2007 U.S. Am champ Knost leading RBC Heritage by two strokes

By Associated PressApril 13, 2012, 11:15 pm

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Colt Knost believes he's finally ready to succeed on the PGA Tour, no matter how much work he's got ahead at the RBC Heritage.

Knost shot a 6-under 66 on Friday to take a two-stroke lead over Carl Pettersson after the second round. Knost, tied for the first-round lead with Chad Campbell and Vaughn Taylor after a 67, had three birdies in a four-hole stretch midway through the round and finished at 9-under 133.

Pettersson had a 65, his best showing in 32 career rounds at Harbour Town Golf Links. Two-time RBC Heritage winner Boo Weekley (66) and Harris English (68) were another shot off the lead at 6 under in a week when Masters champion Bubba Watson and most of the world's best took a break following the year's first major.

World No. 1 Luke Donald, though, was among the few stars at Harbour Town. He needs a top-eight finish to retain the top spot over idle No. 2, Rory McIlroy, and bounced back from an opening 75 with a 69 to slide inside the cut line.

Campbell (70) and Robert Garrigus (66) were four shots behind. Defending champion Brandt Snedeker had five consecutive birdies on the way to a 67 and was tied with Michael Bradley (64), Kevin Na (68), Bob Estes (67) and Fredrik Jacobson (67) at 4 under.

The 26-year-old Knost was one of the fastest risers in golf a few years ago, winning the U.S. Amateur, the U.S. Public Links championship and helping the American team win the Walker Cup in 2007. He won twice on the Nationwide Tour in 2008, his first season as a pro, and easily qualified for the big tour. Even more winning was ahead, right?

''I felt like I was ready for this level out here,'' Knost said. ''And apparently, I wasn't.''

Knost missed the cut in 13 of 24 Tour events that year and earned just $180,734 to lose his card after 2009. He regained playing privileges after another season on the Nationwide Tour and yet again struggled at the higher level, missing cuts in 15 of 26 events.

Knost held on to his Tour card in gut-wrenching experience at Q-School – he was in tears when he thought a double bogey on the 108th and final hole cost him the PGA Tour – and has since tried to rediscover the work habits and confidence that made him one of the decade's best amateurs.

''I don't know if I just didn't continue with the same work ethic or not or I didn't have the belief, but it was a struggle for a few years out here,'' Knost said. ''But now I feel like I'm starting to get my game back where I like it.''

Knost certainly liked his second-round performance.

Knost's round got going with a stretch of three birdies in four holes to give him the lead at 8 under. He made his final birdie on the par-5 fifth and finished off the bogey-free round that stoked his confidence.

''I felt so comfortable out there being around the lead, even though it's only Friday,'' he said. ''I think I'm also going to feel great this weekend.''

Pettersson won't feel too bad, either. He posted his career-low score in 32 rounds over Harbour Town highlighted by a run of three straight birdies on the second, third and fourth holes.

''My game is good,'' said Pettersson, whose last of four Tour wins came at the 2010 Canadian Open. ''In golf, you still have two days, which is a long way to go.''

Weekley's only two PGA Tour wins came at the RBC Heritage in 2007 and 2008 and turned him into golf's true life ''Happy Gilmore,'' complete with a ''pony ride'' with his driver off the tee during Ryder Cup matches in 2008 to the delight of U.S. fans. Things weren't much fun for Weekley after that as his performance dropped off dramatically. He missed 10 cuts in 2010 and 11 the next season as he struggled to overcome a torn labrum and a cyst in his left shoulder from 2009 that was ''like a big pocket of junk,'' Weekley said.

He's got a new instructor in Scott Hamilton and a new caddie in John Connelly who ''reads the greens good where I struggle a lot,'' Weekley said.

Now, healthy, Weekley wants to show he's the golfer who earned a spot on the Ryder Cup team with his play and not just for clowning around. He posted six birides and one bogey to shoot himself into contention. ''This golf course just suits me,'' he said.

Weekley's never all just about golf. He explained how his stomach gave him some ''reflux'' before the round he thought ''I was going to do a little yodeling out there.''

Weekley kept his gastrointestinal issues mostly to himself on the course as he posted his 14th career round in the 60s out of 22 played here.

Donald came out firing in the second round with birdies on the second, sixth and seventh holes. He needed par saves, though, on Harbour Town's three finishing holes, including a testy 4-footer on No. 18, to reach the weekend.

He said staying No. 1 is a motivator. ''But the goal obviously is to get in contention and win,'' Donald said. ''You can't control the other stuff.''

Not everyone was as fortunate as Donald.

Those missing the cut here included No. 18 in the world and last year's FedEx Cup champion Bill Haas and a pair of three-time major champions in Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington. Els, who missed the Masters last week after 18 straight appearances, shot an 8-over 43 on his final nine holes, including a triple-bogey 7 on the 18th that kept him from playing the weekend.

Divots: Jim Furyk, the 2010 champion, was a stroke off the lead Thursday, but ballooned to a 75 on Friday to fall 10 shots off the pace ... Camilo Villegas and Alex Cejka withdrew because of injury. ... Bradley shot the tournament's low round of 64 in the second round. ... Bob Estes had the second hole-in-one of the tournament, hitting a 6-iron into the cup on the 183-yard fourth hole. Billy Mayfair had an ace on the seventh hole Thursday. It's the fourth time in the past five tournaments there have been two holes-in-one during competition. ... John Daly following his first-round 70 with a 74, good enough to make his sixth straight cut at Harbour Town. ... The Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft did a low flyover of Harbour Town's 18th hole. Boeing is the tournament's presenting sponsor.

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McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Web.com Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Web.com Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

 

 

Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."


Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout


Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.