LPGA carries on without Ochoa Blasberg

By Associated PressMay 13, 2010, 2:37 am

LPGA Tour _newMOBILE, Ala. – The Bell Micro LPGA Classic will have two big voids, for vastly different reasons.

The tour had already braced for the loss of newly retired star Lorena Ochoa, but now moves on without Erica Blasberg as well with the tournament starting Thursday.

The 25-year-old Blasberg died Sunday in suburban Las Vegas, and her agent said she had been all set to attempt to qualify for the field at Magnolia Grove on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

Blasberg had competed in only one LPGA event this year.

“She was more than a golfer,” said Michelle Wie, who played on the Curtis Cup team with Blasberg. “She was a really great person. She was always really sweet. Obviously (I’m) really sad about it.”

Police haven’t said how Blasberg died or if they suspect foul play.

The grieving competitors, meanwhile, will refocus on trying to fill the large hole left by Ochoa.

The event will be played on the 6,532-yard, par-72 Crossings Course. The tournament wasn’t held last year while the course underwent heavy renovations, much of it focused on the back nine.

New water features were added and a number of sand bunkers were moved, redone or eliminated.

Angela Stanford has good memories of the course where she took a one-stroke win over Shanshan Feng in 2008.

“The course has changed, but still a bunch of good vibes,” Stanford said. “You’re hitting some similar shots. The greens are firm, and it seems like in certain spots it’s a little bit longer. So I think it’s going to be interesting. For me, personally, it almost seems a little more difficult because you’re gonna have to be more strategic about how you hit your irons into these greens.”

All but one of the top 11 players in the world in the world rankings, including 22-year-old Jiyai Shin, who supplanted Ochoa in the No. 1 spot. The South Korean golfer said that new ranking supplies motivation.

“I feel like there’s nothing different, just my status is different,” Shin said. “My mind, my skill is the same but just my thinking changed because I have to keep the number one now, so I need more training.”

Morgan Pressel is coming off a win in Japan LPGA’s Salonpas Cup, while No. 2-ranked Ai Miyazato got her third LPGA Tour title of the season at the Tres Maria Championship two weeks ago in Ochoa’s sixth-place finale.

No. 6 Anna Nordqvist withdrew on Tuesday because of illness.

Wie, who is ranked No. 8 and coming off a third-place finish in Mexico, thinks the burden of replacing Ochoa falls on everyone competing.

“I think we all have a responsibility for that,” she said. “I think all of us, including me. I’m just trying to play as well as I can and provide the best golf out there. Trying the play the best I can.

“Hopefully that provides a lot of entertainment and brings the tour to a whole new level. I think all the players are really striving towards that. We’re just all just working together to make a better product.”

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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.