Spieth adds tournament to help chances of East Lake return

Jordan Spieth hasn’t played the Wyndham Championship since he lost in a playoff to Patrick Reed in 2013, a finish that allowed him to start the FedEx Cup playoffs in the top 10. He returns to Greensboro, North Carolina, facing a little more urgency.

“I would like to make East Lake. That’s my goal now,” Spieth said.

Spieth is at No. 67 in the FedEx Cup. Under the new schedule, he will have two playoff events to get in the top 30 and qualify for the Tour Championship at East Lake. It made sense to play one more tournament to boost his position. That could mean playing six straight weeks if he makes it to East Lake, but having missed the Tour Championship last year, he felt it was worth it.

“I really want to get back there,” he said. “I didn’t like missing that last year, and (I’m) coming in further behind this year than I was last year.”

Still unsettled in the shorter post-season is how high in the standings he’ll have to be to get beyond the first playoff event. The top 125 are eligible for The Northern Trust next week at Liberty National, and the top 70 advance to the BMW Championship at Medinah.

The extra playoff event last year meant the top 100 advanced to the second stage, and then the top 70 to the BMW Championship.

Other players have more pressing matters than East Lake, such as keeping their full PGA Tour cards.

Alex Noren is at No. 125 in the FedEx Cup by two points over Austin Cook and Richy Werenski. Every player from No. 103 through No. 138 in the FedEx Cup is in the field at the Wyndham Championship. Dominic Bozzelli is in the most precarious spot. He is at No. 139 and was first alternate on Tuesday.

Also in the field is two-time major champion Martin Kaymer, who is No. 146. His five-year exemption from winning the 2014 U.S. Open ends this year.

LEXI’S ROUGH ROAD TRIP

Lexi Thompson is not off to the best start during the LPGA Tour’s back-to-back majors in Europe.

She missed the cut at the Evian Championship with rounds of 77-72, and then criticized course conditions that led to bad breaks in an Instagram post in which she concluded, “I’m actually very thankful I don’t have to put myself through that for another two days.” She later removed the post and replaced it with one to “clear up any confusion” and explain that her words were meant to express frustration at her play.

Leaving France was even worse.

According to a report on Golf Channel’s website, a van carrying golf bags of nearly 40 players to Woburn for the Women’s British Open was two hours down the road when the driver received a call that Thompson had left her passport in her golf bag and needed it to leave Geneva.

The driver, Ian Wright, told Golf Channel he was asked if he could pull over and wait while Thompson’s caddie took a taxi from Geneva to meet up with him. He says the delay was three hours, including repacking the van. He missed the ferry to England, got caught in morning rush-hour traffic and got to Woburn so late that the course was closed for practice Monday.

Her agent, Bobby Kreusler, told Golf Channel it was an “honest mistake” and that Thompson had no idea it would cause such a delay and effect players the way it did. “She would never have wanted that,” the agent said.

Ryann O’Toole, whose clubs didn’t arrive until Tuesday evening ahead of the Evian, wasn’t happy to lose another day of preparation for a major.

“I don’t know why the driver would agree to accommodate one person knowing it would punish about a third of the field,” O’Toole told Golf Channel. “The driver should have said: ‘Hey, I’ve got to get these clubs to Woburn. If you want the passport, somebody’s going to have to fly there to get it and bring it back.”’

END OF AN ERA

Bill Paul had two job offers when he graduated from college and couldn’t make up his mind. One was with the Royal Canadian Golf Association, for whom he began working summer internships when he was in high school. The other was with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League, which drafted him out of Sheridan College.

Paul remembers driving down the QEW between Oakville and Hamilton trying to decide which job to take. He never made it to training camp.

“I decided to value my knees,” he said.

So began nearly 43 years of service that ends with his decision to step down as chief championship officer of what is now Golf Canada.

“I believe that the organization is well positioned for success going forward,” he said.

It hasn’t always been easy, especially during more than two decades as tournament director of the Canadian Open, which has gone through sponsorship changes and for the longest time didn’t have a consistent date on the PGA Tour schedule.

Now it has RBC as its title sponsor and a spot the week before the U.S. Open, which attracted the likes of Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy, who won this year.

Among his memories was a conversation with Tiger Woods and his father on the range at Augusta National, where Paul offered a sponsor exemption if Woods decided to turn pro. That was his first commitment until he added the Greater Milwaukee Open in 1996.

Four years later, Paul secured another commitment from Woods in the summer of 2000. Woods then completed the career Grand Slam at St. Andrews, won the PGA Championship for his third straight major, won at Firestone the following week by 11 shots and then won the Canadian Open with a 6-iron from 218 yards out of the bunker and over the water to set up birdie on the last hole.

IRISH EYES

Two days after Shane Lowry of Ireland won the British Open at Royal Portrush, Irish golf had another reason to celebrate: The Ryder Cup is returning to the Emerald Isle. Ryder Cup Europe announced the 2026 matches will be at Adare Manor in County Limerick.

It will be the second time the Ryder Cup is held in Ireland. Europe won 18 1/2-9 1/2 at The K Club outside Dublin in 2006.

Ireland joins England and Scotland as the only European countries to hold the Ryder Cup more than once. England has had it 16 times, while Scotland had it twice (Muirfield in 1973, Gleneagles in 2014).

The next Ryder Cup is at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin in 2020, followed by Italy in 2022 and Bethpage Black in New York in 2024.

DIVOTS

Hale Irwin, a three-time U.S. Open champion, has been selected to receive the Payne Stewart Award. The PGA Tour will honour Irwin on Aug. 20 during the Tour Championship in Atlanta. … Justin Rose and Brooks Koepka have each won PGA Tour events this year as the No. 1 player in the world. The last time two players won in the same year at No. 1 was in 2016, when Jordan Spieth won at Kapalua and Jason Day won The Players Championship. … Akshay Bhatia has received a sponsor exemption to the Safeway Open, where the 17-year-old plans to make his pro debut. Bhatia joined Cole Hammer and Stewart Hagestad as the first players named to the Walker Cup team. Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo also received an exemption to the Safeway Open, to be played Sept. 26-29.

STAT OF THE WEEK

Phil Mickelson has missed seven cuts and has only one top-20 finish in the 14 starts he has made since winning the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

FINAL WORD

“He’s going to be a national hero for the rest of his life.” — Rory McIlroy on Shane Lowry winning the British Open at Royal Portrush.

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