Rickie Fowler and John Catlin have been handed early invites to the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island “based on their performances, playing records and OWGR position,” a PGA of America spokesperson told NBC Sports’ Will Gray.
Catlin has reached 82nd on the Official World Golf Ranking after winning the Austrian Golf Open, the American’s third European Tour win in 13 starts. It will be his first appearance in a major championship.
Fowler has fallen to 111th on the OWGR from a high of fourth in 2016. He began the year 52nd and had been eligible for the second men’s major of the year as a member of the 2018 Ryder Cup team provided he was in the world’s top 100 by 10 May.
The 32-year-old finished tied third in the 2014 PGA Championship, and in a share of fifth place in 2017. He also has nine other top-10s in majors, including runner-up finishes in the U.S. Open and Open Championship in 2014, and a second in the 2018 Masters.
Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith both say they would love to represent Australia at this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Straight after beating South African duo Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen in a play-off at the recent Zurich Classic pairs event on the PGA Tour, Leishman said: “I’m all in. Obviously, I’ve got to get on the team first but, yeah, it would be huge.”
Smith’s desire to represent his country was just as evident. “Any chance I can get to put on the green and gold or a team shirt I’m all in,” he said. “I’m a hundred percent. I was kind of bummed I didn’t get in the team four years ago. It was really a goal of mine, so I’ll be thrilled if I’m there.”
Scottish European Tour veteran Stephen Gallacher was forced to sit out the tour’s Canary Island Swing after falling off his mountain bike close to his home.
“My pedal hit the surface and flipped me right off the bike,” he told The Scotsman newspaper. “I landed on my hand, elbow, foot and head, cracking my helmet. I had a bit of a scare, to be honest.
“I enjoy cycling and was just trying to keep fit. It was just a freak accident. I cracked a bone in my hand and it takes six weeks to heal.”
The former Ryder Cup player is hoping to be back in action in time for the Betfred British Masters at the Belfry later this month.
Gabrielle Cowley collected a cheque for £10,000 after winning the first of this season’s Rose Ladies Series events at West Lancs.
The LET player from Essex carded a 1-under-par 71 in tough conditions to finish a single shot ahead of fellow Englishwoman Gemma Clews and Michele Thomson from Scotland. Heather MacRae and Becky Morgan shared fourth place on 1-over-par 73.
Cowley’s first prize was double the amount she received when she edged out Solheim Cup star Charley Hull to win the fifth of last season’s Rose Ladies Series at the JCB Country Club.
The West Lancs event was the first of 11 on this year’s expanded Rose Ladies Series schedule, with others taking place at Woburn, Brokenhurst Manor, the Berkshire, Hillside, Royal Birkdale, the JCB Country Club, Scotscraig, North Hants and the Buckinghamshire ahead of the Grand Final at Bearwood Lakes in late September.
The first prize is £10,000 at the first 10 events with that figure doubling for the finale. The next event up is Thursday at Woburn.
Ladies European Tour winner Meghan MacLaren has dug into her pockets to help raise money for a New South Wales golf club damaged in a recent vandal attack.
MacLaren donated $500 to the club after she read on social media that Dunedoo had nine of its fairways and sand greens dug up. Fellow LET players Amy Walsh and Lydia Hall also have contributed $200.
The English professional has always had an affinity with Australia and that deepened when she won the Women’s NSW Open in 2018 and then defended her title the following year.
“I don’t know where to start with Australia,” she said. “It is one of those places that I felt at home as soon as I got there. There is just a vibe there.
“When I saw the news, it hit me hard. I think over the past year we have come to appreciate golf so much more. When courses reopened in England, I could barely get a tee time on my own course because there were people always out there.
“To see somewhere like that have their course taken away, I just felt it. You can imagine what it would be like for any of us at home. Dunedoo is a place where golf is a big part of such a small community. I can’t even imagine how awful that must have been to wake up and see that one morning.”
France’s Gala Dumez reached her highest position on the World Amateur Golf Ranking after her historic win in the Big 12 Women's Championship at the Club at Carlton Woods in The Woodlands, Texas.
Her maiden victory in her first year in college golf saw her become the first player in Texas Tech history to win the Big 12. It brought a 138-place jump on the WAGR table to 266th.
Rachel Heck of the United States also attained her highest status with a jump of 10 places to ninth, courtesy of winning the Pac-12 Women’s Championship, her second win in a row after the Fresno State Classic and her third of the 2021 season.
Argentina’s Segundo Pinto is now the 102nd-ranked men’s amateur, a personal best for the University of Arkansas student, following a 74-place climb as a result of his SEC Championship win.
The R&A is accepting entries for this summer’s amateur championships in Scotland. Kilmarnock Barrassie hosts the world’s best women for the Women’s Amateur Championship from 7-12 June, while Nairn Golf Club welcomes the men’s Amateur Championship from 14-19 June.
As per last season, Nairn will see a reduced field due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with all action taking place over the links by the Moray Firth. Nearby Nairn Dunbar previously had been scheduled as one of the 36-hole qualifying courses.
“We have been working hard to ensure that we can safely run our series of amateur championships and international matches this summer and are pleased to open entries for golfers aiming to compete in these great championships,” said R&A’s chief development officer, Phil Anderton.
“It is likely that international travel measures will remain in place for some time and so, given that it may not be possible for amateur golfers in a number of countries to come to the UK, we have decided to play the Amateur Championship over one venue with a reduced field size as we did last year. We would like to thank Nairn Dunbar for its support and understanding in making this change.”
It is Nairn’s second stint as venue for the Amateur. Englishman Lee James defeated home favourite Gordon Sherry, 2 and 1, in the 1994 final.
Besides spots in the Open Championship, the 2022 U.S. Open and a traditional Masters invite, the winner of the Amateur Championship also earns an invite to a European Tour event. Those reaching the semi-finals gain entry into a European Challenge Tour event.
The Women’s Amateur champion receives invitations to the AIG Women’s Open, U.S. Women’s Open, the Amundi Evian Championship and the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship.
Women’s Amateur Championship entries must be filed by Tuesday 18 May, while forms for the Amateur Championship can be filed until Thursday 20 May.
The EDGA, formerly the European Disabled Golf Association, hopes to see golf included in the 2028 Paralympic Games in Los Angeles.
EDGA president Tony Bennett told PA Golf correspondent Phil Casey the organisation wants to see golf take its place on the world’s biggest stage. However, greater participation in golf from people with disability is the aim of the EDGA, which celebrates its 21st anniversary this year.
“We definitely want to be in the Paralympics but it’s not the most important thing to us,” Bennett said. “The most important thing to us is to get more people with a disability playing the game. I’d sooner have six million people playing the game with a disability than 150 people playing in the Paralympics. But we want both and we’ll get there eventually.
“We were turned down for Paris (in 2024). We’ve taken the feedback from being turned down and said how can we adapt so that we can try and make sure we’re successful on the next occasion. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to do but we will make sure we put a good application in for LA in 2028.”
Bennett said the organisation has a focus on specific lessons that have been learned.
“You need to have established a ‘meaningful quadrennial calendar of events’ and that’s now started,” he said. “We’ve had European Championships for a number of years, there will be a World Championship certainly before 2028. They are the kind of things that need to happen, and we are still very much an emerging sport when you consider golf has only been back in the Olympics for two cycles after a gap of 112 years.”
Northern Ireland teenager Tom McKibbin is the latest top amateur to elect to turn professional.
The 18-year-old made the switch straight after missing out on a place on GB&I’s Walker Cup team and debuted in the paid ranks at last week’s Tenerife Open on the European Tour where he missed the cut.
“I was always going to turn pro, but with me not making the Walker Cup team I decided to go a few weeks earlier,” he told The Irish Times. “I was disappointed – not disappointed, a bit more confused to be totally honest. I was disappointed for a day. I don’t care now, it’s over with and I’m on to better things.”
McKibbin won the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley, the Junior Honda Classic and the Peter McEvoy Trophy during a sparkling amateur career and his exploits led to him being compared to compatriot Rory McIlroy.
“It’s probably a massive compliment being compared to Rory McIlroy,” he said. “I’ve talked to Rory quite a bit, he’s given me his opinion and I’m probably just going to keep all that to myself. But he’s been great to me and I’m really thankful for that.”
Reigning US Amateur champion Tyler Strafaci has indicated he will turn professional after representing his country in this week’s Walker Cup at Seminole Golf Club and will make his pro debut at the AT&T Byron Nelson on the PGA Tour.
English amateur internationals Callum Farr and Charlie Strickland also have turned professional since the Walker Cup team was announced.
Colin Callander and Alistair Tait