Mario Tiziani wrapped up a 2-under 70 on the PGA Tour Champions that kept him out of the top 10 by one shot, and then he changed hats from player to agent as one of his top clients, brother-in-law Steve Stricker, won the Constellation Furyk & Friends.
It was the 11th tournament Tiziani played this year, some on an exemption, some through Monday qualifying. He also caddied for Stricker at the U.S. Senior Open and the Boeing Classic. And his work at MGC Sports doesn’t go away.
All that, and the 52-year-old Tiziani still managed to make it to the Charles Schwab Cup postseason.
“It’s been a full plate,” Tiziani said. “But I’ve been able to do it all.”
This wasn’t on the menu when Tiziani, who played one year on the PGA Tour, left competitive golf in 2010. He got his amateur status back with intentions of dabbling in local events, but even that didn’t interest him.
And over the holidays in 2020, he was offered an exemption to the American Family Insurance Championship in Wisconsin the following June. Stricker is the tournament host.
“I kind of chuckled. I hadn’t played golf the most part of 12 years,” he said.
And so he began to practice. He tried pre-qualifying for Monday qualifiers. He won the Minnesota Senior Open the week before his PGA Tour Champions debut in Wisconsin. He won the Wisconsin Senior Open a few months later.
“I was like, ‘Hold on, that was fun.’ And then it was whether I can do all of it,” he said.
Tiziani learned he could during a very busy year. It helped that his sister, Nicki Stricker, was able to caddie more often for her husband than during the COVID-19 pandemic. He pieced it all together and then really cashed in last month at Pebble Beach.
He was in a 4-for-1 playoff when one of players, Alan McLean, hit his second shot to a par 5 at Blackhorse to 2 feet.
“I canned with 35-footer to match his eagle and ended up getting through,” Tiziani said. He tied for seventh with a closing 67, and his tie for 14th a week later put him at No. 61 in the Charles Schwab Cup standings. The top 72 advance to the postseason.
So the full-time sports agent, part-time player and occasional caddie is going to the Schwab Cup playoffs, while is brother-in-law is in a tree with a bow hunting deer. Stricker is No. 3 in the standings, but he has never played much in the fall even on the PGA Tour.
Tiziani will need his best result at the Dominion Energy Charity Classic in Richmond, Virginia, to be among the top 54 who advance. No matter. It’s already been a big year for him.
“I’ve done well for 11 events to able to get into the playoffs,” said Tiziani, whose season earnings are just over $225,000. “Not as good as my brother-in-law in 11 events, but he’s from a different planet.” Stricker won four of the 12 tournaments he played this year.
It’s been a decent year for the extended family.
Stricker returned home from his last win to watch his youngest daughter, Izzi, win the Wisconsin state high school girls title. His oldest daughter, Bobbi Maria, easily made it through the first stage of LPGA Tour qualifying.
RACE FOR NO. 1
Rory McIlroy jokingly said in August he liked the new Official World Golf Ranking formula, which is based on strokes gained against the field, because he would be No. 1.
Now he has a chance to get to No. 1 in the hybrid model.
McIlroy has five straight top-10 finishes dating to a missed cut to start the PGA Tour’s postseason. With a strong field this week at the CJ Cup in South Carolina — 15 of the top 20 in the world — he can return to No. 1 in the world with a win.
That would depend on Scottie Scheffler, who has held down the No. 1 ranking since his victory in the WGC-Dell Match Play in March and already is assured of winning the Mark H. McCormack trophy for being at No. 1 the most weeks of the year.
TIGHT AT THE TOP ON LPGA
With four tournaments left on the LPGA Tour, the race for the points-based Player of the Year award is wide open.
Mathematically, the LPGA says 18 players remain in contention. The leading candidates are Minjee Lee, Brooke Henderson, Atthaya Thitikul and Lydia Ko, and there is not much separation among the four.
Lee has a 19-point lead over Henderson, the only one of the top four who is not in the BMW Ladies Championship in South Korea this week. Henderson played in the Aramco Team Series last week in New York.
Atthaya Thitikul is 25 points behind Lee, while Lydia Ko is 29 points behind. Thirty points go to the winner of regular LPGA events.
Thitikul, meanwhile, has a comfortable lead for rookie of the year as she closes in on joining Patty Tavatanakit as Thais winning the award in consecutive years.
KEEPING IT REAL
Seven events, seven winners making $4 million and what does it all mean at LIV Golf?
Charl Schwartzel was the first winner of a LIV Golf Invitational, and when asked how winning the inaugural event outside London compared to his Masters win in 2011, the South African chose not to play along with a very odd question.
“Well, you can’t compare it to a major win. The Masters, winning a green jacket is the biggest achievement that you can do in our game, I believe. Winning a major for that matter,” Schwartzel said. “We’re starting off here, we’re very fortunate to play for a lot of money, and these events will just get stronger. But for me, London was nice to win.
“When it comes to prestige … I won a lot of money. It was fantastic,” he said. “But I cannot compare (it) to winning a green jacket.”
Willie Mack won the Butterfield Bermuda APGA Championship and it came with a perk he wasn’t expecting. Mack received an exemption to the Butterfield Bermuda Championship on the PGA Tour next week. A two-time player of the year on the Advocates Professional Golf Tour, Mack made two cuts on the PGA Tour last year. … The USGA is taking three amateur championships to Canterbury Golf Club in Cleveland — the U.S. Girls’ Junior in 2027, the U.S. Senior Amateur in 2033 and the U.S. Women’s Amateur in 2039. The club has hosted two U.S. Opens and is best known for Jack Nicklaus winning the 1973 PGA Championship for the most majors. … Patrick Reed missed out on a $4 million bonus from LIV Golf by either one shot or one tournament. Branden Grace, Peter Uihlein and Reed finished the season at 79 points, far behind Dustin Johnson. The tiebreaker is the podium. Grace was awarded second ($8 million) based on his win, while Uihlein got third with his two runner-up finishes. Reed, who played six times because he didn’t sign up until June, had a second and third as his best results.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Xander Schauffele has 37 consecutive final rounds at par or better dating to a 74 on Sunday in the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot.
“I’ve worked for my dad a little bit. Never had a day quite this easy. Just really, really cool experience and I’m glad that I got the nod to be out here for it.” — Griffin Flesch, son of PGA Tour Champions player Steve Flesch, after caddying for Fred Couples when he shot 60 to win the SAS Championship.
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