Redskins

Pressure is on for players trying to keep cards

Pressure is on for players trying to keep cards

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) The final PGA Tour event of the year is a lot like the final stage of Q-school, one last chance for so many players to earn their full cards for next year. The field at Disney looks like Q-school, too.

The only player from the top 50 in the world ranking is Robert Garrigus, who checks in at No. 42.

Only five players from the top 50 on the PGA Tour money list are at Disney - Garrigus (26), Ben Curtis (30), Jonas Blixt (35), Brendon de Jonge (39) and Charlie Wi (45). And six players have won on tour this year - two against weak fields in the Fall Series (Blixt and Tommy Gainey) and two against even weaker fields at opposite-field events (Scott Stallings and George McNeill). The others are Curtis at the Texas Open and Ted Potter Jr. at the Greenbrier Classic.

For sheer entertainment, the best bet might be at one of Disney's theme parks.

For the pressure of trying to perform with so much at stake, few regular PGA Tour events can match the tension of a golf tournament held on the expansive property of a resort that bills itself as the ``Happiest Place on Earth.''

The Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic gets under way Thursday on the Palm and Magnolia courses at Disney, with the opening two rounds a pro-am format.

The top 125 on the money list keep full exempt status on the PGA Tour next year, with Billy Mayfair smack on the bubble at No. 125. He has a lead of $2,665 over Trevor Immelman, who already is safe next year from his five-year exemption for winning the 2008 Masters. Mayfair is only $3,504 clear of No. 127 Gary Christian, a 41-year-old rookie from England.

``It's kind of nice to get to that stage now where you have to perform,'' Christian said Wednesday. ``This is it. You've got one more chance, and do good or you go home.''

Or in his case, go to the California desert at the end of the month for Q-school.

Christian felt remarkably relaxed. His wife and children were joining him Wednesday night and planned a week at the theme parks. Christian, who once held a job selling knives door-to-door, took a long time to reach the big leagues. He was on the Dakota Tour for six years, and the Nationwide Tour for seven years. He still appreciates the perks of the PGA Tour, from the courtesy cars to the pristine condition of golf courses like Pebble Beach and Bethpage Black.

The highlight of the year was playing a practice round with Tom Watson at The Greenbrier, and playing the third round with Tiger Woods at The Barclays. The lowlight? He couldn't think of anything, except for the usual aggravation that golf can cause on any level.

No stress?

``I'm sure there is if you've been on tour for 10 years,'' he said. ``I can understand if you've been used to making seven figures every year and you're on the outside look in, or on the inside hoping to hang in there. I've really got nothing to lose. If it all goes wrong, I assure you my wife still loves me and the kids still love me. And it just allow me to go and play with hopefully a lighter heart and go play great.

``I think it makes a man of you if I come through this and get into that top 125,'' he said. ``Then I think going forward, you use that as something very positive to fall on where you have one opportunity to perform and you did.''

These guys on the bubble have had more than one opportunity.

The players from No. 120 to No. 130 on the money list averaged 25 starts this year, and their own play put them in this predicament. Everyone through No. 122 - that would be 48-year-old Jeff Maggert - have enough of a cushion that they should be safe. That's not the case for Kevin Chappell at No. 123 or Rod Pampling at No. 124.

And that's certainly not the case for those beyond No. 125, such as Justin Leonard.

Leonard is one of the more under-appreciated players on tour. He got his card out of college without ever having to go to Q-school, and he has never come particularly close to losing his card. Despite being a peashooter in an era of bazookas, his 12 wins include the British Open and The Players Championship, and he lost two majors in playoffs.

But this has been a year to forget, and Leonard finds himself at No. 138 going into the last tournament.

Leonard had to be told that.

``I've made it a serious effort not to look,'' he said. ``I don't know where I am. I don't know what I need to do - just go out and play and do the best I can every day.''

Asked for his thoughts on the week, the Texan smiled.

``The kids are having a blast,'' he said. ``Usual Disney week, shuttling between the parks and the golf course.''

Leonard found himself consumed with the money list in the late spring, when he wasn't getting much out of his game. He stopped worrying about results and tied for fifth at the Reno-Tahoe Open and tied for 19th at Greensboro. But when he returned six weeks later and opened with a 64 in Las Vegas, he again was consumed of trying to make the most out of a good start and stumbled.

``I got caught up in what I needed to do,'' Leonard said.

He's not that bad off. If he loses his card, Leonard is No. 9 in career earnings at just over $31 million, and he can use a pair of one-time exemptions for being in the top 25 and the top 50 on the money list. He plans on using only one of them, and that depends on this week.

Quick Links

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 21, five days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington

Should the Redskins pursue Dez Bryant? This topic was one like a meteor, very hot for a short period of time before it quickly faded out. It started to heat up as soon as the Cowboys cut Dez (about a month too late) and when it was reported that he wanted to play against Dallas twice a year it really picked up steam. But then people started to actually think and figured out that signing Bryant didn’t make much sense for the Redskins. Add to that the reports that the Redskins had no interest and would not look into signing Dez in the future and the Redskins fans quickly lost enthusiasm for the topic.

Seven-round Redskins mock draft—I think that most Redskins fans would be happy with this mock. Well, I’ll say some Redskins fans, most is a pretty strong word in this case. 

Is the draft pool deep enough for the Redskins to trade back? There is plenty of talk about the Redskins trading down in the first round to recoup the third-round pick they gave up in the Alex Smith trade. But they need to be careful. Many consider the draft to be top heavy and they may lose their chance to pick up an impact player if they trade back too far. The question then becomes one of quality vs. quantity. 

Three questions as offseason workouts get underway—There will be plenty more questions that we can ask about this team. But we don’t really know what to ask before the draft, particularly when it comes to the defensive line and running back. One the personnel settle into place we will know what we don’t know. 

Tweet of the week

On Chris Cooley’s thought that the Redskins might try to trade back and get Da’Ron Payne in the draft and the use the assets obtained to move up to get Derrius Guice. 

This is related to the questions about trading back. On paper it looks like a good idea, assuming the Redskins want Payne. We’re pretty sure they would like to have Guice but we haven’t heard as much about the Alabama defensive lineman. 

I had many reply that Guice won’t be there in the second round. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, but you just don’t know. There was zero chance that Jonathan Allen would be there at No. 17 last year, right? 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 31
—Training camp starts (7/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 141

In case you missed it

Quick Links

Game 5 Capitals vs. Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 5 Capitals vs. Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Alex Ovechkin said the Caps would return to Washington with a tied series. The Caps captain is a man of his word as the Caps won both Game 3 and Game 4 to even up the series at two games apiece.

John Tortorella had no answers after seeing his Columbus Blue Jackets fall in Game 4, but he will have to figure things out quickly as the series shifts back to Washington for a pivotal Game 5.

The Caps return home with two straight wins and all the momentum. There's just one problem: No one seemingly can win at home.

What: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, Round 1, Game 5

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 3:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 5 will be broadcast on NBC.

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 5 on NBC Sports' live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

The Capitals take on the Blue Jackets in Game 5 on Saturday, April 21 at 3:00 p.m. ET in Washington. The series is tied 2-2.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME ON?

Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 5 will be broadcast on NBC. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 2:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 2:30 p.m. Tune back to NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 6:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

2:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
2:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
3:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Blue Jackets on NBC
5:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
6:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Capitals-Blue Jackets Game 5 is available to stream live here through the NBC Sports live stream page.

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Here are the Caps' projected lines:

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Chandler Stephenson - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly- Lars Eller - Devante Smith-Pelly
Jakub Vrana -  Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Scratches: Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky (upper-body), Shane Gerisch, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

SEE THE CAPITALS VS. BLUE JACKETS FULL SERIES SCHEDULE HERE

CAPITALS SCHEDULE