Nicklaus goes on silent mode on 36-hole cut at Memorial
By DOUG FERGUSON
DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) Jack Nicklaus already spoke too soon in March when he said the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am would be one of the PGA Tour's elevated events in 2024. He was unusually muted Tuesday on the topic of whether his Memorial Tournament should have a cut.
The plan is for the elevated events to have elite fields of no more than 80 players with no cut. Tiger Woods has said he wants a 36-hole cut for the Genesis Invitational at Riviera he hosts, and that Nicklaus also wants a cut.
“I opened my mouth too soon there at the Honda before they announced anything,” Nicklaus said. "Incidentally, Jay (Monahan) wasn't very happy with me. And I don't blame him because I did not realize that they hadn't done anything. And they really haven't finalized what's happening here, so out of fairness to Jay, I think I'll just keep my mouth shut.
“That's hard for me to do. You know that.”
Nicklaus generally favors a 36-hole cut, and when pressed for nothing more than an opinion, he said he would be fine with it either way.
“There's a reason why they would not (have a cut) and there might be a reason why they would. Obviously from our standpoint here it’s a heck of a lot easier to take care of 70 or 80 players - whatever it might be - than it is 120,” Nicklaus said.
He also said it would take some stress off getting the course ready, especially if there are weather delays.
Nicklaus said he liked having a 120-man field because it kept players on the course all day for the spectators, and it gave younger players a chance to play.
Jon Rahm, meanwhile, has changed his view. The Masters champion was OK with not having a cut for elevated events. Now he would like to see it.
“I think it’s a part of the game and I think it’s an important part of the game - as harsh as it may be - to cut out maybe only 20 players,” Rahm said. “On the flip side, it’s only 20 players that you have to beat to make the cut. You earn your way into the weekend and then you earn that win."
Rahm said the Masters has a small field - 88 players qualified this year - and has a cut to the top 50 and ties.
“And no one says anything about it,” he said.
Tegan Andrews was hopeful this finally would be the year he advanced out of first stage to earn a shot at final qualifying for the U.S. Open, and that's how it turned out.
It's just not the way he imagined.
The plan was for Andrews, who grew up in Agoura Hills, California, to return to nearby La Purisima Golf Course where he previously tried local U.S. Open qualifying. He felt confident there having just won the Lompoc City Championship.
“Pretty typical college story,” said Andrews, a junior at Cal State-Fullerton. “I procrastinated. I was late to sign up. I realized I didn't have enough cash, and when I finally had enough (the entry fee is $200), everything was full.”
He beat the deadline to enter by three days. By then, he said the 10 qualifying sites from San Diego to the Central Valley were already filled. He would have to go elsewhere and dip into his airline mileage.
“I knew I was going to be flying. So I thought if I fly, I'm going to the coolest state I could go," Andrews said.
He chose Alaska, the final local qualifier on May 22 with only 16 players at Palmer Golf Course battling for one spot. La Purisima had 90 players for five spots.
Andrews said the temperature was in the mid-50s, but Palmer is flanked by Matanuska Glacier and the Knik Glacier, and wind ripping through the pass made it feel close to freezing.
“It was blowing. The greens were as good as they could be for only being open three weeks. They just took the tarps off them,” he said. “I was prepared for bumpy greens.”
He made enough of them for a 72, nearly avoiding going out-of-bounds on the last hole, and he won the qualifier with three shots to spare.
“I had the time of my life," he said. "I had the trip of my life.”
Andrews grew up on mostly public golf courses in the Los Angeles area. He is a long shot to qualify for the U.S. Open on June 15-18 at Los Angeles Country Club. Then again, the U.S. Open is all about big dreams.
He will be in larger - and certainly more elite - company.
For now, he is scheduled to be on another flight, this time to Ohio. Andrews is part of the 120-man field in Columbus that currently has 29 players who have won on the PGA Tour, four major champions and Ryder Cup captains Zach Johnson and Luke Donald.
Ludvig Aberg has a lot to celebrate this week even after not winning the NCAA title.
Aberg, a Texas Tech senior from Sweden, won the Jack Nicklaus Award and the Haskins Award as the nation's top college golfer. He also finished the year at No. 1 in the PGA Tour University ranking, sending him straight to the big leagues.
He becomes the first player to go straight from college to PGA Tour membership without going through Q-school or earning enough money or points from sponsor exemptions.
Under the PGA Tour University program, Aberg will have a PGA Tour card for the rest of 2023 and all of next year, though he will be subject to having his priority shuffled in 2024 depending on his performance.
Fred Biondi of Florida won the NCAA title and moved up one spot to No. 2. Players who finished No. 2 through No. 5 in the ranking get Korn Ferry Tour membership the rest of this year, an exemption to the final stage of Q-school and unlimited sponsor exemptions in 2023 and 2024.
Finishing behind Biondi were Adrien Dumont De Chassart of Illinois, Ross Steelman of Georgia Tech and U.S. Amateur champion Sam Bennett of Texas A&M.
Emiliano Grillo delivered one of the best moments of the year, and it wasn't just his birdie on the second playoff hole to win the Colonial.
Grillo made double bogey on the 18th hole in regulation that he thought would cost him. Warming up for a potential playoff, he noticed two young boys watching. He began chatting with them and soon invited them over the fence to hit a shot.
The boys were thrilled. Grillo told of Jose Coceres doing that for him when he was a young boy in Argentina and the impact it had on him. And there was another reason.
“It’s also something that it helped to get my mind off the situation," he said. “I just made a double. I basically gave the tournament away, and it wasn’t up to me. It wasn’t in my hands. It was a moment that I needed to get my head out of that.”
When it was over, he invited the boys into the locker room and signed gloves for them.
The LPGA Tour is going to Utah. The tour announced Tuesday that Black Desert Resort in Ivins, Utah, will host an LPGA competition in 2025. ... Emiliano Grillo's victory at Colonial was timely. He moved to No. 42 in the world, which secures spots in the U.S. Open and British Open, and winning gets him into the Masters and PGA Championship next year. ... Steve Stricker finally had to sweat out winning a major on the PGA Tour Champions when he beat Padraig Harrington in a playoff at the Senior PGA Championship. Stricker won each of his previous five senior majors by six shots. ... Jessica Korda is taking an indefinite break from the LPGA Tour because of a back injury.
Emiliano Grillo at Colonial became the fifth player this year to end a victory drought of five years or more on the PGA Tour. The others were Jason Day, Chris Kirk, Russell Henley and Mackenzie Hughes.
“It’s a little sad to me that politics have gotten in the way of such a beautiful event. Again, it’s the best Europeans against the best American, period. And whatever is going on, who is playing LIV and who is not playing LIV to me shouldn’t matter." - Jon Rahm on the Ryder Cup.
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Updated May 31, 2023