DiMarco Stands Tall Comes Up Short

By Associated PressApril 10, 2005, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Surely one of these days Chris DiMarco will be leading a major when it counts.
 
But give him his due this time: He stared down Tiger Woods in one of the greatest duels in Masters history.
 
Chris DiMarco
Chris DiMarco reacts to his playoff-producing putt Sunday.
Matching Woods almost shot for shot in an epic showdown, DiMarco overcame a two-stroke deficit in the final two holes Sunday, nearly holing out a chip at No. 18 that would have claimed his first major championship.
 
In the end, it wasn't quite enough. DiMarco forced a playoff but could only make par on the first extra hole. Then he could only watch as Woods rolled in a 15-foot birdie to win his fourth Masters and ninth major overall.
 
DiMarco keeps contending in the biggest tournaments - especially at Augusta. He's led at the end of a round five times in five years, including both the 18- and 36-hole marks of this one.
 
For the second year in a row, he played in the final group at the Masters. For the second straight major, he was involved in a playoff.
 
'This was a good gut check for me,' DiMarco said. 'I felt like I proved a lot to myself.'
 
Last August, DiMarco was matched against Justin Leonard and Vijay Singh in a three-hole playoff at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.
 
Singh birdied the first extra hole and parred the next two for the victory. DiMarco had to be content with a closing 71, the lone player in the last nine groups to break par.
 
DiMarco put up an even lower score Sunday, finishing with a 4-under-par 68 that had him pumping his fist, dropping to his knees and thoroughly enjoying the moment.
 
This was just the sort of chance that someone with DiMarco's combative, gritty, emotional personality lives for.
 
One hole against the greatest player of the generation.
 
Winner take all.
 
'I told my caddie walking down 18, 'If you're not having fun doing this, there's something wrong with you,'' DiMarco said. 'Sure, my stomach was churning. But it's nice to know when you're stomach's going crazy and you're going crazy, you can still perform.
 
'If I can do it in this atmosphere, I can do it anywhere.'
 
Woods was certainly impressed.
 
'He never gives up,' Woods said. 'He never backs off.'
 
DiMarco is the first golfer to lose a playoff in consecutive majors since Tom Watson at the 1978 PGA and '79 Masters. In fact, DiMarco is the first since then even to make back-to-back playoffs.
 
Ultimately, his hopes were ruined by what he did in the morning, not the afternoon. Coming back to finish the weather-delayed third round with a four-stroke lead, DiMarco double-bogeyed his first hole after hitting his second shot into a bush. He went on to a 5-over 41 on the back nine and trailed Woods by three shots starting the afternoon.
 
After that debacle, DiMarco changed his outfit - shirt, shoes, belt, socks, the works - and hoped for a better result. He struggled with his putter on the front side, squandering several good birdie chances, and was still three strokes down at the turn.
 
It was a daunting deficit against Woods, who had never surrendered a lead in the final round of a major, and never one that large no matter what the setting.
 
But DiMarco wasn't done.
 
Things began to change as the twosome headed toward Amen Corner. Woods bogeyed the 10th, and DiMarco rolled in an 8-footer to save par. Two strokes down.
 
At No. 11, DiMarco sank a putt that sent the patrons into a frenzy, a 35-footer up the hill. He pumped his right fist in the air, a la Woods, and went to the 12th only one shot behind.
 
But DiMarco yanked his tee shot over Rae's Creek, and couldn't get up and down from left of the green. Woods by two.
 
DiMarco responded at the 14th with perhaps his best shot of the day, a 202-yarder that rolled right next to the cup for a tap-in birdie. One down.
 
He seemed like the guy with the lead on the par-5 15th, laying up while Woods flew his second shot over the water into the back bunker. But playing it safe paid off: DiMarco nailed a sand wedge to 4 feet, matched Woods' birdie and still trailed by one.
 
At the 16th, DiMarco put his tee shot safety in the middle of the green, 15 feet below the hole, while Woods flew his just off the back. Then came the shot that will define this tournament.
 
Woods skipped his chip shot up the slope and let it crawl 25 feet to the cup. It tilted right, then left and finally hung improbably on the lip for two full seconds before tumbling in.
 
Two shots down with two holes to go against the greatest closer in golf, and still DiMarco didn't flinch.
 
He parred the 17th to Woods' bogey and nearly made what would have been the winning birdie chip after his second shot tumbled off the front of the green at 18.
 
The ball caught the right edge, spun around the flagpole and wound up 6 feet away. DiMarco fell to his knees in dismay.
 
'The difference was his chip went in on 16 and my chip lipped out on 18,' DiMarco said. 'I don't know how it didn't go in. By all rights it should have gone in.'
 
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    McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com 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 Web.com 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 Web.com 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 Web.com 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.