Defending champ An Uihlein into US Amateur semifinals

By Associated PressAugust 28, 2010, 3:09 am

2010 U.S. AmateurUNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – Peter Uihlein put his hands out with an almost apologetic look on his face after dropping a 5-foot putt to win his quarterfinal match at the U.S. Amateur on Friday.

Beating his college teammate, and one-time roommate, wasn’t very enjoyable for the top-ranked American amateur.

“It’s bittersweet. I just took out one of my best friends. It’s hard because seeing him after, he wasn’t happy,” Uihlein said of his 1-up win over Oklahoma State teammate Morgan Hoffmann. “It’s hard for me to be excited when I just played him.”

Uihlein’s victory over Hoffmann was one of four highly competitive matches in the quarterfinals of the 110th Amateur at Chambers Bay. A day after only a few of the 24 matches even reached the 17th or 18th holes, all the quarterfinals made it to at least No. 18, with Patrick Cantlay needing 20 holes to win his match.

Uihlein and Cantlay will meet in one semifinal on Saturday morning. The other will be a Cal-Stanford matchup, with defending champion Byeong-Hun An facing Stanford’s David Chung.

In another matchup of college teammates An beat Max Homa, 1 up, while Chung dropped an 8-foot putt on the 18th to take out reigning NCAA champ Scott Langley.

It’s a power trio with Uihlein, Chung and An, joined by a relative unknown in Cantlay, who finished tied for second during stroke play and has quietly advanced to the semifinals. Cantlay needed 20 holes in the quarters, taking advantage of Jed Dirksen’s three-putt on the 18th green when Dirksen held a 1-up lead.

An is the first defending champion to reach the semifinals since Tiger Woods in 1996. He’s also trying to become the first back-to-back champion since Woods won three straight titles between 1994 and 1996.

“I definitely passed my goal,” An said. “I’m really happy I’m here right now. I guess I’ll be more happy if I get to the finals and win.”

Uihlein and Hoffmann were the top two players on an Oklahoma State squad that lost in the NCAA team finals to Augusta State. They might be the top two players in the field, but fell into the same bracket after the first two days of stroke play.

Their match was as competitive as expected with neither holding more than a 1-up lead. Uihlein went in front for good with a birdie on the par-4 16th as a train roared by on the nearby tracks. They halved the final two holes, with Hoffmann missing his birdie attempt that could have sent the match to extra holes.

“I wasn’t as on as I have been. That’s the way it goes,” Hoffmann said. “We’re both Cowboys and hopefully he goes on and wins it for the team.”

After two days of routs in his first three matches, An was finally forced to see Nos. 17 and 18. He hadn’t played beyond No. 16 in reaching the quarterfinals, but was forced to the final two holes by Homa’s backside rally. Homa won the 17th to cut An’s lead to 1 up, but his third shot on the par-5 18th came up short and Homa wasn’t able to make the birdie that would have extended the match.

Cal coach Steve Desimone stood to the side of the 18th green, meeting both of his players as the match ended.

“We played great golf today,” An said. “That’s why I was very tired. We didn’t make that many mistakes.”

Chung might be the hottest amateur in the United States entering the Amateur having won the Western Amateur and Porter Cup leading up to the event. The Stanford junior finally pulled ahead of Langley with wins at the 14th and 15th holes, and had a chance to finish the match but missed his birdie attempt on 17. Langley forced one more hole by making a 25-foot birdie putt at No. 17 and reached the 18th in two, stinging a 3-wood from 260 yards to about 50 feet. Langley’s eagle putt raced past and Chung’s birdie ended Langley’s hopes.

“I think you can’t not think about the prize,” Chung said, noting that finalists receive an invitation to the Masters. “… But I think you have to stay grounded. It’s nice to think about how great Sunday could be if you get there, but just stay grounded and stay in the moment – try to at least.”

Dirksen was a favorite of many fans, going without a caddie and carrying his own bag during the tournament. He was 1 up headed to the 18th, but left his third shot at the bottom of a ridge and three-putted to give Cantlay another chance. They parred the first extra hole, before Cantlay won with a par at the second.

“There are a lot of things going through your head just standing there and waiting for whatever happens to happen,” Cantlay 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.