There’s a rare break in the PGA Tour season this week, and that’s a good thing. The best players are tired after playing three straight weeks of FedEx Cup playoff events and they’re welcoming a rest before the big two-week stretch coming up.
The climax to the playoffs, The Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta, begins its four-day run on Sept. 20 with one lucky competitor cashing in on a $10 million payoff. Then comes the most high-profile event in golf, the 39th Ryder Cup matches pitting the U.S. and Europe at Medinah Country Club. Players start arriving for that on Sept. 25 with the competition beginning Sept. 26.
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy is the hottest Ryder Cup player, with wins in the last two FedEx Cup events, and Tiger admits he’s ailing despite a good showing in the BMW Championship last week in Indianapolis. He was limping after some bad shots, suggesting his surgically-repaired left knee isn’t completely healed.
“Those shots didn’t feel very good, those awkward shots,’’ said Woods. “My knee doesn’t like that position, so that’s kind of the way it goes.’’
Still in the top five on the FedEx Cup point standings, Woods (second) is in position to win the playoff’s biggest monetary prize and the Ryder Cup doesn’t come until after that. Eighteen of the 24 players who will participate in the Ryder Cup have qualified for The Tour Championship.
In fact only one player, American Nick Watney, is in the top 16 of the FedEx Cup point race. The other 15 will play for big money in Atlanta and national pride at Medinah.
“Having a week off just to rest, the guys will get refreshed for the last two weeks and that push,’’ said Woods. “Having this week off is going to help a lot.’’
One player not playing the FedEx Cup playoffs who could factor into the Ryder Cup big-time is Sweden’s Peter Hanson. He won the KLM Open on the European PGA Tour with a hole-out for eagle on the last hole on Sunday. Hanson, an automatic qualifier for the European team, is playing with a heavy heart. His 2-year old son has been hospitalized with a severe respiratory infection.
LPGA’s Legends Tour hits French Lick
Former LPGA player Jane Blalock has worked for 11 years to established a tour for the circuit’s early players. Now she’s done it. Blalock has spurred the creation of a few tournaments each year, and eight were held this year. In 2012 there’ll be at least 10, including a big one at Indiana’s French Lick Resort from Sept. 22-29.
“It’ll be the biggest event we’ve ever had,’’ said Blalock. “It’ll be an annual celebration of women’s golf.’’
The week will begin with the Alice Dye Championship, an amateur event that honors the wife of course architect Pete Dye. The Legends circuit, for women age 45 and over, will compete over 54 holes on the Pete Dye Course at the resort to conclude the big week.
Blalock and director of golf Dave Harner also announced that a Hall of Fame for the Legends players will also be established at French Lick, which hosted three LPGA events in the 1950s.
Here and there
The 32nd U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship runs through Thursday at Conway Farms with the the 36-hole championship climaxing the six-day competition for players 25 and over… Bill Murray, Justin Timberlake, Michael Phelps and Ryder Cup captains Davis Love III and Jose Maria Olazabal will participate in the Celebrity Scramble, a feature on Sept. 25 – the opening day of Ryder Cup week at Medinah…..The Thompson Cup matches, a team event between the top 55-and-over players in the Illinois PGA and Chicago District Golf Assn., will be played Friday (SEPT 14) at Chicago’s Ridge Country Club. The IPGA won last year, 7-5.….Pine Meadow, in Mundelein, has scheduled its second Super Senior Open for next Tuesday and Wednesday (SEPT 18-19).