Category: Archive

Golf Roundup Close, but no check for Coughlan

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By John Manley

Another week on the PGA Tour and another opportunity squandered. Richard Coughlan now has three weeks to play well enough to retain his tour card for 1999 without having to requalify at Q-School next month. Coughlan, a Tour rookie from Birr, Co. Offaly, missed the cut in the Buick Challenge at Calloway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Ga., by one stroke last week. Coughlan shot a pair of 71s, but the 36-hole cut fell at 141. By not earning any money, Coughlan fell back only a couple of places to 160th on the money list. But he needs to crack the top 125 and the 35 guys in front of him are like ducks in a shooting gallery — they’re not standing still.

As for Keith Nolan, who also contested the Buick Challenge, he practically needs a top-three placing in order to rank among the top 125. That’s a tall order for a man who hasn’t made a cut since May. Last Thursday’s opening round showed us vintage Nolan, the sort we expected to see on the tour when the Bray, Co. Wicklow, man was one of the country’s top collegiate golfers at East Tennessee State. He fired a 3-under par 69, placing him in a tie for 25th-place. Granted, he was six strokes off the lead, but little could be done about Fred Funk and Jim Carter kicking away with 63s.

The second round gave us Nolan’s flip side. He hung up a 74 and there would be no checks paid to his order following the completion of play on Sunday. He was off the cut mark by two strokes.

The forecast looks rosier for Coughlan to make the $70,000 or so he needs in the next three weeks than it does for Nolan to simply make a cut. Coughlan calls to mind a young Jack Nicklaus in both appearance and demeanor on the course: focused and sure of where he is going.

Nolan’s approach suggests less self-assurance and the expectation that a turn for the worse looms around each dogleg. This is the guy who had the lead after the third round of the 1997 NCAAs, only to come apart in the final round, explaining that he plays better when he is the pursuer, not the pursued. When he made the grade at Q-School in Florida last fall, his reaction was to heave a huge sigh of relief. Coughlan, who employed a less conservative attack that could have backfired, responded with exhilaration upon the realization that he would be on the tour in ’98. It is that attitude that could very well see him return via the money list.

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As for Keith Nolan, Q-School definitely looms in his future. Best case scenario? He finishes among the top 35 again in the qualifying scramble and retains his card. Worst case? He doesn’t make the PGA Tour next year and has to settle for the Nike Tour instead. But maybe that conventional wisdom is backward. A confidence-building year on the Nike circuit might be the tonic that Nolan needs to swallow. At the tender age of 25, he doesn’t need to become the Chip Beck of 1999. He does, however, have to remember what it’s like to seize the lead and challenge the field to try to catch you.

European Tour

Darren Clarke appears to have ceded the chase to top the European money list to Lee Westwood and Colin Montgomerie. Clarke has sat out the last two events, including last week’s Belgacom Open, which was won by Westwood in a playoff with Fredrik Jacobson.

Padraig Harrington was the top Irishman, finishing in a tie for 21st with a total score of 8-under 276 (74-68-67-67), which was eight strokes off the winning number. Philip Walton tied for 42nd place at 281 (73-69-68-71). Missing the cut by one stroke were both Des Smyth and Paul McGinley, who shot 143. Raymond Burns shot 145.

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