Notes: FedEx Cup picture; Open tickets punched; more
True, there’s time to make a move and one big week – a victory, perhaps – will take care of a lot of problems, but as we creep toward July 1, there are three notable names who can’t exactly pencil the Tour Championship into their schedules.
Hunter Mahan sits 73rd in the FedEx Cup standings, Phil Mickelson 86th and Steve Stricker 124th.
Each man has thus far had perfect attendance at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta since the FEC playoffs began in 2007, so it has to feel strange seeing them well down in the points list.
Then again, in this very curious of seasons, there is a healthy list of notable names sitting well down in the FEC standings. To wit: Lee Westwood, 100th; Ernie Els, 99th; defending champ Henrik Stenson, 90th; Brandt Snedeker, 88th; Charl Schwartzel, 85th; Ian Poulter, 61st; Luke Donald, 52nd; and Graeme McDowell, 50th.
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ANOTHER POSITIVE SIGN: Call it an exhibition or call it hit 'n giggle. Just so long as you call it the latest indicator that Bo Van Pelt has rediscovered a consistency to his game.
Van Pelt, who earlier this year missed the cut in seven of his first nine tournaments – including five in a row – teamed with Steve Stricker to successfully defend their CVS Charity Classic title at Rhode Island Country Club in Barrington.
Closing with an 11-under 60 to back up an opening 62, Van Pelt and Stricker finished at 20-under 122, edging Peter Jacobsen and Jimmy Walker (62-61) by one.
The two-day charity event was hosted, as always, by Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade, but there was not much time afterward for Stricker to celebrate. That’s because he and five of his teammates – Jason Dufner, Matt Kuchar, Bill Haas, Zach Johnson and Hunter Mahan – were scheduled to be saluted at a White House dinner for last year’s Presidents Cup team.
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BOOK THAT HOYLAKE ROOM: It’s been a lengthy road back from a nagging injury to his left wrist, but Edoardo Molinari can put a check mark next to one of the items high on his “to do” list. That’s because he has qualified for his first major championship since the 2012 Masters.
PHOTOS: Royal Liverpool, 2014 Open Championship host
Check out the scenery and some of the challenges that Royal Liverpool in Hoylake will present during the 2014 Open Championship.
Having been ranked as high as 14th in October 2010, Molinari has fallen in the Official World Golf Ranking from 285th by the end of 2013. The Italian, who won the 2005 U.S. Amateur, played in just 13 European PGA Tour tournaments a season ago.
But with the wrist getting stronger, Molinari steadily has played his way back into form, and his latest success – runner-up to Mikko Ilonen at the Irish Open – came at an opportune time. The Irish Open was designed by the R&A to be a Final International Qualifier in which the top three finishers inside the top 10 who were not already qualified would earn spots into the Open Championship. Molinari easily grabbed one spot, Danny Willett earned another and Matthew Baldwin seized the third in a tiebreaker over Kristoffer Broberg based on world ranking. (Baldwin was ranked 214th, Broberg 311th.)
Molinari also has played himself to 146th in the world ranking, with three top 10s in 17 starts.
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THEY’RE IN: Spots into the Open Championship also were nailed down by Brendon Todd and Kevin Na. They came courtesy of being inside the top 20 in FedEx Cup points as of June 23. Up to five players could have qualified, but Todd and Na were the only names inside the top 20 not already in at Royal Liverpool.
It will be Todd’s debut in the Open. Na has played three times.
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BACK’S FINE, SO HE’S BACK: Peter Uihlein is one golfer who doesn’t need an Open exemption (he got one for finishing in the top 30 in the 2013 Race to Dubai), but this week’s BMW International Open will mark his return to action for the first time in a month. Uihlein, the American who won the 2010 U.S. Amateur and has played primarily in Europe since turning pro in 2011, had gone to the sidelines with a sore back after missing the cut in mid-May at the Spanish Open.