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Presidents Cup fortunes rise and fall along the cut line
At the end of a frantic Friday at Southern Hills, Stephen Ames of Canada and three Americans made the cut and dramatically impoved their chances of qualifying for Royal Montreal. Several players also hurt their chances by falling short.
By Dave Shedloski, PGATOUR.com Senior Correspondent
TULSA, Okla. -- Friday was a day of changing fortunes and scoring convulsions in the 89th PGA Championship, and along with chances at the title, Presidents Cup hopefuls saw their hopes rise and fall with the ever-changing leaderboard.
When the dust settled at Southern Hills Country Club, some key players near the bubble earned a chance to play their way on the U.S. or International team. No one helped himself as much as Stephen Ames of Canada, who said he definitely has next month's Presidents Cup in Quebec on his mind.
Sitting 19th in the International standings that are based on the Official World Golf Ranking, Ames fired a 1-under-par 69 Friday and is tied for third place with Australia's Geoff Ogilvy at 3-under 137.
With No. 10 Andres Romero of Argentina missing the cut after an 81-72-153 showing, the door is wide open for Ames or another player to slip in ahead of him. The two closest candidates are No. 11 Nick O'Hern and No. 12 Stuart Appleby. O'Hern shot a second consecutive 72 for a 144 total. Appleby, who has played in the last four Presidents Cup matches, submitted a 2-under 68 and sat in a tie for 15th at 1-over 141.
"It was a very good, solid round," said Appleby, who earlier this year had a chance to win the Masters before tying for seventh place. "I'd have to have two more days like this to have a winning chance, but I'm hitting it good."
The cut, cleared by 72 men, came in at 5-over-par 145 -- the same number that earned two more tee times in the 1994 PGA Championship, but quite a touch better than in 1970 when 10 over par advanced.
On the American side, No. 12 Brett Wetterich, No. 14 Hunter Mahan and No. 15 Chad Campbell were the top contenders who gave themselves a chance to steal a spot or impress U.S. Captain Jack Nicklaus.
Mahan, who has been on a roll of late, shot a 73 and the former Oklahoma State golfer ended up at 144. "It could have been better. It's just rough out there," said Mahan, who won the Travelers Championship and followed up with three more top-10s. "I just didn't quite hit it where I needed to. If I get off to a good start, build a little momentum, that will help a lot (this weekend)."
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Wetterich and Campbell were another stroke higher after a 71 and 68, respectively. Campbell made four birdies in a row starting at the par-5 13th to turn around his fortunes and make his second cut in four majors this year. He moved up 61 spots on the day, as did No. 8 Steve Stricker, who birdied the par-4 ninth for a 2-under-par 68.
"That felt good," Stricker said. "We were grinding all day, and that was a good way to finish and build something for the rest of the weekend."
Only two of the top 10 in the American points list missed the cut: No. 2 Jim Furyk and Masters champion Zach Johnson, who is fourth. Furyk, who withdrew last week from the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational with a bad back, hit every fairway on his final nine holes but couldn't get anything to drop save for a birdie at the last that gave him 71-146. Johnson carded 150 after a 76.
Among the International Team leaders, there were several casualties, including two-time PGA champion Vijay Singh, the No. 7 player in the world and No. 3 on the Presidents Cup list, whose 71-146 was one stroke too many. Joining him on the sidelines for the rest of the weekend were Romero, Rory Sabbatini and U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera.
Besides Singh, other former PGA champs who missed the cut by a stroke were Davis Love III and Rich Beem. Love is 17th on the points list and will now have to rely on a pick from Nicklaus to keep his streak alive of playing in all of the Presidents Cup editions dating back to 1994.
No one worked harder to stick around or made a larger leap into safe haven than Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke. The Ulsterman moved up a remarkable 86 spots by following a 77 with a sterling 66 for a 3-over 143 total.
"Not an awful lot changed," he said. "I just knocked in some putts. I said at the start of the week that I was playing OK without scoring. Yesterday my good wasn't very good, but my good today was very good. You've got to play smart, which is not always my best thing, but today I did it."
The other monster mover for the day was Japan's Shingo Katayama, whose 67 elevated him 73 places to a tie for 30th at 143.
Two of the 20 PGA Professional in the field made the cut: Mike Small of Champaign, Ill., and Ryan Benzel of Spokane, Wash., who each finished at 143. Baton Rouge's Phil Schmitt shot the low round of the tournament among the club pros with a second-round 68 that left him two shy of the cut.