Zhang missing Solheim Cup points under archaic LPGA policy
Solheim Cup captain Stacy Lewis made her professional debut in 2008 in the U.S. Women's Open at Interlachen, had a one-shot lead going into the final round and wound up in a tie for third behind Inbee Park.
Her earnings of $162,487 did not count toward trying to earn an LPGA Tour card because the LGPA did not co-sponsor the U.S. Women's Open. Lewis ended up winning Q-school and before long was on her way to 12 victories, including two majors. The policy since has been changed.
That's notable now because she might have to use a captain's pick on Rose Zhang, who has shown her worth in two big tournaments. Zhang won the Mizuho Americas Open at Liberty National in her pro debut. Three weeks later, she was within one shot of the lead until a bogey on the 16th hole at Baltusrol in the KPMG Women's PGA Championship. She tied for eighth.
Because of archaic LPGA policy, Zhang does not get credit for her victory because she became a member after she won. That cost her 60 points toward the Solheim Cup. As it stands, she is 25th on the points list with at least five tournaments — two of them majors — before qualifying ends for the leading seven players.
The LPGA typically doesn't change policy in the middle of a season no matter how silly it is. Along with losing out on Solheim Cup points, Zhang's victory did not count toward player of the year or rookie of the year — only the Race to CME Globe.
Then again, at this rate, it might be a moot point toward the end of the year.
RORY GOING LOW
Rory McIlroy pushed back on the idea that he hasn't won a tournament with a score in single digits under par. He was quick to point out during the U.S. Open he won two of his four majors by such a large margin that single digits would have been enough.
When he finished the Travelers Championship at 18-under par — five shots behind Keegan Bradley — McIlroy said he doesn't “particularly like when a tournament is like this.”
“Unfortunately, technology has passed this course by, right?” he said.
McIlroy, to be sure, is good enough to win on any course with any score. But his record does indicate he wins the majority of tournaments with low scores to par.
He has won five PGA Tour events at 20 under or lower, the lowest being the 2021 CJ Cup at The Summit in Las Vegas at 25 under. He has three more wins on the European tour at 20 under or better, all three in Dubai, the lowest at 23 under in the 2012 DP World Tour Championship.
Of his 32 victories worldwide, the highest winning score to par for McIlroy was 10-under 274 at Quail Hollow in the 2021 Wells Fargo Championship.
The prize money from the $20 million elevated events can be particularly jarring depending on the play.
Zac Blair might be the best example.
He was playing on a major medical exemption from a torn labrum in his right shoulder that kept him out for the previous two years, and before that he failed to keep his card. And then it all came together in the Travelers Championship, particularly on Sunday when Blair closed with a 62. Thanks to Patrick Cantlay making two bogeys on the last three holes, Blair shared second place with Brian Harman.
That paid $1.78 million, more than his previous 78 starts on the PGA Tour dating to May 2017.
Blair still has to accrue 25 points over his next seven starts to fulfill his major medical. He’s also up to No. 90 in the FedEx Cup with six weeks left in the regular season.
Scottie Scheffler has been so consistently good this year that it becomes easy to overlook his level of play. The latest run is remarkable.
Scheffler has played six of the last seven weeks — that includes two majors and two $20 million elevated events — and has yet to finish out of the top five.
Scheffler has 14 finishes in the top 10 this season (two victories) and only once has finished worse than a tie for 12th. He tied for 45th at the CJ Cup in South Carolina last October. That was his first individual tournament in two months.
Meanwhile, he already has topped $18 million in earnings.
WALKER CUP HOPEFULS
Nick Dunlap’s summer is off go a good start. He won a 4-for-3 playoff to qualify for the U.S. Open. He missed the cut in Los Angeles, flew to Rhode Island and closed with rounds of 63-66 to win the 61st edition of the Northeast Amateur at Wannamoisett.
The Northeast Amateur is the second of seven events that make up the Elite Amateur Series, with the North & South Amateur at Pinehurst next. So it’s a long way to go to see if that translates into a Walker Cup selection for Dunlap, a sophomore at Alabama and a former U.S. Junior Amateur champion.
The USGA already has selected three players for the 10-man squad for the Sept. 2-3 matches at St. Andrews, all coming from the top of the world amateur ranking — Gordon Sargent, Michael Thorbjornsen and David Ford.
The rest of the team will be announced in two segments, before and after the U.S. Amateur. Two spots are set aside for the U.S. Amateur champion and the winner of the Mark McCormack Medal for being No. 1 the most weeks, assuming they’re not already on the team.
THE ULTIMATE FLUKE
Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele setting a new standard in the U.S. Open by shooting a 62 brought to mind the evolution of scoring in golf's biggest championship, and what stands out as a fluke round.
Horace Rawlins had an 82 on his way to winning the first U.S. Open in 1895, a record that James Foulis reduced to 74 a year later. The record dropped to 73 in 1902 (Gilbert Nicholls) and then 72 in 1904 (Willie Anderson).
And then David Hunter had the round of his life at Englewood in the opening round of 1909 with a 68, a four-shot improvement.
If the name doesn't stand out, there's a reason. Hunter followed his 68 with an 84 in the second round, and then another 84 in the third round. He closed with a 77 and tied for 30th, 23 shots behind the winner.
Fowler tied for fifth at Los Angeles Country Club. Schauffele tied for 10th. By comparison, it wasn't all bad.
Wyndham Clark (No. 11) and Jason Day (No. 25) are the only players in the top 25 in the world ranking who started the year outside the top 100. ... Patrick Cantlay became the 10th player to top the $7 million mark in PGA Tour earnings this season. ... Justin Thomas is playing the Rocket Mortgage Classic. He is coming off his first top 10 since March, moving him back inside the top 70 in the FedEx Cup at No. 66. The top 70 are eligible for the postseason. ... Of the 18 players who have made the cut in all three majors this year, four of them are with LIV Golf — Brooks Koepka, Cameron Smith, Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed. ... Keegan Bradley is the sixth multiple winner on the PGA Tour this season.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Players from six countries have won the last six majors on the LPGA Tour — China (Ruoning Yin), United States (Lilia Vu), South Africa (Ashleigh Buhai), Canada (Brooke Henderson), South Korea (In Gee Chun) and Australia (Minjee Lee).
“The sad part is I probably don’t even have a question they can answer.” — Xander Schauffele on the lack of details on the PGA Tour deal with the Saudi national wealth fund.
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