There might be a little vacation come early December for Charles Howell and family. That’s because what will pass as the 2014 version of the Tavistock Cup will set up at Isleworth and Howell is currently not qualified to play.
That won’t sit well with the longtime Isleworth resident, given that he’s played in the Tavistock nearly every year since it debuted in 2004.
“I’ll move out that week,” Howell said, and while he was speaking playfully, there was a tint of disappointment in his voice. “I’m a little upset we’ve lost the Tavistock Cup.”
The onetime Lake Nona vs. Isleworth battle for bragging rights has expanded in recent years to include more world-class players representing other clubs, but it will take on another look come Dec. 4-7. Isleworth will host the Tiger Woods World Challenge, in partnership with Tavistock.
The tournament will then move to New Albany in The Bahamas in 2015, but the bottom line is, the Tavistock Cup – much to Howell’s chagrin – is no more.
Of more immediate concern to Howell is the way this week plays out at Cherry Hills. He’s sitting 35th in the FedEx Cup standings and needs a strong week at the BMW Championship to push into the top 30, which would qualify him for the Tour Championship.
And with that, a much-coveted return to the Masters.
True, spots into the Masters, U.S. Open, and Open Championship that go to those who finish top 30 in the FEC standings are treasured by all, but it’s a little more personal to Howell. He’s a native of Augusta, Ga., worked at the Masters as a kid, and was qualified for the April classic from 2002-08. But he’s missed out four of the last five springs and knows he’s a strong BMW Championship away from a return.
He also knows that he sits outside the top 30 and is committed to fixing that.
“I’ve had a lot of nice finishes, but I haven’t won,” Howell said. “I understand why I’m where I’m at. I still love the game. I really like the things I’m doing with (instructor) Grant Waite. It’s really easy on the couch, but I still like working at it.”
As for the challenge of playing well at Cherry Hills to get to East Lake and Augusta National? Howell laughed. “We’re always trying to qualify for something out here.”
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HE KNOWS THE PAIN: Stuart Appleby, who has had his share of injuries, has a feel for what Tiger Woods is going through. Said Appleby: “I know as an injured player, your body will dominate the style of swing and what it will allow you to do more than any intuition, more than any tip, any advice. Your body dominates. Effectively, we all swing it the way our body lets us swing it. But if you’re injured it’s very much more sensitive.”
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MOVING IN, MOVING OUT: Appleby owns the biggest jump in the FedEx Cup standings, having gone from 98th at the start to 26th, a move of 72 spots. Geoff Ogilvy (90th to 24th) is next, followed by Ernie Els (91st to 44th).
The other three names who started outside the top 70 but are now inside and thus teeing it up at the BMW Championship: William McGirt (81st to 50th), Chesson Hadley (72nd to 57th), and Carl Pettersson (79th to 66th).
To make room inside the top 70, here are the six who were in, but played their way out: Scott Brown (53rd to 85th), Brandt Snedeker (55th to 86th), Jason Dufner (57th to 90th), Ben Martin (58th to 76th), Luke Donald (66th to 89th), and Brendan Steele (67th to 79th).
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CASH, NOT POINTS: Six players sit outside the top 70 in the FedEx Cup and are not eligible for the BMW Championship, yet they are well inside the top 70 on the money list: Snedeker (58th in money), Dufner (59th), Ian Poulter (61st), Jason Hicks (64th), Martin (66th), and Donald (70th).
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TPC BOSTON SUITS HIM: It’s worth keeping the name John Senden in mind for your Deutsche Bank Championship Fantasy Pool next year. He was tied for fifth this year and is now perfect at TPC Boston, having made the cut in 11 visits there.
In 44 rounds, he has broken par 31 times, shot in the 60s 23 times, and finished top 15 five times.
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PLAYOFF STUMBLES: Robert Garrigus is one of four players (Brandt Snedeker, Justin Hicks and Harris English being the others) to miss the cut in each of the two playoff tournaments this year. He’s now missed four straight FEC playoff cuts, dating back to last year.
Pat Perez continued his struggles with this FEC postseason stuff. He missed the cut at The Barclays and withdrew after 27 holes at the Deutsche Bank. Having qualified every year since his 2007 debut, Perez has started 19 tournaments, missed the cut six times, withdrawn on three occasions and finished outside the top 40 five times. His best effort is a tie for 18th.
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IRISH ROOTS: Keegan Bradley’s 90-year-old grandmother is heading overseas, but not to cheer on her grandson at the Ryder Cup. No, Kathleen Bradley wants to do what she did when she turned 70 and also when she turned 80 – return to the old country, Ireland, to visit the farm where her grandfather lived.
“We’re ‘Corkers,’ “ Pat Bradley said, “and that’s where we’re all headed.”
The World Golf Hall of Famer will accompany her mother and her four brothers – Mark (Keegan’s father), Tom, Chris and John – on a trip that they’ve made before. Tom, Chris, and John will take part in the “Three Brothers Tournament” at Kenmare Golf Club (“Mark and I will cheerlead,” Pat said), but the one-time LPGA Tour great will mix in some golf, too. On her dance card is a return to the Killeen Course at the Killarney Golf & Fishing Club where 10 years ago she made a hole-in-one with her brothers watching.
Pat Bradley is an honorary member at Old Head Golf Links in Kinsale.
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LOSING SIGHT: By all means, be passionate about trying to regain the Ryder Cup. Losing seven of the last nine is not fun.
But when Ted Bishop, the president of the PGA of America, and Tom Watson, an eight-time major winner, start telling everyone that they’re “on a journey,” don’t you want an air sickness bag?
A journey? Please.
The Pilgrims when they were aboard the Mayflower? Ponce de Leon? Now, those were journeys.
But sitting in a room with Donald Trump and a dozen TV cameras after having treated yourself to a cocktail reception just to announce captain’s picks? Sounds less like a journey and more like organizing your own party to massage your ego.