Golfers rush to make the U.S. Open cut
Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. — As many as 26 players will be added to the field for the U.S. Open at Erin Hills this week, and there isn’t likely to be many surprises unless someone not already eligible wins or finishes second in the AT&T Byron Nelson.
The top 60 in the world ranking published after this week will be exempt from qualifying.
Si Woo Kim earned a three-year exemption with his victory in The Players Championship, although the 21-year-old from South Korea was in the Tour Championship last year and thus already exempt for the U.S. Open, which is June 15-18.
Among players whose PGA Tour victories effectively got them into the U.S. Open are Wesley Bryan (RBC Heritage), Russell Henley (Shell Houston Open) and Brian Harman (Wells Fargo Championship) because winning moved them safely inside the top 60.
The same could be said for Pat Perez, though he has done far more than win the OHL Classic in Mexico last fall. Perez also has had several strong finishes, and his runner-up finish at the Wells Fargo Championship clinched it for him.
Jon Rahm’s victory at Torrey Pines in January also got him in, though the 22-year-old from Spain has done so well in other tournaments that it seems like a long time ago. Rahm already is up to No. 12 in the world.
Byeong Hun An is at No. 58 and playing the AT&T Byron Nelson, so his objective is to not fall out of the top 60. Lee Westwood (55), Match Play semifinalist Hideto Tanihara (56) and Jeunghun Wang (57) are not playing this week.
Three European Tour players who are within range of the top 60 are not playing this week — Chris Wood, Andy Sullivan and Soren Kjeldsen. The European Tour has the BMW PGA Championship, its flagship event, next week at Wentworth. The tour this week has a new event, The Rocco Forte Open in Sicily, Italy, which has a weak field.
The winner of the BMW PGA Championship also earns a U.S. Open exemption. For everyone else, there is 36-hole sectional qualifying on June 5.
There also is another exemption for the top 60 in the world ranking published the week of the U.S. Open.
If there is no movement in the top 60 in the world this week, 26 players would get in. And if someone not already eligible wins at Wentworth next week, that will be a total of 78 exempt players — half of the 156-man field, which is just how the USGA likes it.
Rory McIlroy isn’t the only player who had an MRI on Monday to make sure there was no damage to his rib area.
Charles Howell III had tests Monday for what his manager described as “something very similar to Rory with his rib.” Howell has not played since the RBC Heritage. He withdrew right before the Wells Fargo Championship and did not go to The Players Championship. He also is taking this week off from the AT&T Byron Nelson.
“He’s trying to be back for Memorial,” said Thomas Parker at 4Sports and Entertainment. “He feels like he’s on the right track.”
Howell is No. 68 in the world, and because the top 60 after this week are exempt for the U.S. Open, Howell would have to go through 36-hole qualifying the Monday after the Memorial if his injury allows him.
Jordan Spieth is joining the long list of athletes to be depicted on a Wheaties cereal box.
The 2015 Masters and U.S. Open champion said Tuesday he will be on 4 million Wheaties boxes in the fall. Spieth is playing in his hometown Byron Nelson tournament this week in the Dallas area.
The 23-year-old Spieth said it was “really cool” to be on the Wheaties box because he “used to walk down the aisle of the grocery store whenever my mom used to drag me along and always want to see who was on the cover.”
Spieth first emerged as a 16-year-old amateur at the Nelson in 2010, when he contended on Sunday and finished 4 under.
A difference in emotion
Patrick Reed and Patrick Cantlay are on opposite ends of the emotional spectrum when it comes to golf, so it was intriguing to see them as partners in the Zurich Classic a few weeks ago.
“I tried to teach him how to slam a club or something,” Reed said. “Some emotion.”
Apparently, it didn’t work.
“I’ll never forget 12, ever,” Reed said. “I think that will be in the back of my mind for my whole career. The guy hits every fairway he looks at. For him to step up on a tee and duck-hook one so far left, to literally just watch it fly, bend down, pick up his tee, hand the driver to his caddie as if he hit it 320 down the middle … I’m sitting here like, ‘What are you doing?’ I swear, my driver would have been somewhere else.”
Reed has played in the Walker Cup, Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup and now the Zurich Classic.
As for the partner who comes close to matching his emotion? He thought about it when Spieth’s name came up.
“Jordan gets a little heated every once in a while,” Reed said. “I just think he complains to his caddie a lot. ”
Terry Mundy was at The Players Championship with Ian Poulter for the 11th consecutive year, this time with a new badge — player manager, not caddie.
Mundy has been coping with three herniated disks in his lower back for the last two years, and it reached a point where even turning to toss trash in a waste bin was enough for pain to shoot up his legs.
“The doctors said if I wanted to keep caddying, they could put two rods in my back,” Mundy said.