It's bubble time for U.S. Open

Top 50 in rankings next week lock up automatic berths

May 19, 2011|By Jeff Shain, Tribune newspapers

This week marks the cutoff for several top pros to make their plans for the U.S. Open — or for the qualifying grind.

The top 50 in next week's world rankings will lock up automatic berths at Congressional, avoiding the 36-hole sectionals set for June 6 at 11 sites across the nation.

David Toms likely saved himself the qualifying grind with his runner-up finish at The Players Championship, moving up to 46th in this week's rankings. Those most likely to be holding their breath are No. 48 Peter Hanson and No. 49 Gary Woodland.

Hanson also moved above the cut line with last week's tie for 19th at TPC Sawgrass but is taking this week off. So is Woodland, the power hitter who won the Transitions Championship in March.

Among those needing a good week to get in: No. 53 Ryo Ishikawa, No. 59 Vijay Singh and No. 73 Sergio Garcia.

Sliding Tiger: Tiger Woods' slide in the rankings might be on the verge of another gear.

Eighteen months removed from his last victory, Woods is projected to fall out of the top 10 for the first time in 14 years when the next list comes out. According to preliminary estimates, he'll be no higher than 11th.

Woods hasn't been out of the top 10 since the week before his breakthrough Masters triumph in 1997. Another drop could take place in a few weeks when his 2009 Memorial win drops outside the two-year rankings window.

Seve as symbol? European Tour officials, facing a growing chorus following Seve Ballesteros' death, have confirmed they are considering changing the tour's logo to feature the colorful Spaniard's image.

The tour's current logo is a silhouette of the late Harry Vardon, who won a record six British Opens between 1896 and 1914. However, the Englishman doesn't resonate with current tour members.

"When you talk about the European Tour, you talk about Seve," Colin Montgomerie told reporters after Ballesteros' funeral. "I think it's only right he should appear on our logo."

Tap-ins: K.J. Choi is turning part of his winner's check from The Players Championship into disaster relief, pledging a $200,000 donation to help victims of last month's deadly tornadoes in the Southeast. … Choi's playoff win over Toms marked the fourth consecutive PGA Tour stop to see extra holes. A fifth straight this week at Colonial would be the first since 1946.

— Jeff Shain

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