This Week in Golf: 84 Lumber Classic
You have to hand it to Joe Hardy and his 84 Lumber Classic. The PGA Tour season might technically end with the Tour Championship in November, but for the game's top players -- Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson, among others -- they punch out, with a few exceptions, after the PGA Championship. Yet, here we are with Singh and PGA champ Mickelson in the field this week, not to mention Jim Furyk, Chris DiMarco, David Toms and of course John Daly.
How does Hardy do it?
"Many of these places are steeped in tradition," Hardy told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "We're clowns. This is our third year and we're coming up with creative ideas."
Even if one of those ideas turned out to be a chartered 747 jumbo jet equipped only with first-class seats that actually turned into two 737s that had to stop twice for fuel en route to a WGC event in Ireland (with one of the cabins filling with smoke), he's on the right track. Or at least he will be hey, they even got Tiger Woods to commit to play one year before he later backed out because of "mental fatigue" following the Ryder Cup.
Joey Sindelar made his way to the top of this list the old-fashioned way -- he earned it by driving it straight and hitting a lot of greens in regulation en route to a pair of top-five finishes the last two weeks at the Bell Canadian Open and the Deutsche Bank Championship. But he's completely overshadowed by Singh and Couples and the brand of big-boy golf that they bring to Mystic Rock. Not to mention Mickelson, who is teeing it up for the second time since his win at Baltusrol.
There also doesn't appear to be any lingering affects from the injury Singh sustained while playing Ping-Pong with son Qass a couple of weeks ago -- Singh finished in a tie for seventh in Canada last week.
I'm still not sure how one strains anything (other than maybe your better half's patience) by playing Ping-Pong, but Vijay's recovery went something like this:
"A few acupunctures, I kept my back as loose as possible. Watched some tennis on TV," he said. "Sat on my butt and did nothing, really."
Ryan Moore's bid for a tour card was looking a bit shaky right up until he won $440,000 for his runner-up finish at the Bell Canadian Open last week. That not only boosted his earnings to $460,980 on the season, but it got him unlimited sponsor's exemptions for the rest of the season. Last year, $623,262 was the magic number for the 125th spot on the money list, meaning this week's bubble boy has a half-dozen more events to rack up about $200,000 to avoid Q School. This is only an assumption, but I think it's safe to say we won't see Moore's name in this category again anytime soon.
That tie for ninth Robert Gamez posted at the Sony Open in Hawaii sure seems like a distant memory. Maybe that's because it is -- the tournament was in January. Gamez has three top 25s since then, but he's being weighed down by 10 missed cuts. That has sent him plummeting to 147th on the money list. If that's not bubble-boy status, I don't know what is. The last time Gamez won on tour? In 1990, at the Nestle Invitational. Somehow, I'm thinking that won't change anytime soon, either.
With the Presidents Cup only a week away, it sounds like Woods is already doing a little pregame posturing by saying in his monthly newsletter that he hasn't talked to Jack Nicklaus about who he might be paired with, but that he'd really like to play with Furyk and that playing with Fred Couples would be fun.
What that really means: Woods won't be paired with Mickelson.
Reportedly Michelle Wie passed on an exemption into the 84 Lumber because the 7,500-yard course didn't suit her game. That's not an issue for Couples, who, despite back problems throughout his career, has managed to consistently hit it deep. A win here will get Boom-Boom into the Tour Championship for the first time since '98.
Brian Wacker is an assistant editor for GolfDigest.com
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