Blackmar Sluman share top spot in Sonoma

By Associated PressOctober 30, 2009, 4:05 am

Champions TourSONOMA, Calif. – A week ago Phil Blackmar wasn’t sure he wanted to keep playing competitive golf. Now he’s trying to win for the second straight week.

Four days after his first Champions Tour win, Blackmar shot a 6-under 66 on Thursday to share the first-round lead with Jeff Sluman in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship.

“Somebody jumped in my body last week … I guess he’s still there,” said Blackmar, who had six birdies in a bogey-free round at Sonoma Golf Club. “I hope he stays there for another three days. I don’t know who he is.”

The 6-foot-7 Blackmar was languishing in 57th place on the money list and needed a top-five finish in San Antonio to avoid having to go to qualifying school. He didn’t like that prospect and was seriously considering retiring.

“I had already determined that if I didn’t (finish strong) then I was not going to play anymore,” said Blackmar, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour who joined the Champions Tour late in 2007. “You can’t qualify on a Monday and follow this tour around. It’s just too hard.”

Sluman birdied three of his first four holes on the back nine, eagled the par-5 16th then birdied 17 to move into a tie with Blackmar.

“I didn’t feel very comfortable over the ball initially but I worked and stayed patient with my golf swing,” Sluman said. “I got into a groove with the putter, which is really nice.”

Eduardo Romero, the Toshiba Classic winner in March at Newport Beach, was a stroke back at 67, and John Cook and Brad Bryant opened with 68s.

Charles Schwab Cup points leader Loren Roberts had two eagles in a 70. Fred Funk, 165 points behind Roberts in second place in the race for the $1 million annuity, had a 71. Jay Haas, the 2008 points champion, also shot a 71, while Bernhard Langer, the only other player in contention for the points title, had a 72.

Langer is 348 points behind Roberts, and Haas is 602 back. The players will receive a point for every $500 earned, making a victory worth $442,000 and 884 points.

Langer leads the tour with four victories and $2,033,451. Roberts, a three-time winner, is second on the money list with $1,854,613.

Blackmar birdied Nos. 6 and 9 to make the turn at 2 under. After a birdie on the par-4 11th, he reached the 587-yard, par-5 13th in two before settling for a birdie. He then birdied the final two holes to extend his streak to 55 holes without a bogey.

Sluman countered an opening bogey with a birdie on the par-5 second, then had four birdies and an eagle while needing just 11 putts over the final nine holes.

“It just kind of clicked on the back,” Sluman said. “Then you start being more aggressive and shooting at pins a little bit more.”

The six-time PGA Tour winner won the Walmart First Tee Open at Pebble Beach last month for his third career victory on the 50-and-over tour.

Getty Images

McCoy earns medalist honors at 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 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 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 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.

Getty Images

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.