5 Things: Race to top 125 heats up at Disney
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Five things you need to know from a wild second round at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic. Bio Kim, Justin Leonard and Henrik Stenson are tied for the lead at 12-under 132. The leaders are a rookie fighting for his PGA Tour card (Kim), a major champion who doesn’t have to worry about his card despite recent struggles (Leonard) and a European veteran trying to find his form (Stenson).
1.) Bio-hazard: Kim entered the week at No. 168 on the PGA Tour money list. He hasn’t finished in the top 10 all year, but finds himself in contention in the nick of time. Kim needs to likely finish in a two-way tie for second or better to avoid a return to Q-School.
“I’m not afraid of Q-School,” said Kim. Q-School is enough to make a player’s heart skip a beat. Kim had heart surgery earlier this year to correct an irregular heartbeat.
2.) Locked up: Leonard is 144th on the PGA Tour money list, and hasn’t won a tournament since 2008. Even he thought he wasn’t exempt for next season.
“I don’t know how, I just am.”
The room full of reporters looked on with puzzled expressions.
“I gave the same look to the telephone,” Leonard laughed. “‘How is this guy still exempt?’ I didn’t question them very hard. I just said, ‘OK, if you say so.’”
Leonard is still exempt because in 2003 the Tour began adding years to a player’s exemption for wins achieved during the exemption. Basically, several of Leonard’s wins during his 10-year exemption for winning the 1997 Open Championship extended his exemption to 2012.
3.) Stenson’s struggles: Stenson, No. 175 in the world, shot 64 Friday, his low career PGA Tour round. It was a bit unexpected for the former top-10 player in the world, who has just one top 10 worldwide this year.
“Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint what the reason is,” Stenson told Golfweek at the Puerto Rico Open in March. “I just know myself, I’m quite an analytical person. I have high standards for myself, so if I don’t reach up to them, I want to try to make things right, and that sometimes gets in the way of actually playing the game.”
Stenson is 180th on the money list with $232,624 in earnings. His tie for 23rd at this year’s U.S. Open is his only top-25 in 14 PGA Tour starts. He doesn’t have to worry about his card for next year, though. He’s exempt by virtue of his 2009 Players Championship win.
4.) Sweating it out: The drama surrounding the 125th position on the PGA Tour money list started earlier than usual at the Children’s Miracle Network Classic. D.J. Trahan needed a par on the final hole to make the cut. Trahan two-putted from 35 feet on his final hole Friday to give himself a chance to play for his card. He started the week at No. 123 on the money list, and was 126th on the projected money list when he finished his round. Some players downplay the pressure associated with the 125th spot on the money list. Others embrace it. Trahan did neither, but his reaction to a reporter’s inquiry showed that the battle for the top 125 is no laughing matter.
Before a reporter could even utter the two initials of his first name, Trahan said, “Please don’t start asking me about the 125. I don’t even want to start thinking about it.” He then walked off to the practice range.
5.) Race for No. 1: Webb Simpson and Luke Donald are knotted on the leaderboard in a tie for 14th at 7-under 137. That’s enough for Simpson to have the lead on the projected money list. Simpson started the week with a $363,029 lead on Donald, who needs to finish no worse than a two-way tie for second to have any chance of passing Simpson.
Donald shot 71 Friday after a first-round 66. Simpson has shot 68-69. Donald said he struggled with fatigue in the second round. “My energy level, my focus wasn’t very good,” he said.