the World Ranking. "I had a very good year that year. I won, what, seven times around the world, so all those points are coming off. Unfortunately, I fell quite a bit, and I fell fast. Good news is, by playing next year, I have no points coming off — so I can start rebuilding."
Seniors down to their last full-field tournament
The Champions Tour's AT&T Championship at TPC San Antonio is the last chance for the 50-and-overs to climb into the top 30 on the money list and qualify for the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship at TPC Harding Park.
The good news for Tom Pernice Jr. was that he made the cut and finished T36 at the Frys.com Open last weekend. The bad news was he missed the Insperity Championship and fell from 27th to 30th on the senior money list. Brad Faxon, who got his first Champions victory at the Insperity, is 39th on the Schwab Cup points list.
The AT&T Canyons Course, designed by Pete Dye and Bruce Leitzke, is a new venue for the AT&T Championship. (Verizon and Sprint users are presumably still welcome.) This will be San Antonio's 27th straight year as host city, the longest streak for any metropolitan area on the Champions tour, and TPC San Antonio, which also hosts the PGA Tour's Valero Texas Open, becomes one of three golf facilities to host two PGA Tour-sanctioned events. The others: TPC Sawgrass, which hosts the Players and the Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open, and Pebble Beach, home of the AT&T Pro-Am and the Nature Valley First Tee Open.
Short game: Jamie Lovemark, the Nationwide Tour's player of the year last year, who had back surgery over the summer and hasn't competed since the Shell Houston Open in May, will play the Nationwide's Miccosukee Championship in Miami. … Daniel Chopra is 25th on the Nationwide money list, with an $11,864 lead over Marco Dawson with two full-field events remaining. The top 25 make it to the PGA Tour next year. … In his last three Nationwide starts, Miguel Carballo of Argentina lost in a playoff, tied for seventh, and last weekend won, climbing to fifth on the money list, up from 60th Sept. 18. … Martin Kaymer will be the highest-ranked player (No. 6) at the Euro tour's Portugal Masters at Oceanico Victoria Golf Course. Also in the field are Alvaro Quiros, who won the tournament in '08, Thomas Bjorn, a three-time winner this year, and Padraig Harrington. … Michelle Wie, Paula Creamer, Suzann Pettersen, Cristie Kerr and Christina Kim are among those who will try to stop the juggernaut that is Yani Tseng at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.