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Westwood making cuts, but not making progress in majors

Updated at: 08/15/2017 6:09 PM
By DOUG FERGUSON


Photo: AP

(AP) CHARLOTTE, N.C. - CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — It's not quite a badge of honor, though it beats the alternative. Lee Westwood was among 13 players who made the cut in all four majors this year, and he has the longest active streak of cuts made among those who have played them all.

Westwood last missed the cut in 2014 at the British Open, making it 13 in a row that he has played the weekend.

That's the good news.

"I'm playing steady, but not well enough," Westwood said.

His best finish was a tie for 18th in the Masters. Westwood tied for 55th in the U.S. Open, tied for 27th in the British Open and tied for 67th at the PGA Championship. He has only one top 10 in the majors since he last missed the cut, a runner-up at the Masters to Danny Willett last year.

"You don't want to be missing cuts. You'd rather be making cuts," Westwood said. "But obviously, I want to contend. Nobody wants to be out early on Sunday."

Jordan Spieth joins Westwood as the only players to make the cut in all four majors over the last three years.

The others to make the cut in every major this year were Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka, Matt Kuchar, Rickie Fowler, Paul Casey, Kevin Kisner, Russell Henley, Steve Stricker, Charley Hoffman, Marc Leishman and J.B. Holmes.

Stricker now has made 26 straight cuts in the majors over the last eight years, though he has either not played (British Open) or not been eligible (Masters, U.S. Open) for six majors dating to his last missed cut at Hazeltine in the 2009 PGA Championship.

Russell Knox was on the wrong list this year. He was among five players who missed the cut in all four majors. The others were Jhonattan Vegas, Tyrrell Hatton, Yuta Ikeda and Jeunghun Wang.

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PAYNE STEWART AWARD: Stewart Cink has won an award that is gaining massive momentum as one of the biggest honors on the PGA Tour. He will accept the Payne Stewart Award during the Tour Championship next month.

The award began as a tribute to Stewart, the three-time major champion who died in a plane crash on his way to the Tour Championship in 1999. It recognizes the values of character, charity and sportsmanship, and recent winners have said the ceremony was one of the best nights of their careers.

"To receive the Payne Stewart Award is one of the greatest honors of my career," Cink said. "Payne Stewart was a player and person whom I admired greatly, both on and off the course. His character, his infectious spirit and his dedication to growing the game were all traits that I have always aspired to emulate."

Cink has six victories in 21 years on the PGA Tour, including the British Open in 2009 in a playoff over Tom Watson at Turnberry. That was Cink at his best, not only his performance, but the graciousness in winning over such a popular and sentimental figure as the 59-year-old Watson.

"In every sense of the words, he showed character and sportsmanship," PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Cink has two sons in college and for the last two years has been devoting himself to his wife, Lisa, during her battle with breast cancer.

The Payne Stewart Award ceremony will be Sept. 19 and televised live on Golf Channel.

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LAST CALL: The Wyndham Championship is the final PGA Tour event to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs, which in some cases, means keeping a full PGA Tour card.

Geoff Ogilvy, who used a one-time exemption from top 50 in career money, is on the biggest bubble at No. 125.

Rick Lamb is on the next bubble at No. 150. Players who finish between No. 126 and 150 at least have conditional status. That's where Chris Stroud started last season.

But the most critical might be further down the list.

Players who finish between No. 126 and 200 are eligible, if they need it, for the Web.com Tour Finals, which offers PGA Tour cards to the leading 25 players on a money list for four tournaments. Finish outside the 200 and it's a tougher road back to the big leagues.

Among those outside the top 200 going into the Wyndham Championship are Carl Pettersson (203), Jason Bohn (204) and Brad Fritsch (205). Pettersson and Bohn each have status as a past PGA Tour winner. They also could use a one-time exemption to play the Web.com Tour because they have been fully exempt the last five years.

Fritch, because he won on the Web.com Tour last year, would have Web.com status as a past champion, but he would be subject to the first reshuffle.

The answer for all of them is to play hard.

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GRAND SLAM SECOND: Louis Oosthuizen went from a reputation of having the sweetest swing in golf to being the best at lip syncing.

All because of another runner-up finish.

Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion at St. Andrews, made a 50-foot birdie putt on the final hole of the PGA Championship and joined the list of players who have finished runner-up at all four majors. He lost in a playoff to Bubba Watson at the 2012 Masters, lost in a three-man playoff at the 2015 British Open and tied for second in the 2015 U.S. Open.

The others to accomplish that were Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Craig Wood. Norman is the only player from that group to lose all four majors in a playoff (Wood lost in extra holes at the PGA Championship when it was match play).

The South African handled it with a performance on the jet home that rates among his best — mouthing the words, with more expression than he ever allows on the course, to "I'll Rise Up" by Andra Day.

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DIVOTS: Henrik Stenson is playing the Wyndham Championship this week to make sure he reaches the minimum 15 tournaments to keep his PGA Tour membership. It will be his 13th event. At No. 75 in the FedEx Cup, he is assured of playing at least two playoff events. ... NBC analyst Mark Rolfing and his wife, Debi, have been selected to receive the PGA Distinguished Service Award. Along with their promotion of golf in Hawaii, the Mark and Debi Rolfing Charitable Foundation helps high-risk, needy children. They will be honored in November at the PGA of America's annual meeting. ... The reason Justin Thomas has "radar" stamped on wedges since he was still in elementary school: He told Golfweek magazine he was hitting chips and bunker shots close to the hole when Phillip James of Titleist said, "You've got radar out here." He says James to this day won't send him a wedge unless it has "radar" stamped on the back. ... U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka goes into next year atop the U.S. Ryder Cup standings. Points only were awarded at majors and World Golf Championships. Koepka was followed by Thomas, British Open champion Jordan Spieth, Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson.

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STAT OF THE WEEK: Twelve of the top 15 players in the women's world ranking are not at the Solheim Cup.

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FINAL WORD: "Made all the cuts. That's a good step." — Rickie Fowler on his year in the majors.

(Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)