Notebook: PGA Championship holds spots for winners of events this week

Daniel Popovic
Getty Images
Daniel Popovic is one of three players in the Bridgestone Invitational not yet eligible for the PGA Championship.
By
Doug Ferguson
Associated Press

Series: PGA Tour

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- Despite closing with a 73 in the RBC Canadian Open, David Hearn earned just enough money to move up one spot on the PGA Championship points list to be first alternate. That might be all it takes to get into the field next week at Oak Hill. 

The PGA Championship's field is holding open two spots in case the winners of the Reno-Tahoe Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational are not already exempt. It's not unusual for the Reno-Tahoe winner to head straight for the final major. The Bridgestone Invitational, however, has never produced a winner that wasn't already in the PGA Championship (perhaps because Tiger Woods seems to win every year). 

Only three players at Firestone are not exempt for the PGA -- Satoshi Kodaira, Toru Taniguchi and Daniel Popovic. 

The PGA of America gives exemptions to those in the top 100, and as expected, it went beyond that to award spots to Peter Uihlein (No. 108) and Brooks Koepka (No. 115), the two Americans who started the year with no status and earned European Tour cards. Also, Ryo Ishikawa received an exemption while sitting at No. 158 in the world. 

THE GOOD GUYS: Golf Digest came up with a unique survey for its September issue -- its first ranking of the "Good Guys" on the PGA Tour. 

Topping the list was Steve Stricker, which would come as little surprise. But the magazine put together criteria and surveyed a variety of people who could best answer the questions -- tournament directors, locker room attendants, players, caddies, media, golf administrators and tournament volunteers. They were asked to score active players they know personally from 1 (awful) to 10 (great). 

The criteria included the players' personal involvement in charity, being friendly to fans, gracious to the "little people" (drivers, attendants, volunteers), being nice when no one is looking, being good ambassadors for the sport, media friendly and keeping their entourages friendly. 

Stricker had an average score of 9.25. 

Rounding out the top 10 were Brandt Snedeker, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, Graeme McDowell, Joe Durant, Adam Scott, Bo Van Pelt, Rory McIlroy and Zach Johnson. Five of them are in the top 10 in the world ranking. The one that stands out his Joe Durant, who lost his card and played this year through limited status as a past champion and on the Web.com Tour. Durant's "Good Guy" rating was 8.25 to rank No. 6. 

DOWN TO THE WIRE: Brandt Snedeker's win in the Canadian Open makes him almost certain to end one of the most peculiar streaks in the short history of the FedExCup. The defending FedExCup champion has never advanced to the Tour Championship the following year. 

Snedeker improved to No. 3 in the FedExCup standings with 2,178 points. Only three tournaments remain before the playoffs begin. Even if he missed every cut the rest of the way, history shows his total is more than enough to crack the top 30 and get to East Lake for the Tour Championship. Besides, there is no cut at Firestone and the BMW Championship outside Chicago. 

As for everyone else, the race is on to at least get to the playoffs. 

Vijay Singh is at No. 138 and could lose his full card. His five-year exemption from winning the FedExCup in 2008 runs out this year, though he has two one-time exemptions from career money he can use. Padraig Harrington is at No. 123 and at risk of missing the playoffs for the first time. 

Camilo Villegas, second to Singh in the FedExCup in `08, is at No. 113. He might not be in position to advance very far, but he would at least get his card back. Villegas played this year mainly on sponsor exemptions after failing to earn his card at Q-School. 

DIVOTS: Two of three players who used one-time exemptions from career money are assured of getting their full PGA Tour cards for next year. Jerry Kelly, who missed the top 125 by $1,809 last year, is at No. 76 in the FedEx Cup. Justin Leonard is at No. 83. The other was Mike Weir, who is at No. 169. ... Former PGA champion Y.E. Yang and two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal have been appointed captains of the Royal Trophy, matches between Asian and European players to be held Dec. 20-22 in China. ... Jeff Overton, who played on the Ryder Cup team in Wales in 2010, is the fourth alternate for the PGA Championship. 

STAT OF THE WEEK: Inbee Park, with three majors among her six LPGA Tour wins this year, would rank No. 19 on the PGA Tour list. 

FINAL WORD: "Something prevented him from winning the majors he's played so far, but then again, certainly maybe ought to give Adam Scott and Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson a little bit of credit for playing better. That's sort of the way I look at it." -- Jack Nicklaus, on Tiger Woods not winning a major so far this year.