One miss makes it a cut above

Times Staff Writer

Marc Turnesa went over all the scenarios in his head before he showed up at Riviera Country Club early Saturday to finish his second round of the Northern Trust Open.

All of the situations, that is, except for the one that actually played out.

Turnesa made two pars, but his playing partner, John Merrick, made a bogey on the final hole that changed everything.

It allowed nine other golfers, including Turnesa, to make the cut and play the weekend because it meant that exactly 78 players had finished the second round at three-over-par 145.


If Merrick had made his four-foot par putt on the last hole, he would have also finished at three over, thus invoking the new cut rule that prevents more than 78 players from playing the final two rounds.

Everyone at three over would have officially made the cut and been given last-place money, but would not have played the final two rounds.

“When I missed my birdie putt and tapped in for par, I thought I had made the cut but wasn’t going to be able to play,” Turnesa said. “But John had about five feet for par and my caddie says if he misses this I get to play. I knew what was going on except for that fact.”

Turnesa took advantage. He shot four-under 67 in the third round and jumped from a tie for 70th into a tie for 29th.

Merrick’s miss also gave new life to Sergio Garcia, Kenny Perry, Rocco Mediate, Shigeki Maruyama, Michael Allen, Briny Baird, Bo Van Pelt and Fredrik Jacobson -- some of whom were not expecting to play Saturday.

“I already checked out of my hotel,” Baird said.

Baird, Garcia, Mediate and Perry all broke par in the third round.

Jeff Quinney’s hole in one on No. 6 was a surprise to the man who made it, mostly because he said he didn’t hit the shot where he wanted.

“Basically pulled it,” Quinney said.

Which may have been why the celebration with his caddie was a bit awkward.

“You don’t know whether to hug or high five or just in between and it probably just looks sloppy,” Quinney said. “We need to get organized with my caddie and plan it a little better.”

Stuart Appleby shot a two-under 69 and is tied for fourth, six shots out of the lead, but you wouldn’t know it by talking to him.

“I played pretty bad all day,” he said. “I hit the ball pretty bad. Didn’t do anything except chip and putt.”

And that is not a means to success in golf, he said.

“Making putts for pars is like dogs chasing cars,” he said. “You don’t last long.”

Players who had tee times on Thursday morning and Friday afternoon enjoyed less windy conditions both days and it showed in the statistics.

Those players averaged 71.28 on Thursday morning and 70.68 on Friday afternoon. The other half of the field averaged 73.51 on Thursday afternoon and 73.78 on Friday morning -- a total difference of 5.33 strokes.

“The wind was gusting and swirling enough that you were really out there guessing as much as you were feeling like you were making good decisions on club choices,” said D.J. Trahan, who played the more difficult times the first two days and then shot a third-round 66, the best round Saturday. “Obviously I’m a little disappointed that I couldn’t have played better the first couple of days, especially after having such a great round.”

Luke Donald, a Northwestern graduate, was asked to look ahead to the Accenture Match Play Championship next week, specifically if he viewed the brackets and seeding much the way the Wildcats might in the NCAA basketball tournament.

The problem is, Northwestern wouldn’t know much about the NCAA brackets.

“I don’t think Northwestern ever made the NCAAs, actually,” he said.