Major champions revive Irish Open

By Associated PressJuly 27, 2011, 1:10 pm

KILLARNEY, Ireland – After establishing Ireland as the current focal point of world golf, newly crowned British Open winner Darren Clarke, U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy and two other local major winners will descend on Killarney for the rejuvenated Irish Open.

Clarke’s three-shot victory at Royal St George’s sealed Northern Ireland’s third major in 13 months after Graeme McDowell and McIlroy’s triumphs in successive U.S. Opens. That followed three wins in grand slam events between 2007-08 for Padraig Harrington of Ireland.

With Irish golf riding the crest of a wave, Clarke is aiming to become only the third player to hold both British and Irish Open titles, after Nick Faldo of England and Harrington, who is also competing this week.

“It would be a hell of an achievement – a dream come true – to have the (British) Open and Irish Open trophies on display back home,” Clarke told the European Tour website.

“I’ve been close on a number of occasions and never quite got the job done – a bit like the (British) Open, you could say.”

The 42-year-old Clarke’s maiden appearance on the European Tour came at the Irish Open, as an amateur in 1990. He finished 50th, 18 shots behind winner Jose Maria Olazabal.

The favorite this week at Killarney Golf and Fishing Club is McIlroy who, alongside Clarke, was Wednesday made an honorary life member of the European Tour for their achievements in this year’s majors.

Despite his success this season, McIlroy said it would still be special to win the Irish Open.

“To win your national Open is a huge goal of anyone’s. You want to win your national Open and it would be a huge achievement.” McIlroy said.

After this week’s event, McIlroy will return to his preferred climate and conditions in America, to compete in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational followed by the PGA Championship.

With the two Northern Irishmen leading the challengers, along with the presence of McDowell and Harrington, organizers are expecting record crowds of around 100,000 for the tournament, which starts on Thursday.

Despite the anticipation, the event has overcome several obstacles in order to go ahead.

The official sponsors pulled out in favor of backing the Irish football team, meaning the prize fund was reduced by 50 percent. Before the successes of McIlroy and Clarke, ticket sales were slow, not helped by the difficulties facing the Irish economy.

Aside from the pre-tournament favorites, Irish hopes will be on former Ryder Cup vice-captain Paul McGinley and 2009 champion Shane Lowry.

Lowry overcame Robert Rock of England in a playoff for the victory as an amateur.

Another Englishman, Ross Fisher, will be looking to his defend title, having won the tournament last year by two shots over Harrington.

“Last year, it was just a great week,” Fisher said.

He was helped on his way to victory by a second-round course record 10-under-par 61.

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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.