Justin Rose leads Rickie Fowler at Disney

By Associated PressNovember 13, 2009, 4:05 am

PGA TourLAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Justin Rose shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday in the opening round of the Children’s Miracle Network Classic, edging upstart Rickie Fowler for the top spot on the leaderboard.

Rose was bogey-free on a breezy day where a steady morning drizzle and temperatures dipping into the low 50s made greens soft but tough to reach. Fowler, Greg Owen and Casey Wittenberg were one shot back at Disney World in the final PGA Tour event of the season.

The 20-year-old Fowler is making only his third start since turning pro from Oklahoma State. He can join Tiger Woods as one of the few players to go from college to receiving full status on tour in the same year by earning enough money on sponsors exemptions.

“It’s nothing special,” he said. “I’m not doing anything different really, just kind of playing golf. I’m just making less mistakes.”

Defending champ Davis Love III withdrew with neck pain after shooting a 1-over 73. But the pressure was mounting for others to secure their tour cards for next year.

Former world No. 1 David Duval was among those in danger of losing their full status. Duval shot a 4-over 76 and was tied for next to last in 124th place, meaning he’ll need a major push Friday to have any hope of keeping his full status.

Only the top 125 on the money list will have full status, and the next 25 will at least get conditional status and be able to enter more than a dozen tournaments. Duval, whose runner-up finish at the U.S. Open combined with his 2001 British Open championship will get him into the first three majors next year, began the tournament at No. 125.

“There’s guys grinding for their livelihood out there,” said Will Mackenzie, who is four shots off the lead. “It’s tough. I mean, it’s tough.”

Maybe it’s time to make room for the new kid.

Fowler has stormed onto the tour, shooting in the 60s for nine straight rounds. He lost in a playoff at Phoenix and, because the Viking Classic was rained out, his top-10 finish in the desert landed him a spot at Disney.

He’s making the most of the opportunity.

Fowler ended the day with a 40-foot birdie chip from just off the 18th green. He was alone atop the leaderboard for most of the day until Rose surpassed him in one of the final groups.

Fowler is trying not to think about his chances of earning his PGA Tour card so quickly.

“I definitely think about it off the course,” he said. “When I’m out here playing, I’m just trying to get the ball in the hole as fast as I can and get things going.”

It wouldn’t exactly be an easy feat.

Fowler can avoid qualifying school for now if he can earn enough money at Disney, likely needing a top-10 finish. Woods and Phil Mickelson are a couple of the big names who have accomplished what Fowler is trying to do.

Woods played in 11 events in 1996 – winning twice – to avoid Q-School. Mickelson landed a two-year exemption on tour in 1991, when he won the Northern Telecom Open while still playing at Arizona State. Ryan Moore was the last player to go from college to full status on tour in the same year when he accomplished the feat in 2005.

“You don’t have those guys that are like that perennial coming-up guy. You’re not sure,” Mackenzie said. “Maybe this is one of the guys that’s going to whip off a few majors.”

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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.