McIlroy embraces No. 1 talk at BMW PGA

By Associated PressMay 23, 2012, 3:47 pm

VIRGINIA WATER, England – Winning the U.S. Open last year didn't just earn Rory McIlroy his first major title, it made him believe he was ready to become the best player in the world.

McIlroy justified his long-held reputation as golf's new star and possible heir to Tiger Woods by rolling to an eight-shot victory at Congressional last June.

Since then he has topped the rankings, overtaken Luke Donald and Lee Westwood, and the 23-year-old Northern Irishman believes there is no reason he can't stay there.

''I think maybe after Congressional last year, I started thinking of myself as definitely one of the elite players,'' McIlroy said.

''You have to believe that you're the best and I certainly do believe that. And it's just a matter of going out there and showing everyone what I believe.''

What McIlroy has done since his record-breaking exploits at Congressional is plant some consistency into his game, putting himself on a par with Donald in that regard.

From the European Masters last September to his most recent win at the Honda Classic in March which lifted him to No. 1, McIlroy chalked up two victories, eight top-five finishes and an 11th place. His missed cut at The Players Championship two weeks ago was the first time he failed to make the weekend in 23 tournaments.

No wonder he is so bullish.

''I think you have to believe that you're better than anyone else,'' he said. ''On my day, I believe I can beat anyone in the world – it's just finding that capability of when you're not playing the best, to still come out on top.

''That's the thing that I'm trying to learn how to do, because I've proved in the past that when I'm on my game, I'm pretty hard to beat.''

His comments contrasted sharply to those of Donald, when asked if he was the best player in the world. Unlike McIlroy, Donald took the diplomatic route.

''I don't really think in terms of that. I think my focus is to try and always continue to improve and be a better golfer,'' Donald said.

Donald described McIlroy as ''the most naturally gifted player there is.''

''He just has that look about him – free-flowing, hits the ball far, just seems really effortless,'' the Englishman said. ''I feel, personally, if I don't work hard and grind it out, I'm not going to be that successful. It's just not that easy for me.''

This week's BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth will be McIlroy's first appearance at a European event in seven months, since the Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland last October.

Now based in the United States, he has limited his trips back over the Atlantic but always relishes a return to the home of European golf, which he visited regularly as a kid when the World Match Play Championship was hosted at Wentworth.

''This is a golf course I love, a golf course I came to every year since I was 10 years old,'' McIlroy recalled.

''I ran 36 holes every day. My mum and dad left me at the first tee at 8 a.m. and I didn't see them until 6 p.m. It was great.''

McIlroy plays alongside Ernie Els and Martin Laird for his first two rounds at an event where he has only one top-10 finish in four starts.

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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.