Daily Rundown: Dream Delayed, Stricker Sails, Poston Pumped

In today’s PGW Daily Rundown, sectional qualifying added many familiar and unfamiliar names to next week’s U.S. Open; Rory is confident that he will play at Erin Hills; a PGA Tour LatinoAmerica golfer is justifiably furious at American Airlines; and an incredible community effort at The Greenbrier has players thoroughly impressed.


Healthy Rory A “Go” For The U.S. Open

Talk around the first two majors of the PGA Tour season has been dominated by those missing in action (Tiger and DJ at The Masters, Tiger and (most likely) Phil at the U.S. Open), so fans should be excited to hear that one of the biggest names, who was a question mark for Erin Hills, will, for now, tee it up.

 
Four-time major champion, and current world No. 2, Rory McIlroy announced via Twitter that his health has trended positively, and he believes he will be healthy enough to compete at the U.S. Open.

McIlroy had missed time in two separate 2017 stretches due to a rib injury suffered in January.

Bullets

  • Injury Origin: McIlroy suffered a rib injury back in January that he believes occurred when he was engaged in offseason equipment testing. He missed a few events that he was scheduled to play in, but was back on the course by March.
  • Nagging Injury: Rory re-aggravated the injury early at THE PLAYERS one month ago, but played the rest of the tournament anyway, finishing a disappointing T35. He has not played since then, withdrawing from last week’s Memorial Tournament.
  • Limited Schedule: McIlroy has played just six PGA Tour events this season, with four top 10s. His best finish was a T4 at both the WGC-HSBC Champions in October and the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March.
  • Ready To Go: Rory McIlroy, who won the 2011 U.S. Open in a blowout (8 strokes), said on Twitter that his progress has been “good” and he is “excited” about competing in this year’s U.S. Open next week at Erin Hills near Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Quotable

“I am ready for Erin Hills and looking forward to playing there for the first time. The last few weeks have obviously been frustrating – I never like to miss events either on the PGA Tour or European Tour – but it was important I got back to a level of fitness where I felt I could give myself the best possible chance at the U.S. Open.”
Rory McIlroy, in an interview with The Guardian


Stricker Qualifies For Home State U.S. Open via Sectionals

Among the big names who had not already qualified for next week’s U.S. Open, none were bigger than Steve Stricker.

 
The 50-year-old, who now divides his limited time between the PGA and the Champions Tour, has not hid his desire to play Erin Hills, which is being held in his home state of Wisconsin. He recently attempted to receive a special exemption, a request which was denied by the USGA.

Stricker responded by winning the U.S. Open sectional qualifier in Memphis.

Bullets

  • Top Spot: Wisconsin native Steve Sticker qualified to play in his 20thS. Open by winning the sectional qualifier in Memphis on Monday.
  • 10-Under: Memphis had nine spots open for 108 competitors, with Stricker’s -10 the best score.
  • Majorless: Stricker has never won a major, and his best finish at the U.S. Open was a fifth place in both 1998 and 1999. He also finished T6 in 2006 at Winged Foot.
  • Part-timer: Stricker has played in his eight PGA Tour events this season, with a high finish of T7 two weeks ago at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational. His final round 63 was the low round of the week.
  • Late Fade: At last week’s Memorial Tournament, Stricker played well through three rounds, but faded on Sunday with a six-over 78 to finish T40.

Quotable

“It was a good day. It means a lot. It’s been at the forefront of my thinking for a while now. It’s kind of a relief know I got in on my own terms. I went through qualifying. I’d rather have it that way. I’m glad I did it this way.”
Steve Stricker


J.T. Poston (-12) Finishes First in U.S. Open Sectional in Columbus

The most popular sectional qualifier for the U.S. Open occurred in Columbus, OH, the site of last week’s Memorial Tournament.

 
It had 14 spots available for 120 players, and had, by far, the largest number of recognizable names in the field. The top spot went to J.T. Poston, who shot a pair of 66’s.

Just 24 years old, Poston will be playing in his first major tournament when he tees up at Erin Hills.

Bullets

  • Star-studded: Among the 14 players who qualified for the U.S. Open via the Columbus sectional qualifier were notables Bud Cauley, Martin Laird, Keegan Bradley, Stewart Cink, Jamie Lovemark, Bryson DeChambeau, and David Lingmerth. Bradley and Cink both have one major championship apiece.
  • Rookie Campaign: Poston, a collegiate star at Western Carolina, has played well in his rookie season, making 14 cuts in 19 events, including 10 of his last 11, with a high finish of T10 at the Puerto Rico Open. He is currently 99th in the FedEx Cup standings.
  • Missed-cuts: Notable players to miss the cut in Columbus include Kevin Tway, Vijay Singh, Camilo Villegas, KJ Choi, Luke Donald, Nick Watney, Patrick Cantlay, and Davis Love III.

Quotable

“So pumped to earn a spot in my first Major Championship today. See y’all at the U.S. Open next week!!! #postman #playedbetter”
J.T. Poston via Twitter


U.S. Open Hopeful Has Dream Destroyed By American Airlines

American Airlines has not had much in the way of good publicity lately.

 
Their reputation took a further hit on Monday when Michael Buttacavoli was forced to withdraw from the Tequesta, Florida U.S. Open Sectional Qualifier after the airline lost his clubs.

Bullets

  • Seeking Spot: Michael Buttacavoli makes his living on the PGA Tour LatinoAmerica. He was attempting to qualify for his first major championship.
  • Heated Exchange: The incident led to a heated exchange on Twitter between an angered Buttacavoli and an apologetic American Airlines, although Buttacavoli has doubts about the sincerity of the apology.
  • Major Screwup: According to Buttcavoli, the clubs had priority tags on them, but were still lost by the airline.
  • The Results: The Tequesta Sectional Qualifier had three spots open for 49 competitors. Web.com Tour member Jack Maguire took medalist honors, with Joaquin Niemann, the word’s top-ranked amateur, also qualifying for Erin Hills.

On Twitter


Quotable

“Priority tags r meaningless. Told u 100 times. Stop apologizing. Don’t need sympathy or you to be PC. Just do better. U have yet to show that.”
Michael Buttacavoli via Twitter


Greenbrier On Track To Host Tournament One Year Post-Cancellation

In June of 2016, Southeastern West Virginia was absolutely demolished by devastating floods that resulted in 23 deaths and widespread homelessness.

 
The floods also ravaged the Old White Course at The Greenbrier, the site of the annual Greenbrier Classic, forcing its cancellation.

The damage was so severe and widespread that many questioned whether The Greenbrier, a world-renowned resort, would be able to get the course in playing condition for this year’s event. However, with one month to go before the tournament, course restoration has gone well, and is expected to be ready to go.

Bullets

  • Watson Wrong: Bubba Watson, who owns property at The Greenbrier, was in the area during last year’s flooding, and said that the damage was so severe that he strongly doubted they would be able to hold the 2017 Greenbrier Classic. Watson says he was proven wrong.
  • Severe Weather: Torrential downpours, nine inches of rain in some areas, led to the floods. Bodies even washed up onto the Greenbrier’s grounds.
  • Influential Owner: Greenbrier Resort owner (and as of this year, West Virginia governor) Jim Justice remained committed to getting the course ready in time for the 2017 tournament, an important event for the local economy, which is dependent on the opulent 11,000 acre resort.
  • Impressive Effort: Phil Mickelson, the biggest name currently committed to playing the Greenbrier Classic, called the restoration effort “remarkable” and expressed a desire to spread word about the effort.

Quotable

“That town revolves around the hotel, the resort, so rebuilding the resort and the golf course is a step in the right direction to push people to make the city great again. It’s beautiful to see. It’s beautiful to see the people working, taking pride and getting the tournament back again.”
Bubba Watson

Joel Cook

Joel Cook is Pro Golf Weekly's Lead Writer.



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