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Latest News

Bizarre reason for Points' WD from Web.com Tour Championship

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 5:14:00 PM

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – D.A. Points arrived at TPC Sawgrass on Monday, played an 18-hole practice round and added another nine holes and a few hours of practice on Wednesday to prepare for this week’s Web.com Tour Championship.

Instead of teeing off on Thursday afternoon at 2:09 p.m. (ET), however, Points will watch the finale from his home in central Florida following a bizarre few days.

Points withdrew from the Web.com Tour Championship after receiving criticism from some players for playing the event that will decide the final 25 spots on the PGA Tour next season.

Points is already exempt for the 2014-15 season via his victory at the 2013 Shell Houston Open but because of the way the Tour structured the four-event Web.com Tour Finals he was exempt into the events.

“It was going to be an eight-week break without any competition (since his last PGA Tour start),” Points said. “The Wyndham Championship [T-18] was my best tournament of the year and I felt like I had a better feeling where my game was headed.”

Points was also using this week to audition a new caddie and since TPC Sawgrass is only a 2 1/2-hour drive from his home he figured there would be no harm in his participation.

“I thought unless I finish in the top 4 or 5 it wouldn’t make a difference [with the final money list], but then guys were on me about it,” Points said. “I understand that and that’s not why I’m here. I’ve got a lot of friends who are playing in this. I’m not here to keep anybody from getting a job.”

Points is not the first exempt Tour player to participate in the Finals. Ben Curtis played the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship last year but since that was the third Finals event, and he missed the cut, it went virtually unnoticed.

Given the level of concern Points’ start caused this week it seems possible the tour will address the issue in the future.

“We made some tweaks to the Finals this year from last and we will certainly talk about how to improve the system for next year,” said Web.com Tour president Bill Calfee. “We talked about this possibility where a player is exempt for the tour and maybe he had an off year. We felt like it would be hard to tell that player he couldn’t play based on that criteria. We shouldn’t be in the position of denying a player an opportunity to make his living playing golf.

“I applaud D.A. for realizing this. I know he got some flak from the players but he’s looking out for what’s best for the tour overall.”

Watson stands by decision not to pick Horschel

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 4:18:00 PM

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson sent a text to Billy Horschel late last week as Horschel was making his run winning the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup in Atlanta.

Watson’s message?

“Billy, you’re a day late, but not a dollar short,” Watson texted.

In a U.S. Ryder Cup teleconference Wednesday, Watson said he had some fun last week texting back and forth with Horschel, who was on Watson’s “radar” early in the year. Watson told Horschel he was looking at him back in February, when they were doing a photo shoot together for a Polo ad.

“I like your golf swing, I like your fundamentals and love the attitude on the golf course,” Watson told him.

Watson followed Horschel throughout this year, but Horschel didn’t make his move until it was too late for serious consideration as one of Watson’s three captain’s picks. Horschel won both his FedEx Cup playoff events after Watson made his picks.­­

“He just didn’t perform well enough to get on the team,” Watson said of Horschel’s record up until the deadline for the picks.

With growing talk that the PGA should move the captain’s picks back until the FedEx Cup playoffs are complete, Watson isn’t in favor of that. It would mean the captain would make his picks a week before the team leaves for the Ryder Cup instead of three weeks before.

“In ’93, I made my two captain’s picks the day after the PGA, six weeks before the Ryder Cup,” Watson said. “Logistically, there are so many different things that go into it, just in getting the players over there and getting ready ... get their families involved, get their families and friends over there. It would be awfully tough to make the decision the week before the Ryder Cup.”

Other points Watson made in his teleconference:

• Europe’s stunning come-from-behind victory at Medinah two years ago didn’t hurt just the Americans on that team.

“When I watched that Sunday, I had a pit in my stomach for several days afterwards,” Watson said. “It just stayed there.”

Watson wants the Americans to take their memory of that loss to Scotland next week as motivation.

“These fellas, many of whom played on that team, remember that like it was yesterday,” Watson said. “I want those players to talk to the players who weren't on that team, and tell them how disappointed they were, and to get them pumped up, and not let that happen again.”

• Watson said he has picked the brains of recent American captains for ideas, including Paul Azinger, who led the U.S. team to its last win six years ago at Valhalla. Azinger famously instituted a “pod system,” linking players in small groups on and off the course.

“The pod system has very beneficial elements to it, and I'll be using it in some modified form in the preparation of this next week,” Watson said.

• Watson was asked if the Europeans have prevailed in seven of the last nine Ryder Cups because they have more skill or more heart.

“I think the bottom line is that over the time, their players have simply played better,” Watson said. “Whether it's a heart issue, I can't determine that, I wasn't on those teams. But I know one thing: To win a Ryder Cup, you've got to have heart. Bottom line, you've got to have heart and you've got to have `never say die’ in you. That's what I've stressed to my players this last year, calling them, being with them. The most important thing is that you go out there and fight and scratch and never give in on any shot in the entire match. You go out there with one purpose in mind, to hit the best possible shot every time you draw the club back.”

Boat accident has given Taylor fresh perspective

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 4:24:00 PM

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – In the zippered reality of the Web.com Tour Finals, Vaughn Taylor is at ground zero in his professional quest to play the PGA Tour again.

With just this week’s Web.com Tour Championship remaining, Taylor is $1,107 ahead of No. 51 on the Finals money list, or – put another way - $1,107 away from spending another year on the secondary tour.

It’s been four years since Taylor contended in the big leagues, and while he showed flashes of the game that lifted him to two PGA Tour titles, it was largely forgettable season with just three top-10 finishes, including a tie for 10th place at last week’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship.

But as the 38-year-old went through his practice paces early Wednesday at TPC Sawgrass, professional panic was replaced by personal perspective. That’s what happens when one gazes into the cold reality of mortality.

A month ago this Monday, Aug. 11, Taylor was having a career day on the Savannah River near his home in Augusta, Ga. It was a spot he’d fished “hundreds of times,” just below a large dam in rough water but the payoff was an aching arm from all the bass he’d caught.

He was alone, not wearing a life vest and the lines he was using to keep his boat anchored, one at the front and one at the back of his boat, were old.

“I made a lot of mistakes,” Taylor admitted.

Without warning, the line anchoring the bow of his vessel broke and before he knew it his small bass boat was being swamped by water. When he entered the rough and chilly water, he originally hoped he could save the boat from sinking but within moments his concerns turned to his own life.

“It was so cold and the current was so strong, I tried to swim against it at first and realized that was a mistake,” he said. “I really thought for a minute that I could drown.”

Although he estimates he was in the water for about 10 minutes, Taylor said it felt like an hour as he floundered. A park ranger who was nearby began yelling instructions to Taylor, but he couldn’t hear what the man was saying because of the roar of the river. He was later told officials closed the dam to lessen the current.

Eventually Taylor, realized the ranger was telling him to swim with the current and he finally caught a break when a waterproof bag he was using to store his fishing tackle came into his view.

“I got lucky. It was a gift from God sending that tackle box my way,” said Taylor, who used the bag as a floatation device.

Taylor eventually made it to the bank where he spent the better part of a half hour regaining his senses. “That whole night and into the next day I just kept thinking about how close I’d come to drowning,” he said.

Taylor did have the presence of mind to turn his bilge pump on before going overboard and officials eventually recovered the aluminum boat. He used it to return to his Savannah River “honey hole” a few days after the incident with new ropes to secure his anchor along with a fresh perspective.

“That first time I went back was kind of spooky just because it so fresh in my mind. When you’re in the water, everything slows down and you start wondering if this is it,” Taylor said.

So forgive Taylor if his predicament on the Web.com Tour Finals money list this week doesn’t exactly keep him up at night. Reclaiming his PGA Tour card is important, particularly for a guy who not that long ago (2006) spent this week getting ready for a Ryder Cup. But just having the opportunity to be at TPC Sawgrass for this week’s finale is a reason to celebrate.