Day holds on for first PGA Tour title

By Associated PressMay 24, 2010, 2:25 am

HP Byron Nelson ChampionshipIRVING, Texas – Jason Day fought through a rocky final round for a 2-over 72 that was good enough to give the 22-year-old Australian the Byron Nelson Championship title for his first win of his PGA Tour career.

Already in the record books as the youngest winner on the Nationwide Tour – he was 19 – Day had to wait until he was 22 for this breakthrough.

“It’s been a hard, tough road,” Day said. “I’ve had a lot of negative thoughts go through my head. … I would always think of what jobs I could do if I didn’t secure my card. … I’m glad I just stuck through it.”

For many the 2010 Nelson will go down for the remarkable PGA Tour debut by Jordan Spieth, a 16-year-old local high school student.

“I was walking to the fourth hole and it looked like there was a thousand people following him,” Day said. “It took a little bit of pressure off my shoulders knowing that the good majority of the fans that were following me were close friends and family.”

Spieth was within three shots of the lead on the final nine holes, but dropped back into a tie for 16th. He shot a 2-over 72 in the final round, his highest score of the tournament. His 4-under 276 was six strokes behind Day.

Jason Day wins Byron Nelson ChampionshipDay nearly withdrew Thursday morning because he felt so ill. He wound up sharing for the lead after the first round and was near the top all week.

He thought he might have blown his chances when his approach to the final hole went into the water. But he got a reprieve when playing partner Blake Adams – who said he didn’t see Day’s ball get wet – knocked his ball into the water, too.

Day salvaged a bogey, while Adams, a 34-year-old Tour rookie, took a double bogey and dropped into a tie for second with Brian Gay and Jeff Overton. Gay shot 7-under 63, the best round Sunday by three strokes.

“I wasn’t nervous,” Adams said. “I just didn’t play well.”

Spieth, meanwhile, became the sixth-youngest player to make the cut on the PGA Tour, then said he was serious about wanting to win. When he shot 3-under Saturday, it wasn’t so farfetched.

He hit back-to-back bogeys early in the final round and a shot out of a fairway bunker that angered Spieth so much, he pulled back with his iron, ready to throw it at his bag. But a deft chip led to a par putt and he turned everything around.

Three birdies and three near-misses left him standing on the 11th tee at 7-under while the leaders were at 10-under.

A few holes later, he started backing up again – a bogey, then a double-bogey. Yet he bounced back once more, too, with a birdie on the next hole and knocking his tee shot to the par-3 17th just 14 feet from the cup.

Alas, Spieth (pronounced SPEE-th) missed that putt and a par putt of about the same distance on No. 18 for a closing bogey. He walked off to a loud ovation, a handshake from playing partner Corey Pavin and a hug from Peggy Nelson, widow of the tournament’s namesake.

“It was awesome … the entire round, the entire week,” Spieth said. “Starting the week, I definitely would’ve taken a top-20, in a heartbeat. Obviously now, looking back, being a competitor, I look back at the mistakes I made that didn’t give me an opportunity to win.”

Spieth, the reigning U.S. Junior Amateur champion, would’ve made $91,185.71 had he turned pro this week. But he’s planning to wait through another year of high school, then attend the University of Texas.

“I wouldn’t say (this week) changed me fundamentally,” he said. “I can’t wait to get back out there and do it again.”

He’s already gotten a sponsor’s exemption to play in Memphis next month. First, he’ll play an American Junior Golf Association event in Arizona next week. Then he has finals.

Day’s next event is the Colonial in Fort Worth, where he lives. He also seems to have conquered the illness that’s befuddled him since the opening week of the season.

It’s been diagnosed variously as swine flu, bronchitis and allergies. Medicines to fight those ailments caused so many problems he withdrew from a tournament and went to the emergency room. Finally, on Monday, another doctor called it a chronic sinus infection, and Day is convinced that’s right.

But even that diagnosis caused a problem. A heavy-duty shot and other antibiotics left him so queasy Thursday morning that when he went to get an umbrella from his car, he thought about driving home. He might not have made it through that first round without a nearly 4-hour delay because of threatening skies, which let him sit, relax and drink lots of water.

“I still have blocked ears and some gunk in the back of my throat and my nose,” he said. “But it’s dried up a lot more than it was.”

Day was as amazed as anyone by Spieth’s success, which is saying something.

Hailed as another Tiger Woods while growing up in Australia, he began playing PGA Tour events at 18. He played 65 tournaments before finally winning one, but figures the experience was worth it, admitting he got a bit lazy after having success and money at a young age.

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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.