By Ken MacLeod
For Robert Streb of Edmond North and Talor Gooch of Midwest City, making the second round of the FedEx Cup playoffs is a solid accomplishment reflecting strong play over the course of the 2020-21 wraparound season.
Simple math, however, indicates that this week is the end of the line barring a top-five finish in the BMW Championship.
From PGATour.com: “This is the third season that the FedExCup Playoffs have been three events instead of four, as it was previously constructed. In those two years, only five players have moved from outside the top-30 to inside the bubble at the BMW Championship. Three men moved up in 2019 at Medinah: Hideki Matsuyama (33rd entering the week), Lucas Glover (41st) and Jason Kokrak (31st). Only two did it last year at Olympia Fields: Joaquin Niemann (31st) and Mackenzie Hughes (36th).”
Streb comes in at No. 57 and Gooch at 67 on the FedEx Cup points list. No one has advanced to the Tour Championship from that far back since the format was changed.
Some players with strong Oklahoma ties are definitely advancing to the Tour Championship. Former Oklahoma star Abraham Ancer is 10th, while former OSU great Viktor Hovland who now lives in Stillwater and plays frequently out of Oak Tree National is 14th. Former Cowboy Alex Noren is 43rd and will need a great week to crack the top 30.
On the Korn Ferry Tour, the second week of the three-week KFT Finals starts Thursday at the Scarlett Course at Ohio State University with several Oklahoma players in need of strong performances to grab one of the 25 PGA Tour cards at stake after the finals. Josh Creel, Charlie Saxon, Bo Van Pelt, Rhein Gibson, Tag Ridings, Peter Uihlein, Kevin Dougherty and Kris Ventura are among the players with Oklahoma ties in the field who are currently outside the top 25 but have two events left to make a move.
Two fantastic young players from the state who have already secured their PGA Tour cards for 2021-22 are Taylor Moore and Max McGreevy. They are both playing in The Finals to strengthen their positions but earned their cards by finishing in the top 25 during the regular season.
So at the minimum Oklahoma junior golf will have produced at least five players including Kevin Tway with tour cards for next year. There could be more depending on what happens the next two weeks on the Korn Ferry Tour. When you include the players with state ties through college affiliations or whom now live here it grows to numbers that are somewhat incredible.
Golfers who would like to be in the positions of Moore and McGreevy in the near future are competing Thursday through Saturday in The Oklahoma Open at Oak Tree Country Club on the East Course. One marquee pairing boasts Austin Eckroat of Edmond, Quade Cummins of Weatherford and Hayden Wood of Edmond, all of whom have the skill and desire to be on the PGA Tour in short order.
Gil Morgan has again graced the event with his presence and it would be nice to see some of the other Oak Tree Gang members take part. But mostly the field is heavy on mini tour pros battling their way up the ranks. One amateur who qualified to keep an eye on this week is Preston Wilkins. The former Oklahoma Christian golfer shot a 61 recently at Meadowbrook Country Club in qualifying for the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, so no casual round.
Notes: For the second time in a month, First Tee of Tulsa Executive Director Janice Gibson is competing in a senior major, this time the Senior LPGA Championship at French Lick Resort. She tees off Friday at the Pete Dye Course at 10:06 a.m. with Becky Iverson and Sue Ertl.
In the field are past champions Trish Johnson (2017) and Laura Davies (2018) headlining. World Golf Hall of Fame member and 31-time LPGA champion Juli Inkster also highlights the 78-player field which features 40 LPGA winners with 209 combined Tour wins, including a total of 27 major championships among 11 individuals.
A collection of all-time greats in the women’s game—current LPGA members, as well as LPGA and World Golf Hall of Fame members—over the age of 45 will compete in a 54-hole, stroke play format for a purse of $700,000 with a $105,000 winner’s share. After 36 holes, a cut will be made to the top-45 players and ties. The Senior LPGA Championship is one of two majors on the senior women’s circuit, along with the U.S. Senior Women’s Open Championship hosted by the USGA.
Great to see the Jerry Cozby Learning Center break ground officially at Hillcrest Country Club in Bartlesville Monday. Pretty amazing golf family there and the fundraising committee led by Jim Curd did a fantastic job. Dale Forrest at United Golf, a Hillcrest member, built a beautiful new level tee box for the range just outside the center. Can’t wait to see the finished product.
Club Champion announced today that Bryson DeChambeau is the newest ambassador for the club fitting company, which leads to the obvious question. If The Scientist goes in and builds his own driver using all the Club Champion technology available, can he still then claim that it sucks when he has a poor driving week?