Bae withdraws from Open Championship qualifier
VIDEO: Take a tour of Sang-Moon Bae's winning bag
PLANO, Texas –- Having gone 72 grueling holes in vintage Texas heat and wind to secure his first PGA Tour win, Sang-Moon Bae chose not to play 36 more to try and secure an Open Championship spot on Monday.
Bae, 26, was still basking in the thrill of having won the HP Byron Nelson Championship Sunday when he notified officials that he would not tee it Monday in the Open Championship qualifier at Gleneagles Country Club.
“He wanted to rest, obviously,” said Bae’s agent, Jim Kelly of the World Sports Group. “Our thought process is to stick to the plan.”
“Get ready for Colonial and if he continues to play well, we think he can qualify on his own merit for the Open Championship, as he has before.”
Two other avenues remain available for Bae to try and punch his ticket to Muirfield July 18-21. One would be to play exceedingly well at this week’s Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial and move inside the top 50 in the Official World Golf Rankings.
The cutoff for top 50 exemptions into the Open Championship is next Monday. Having overtaken Keegan Bradley to win at the TPC Four Seasons Resort course in just his 39th tournament as a PGA Tour member, Bae has moved to 64th, so he’d need a stellar performance.
Failing that, Bae can also take aim at a new category, No. 15. Come the conclusion of the Greenbrier Classic, July 7, the top five players not already qualified for the Open who are inside the top 20 on the FedEx Cup points list will earn exemptions.
That option looks promising, especially if Bae were to continue his solid play (he was T-48 at Hilton Head and T-33 at The Players leading into the Nelson). Bae currently ranks 18th in FedEx Cup points, but two who are ahead of him – Kevin Streelman and D.A. Points – would earn spots into the Open Championship via their world ranking (36th and 45th, respectively). Billy Horschel, Jimmy Walker, Charles Howell III, Russell Henley, and Bae would constitute the top five – if the cutoff were today.
But a whopping seven tournaments still remains before that July 7 cutoff, so much could happen to change this picture.
Bae understands that, but has faith in his game. So, too, does Kelly.
“We’ll get ready for Colonial, then Memorial, and (the FedEx) St. Jude is still a question,” Kelly said. “But we believe his world rankings will take care of himself. He believes in what Rick Smith (Bae’s swing coach) hs been teaching him.”
• • •
Truth be told, a handful of others probably wished they followed Bae’s lead and withdrew from the Open Championship qualifier late Sunday. That’s because their early-morning experience at Gleneagles was forgettable.
Andres Romero was first to withdraw – and for good reason. He was 10 over with just two pars for 10 holes. Robert Allenby, Charley Hoffman, Jeff Overton and Cameron Percy also withdrew before completing their morning 18.
As for those who did play 18, some headed to the exits, choosing to withdraw rather than hope for a miraculous afternoon round. James Driscoll, who had made it through this qualifier twice in recent years, led the list after shooting 75.
Marc Leishman, Justin Hicks, Ben Kohles, Daniel Summerhays, James Han, Gary Christian and Adam Hadwin also withdrew, their scores between 3-over 73 and 8-over 78.