OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. — Rickie Fowler missed the PGA Tour postseason two years ago. Justin Thomas has barely missed a beat this year. It’s an example of a recession that can happen to anyone. And she’s no match for Lexi Thompson.
It’s one thing Thompson hasn’t won on the LPGA Tour since June 2019. Thompson is ranked No. 157 in the Race to the CME Globe.
Only the top 60 advance to the CME Group Tour Championship. The top 80 have a full card. The top 100 still have cards and take in most tournaments. But there’s no indication that Thompson is capable of even that right now.
She missed her third major championship cut last week at the AIG Women’s Open. Her only cut in a major was a tie for 47th at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. But last week was just the eighth LPGA Tour start of the year.
“You shouldn’t read too much into it,” Thompson told Golf Digest last week. “I just tried to enjoy my life and take a little more time for myself. This is my 13th year here, so it’s my choice to play when I want and when I don’t. I was dealing with a minor injury. But now I am perfectly healthy. I want to make sure I’m fully prepared when I do it.”
Thompson, up to No. 6 in the women’s world rankings this year, has slipped to No. 21. She would still be in line for the Solheim Cup. The top seven in points are Team USA, followed by the top two players from the world rankings. Thompson would be first in line for this, followed by Rose Zhang.
As for her playing privileges next year, she could always use a one-time exception to be in the top 20 in career money. But she would be relatively young to use it at 28.
MAUI SUPPORT: Jon Rahm is five months removed from defending his title at The Sentry, and golf at Kapalua is the least of his worries. While the resort was not damaged by the devastating fire that has killed at least 99 people, Rahm was heartbroken by the images and horror stories from Lahaina.
“I hope they can rebuild Lahaina as quickly as possible,” he said. “It’s really sad that it happened over there, especially for a culture that cares about its homeland as much as the Hawaiians. If we go and play, I hope through the tournament we can help the community as much as we can.”
Wisconsin-based Sentry, which has built a community relationship in Maui since becoming a title sponsor in 2018, has pledged $250,000 to Maui United Way and the Hawaii Community Foundation. The PGA Tour is working with its three Hawaii-based events – on Maui, Oahu and the Big Island – to support these two charities, along with raising awareness through television broadcasts and social media channels to encourage donations.
Players are pinning hibiscus flowers to their bags this week at the BMW Championship to draw attention to the disaster.
Last week, Collin Morikawa pledged $1,000 for every birdie during the postseason and encouraged others to play. Xander Schauffele, who has ties to Kauai, supports a “Help Maui Rise” program in which his foundation will match every dollar up to $400,000.
RYDER CUP WATCHES: This is the final week for the Americans to earn one of the six automatic spots for the Ryder Cup, and the possibilities are plentiful.
Ten players in the BMW Championship have a mathematical chance of breaking into the top six, some remote chances. Three players to watch out for are Max Homa, Xander Schauffele and Jordan Spieth, at Nos. 6, 7 and 8. All of them competing this week could be enough to knock PGA Champion Brooks Koepka out of the automatic qualifiers.
Scottie Scheffler and US Open champion Wyndham Clark have already clinched spots, while Patrick Cantlay and Open champion Brian Harman are certain to remain among the top six. Lucas Glover would have to win for the third week in a row to have any chance of going from No. 16 to an automatic berth.
And then it comes down to Zach Johnson and the captain’s six picks, which is getting tougher by the tournament. He makes these selections after the Tour Championship, a last chance for players not on the team to make an impression.
BMW TO LIBERTY NATIONAL: For at least one year, the BMW Championship is taking over where the PGA Tour left off. The Western Golf Association announced Tuesday that the 2027 BMW Championship will go to Liberty National in New Jersey.
Liberty National, across the Hudson River from Manhattan, has a history of hosting events. She has had the FedExCup Open four times, the Presidents Cup in 2017 and most recently a new LPGA Tour event won by Rose Zhang in her professional debut.
But when a former title sponsor didn’t renew, the PGA Tour moved its first postseason to Memphis, Tennessee, meaning it was outside the New York metropolitan area.
The BMW Championship is now moving to the WGA’s affiliate states, and the WGA has strengthened its relationship with New Jersey by sending 10 of its Evans Scholars to Rutgers.
The move also means golf in Chicago will be played sparingly. BMW will go to Denver (Castle Pines) next year, followed by Caves Valley outside Baltimore and Bellerive in St. Louis in 2026. The Chicago market will get the Presidents Cup in Medinah in 2026, and Medinah is likely to get another BMW championship, though probably not until the end of the decade.
LIVE SMALL: The LIV Golf League is closed for a month. Almost half the players in the 48-man league are not.
Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Abraham Ancer are among 22 LIV Golf players set to play this week in the International Series-England on the Asian Tour, an event offering $2 million in prize money (one-tenth of the purse LIV ).
This includes Andy Ogletree, who has played LIV as a reserve. And it includes Hudson Swafford, who had LIV’s season-ending hip surgery. Swafford is now a reserve at LIV for the rest of the season. Patrick Reed was signed up until he withdrew for personal reasons.
Most notably, the field includes University of Florida redshirt freshman Luke Poulter and his son Ian Poulter. Also starring is Sam Westwood, the son of Lee Westwood, who has previously competed on a pro tour.
VU FROM TOP: Lilia Vu finished the LPGA Tour season last year ranked No. 41 in the world and is still looking for her first title. He is now No. 1 in the world.
Vu became the 17th player to reach No. 1 — and the fourth American — since the women’s world ranking began in 2006 by winning the Women’s British Open. It was her third win of the year and her second major win.
Vu replaced Nelly Korda and there’s a bit of a story there. This is the first time Americans have taken the top two spots since the rankings began.
“To be the best in the world, that’s crazy to me,” Vu said.
DIVOTS: Justin Thomas has added one more tournament to his schedule just before the Ryder Cup. He will play in the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa on November 9-12. … Gabriela Ruffels is the first player to secure a spot on the LPGA Tour next year through the Epson Tour. He has won three times this year. … Lilia Vu’s three LPGA Tour wins this year have come on three continents — Asia (Honda LPGA Thailand), North America (Chevron Championship) and Europe (AIG Women’s British Open).
STATE OF THE WEEK: Eric Cole was the only PGA Tour rookie to reach the BMW Championship.
FINAL WORD: “As much as money was the topic of conversation, a lot of guys out here, even when they win, couldn’t tell you within a margin of error how much they won that week.” — Brian Harman.
FINAL WORD, PART II: “I have no idea.” — Jon Rahm, asked how much money he won at the Masters.
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