Chemistry the key at Walker Cup

By Associated PressSeptember 12, 2009, 3:11 am

USGAARDMORE, Pa. – Buddy Marucci acknowledges captaining the U.S. Walker Cup team isn’t rocket science – it’s chemistry.

Marucci is set to lead a U.S. team comprised of a teenager, eight 20-somethings and a 31-year-old against Britain and Ireland at Merion Golf Club in the two-day biennial competition starting Saturday.

The lifelong amateur and Merion member who captained the Americans to victory in 2007 is convinced that team bonding is equal in importance to each member’s talent.

“Chemistry on this team is great,” Marucci said on the eve of the matches after the teams’ practices were limited to the last five or six holes because of heavy rains and high winds pounding Merion East.

“This team, they’ve all won. It’s a very balanced group. So they walked in the room, they all felt kind of the same.”

The competition consists of four alternate-shot and eight singles matches on Saturday, followed by four alternate-shot and 10 singles matches Sunday.

The U.S. leads the series 33-7-1 and has won two straight.

Only two U.S. players have Walker Cup experience: Brian Harman of the University of Georgia, who played in 2005; and Rickie Fowler of Oklahoma State, who played for Marucci two years ago.

Both players put off turning pro until after the Walker Cup just for the chance to compete.

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Harman was 2-0-1 when the Americans won in 2005 at Chicago Golf Club. Fowler was 3-1 in his matches at Royal County Down in Northern Ireland in 2007.

Britain and Ireland captain Colin Dalgleish has a team of first-time Walker Cup competitors, anchored by Scots Wallace Booth and Gavin Dear, both members of the winning squad at the European Amateur Team Championship.

Dalgleish said he was basing his pairings on players bringing out the best in each other.

“It’s a case of finding compatible people,” the Scot said. “I suppose we are trying to find compatible games, compatible personalities.”

Trying to find the right pairings for four alternate-shot matches on Saturday and Sunday was one of the tasks facing both coaches. Marucci said that chore was made easier by having such an agreeable bunch.

“I could put anybody with this team with anybody and I would not have one blink of an eye from everybody,” Marucci said. “They’ve been great. We’ve been able to kind of take advantage of that. What will happen tomorrow, I don’t know. But I know they’re all going to enjoy each other and get along.”

The blending process was made a tad easier for Marucci when the USGA selection committee added two more OSU players – college roommates Morgan Hoffmann and Peter Uihlein – to the American side.

Hoffmann said familiarity could play a role in the U.S. team’s success.

“We’re all really good friends, so it makes it a lot more comfortable, especially having my roommate, Peter,” said Hoffmann, from Saddle Brook, N.J. “It just feels like another college event, but bigger – a lot bigger.”

Rounding out the U.S. team are: Bud Cauley of Jacksonville, Fla.; Brendan Gielow of Muskegon, Mich.; Brian Harman of Savannah, Ga.; Adam Mitchell of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Nathan Smith of Pittsburgh, Pa.; Cameron Tringale of San Juan Capistrano, Calif.; and Drew Weaver of High Point, N.C.

Dalgleish said he was going to go back to earlier practice rounds to find the matchups that worked best for the GB&I team made up of seven Englishmen, two Scots and an Irishman.

“Since we went to Pine Valley (earlier in the week), the five foursomes pairings that we’ve gone with have been very comfortable,” said Dalgleish, who played on the 1981 GB&I team. “It’s just a case of picking four of these five.”

The rest of the GB&I team is: Tommy Fleetwood, Luke Goddard, Matt Haines, Eamonn “Stiggy” Hodgson, Sam Hutsby, Chris Paisley and Dale Whitnell, all of England; and Niall Kearney of Ireland.

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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.