By John Manley
With just over a month left to apply earnings to the amount needed to
qualify for next year’s PGA Tour, the pressure is on Richard Coughlan to
come up with about $130,000, which is more than he’s accrued to this point
in 1998. The resident of Birr, Co. Offaly responded by posting his best
career finish, a tie for 13th place, in the Bell Canadian Open at the Glen
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Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ont. Coughlan earned $35,444, his largest check
as a professional.
Coughlan’s first year on the circuit has been plagued by erratic play.
Sparkling rounds of subpar golf have been combined with 18 holes that make
you want to pull your hair out. A case in point was Friday’s round at Glen
Abbey, where Coughlan shot 75, after opening with 70 the day before. The cut
line fell at 146, so Coughlan was safe there, but it is typical of
opportunities that have been missed all year. He closed with rounds of 70
and 68, and even that latter score, which was 4 under par, featured three
bogeys. His final score of 283, which was 5 under for 72 holes, left him
eight strokes behind the duo of Billy Andrade and Bob Friend Who had the low
scores of 275. Andrade won the playoff.
Coughlan was 189th on the money list going into the Canadian Open. He now
has $105,660 for 1998, which should move him up about 20 slots. In order to
avoid Q-School in November, Coughlan must finish 125th or higher. Going into
last week’s action, Bobby Wadkins was 125th with $168,148. It is expected
that $200,000 will be the number needed.
The week proved frustrating once again for Keith Nolan. The Wicklow man
opened with a 3-over-par 75, followed by a 72 on Friday. Had he clipped one
stroke off either round, he would have made the cut.
John Kernohan continues to look for that breakthrough tournament. Once
again, Kernohan made his presence felt, finishing 10th in the Nike
Tri-Cities Open at the Meadow Springs Country Club in Richland, Wash.
Winless on the Nike Tour this year, Kernohan has been flirting with victory,
but has been unable to come up with the big round when needed.
His final score of 8-under 280 (69-69-71-71) left him four behind the pair
of Matt Gogel and Brian Bateman. Gogel won the playoff. Kernohan earned
$4,444. His future will also be determined by his position on the Nike money
list at season’s end. A promotion to the PGA Tour, automatic qualification
for next year’s Nike Tour, or, least desirable, a return to the qualifying
stages hinge on how he does in the next month.
PGA European Tour
Darren Clarke was sitting pretty midway through the One 2 One British
Masters at the Marriott Forest of Arden in Coventry, England. He was tied
for the lead at 6-under 138 (67-71) and was poised to dislodge his buddy,
Lee Westwood, from the top of the European money list if he could maintain
his pace. It turned out he couldn’t.
Clarke went into a free fall of sorts over the weekend, with bloated scores
of 74 and 75. He finished tied for 20th, 1-under at 287, good for a £8,220
paycheck. Westwood, meanwhile, placed 12th, increasing his lead over Clarke,
and Colin Montgomerie tightened the race by topping the leaderboard at
tourney’s end, with a score of 281. The money list presently has Westwood at
top with £614,464, followed by Clarke with £606,067 and Montgomerie with
Only three other Irish representatives teed off in Coventry and none made
the cut of 145 or better. Padraig Harrington shot 147 for 36 holes, while
Raymond Burns and David Higgins were at 150.