Last chance for Palmer, Woodland to get into US Open

Last chance for Palmer, Woodland to get into US Open

Published Jun. 7, 2016 4:46 p.m. ET

DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) Gary Woodland was tied for the lead on Sunday at the Memorial and still very much in contention when he missed an 8-foot par putt on the 17th hole and failed to convert a birdie from about the same distance on the 18th. He tied for fourth and moved up 14 spots in the world ranking to No. 64.

Ryan Palmer was battling with Jordan Spieth on the back nine at Colonial until Spieth birdied his last three holes. Palmer made birdie on the last hole to tie for third with Webb Simpson, who birdied two of his last three. Palmer went up 12 spots and now is No. 62.

Neither made it through U.S. Open qualifying on Monday - Palmer missed by a shot in Tennessee, while Woodland withdrew on the back nine during a rain delay when it was clear he wasn't going to make it.

The FedEx St. Jude Classic is their last chance, and it's a reasonable one.


The USGA will take the top 60 in the world ranking after this week for players not already eligible. Palmer likely would need a top 10 at the St. Jude Classic, while Woodland probably could sew it up with anything around fifth.

Also in the field is Fabian Gomez, who would need at least a fourth-place finish to have any chance. Gomez is No. 68 and the victim of bad timing. He won the St. Jude Classic last year at No. 288 in the world, too far back to move into the top 50. He also won the Sony Open in January. That's two PGA Tour victories in the last year and the Argentine is still not in the U.S. Open.

Depending on the strength of field in Memphis - the weakest of the year for a full PGA Tour event - someone like Charles Howell III could win and crack the top 60.

On the European Tour, Joost Luiten is No. 69 in the world and would have to finish runner-up to have a chance in Austria.


OFF TO WORK: With college behind them, now is the season for players leaving college to start making their mark - quickly - on the PGA Tour.

Arizona State senior Jon Rahm won the Jack Nicklaus Award as the best player in Division I, and then he shot a 2-under 68 at Scioto Country Club over the weekend to win a contest among the other Nicklaus Award winners from various divisions. That gave him a spot in the Barbasol Championship, held opposite the British Open.

Rahm will stay an amateur through the U.S. Open, where he is exempt as the top-ranked amateur last year. He has the same exemption available to the British Open, but to wait that long would mean giving up a chance to play two PGA Tour events.

''I wanted to get my pro start as early as possible, just in case I can get all six and I happen to play great, maybe get the PGA Tour card or maybe be able to make it to the finals,'' Rahm said.

He also has a spot in the John Deere Classic.

The John Deere award sponsor exemptions to NCAA champion Aaron Wise, Rahm and four other elite players - Beau Hossler of Texas, Lee McCoy of Georgia, Jordan Niebrugge of Oklahoma State and Charlie Danielson of Illinois.

McCoy, Robby Shelton of Alabama and Matt NeSmith of South Carolina are making their pro debuts this week at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. Shelton has signed a management contract with IMG.


FURYK & STATISTICS: Jim Furyk isn't big on statistics, which is not to say he doesn't find them interesting.

And in one case, he found out they might be useful.

Billy Horschel was working with Mark Horton, an English statistician who crunches numbers about the golf course and the player's tendencies, and he feeds players information on what they need to do to win. Furyk couldn't resist poking fun of Horschel on their way to a tournament last year.

''I was busting his chops and said, `What do I have to do this week to win?''' Furyk said. ''He says, `My guy says you have to do these five things.' One was you had to shoot 31 on the front nine, because everyone who had won shot 31 on the front nine. One was to convert one out of three wedge shots.''

This was last year at the RBC Heritage.

On Saturday, Furyk shot 30 on the front nine and jokingly thought to himself, ''Well, I can win now. I got that one off the list.'''

But this was no joke: He won.


REIFERS' SCHEDULE: Kyle Reifers is in the field for the FedEx St. Jude Classic, which will be his ninth straight PGA Tour start. Dating to Riviera in the third week of February, the only two events he has missed were when Reifers wasn't eligible - the World Golf Championship at Doral and the Masters.

The reason for such a hectic schedule - mold.

''We've had mold in our house,'' said Reifers, who recently moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. ''I've probably played two or three extra tournaments. We're in the process of getting a place, and it should be a couple more weeks.''

If he went home, he would be staying in a hotel. That's when the light came one.

''Instead of staying in a hotel at home, I might as well play,'' he said. ''I'm playing well. I don't feel like I've been beating myself into a wall.''

He has three top 10s dating to the Shell Houston Open and is No. 41 in the FedEx Cup standings.


SOLHEIM BID: Lancaster Country Club staged such a successful U.S. Women's Open next year that it's courting another big women's event - the Solheim Cup.

The club is so enthusiastic that it launched a website Tuesday - - that offers a chance to enlist as a volunteer, a fan or a sponsor for an event five years away that it might not even get.

The club said more than 135,000 attended the Women's Open last year.

''The historic success of the 2015 U.S. Women's Open proves that Lancaster is ready for an international event of this scale,'' said Rory Connaughton, vice chairman of the club's Solheim Cup bid. ''With the community's help, we're ready to make history again.''

The Solheim Cup goes to Iowa next year. Previously, the American site was outside Denver in 2013 (Colorado Golf Club), the Chicago suburbs in 2009 (Rich Harvest Farms), Indianapolis in 2005 (Crooked Stick) and Minneapolis in 2002 (Interlachen).


DIVOTS: Tiger Woods once said he only asked for (and received) two autographs in his life - Sandy Koufax and Muhammad Ali. ... Australia teen Ryan Ruffels used the last of his seven sponsor exemptions at the Memorial. His plan now is to try to Monday qualify to PGA Tour events when he can, or perhaps play in a few Tour events. He has 110 points, which should be enough to get him into the Tour Finals. Ruffels has hired a new caddie, Simon Clarke, who previously worked for Ryo Ishikawa. ... Greg Norman will be the Memorial Tournament honoree next year. Tony Lema, Ken Venturi and Harvie Ward will be honored posthumously. ... Golf Channel said the NCAA team final last week averaged 325,000 viewers, peaking at 533,000 average views in the final 15 minutes of Oregon defeating Texas. The viewership was higher than all but four LPGA Tour live telecasts, and all of the PGA Tour Champions and Tour live telecasts. The women's NCAA the week before had an average viewership of 249,000, peaking at 341,000 at the end.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Billy Hurley is the only player to make it through U.S. Open qualifying each of the last three years.


FINAL WORD: ''Golf never lets you feel comfortable.'' - Geoff Ogilvy.