2 up, 2 down: Gary Woodland improves Presidents Cup chances

AP Photo/Lee Jin-man

2 up, 2 down: Gary Woodland improves Presidents Cup chances

Golf

2 up, 2 down: Gary Woodland improves Presidents Cup chances

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Taking a look at some risers and fallers on the three major golf tours based on recent play. Check out the Sagarin/Golfweek rankings for men and women.

PGA Tour

2 Up

Gary Woodland (26)

Woodland trailed only Tiger Woods after a 64-66 start at the Zozo Championship en route to a fifth-place showing. It was Woodland’s best finish since winning the U.S. Open in June. He also got to play alongside Woods for the final 36 holes in a tryout of sorts with the Team USA captain for the Presidents Cup team. Hard to see Woods not picking a reigning major champion after he showed good form.

Billy Horschel (20)

Shane Lowry and Matthew Wolff  were among a group that finished T-13 and both notched his best result on the PGA Tour since winning the Open Championship and 3M Championship, respectively, but I’m going with Horschel, who shot 64 on Moving Day and continued a good run at the Zozo Championship with a T-6 finish. Horschel finished T-4 at the BMW Championship last month. He has missed only two cuts in the last year and looks poised to get back to the winner’s circle soon.

2 Down

Bubba Watson (96)

After a rather mundane, winless season in 2018-19, Watson was looking for a quick start to his new season, but so far it’s been more of the same. He finished T-47 at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, missed the cut at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and finished with a 75 at the Zozo Championship for another subpar result (T-51). But he did give another example of what makes his talent to shape the ball so otherworldly. Check out the video below where Bubba starts this drive. …

Kevin Streelman (116)

It’s been a Jekyll and Hyde start to the new season for Streelman. He’s missed three cuts, but also finished T-4 at Sanderson Farms after a closing 64 and T-12 at the CJ Cup. At the Zozo Championship, Streelman opened with a 78 and never recovered. He finished 74th out of 76 finishers. It’s a very small sample size but Streelman ranks 200th in Strokes Gained: Approach the Green so far and helps explain his inconsistency.

European Tour

2 Up

Steven Brown (463)

The Englishman saved his best golf for last to win what he thought was his final European Tour event of 2019. The 32 year old missed 17 of 29 cuts and was 150th on the Race to Dubai before the Portugal Masters. Yet the 2011 Walker Cup player won the tournament. Brown is averaging nearly one putt more per round than the tour average this season, taking 30.44 putts against 29.56. He ranks 184th in that category. Yet the shortest club in his bag was working in Portugal. He was second in stokes gained putting for the week with a +2.75 average per round. It helped him win his first European Tour event and avoid a return to the Qualifying School. It also extended his season. Brown will now play the $7 million Turkish Airlines Open and has a chance to make the season ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.

Justin Walters (290)

The South African’s T-2 finish in the Portugal Masters saw him retain his playing rights for 2020. The two-time All American at NC State turned up for the tournament ranked 121st on the Race to Dubai and in danger of losing his card. Walters’s stroke average has increased in 2019. He’s averaging 71.44 shots per round this year compared to 70.75 last season. Yet he averaged 67 shots per round in Portugal to avoid a trip to the Qualifying School. He was second in strokes gained on approach shots, picking up +2.19 per round.

2 Down

Paul Dunne (578)

The former UAB player needed a good week in the Portugal Masters to hang on to his tour status. The Irishman didn’t get it. The 2015 Walker Cup player missed the cut and will head to the Qualifying School to try to regain his card for 2020. It’s not what was expected from a player who shot a final round 61 to hold off a charging Rory McIlroy to win the 2017 British Masters. The 26-year-old is renowned for his brilliant short game, as evidenced by ranking sixth in putts per round with a 28.43 average. However, his long game lets him down. Dunne only hit 47.63% of fairways this season to rank 199th in driving accuracy. He was 200th in greens in regulation with 58.63%.

Matteo Manassero (899)

The Italian needed to win the Portugal Masters to have a chance of keeping his tour status. He wasn’t even close. He shot rounds of 83 and 73 to finish at the bottom of the field. The four-time European Tour winner has made just two of 18 cuts this season to sit 293rd on the Race to Dubai with just under $7,700 in earnings. A stroke average of 74.39 is over three shots worse than the tour average of 71.10. Hard to believe from a player who won the 2013 BMW PGA Championship, the European Tour’s flagship tournament. Manassero has never been a long hitter, as his 276.20 yard average this year proves, but he was usually straight. Not this year. He ranks 158th in driving accuracy, hitting just 54.56% of fairways. The future looks very uncertain for the affable Italian.

LPGA Tour

2 Up

Ha Na Jang (NR)

Is she back? Well, back in the winner’s circle at least. One of the most engaging players in recent memory on the LPGA, Jang left the U.S.-based tour for personal reasons midway through the 2017 season. Her victory at the BMW Ladies Championship, however, gives her a chance to get back on the LPGA should she desire to. Jang, 27, defeated good friend Danielle Kang in a three-hole playoff in Busan. She has five LPGA titles and $2,925,875 in career earnings.

Jennifer Kupcho (131)

What deferment? The former Wake Forest grad missed the first five months of the LPGA calendar but still managed to play her way into the limited-field Asian swing, where paydays are automatic. Kupcho finished 27th in Shanghai and took a share of 33rd at the BMW Ladies Championship in South Korea. She’s now 43rd on the money list with $419,451 after 16 starts.

2 Down

Vicky Hurst (270)

Once a can’t-miss kid, Hurst will need to put down the gas pedal in Pinehurst over the next week to get back on the LPGA. She’s currently T-90 at Q-Series in a field of 98. Hurst played a full season on the Symetra Tour in 2019, finishing 32nd on the money list with $41,425. She has yet to break par at Q-Series.

Jessica Korda (21)

One week after finishing runner-up to Danielle Kang in Shanghai, Korda took a share of 74th in South Korea. While younger sister Nelly is 10th on the money list, Jessica is 24th. If the past is any indicator, Jessica might owe Nelly a nice handbag at season’s end. Both sisters are in the field this week in Taiwan, where Nelly is defending.

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