Browne's 64 matches low U.S. Senior Open record

By Associated PressJuly 29, 2011, 1:22 am

TOLEDO, Ohio – Olin Browne has circled the globe playing professional golf for the past 27 years. He knows it takes a lot more than 18 holes and a lucky shot to win a major championship.

“Are you ready to give me the trophy today?” he asked an observer who wondered why he was so nonchalant about leading the U.S. Senior Open by two shots. “That’s why.”

Browne eagled two holes in a five-hole span coming down the stretch and finished with a 7-under 64 Thursday to take the top spot on a hot and humid day at Inverness Club.

Browne, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour in his third year on the over-50 circuit, was 1 under on the day and four shots off the lead as he came to the third hole, his 12th. After birdieing it, he hit a hybrid-3 from 216 yards that came to rest 6 feet from the pin at the fourth. He rolled that putt in for an eagle.

He followed that with a par and a birdie. His second eagle was far more dramatic.

Browne, tied for third a year ago at the U.S. Senior Open, had 97 yards left as he prepared for his third shot on the par-5 8th. His wedge covered the flag, then spun back into the cup as he cast a stunned look at caddie Otis Moore.

“The key to hitting that shot in was, first of all, you’ve got to get super lucky,” he said, a white towel over his shoulders to sop up the perspiration. “You’ve also got to hit the right distance– the wind was up and down. I managed to hit it and guess the wind properly.”

Over the six holes numbered 3 through 8, he went 6 under, and picked up five shots on par in a span of five holes.

The 64 tied for the lowest first round ever at a U.S. Senior Open, matching Bruce Fleisher (2000), R.W. Eaks (2002) and Craig Stadler (2005).

Even though Browne had never gone lower since turning 50, he’s flirted with low scores in the premier Seniors event in the U.S. before. He has had closing rounds of 65 and 66 in his previous two starts in the tournament.

Despite four birdies, the two eagles and a bogey in his lowest round on the Champions Tour, Browne wasn’t ready to draw any larger conclusions.

“You know, this game giveth and this game taketh back,” said the 52-year-old Floridian. “So I’m not all that hysterical about it right now. I’m really pleased with where I am, but there is a lot of stuff to be done yet.”

Two strokes back were Mark O’Meara and Michael Allen, who each shot bogey-free 66s.

O’Meara, whose last two PGA victories came in the 1998 Masters and British Open, used some older clubs while fighting off jet lag from a frequent-flyer’s dream trip over the past few weeks.

He played in the Champions Tour event at Pebble Beach, then in the British Open at Sandwich, then the Senior British Open at Walton Heath. He flew back across the Atlantic on Sunday night to his home in Houston, where he spent two days before coming to the Rust Belt for a quick practice round late on Wednesday.

While at home, he swapped out several clubs he had used in Britain.

“I got my old set (of irons) and put those back in the bag and kind of went back with my old driver. I fiddle a little bit but not too much,” he said. “So it was on familiar ground. Like yesterday in the practice round, I hit the ball nicely. I was like, `OK, there’s no reason why I can’t continue on that path.”’

Allen’s only Seniors victory came in another major championship in Ohio, the 2009 Senior PGA at Canterbury in Cleveland.

He said the fast start will make it easier for him to be patient.

“Usually when I’m out here I seem to be chasing from so far behind,” he said. “So it’s nice to be able to come out and play and not have to keep making birdies and catching up all the time.”

Amateur Damon Green, better known as former Masters champ Zach Johnson’s regular tour caddie, was at 67 with former U.S. Open champion Steve Jones and Mark Wiebe.

Leading the pack at 68 were former British Open winner Mark Calcavecchia, ex-U.S. Open winner Corey Pavinand 1988 PGA Championship victor Jeff Sluman.

Seemingly ageless Hale Irwin was up to his usual tricks. The winner of three U.S. Opens, including the one held 32 years ago at Inverness, was once again in contention in a major at age 66. He shot a 69.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer, still rounding into shape after rehabbing a thumb injury for 4 months, shot a 70. He was joined there by Russ Cochran, coming off a major championship victory a week ago at the Senior British Open.

There were 35 players who broke par and another 11 who equaled it.

Browne refused to feel any pressure because he was low man.

“You guys are acting like I’m the next thing,” he said to reporters. “It’s just the way the game works, you know? I’m not losing perspective over this. There’s a long way to go.”

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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.