2 up, 2 down: Zac Blair rises, Phil Mickelson falls after Safeway Open

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

2 up, 2 down: Zac Blair rises, Phil Mickelson falls after Safeway Open

Professional

2 up, 2 down: Zac Blair rises, Phil Mickelson falls after Safeway Open

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Golfweek takes a look at who’s up and who’s down each week on the three major golf tours. Here are the latest rankings for men and women.

The Golfweek/Sagarin ranking for each player is in parentheses.

PGA Tour

2 Up

Zac Blair (104)

Welcome back to the big leagues, Zac. After playing on the Korn Ferry Tour last season, Blair recorded his first top-5 finish on the PGA Tour since the 2016 Sony Open. “A long time ago,” Blair said of his last top-5.

It’s all the more impressive considering he played his first five holes of the Safeway Open in 3 over en route to a 75. But he worked on his putting after the round and something clicked as he shot a pair of 66s and closed in a bogey-free round of 68 to tie for fourth. This should vault him up the standings for the first re-shuffle. “It’s just big for the confidence,” he said.

Daniel Berger (66)

A T-23 finish at the Safeway Open may seem only hunky-dory, but to Berger it is a big deal. The 26-year-old former Florida State golfer satisfied his minor-medical exemption in his first start of the season. Berger, who was sidelined for five months with an injury to his right hand, had five starts to earn 15 FedEx Cup points and netted 32 at the Safeway. “I feel like a million-pound weight has just been lifted off my shoulders,” he said.

2 Down

Phil Mickelson (216)

Mickelson hoped a six-week layoff and the start of a new season would provide a needed jolt to his game. But his 2019-20 debut lasted only two rounds thanks, in part, to making a quadruple-bogey 9 on the fifth hole of his first round at the Safeway Open. Mickelson, 49, is mired in one of the worst droughts of his career.

His best finish since winning the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is a T-18 at the Masters. He will attempt to right the ship this week at the Shriners Hospital for Children Open.

Kevin Tway (178)

What a difference a year makes. Instead of celebrating his maiden PGA Tour victory at the 2018 Safeway Open, Tway, 31, exited early in his defense after shooting 71-72 to miss the cut. Since winning the Safeway, he’s recorded just one top-10 finish – a T-5 at the Travelers Championship in June. Driving accuracy continues to be his impediment. He ranked No. 176 during the 2018-19 season.

LPGA

2 Up

Sarah Kemp (171)

Aussie has bookended her season quite nicely thus far. Started the year T-2 and T-10 in her first two starts and then hit a big dry spell. After cashing checks in Portland and Canada, a T-15 at the Indy Women in Tech moved her up to 83rd on the money list. The top 100 keep their cards. An ace on the par-3 third hole in the final round provided a nice boost.

Cheyenne Woods (269)

Made the cut in Indy for the first time on the LPGA in five starts. Her T-31 was the best finish of a season in which Woods had made just over $10,000. She’s now at $23,648 for the year and will head back to Q-School on a higher note.

2 Down

Sung Hyun Park (7)

First missed cut since April for Park, and at an event she won in 2018. To be fair, Park hadn’t finished outside the top 20 since mid-June. Still, it was a surprising second-round 77 from the former No. 1.

Lexi Thompson (26)

After a whirlwind trip to the South Korea following the Solheim Cup, Thompson opened with a 76 at the Brickyard and missed the cut. It looked promising too, after she showed off her third-career albatross on Instagram earlier in the week during a practice round. Thompson heads home for a month-long stretch where she’ll get some R&R as well as an MRI on her back before returning to action in Japan.

Euro Tour

2 Up

Victor Perez (109)

The Frenchman lived up to the potential he showed in finishing third on last year’s European Challenge Tour by winning the $5 million Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews, his first victory. He moved from 76th on the Race to Dubai to 17th and a threat to 11th ranked Robert MacIntrye of Scotland for rookie of the year. The 27-year-old achieved the first French victory of the season with superb iron play, hitting 90.3 percent of greens over four rounds to rank third in that category.

Matthew Southgate (289)

Arguably should have won the Alfred Dunhill Links, but stumbled over the back nine on Sunday with bogeys at the 14th and 17th holes to hand the tournament to Perez. He was fifth in greens in regulation for the week, finding the putting surfaces 88.9 percent of the time. He was also ninth best in the field with a 75.1 percent driving accuracy average. Southgate began the week in 104th on the Race to Dubai, too close to the all-important 110th ranking for comfort. He jumps to 40th.

2 Down

Renato Paratore (340)

The 22-year-old Italian hasn’t really kicked on since winning the 2017 Nordea Masters. His missed cut in the Alfred Dunhill Links was his 12th MC of the season. No wonder he’s languishing in 98th position on the Race to Dubai. The quick player needs to find more fairways to move up the pecking order. He’s hit just 49.5 percent of fairways and ranks 187th in driving accuracy, and 116th in strokes gained driving. No prizes for guessing which part of his game he needs to work on.

David Howell (777)

The chairman of the European Tour’s tournament committee is taking advantage of his status as a top 40 career money list player. He’s teed it up in 20 tournaments this year, but only made the cut in four of them. He missed another in the Alfred Dunhill Links. He’s 224th on the Race to Dubai with just under $46,000 in earnings. Just as well he’s made $16 million over a 23-year career that includes five wins, because he’s out of pocket this year.

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