Calcavecchias turn in the over-50 group at the Open

By Associated PressJuly 17, 2010, 3:10 am

135th Open Championship ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – This year, it’s Mark Calcavecchia doing the old guys proud.

The 1989 British Open champion posted the early low score of the day with a 5-under 67 Friday, his best round ever at St. Andrews. With the wind wreaking havoc on the Old Course, the score stood up, leaving Calcavecchia alone in second place, five strokes behind leader Louis Oosthuizen.

Not bad for a guy making the shuffle to the senior tour after turning 50 on June 12.

“It’s confidence,” Calcavecchia said. “You see a guy like Tom Watson last year almost winning at 60. It doesn’t really matter how old you are if you’re feeling good about what you’re doing. I think old guys can hang with the young guys.”

And nowhere, it seems, is age merely a number than at the British Open.

Two years ago, Greg Norman nearly won his third claret jug at 53, taking a two-shot lead into the final round at Royal Birkdale. Watson’s showing at Turnberry last year was even more amazing. A few months shy of his 60th birthday, he went to the 72nd hole with a one-stroke lead.

Both fell short of becoming the oldest major champion in golf history, a title that still belongs to Julius Boros, who was 48 when he captured the 1968 PGA. Now it’s up to Calcavecchia to see if he can finish the senior surge.

“How about that? Calc!” said Watson, who is likely to miss the cut in his final British Open at St. Andrews after shooting a 3-over 75 on Friday. “Third year in a row. Calc’s right in there.”

While the monstrous lengths at U.S. Open courses and even Augusta National often take their toll on the senior set – heck, they’re tough on the youngsters, too – nowhere does experience matter more than at a links course, where fickle weather, deceptive greens and fairways filled with humps and bumps make every hole an adventure.

Calcavecchia hasn’t played the other majors in two years. But he’s missed only two cuts at the British Open since 1999. The only real miscue – if you can call it that – in his bogey-free round Friday came on 17. After eagling the Road Hole on Thursday, he missed an 8-footer for birdie Friday.

“I always enjoy the Open. Having not played well at St. Andrews in the past doesn’t mean anything to me,” said Calcavecchia, whose previous best round at St. Andrews was a 69 in 2000. “I know the course and I got a few good breaks out there, missed a couple of bunkers by a couple of yards, and it’s a difference of a couple of shots. Your ball rolls into one of those things, and who knows what you’re going to make.

“You need a few good breaks out here, and so far I’ve gotten them.”

It’s been a while since Calcavecchia has been in the mix at a major, and Norman and Watson set the bar pretty high. But Calcavecchia is going to enjoy this – and not simply because this is one of those rare tournaments where wife Brenda is on the bag. Or because he gets to enjoy a pint or two of that Scottish ale he enjoys so much.

“When you’re 30, I don’t think you think about it. I thought 50-year-olds were pretty (darn) old when I was 30,” Calcavecchia said. “Or your parents are 50, you think, `How can anybody be that old?’ But now that I’m 50, you really don’t think about what you were thinking about when you were 30.

“I haven’t grown up any. I’m still 30,” Calcavecchia said. “I may feel 50 or 60. But inside, I’m still 30.”

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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.

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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.