Couples Norman to Serve as Captains

By Associated PressFebruary 26, 2008, 5:00 pm
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. --Greg Norman put aside his differences with the PGA TOUR and agreed to be captain of the International team at the Presidents Cup, joining Fred Couples of the United States as the first captains who have competed in the matches.
It will be held in October 2009 at Harding Park, a public course in San Francisco.
The announcement Tuesday shifts the Presidents Cup into a modern era of captaincy. Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player were captains at the last three competitions, and previous captains included Arnold Palmer, Ken Venturi, Hale Irwin, Peter Thomson and David Graham.
Couples was a natural fit as the face of these matches, which were patterned after the Ryder Cup and began in 1994.
He clinched victory for the Americans in the inaugural year with a spectacular 9-iron from the bunker to 2 feet, and two years later, his 35-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole in the last match secured another win.
In his fourth and final Presidents Cup, he made a 20-foot birdie on the last hole to beat Vijay Singh.
The surprise was Norman, who has been battling with PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem for more than a decade over the World Golf Championships and more recently, the tours finances.
Normans proposed world tour in 1994 never took root, and Finchem introduced the WGCs a few years later.
I think whats happened in the past is in the past, Norman said. If you sit on a board of any company, you dont want to have a friendly board. You need to have some bit of contentious, open discussion because not everybody is going to think exactly the same way. Tim and I have an open discussion about certain situations with the game of golf, whether its personal, whether its business.
The issues are always going to be there. Those issues have got nothing to do with The Presidents Cup.
Norman said Finchem asked him to be International captain at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, and he consulted Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and Adam Scott.
His biggest issue will be finding a way to win.
The United States leads the series, 5-1-1, with the only International victory coming in 1998 in Australia. The tie came in South Africa in 2003, the first year Nicklaus and Player were captains together.
TOUR officials then were looking at Couples and Norman as the next captains, but decided on Nicklaus and Player again in 2005 as a way to settle the tie. The Americans won the next year, then won again in 2007 at Royal Montreal.
Couples is one of the most popular players in golf and figures to be the quintessential players captain.
He has expressed interest in being the Ryder Cup captain, although any hope probably ended in December when he said, I can promise you, theres 12 guys who dont want to do 75 percent of the stuff there. If youre a great captain, you should tell everyone youre not going to do 75 percent of the stuff.
The Presidents Cup is far more relaxed, and Couples jokingly suggested he would pick Michael Jordan and Robin Williams as assistants, one to tell stories of greatness, the other to tell jokes.
The Presidents Cup is a treat to play in, and it will be doubly to captain this thing, Couples said. As close as I am to these guys, I feel like Ill have fun with all of them, whether theyre 50th in the rankings or first.
Norman has played two of the last three weeks on the PGA TOUR, but is too consumed with his business and his engagement to tennis star Chris Evert to play much tournament golf.
Couples said he planned to play a full schedule each of the next two years, and noted he would be eligible for the Champions Tour right after the Presidents Cup ends.
Not in my wildest dreams did I think this would happen, Couples said.
Many thought Norman would be captain in 2011, when the Presidents Cup goes to Australia. Norman said he would like to be considered for that, too.
But under the circumstances, I thought the priority for me right now was to get into the captains seat, do the best job I could possibly do for the next less than two years now, and basically pull the team through for 2009, he said.
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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.