Rory Sabbatini, who had not played The Honda Classic since 2004 when it was staged at The Country Club at Mirasol, jumped to third on the FedExCup points list with his win last week. The top 10 players on the FedExCup points list as of March 7, if not otherwise eligible, gained entry into this week’s World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship. Sabbatini, Jhonattan Vegas(2), D.A. Points (4), Aaron Baddeley (6) andJonathan Byrd (8) earned the final five positions in the Cadillac Championship field by virtue of their position in the FedExCup standings.
This week’s Thursday-Friday grouping at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship of Graeme McDowell, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will mark the 26th time in an official PGA TOUR event that Woods and Mickelson have played together in the same group. The two also played in the final round of the 2009 World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions event in China, an unofficial money event.
Ernie Els, defending his title at this week’s World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship, is looking to become the first player in his 40s to capture a PGA TOUR event since Rocco Mediate did so at the 2010 Frys.com Open. The 41-year-old Els owns 18 career PGA TOUR titles, fifth among active TOUR members, trailing Tiger Woods (71), Phil Mickelson (38), Vijay Singh (34) and Davis Love III (20).
Rory Sabbatini missed 25 of 72 greens on the week in winning The Honda Classic, but converted par or better on 21 of those to lead all players in Scrambling at 84 percent. The rest of The Honda Classic field averaged just 52 percent in the Scrambling category.
Graeme McDowell has already tied two course records this season, posting an 11-under-par 62 at the Plantation Course at Kapalua (Hyundai Tournament of Champions) and a 6-under-par 64 at the Champion Course at PGA National (The Honda Classic). McDowell has three top 10s in three starts, including a T6 at The Honda Classic.
Ricky Barnes, who had been limited to two 2011 starts prior to The Honda Classic due to back issues, enjoyed a nice showing at PGA National Resort & Spa, finishing fourth. It was his highest finish in a PGA TOUR event since finishing T3 at last year’s the Memorial Tournament.
Eight-time PGA TOUR winnerMike Weir missed the cut at The Honda Classic and was unable extend his Major Medical Extension. Weir needed to earn $217,097 last week, combined with his 2010-11 earnings, to equal the amount earned by the player who ranked 125th on the final 2010 money list (Troy Merritt). Weir will play out of Category 28 (Non-Exempt, Major Medical Extension) for the remainder of the 2011 season.
Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com defending champion Derek Lamely was one of two rookies (with Rory McIlroy) to win on TOUR in 2010.
Among those players competing in the Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com are two-time major winner Angel Cabrera, and his son Federico, who received a sponsor exemption into the event.
Junior golfer Jason Roets of South Africasurvived a sudden-death playoff in January at the Puerto Rico Junior Open to earn a spot in the 2011 Puerto Rico Open. Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association at Trump International Golf Club – Championship Course, the Puerto Rico Junior Open featured 78 juniors from 17 countries and 15 states as well as 10 players from Puerto Rico.
With John Cook’s recent third-place finish at the Mayakoba Classic, Champions Tour professionals have finished in the top three of a PGA TOUR event at least once in the past five seasons (2011/John Cook/3rd at Mayakoba Classic, 2010/Michael Allen/2nd at Viking Classic & Corey Pavin/T2 at Travelers Championship, 2009/Tom Watson/2nd at British Open, 2008/Greg Norman/3rd at British Open, 2007/Fred Funk/1st at Mayakoba Classic).
The Champions Tour, The First Tee and Monterey Peninsula Foundation announced Monday that Nature Valley®, a General Mills brand, will be the new title sponsor for the annual tournament at Pebble Beach. Traditionally held Labor Day weekend, this year’s Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach moves to July 8-10.
The Toshiba Classic, currently in its 17th year at the Newport Beach Country Club, is the second-longest- running sponsorship affiliation on the Champions Tour at 17 years (tied with AT&T). Only the Liberty Mutual Group has been affiliated longer, at 32 years.
Ian Baker-Finch will make his Champions Tour debut at this year’s Toshiba Classic. His last start in a PGA TOUR-sanctioned event came at the 2009 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial where he missed the cut after rounds of 68-78.
The Toshiba Classic has been a tough title to defend. The closest anyone has come to successfully defending came in 2008 when 2007 champion Jay Haas lost in a seven-hole playoff with Bernhard Langer. OnlyHale Irwin has won the event more than one time (1998 and 2002).
Dave Stockton is the only player to have teed it up in every Toshiba Classic. Stockton’s best performance in this event is a T2 in 1995 at Mesa Verde. His top effort at Newport Beach was a T3 in 2002.
Peter Senior, who qualified for this week’s World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship via his No. 2 finish on the Australasian Tour, will be 51 years, 7 months, 13 days when the tournament begins. Senior will be the third player over the age of 50 years to play in a World Golf Championships event (Jay Haas/6 and Fred Funk/2).
105,846– The number of dollars earned per start by Bernhard Langer in his Champions Tour career, heading into the Toshiba Classic. Langer has 14 victories in 71 career starts (20%).
Brenden Pappas' win in the Pacific Rubiales Bogota Open was considered unofficial but the money was official. What does that mean? An unofficial win does not apply toward a three-win promotion to the PGA TOUR nor does it provide a two-year Nationwide Tour exemption. You will not see the win added to Pappas' 2006 Rex Hospital Open victory in the Tour's record books. By earning official money of $108,000 in Bogota, Pappas is the Tour's new No. 1 after two events.
In the end result the effort was in vein, but on Sunday the Nationwide Tour Operations and Rules staffs managed to start the third round of the Pacific Rubiales Bogota Open just four minutes after the last putt of the second round dropped at 11:36 a.m. This included doing pairings, hole location sheets, directing players to their respective tees, delivering box lunches to some, handing out caddie bibs, and many more details for the 11:40 a.m. two-tee start. Nationwide Tour president Bill Calfee jumped in by serving as first tee starter. The quick turn around was an attempt to have an official 54-hole winner.
Friday's suspension of play at 3 p.m. was a blessing in disguise in at least one regard. More than 100 players loaded onto busses for a 30-minute ride to Andres Carnes de Res DC, a fixture on the Bogota social scene for dinner and entertainment. Joining in on the fun was Pacific Rubiales Energy presidentJose Franciso Arata. One attendee commented, "It was the best party ever on TOUR." Tuesday evening's gala, which featured one of Colombia's most popular bands, was also well attended.
All good things must come to an end, which the Nationwide Tour alumni run of eight consecutive tournament weeks with a PGA TOUR winner (nine if you count Robert Garrigus' win in the final event of 2010) did at The Honda Classic.
Four South African players finished top-25 in Bogota and thus became eligible for the Nationwide Tour's next event, the Chitimacha Louisiana Open -- Julian Etulain of Argentina (T3) and Colombians David Vanegasof Colombia (T3), Manual Villegas (T19) and Andres Echavarria (T19), a University of Florida senior. One other non-member, Andrew Parr (T19) of Canada, joined them.