DORAL, Fla. (AP) — Adam Scott was the third wheel the first time a big event based the draw on the world ranking.
It was a big deal at Torrey Pines in 2008 when the U.S. Open put together the top three players in the world. At the time it was Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson at Nos. 1 and 2, and then Scott at No. 3 who was more of an afterthought.
But not this week.
The PGA Tour has Woods (No. 1) playing with Scott (No. 2) and Henrik Stenson (No. 3). It has done that in recent years for the Cadillac Championship. Two years ago, there wasn’t much of a crowd for that group of Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood.
There’s always big interest in Woods, particularly after he walked out of the final round at Honda Classic last week with back spasms. Even more compelling is that Scott has a mathematical chance of taking over No. 1 if he were to win this week.
“I’ve been a part of that a few other times at U.S. Opens,” Scott said. “It’s a fun pairing. I think it’s a good way to do the pairing occasionally for the game of golf, because for whatever reason, you don’t get 1-2-3 always Saturday and Sunday playing against each other like it seems a little more often in tennis. … I think it is absolutely a good pairing with the No. 1 up for grabs.
The last time a change at the top occurred at Doral was in 2005, when Woods won the Ford Championship and went back to No. 1 in the world. He stayed there three weeks.
“I don’t know how Tiger feels about it but it’s obviously a position he’s pretty comfortable with for a long time throughout his career,” Scott said. “And I can assure you from knowing him just a little bit, it’s a position he probably wouldn’t want to give up. So I don’t know that we’re going to be trying to play each other head-to-head because we know this field is a lot bigger than the two of us.”
SPIETH ANNIVERSARY: Jordan Spieth celebrates the one-year anniversary of the decision that often gets overlooked in his blockbuster rookie season.
He had an exemption to the Puerto Rico Open, and was getting advice to stay in South America to shore up his Web.com Tour status for the rest of the year. Spieth felt he should honor the commitment, tied for second in Puerto Rico to qualify for the next PGA Tour event in Tampa Bay, and he was on his way.
“It’s just funny to think back to that week and how I didn’t even think I was going to have PGA Tour status last years at this point, which it’s already into March,” Spieth said. “I was just trying to have a good week because I was going to play a PGA event. I think if anybody gets an opportunity to have an exemption to go to a PGA TOUR event, they should take it no matter where their status is. I think it’s better for them in the long run and so that’s what I did.”
A tie for seventh in Tampa gave him enough money for special temporary membership. What followed was a win at the John Deere Classic, a spot in the FedEx Cup playoffs, a pick for the Presidents Cup team and No. 7 in the final FedEx Cup standings.
TIGER EVERYWHERE: Rory McIlroy can’t escape the looming presence of Tiger Woods. That would have been the case even if Woods had chosen not to play this week.
“I’m staying in this Tiger Woods Villa here and there’s pictures all over my room of him,” McIlroy said. “I sent him a message last night, ‘Can’t get away from you here. I can’t go to the bathroom without looking at you.'”
That much was true. McIlroy said on the bathroom wall is a picture of Woods and Jack Nicklaus.
ANCHORS AWAY: As expected, the USGA is not planning to make any exceptions when the new rule that bans anchoring goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2016.
The PGA of America and PGA Tour had lobbied the USGA at its annual meeting last month for an extended “grandfather clause” that would allow amateurs players more time to adapt to playing with a conventional putter.
PGA president Ted Bishop provided the media a copy of the letter he wrote to his membership on Tuesday.
“While we are disappointed with the USGA’s decision not to extend the implementation date beyond Jan. 1, 2016, I know that all PGA Professionals are committed to helping amateur players choose a permissible putting stroke that will help them continue to enjoy the game well into the future,” Bishop wrote.
Bishop said one positive outcome of the anchoring debate is that the PGA of America and PGA Tour will have a “more meaningful” seat on future discussions about rules.
“We strongly believe that such enhanced communication among our respected organizations is essential to the long-term viability of golf,” Bishop wrote.
DIVOTS: Victor Dubuisson of France arrived in Miami. His clubs did not. The Match Play runner-up finally got his clubs Wednesday morning. Titleist made him a wedge to practice with on Tuesday that had the image of a cactus stamped on the back. … Jordan Spieth launched his own website Tuesday (www.jordanspieth.com). … Rory McIlroy says he sprained his ankle playing soccer in Northern Ireland two days before Christmas. “It was a worry,” he said. “I went to net and I shouldn’t have went to net, either. I was standing up about half an hour and it really hurt. I stayed off it for a week and it was OK.”
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