|British Open ends international 36-hole qualifying|
|Tuesday, October 29, 2013 12:00 AM|
SHANGHAI — The British Open is moving away from 36-hole qualifying, instead using 10 tour events from five continents to determine 32 spots in the field.
The only 36-hole qualifying that remains for golf's oldest championship will be 12 spots available from four links courses just before the British Open. They will become permanent sites. Players who fail to get in the British Open from their own tour can enter those final qualifying sites.
Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson announced Monday the reasons for the change include building more interest in the weeks leading up to the British Open to give players a more rigorous test over 72 holes at a tour event instead of 36 holes of qualifying.
The new system will be called the "Open Qualifying Series" and it starts next month at the Australian Open.
On the PGA Tour, instead of the 36-hole qualifier outside Dallas that offered eight spots, the British Open will take the leading four players not already eligible from the top 12 and ties at the AT&T National and The Greenbrier Classic. One spot will be available from the John Deere Classic, a week before the Open.
On the European Tour, the 36-hole qualifier at Sunningdale will be replaced by offering three sports at the Irish Open, the French Open and the Scottish Open. Dawson said the configuration was different for the American tour — four spots at two events, one at the John Deere — to avoid the scramble of getting to Britain at the last minute.
Three spots will be available in Australia and South Africa and four will be offered at the Mizuno Open in Japan and in Thailand on the Asian Tour.
The British Open is July 17-20 at Royal Liverpool in England.
"There were not in any way problems with the qualifiers. They weren't the cheapest to stage," Dawson added. "We just felt we weren't getting in the media the buildup in the Open. And the fact these events are on television and there's going to be an Open qualifying leaderboard, we think it will give the Open more anticipation."
The U.S. qualifier near Dallas had been held in May for the convenience of players, nearly two months before the Open.
Dawson said the golf schedules around the world were getting more crowded, another reason why he felt it made sense to blend in tour events with qualifying.
Asia-Pacific Amateur champion Lee Chang-woo and runner-up Shohei Hasegawa earned a spot in final qualifying for the British Open. They will take part in the Open Qualifying Series in Thailand.
International Final Qualifying began in 2004, offering 36-hole qualifiers in America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.
Previously, the Local Final Qualifying was held on four courses near where the British Open was being playing that year. Starting next year, the R&A selected four permanent sites in various regions of the country to help with travel — Glasgow-Gailes Links in Scotland, Hillside in northwest of England, Woburn in central England and Royal Cinque Ports on the eastern coast of England.
Ryan Moore wins CIMB Classic in playoff
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The rain and the delays were all worth it for Ryan Moore, who seems to play his best golf this time of year.
Moore won the CIMB Classic in a playoff with Gary Woodland on Monday, birdieing the first hole for his third PGA Tour victory.
Thunderstorms, resulting in about 3½ hours of delays, and fading light Sunday forced organizers to complete the tournament the next day.
Moore scrambled just to make the playoff, hitting an awkward 60-yard wedge shot on the 18th hole Sunday that dropped within several feet of the hole and allowed him to salvage par. He and Woodland finished regulation at 14-under 274.
In the playoff, Moore hit a strong approach with an 8-iron to the same green. The ball stopped about 5 feet from the cup, setting up his winning putt.
"I had a great opportunity there on 18 with my third shot and it was just an absolute perfect number," he said. "It was coincidentally the exact shot I was working on on the range."
It had been about a year since he won his second title, at the 2012 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas.
"I've always enjoyed playing in the fall. I'm not sure why," he said. "It's actually kind of funny. I won a week before my son (Tucker) was born last year. I won a week after (his birthday) this year."
Woodland, also trying to win his third PGA Tour title, had a chance to end things as dusk was descending in a steady rain Sunday evening. But he missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the 18th that would have given him the title
"I hit it where I wanted to," Woodland said. "It just broke more. I can see it now. It was a little lighter out right now. I can see it broke a little more, but it is what it is."
He pulled his approach shot to the 18th green wide Monday, leaving himself a difficult chip from the rough that he couldn't hole for birdie.
Still, it's been a remarkable turnaround the past few months for the American. He has struggled with wrist injuries in recent years and his world ranking plunged to 268th this summer.
Woodland began making changes to his game last January when he started working with new swing coach Butch Harmon. He later switched to Harmon's son, Claude, hired a new short-game coach, Pat Goss, and then added a new psychology coach, Julie Elion.
The results finally started to come in August: Woodland won his second PGA Tour title at the Reno-Tahoe Open and a couple of weeks later shared second place at The Barclays.
Starting the new wraparound PGA Tour season this month, Woodland also added a new caddie, Tony Navarro, who previously worked with Greg Norman and Adam Scott.
"I put a lot of hard work in," he said. "It's been a process with the changes I've made, switching to Butch and his son, and it's finally starting to come together, which is nice. I put a lot of work in on the short game, a lot of work on the middle game, and we're starting to put it together now."
Moore is also hoping to build on the victory at the $7 million Malaysian tournament, which became an official PGA Tour event this year, awarding FedEx Cup points and a spot in the Masters.
Given how well he has played at this time of year, he's glad the new wraparound season is starting in October.
"Now that it counts, now that it's a full FedEx Cup event and counts as a win on the PGA Tour, it does so much for you," he added. "To get a win this early in the season, it's just incredible, to be able to get some FedEx Cup points racked up."