Demsey Back on TOUR After Brain Tumor

By Associated PressDecember 3, 2007, 5:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)WINTER GARDEN, Fla. -- After a 10-year absence and two operations to remove a brain tumor the size of a golf ball, Todd Demsey finally made it back to the PGA TOUR on Monday with perhaps the most significant round of his career.
Demsey, a former NCAA champion and amateur teammate of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, closed with an 8-under 64 in the sixth and final round of Q-school to earn one of 26 full-exempt cards next year in the big leagues.
Frank Lickliter, who opened with consecutive 62s, completed a wire-to-wire week at Orange County National and finished as the medalist at 29-under 403. He won by four shots over Brett Rumford of Australia.
But the day belonged to Demsey, 35, who played bogey-free on the Crooked Cat course and was carried along by an amazing calm.
'I was just playing without any fear today,' Demsey said. 'It feels good to be calm under the most stressful situations. I really was fine with whatever happened. I came here to get my card, but it's not life or death. I have things in perspective.'
Demsey's only other year on the PGA TOUR was in 1997, when he made the cut in only nine of 27 events as a rookie. Back injuries slowed his career on the Nationwide Tour, but the real jolt came in 2002 when he felt constant pressure in his left sinus. At the end of the year, doctors found a tumor behind his left sinus going into his brain.
It took two operations to remove the tumor, but Demsey got another scare earlier this year when he discovered the tumor has returned. Doctors believe it is benign, and he will have an MRI next week to decide whether to treat it with radiation.
'They don't think it's going to be too much recovery time, probably just a week or so,' Demsey said. 'Hopefully, I can get it done in the next week or two.'
He doesn't have a lot of time, and for that he was thrilled.
Demsey was at 19-under 413 and finished eighth at Q-school, which means he likely will start his year at the Sony Open in Honolulu, just five weeks away.
Full-exempt cards were awarded to the top 25 and ties, and Demsey was in a tie for 31st starting the final round. He birdied his first hole and kept right on going, and when his 30-foot birdie putt on the 14th found the bottom of the cup, he knew he was close. Then came his seventh birdie of the day, on the 16th, and Demsey knew he was a lock.
The cutoff for cards came at 14-under 418.
Unlike previous years, there weren't too many horror stories, although Greg Chalmers and Miguel Angel Carballo each bogeyed the 18th hole and missed a card by one shot. John Merrick and Bob Sowards each birdied the final hole to earn their cards.
Chalmers and Carballo were among 53 players who earned cards on the Nationwide Tour.
Among those who left Q-school with no status was Colt Knost, the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Public Links Amateur champion. He turned down his automatic invitation to the Masters by turning pro, but was two shots shy of earning Nationwide status.
Casey Wittenberg, low amateur in the 2004 Masters, also missed Nationwide status by one shot.
Also failing to earn cards were former Ryder Cup players Chris Riley and Steve Pate, and Ted Purdy, who was 125th on PGA TOUR money list going into the final event of the year and missed the cut at Disney.
A couple of past champions on the PGA TOUR earned their cards by finishing in the top 25, including Duffy Waldorf, who closed with a 66, and Carlos Franco of Paraguay, who shot 70.
Not many felt quite as satisfied as Demsey, especially considering his long road back.
Demsey won the NCAA title at Arizona State in 1993, the year after Mickelson graduated. He was teammates with Woods at the World Amateur Team Championship in 1994, and played alongside Justin Leonard in the Walker Cup a year earlier.
He will join them again on the PGA TOUR, and he said he won't take a tour card for granted.
'When I got my card the first time when I was 24, I just thought it was easy,' Demsey said. 'I was pretty naive. Now I appreciate it more, and hopefully, I'll be better prepared.'
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - PGA TOUR Q-School
  • Full Coverage - PGA TOUR Q-School
  • Getty Images

    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.

    Getty Images

    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.