Player of the year gets clarity on 2 tours
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — This week in golf should go a long way toward determining player of the year.
And not just on the PGA Tour.
Lexi Thompson winning in Indianapolis last week tightened the race in the LPGA Tour’s points-based system. So Yeon Ryu, who counts a major among her two victories this year, is leading at 150 points. Thompson, who lost on that major at the ANA Inspiration by being penalized four shots for not replacing her golf ball properly on the green, is a mere three points behind.
Still very much in the mix are LPGA rookie Sung Hyun Park, who won the U.S. Women’s Open, and Women’s British Open champion I.K. Kim, who leads the tour with three victories. Points are awarded based on top 10s, and the points are double this week at The Evian Championship, the final major of the year.
On the PGA Tour, all signs point to Justin Thomas.
He won at the TPC Boston two weeks ago for his fifth victory of the year to go along with the PGA Championship . The PGA Tour award is a vote of the players, and about the only thing that can stop Thomas would be for Jordan Spieth to win the final two FedEx Cup events. That would give him five victories, the money title and that claret jug from his British Open title.
There might even be a battle on the PGA Tour Champions, where Scott McCarron has caught up with Bernhard Langer in victories (4) and has pulled within $327,050 on the money list, though Langer has two majors to McCarron’s one. Both are playing in Canada this week.
It’s also the second of four Web.com Tour Final events, this one in Idaho. That’s not about player of the year. It’s about getting a PGA Tour card, which for those guys is more valuable than an award right now.
THE EVIAN CHAMPIONSHIP
The PGA Championship discarded its slogan, “Glory’s Last Shot” because it made it sound as though it was the last major, which it is (for now). That gave way to a new slogan, “This Is Major,” which as if the golfing public needed a reminder.
Both slogans are now obsolete, though it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the LPGA Tour to borrow either one.
The Evian Championship in France is the fifth and final major of the year, one last shot at glory until the next major in the California desert six months from now. Or it could use “This Is Major” because the Evian only became a major four years ago. Inbee Park won in 2012, so she now has won all five majors, except that the Evian doesn’t count as a major because it wasn’t one in 2012.
Either way, it could be shaping as quite a show. Ryu and Thompson are running neck-and-neck in the Rolex Player of the Year standings, while Lydia Ko is starting to show signs of breaking out of a victory drought that has lasted just over a year.
Television: Thursday-Friday, 5-8 a.m., 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday, 6:30-11:30 a.m. (Golf Channel); Sunday, 5:30-11 a.m. (Golf Channel).
Dustin Johnson is the defending champion of the BMW Championship and still in good shape to claim the FedEx Cup, even if player of the year might be out of his reach without a major championship.
Jason Day is the defending champion at Conway Farms, opening with a 61 two years ago on his way to winning by six shots.
The focus at this private club north of Chicago is on finishing in the top 30 in the FedEx Cup to advance to the Tour Championship next week in Atlanta. Part of that battle is to see which PGA Tour rookies can get to East Lake. RSM Classic winner Mackenzie Hughes is at No. 31, while Greenbrier winner Xander Schauffele is No. 32. Whoever gets to East Lake typically is voted rookie of the year, which is not a bad consolation prize.
Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia might not be winning any awards this year, but they’d still like to get to Atlanta. Both are outside the top 30 and need to play hard.
Television: Thursday-Friday, 3-7 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday, 1-3 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3-6 p.m. (NBC); Sunday, noon-2 p.m. (Golf Channel), 2-6 p.m. (NBC).
ALBERTSONS BOISE OPEN
Peter Uihlein won the opening Web.com Tour Finals event in Ohio and wrapped up his PGA Tour card, seven years after he won the U.S. Amateur. Still with work to do is former Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup player Hunter Mahan.
There are still three events left, including next week at Canterbury Golf Club outside Cleveland, and the finale at Atlantic Beach Country Club, just down the coast road from PGA Tour headquarters.
Television: Thursday-Friday, 12:30-2:30 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 5-8 p.m. (Golf Channel).