Nicklaus Has Bright Outlook

By Associated PressFebruary 14, 2003, 5:00 pm
Champions TourNAPLES, Fla. -- Jack Nicklaus completed one tournament last year on the Champions Tour. Now that his bad back has improved, Nicklaus hopes to finish more events ' and win them.
The 63-year-old Nicklaus, winner of 18 professional majors, believes he can still win since his sore back is better thanks to a new nutritional program that has helped him drop 20 pounds.
Two weeks ago, Nicklaus tied for 11th at the MasterCard Championship in Hawaii following a final round 66. He tees off again Friday in the $1.6 million ACE Group Classic at The Club at TwinEagles.
``I'm feeling better,'' Nicklaus said. ``I'm not good yet. I am greatly, greatly improved, and that's allowed me to play.''
He co-designed the course he'll play on Friday with his son, Jack II. But he hasn't played it since one of his last victories in a golf tournament, the 1999 Father/Son Challenge, an unofficial Champions Tour event he won with his son, Gary.
Nicklaus won the Hyundai Team Matches with Tom Watson in 1999 and 2000, but the last time he won a regular full-field tournament was the 1996 Tradition.
Nicklaus played in two events last year, withdrawing from the Senior PGA Championship after two rounds. He finished 69th at The Tradition.
Meanwhile, defending champion Hale Irwin will try to start out like he did a year ago, with a victory at The ACE. That turned out to be a pretty good indicator for his year. He won three more times and set a record with $3 million in earnings.
``Having an early season win is, I don't want to say critical to having a successful year, but it really helps out,'' Irwin said. ``It builds a very solid foundation that you can play the rest of the year knowing that you've got a jump start on most of the field.''
The field at The ACE also features Bruce Fleisher, Allen Doyle, two-time Naples winner Gil Morgan, Dana Quigley and Dave Barr.
Ireland's Des Smyth, the medalist at the Champions Tour Q-School, will make his tour debut.
Fuzzy Zoeller also is in the field. Zoeller, who won a major in his first season on the tour last year, was disqualified from last week's Royal Caribbean Golf Classic on Key Biscayne.
Zoeller, who plays out of Naples National Golf Club, was disqualified after the first round when he went onto the course to hit a few golf balls for a television promotion set up through the tour. Rules forbid golfers from practicing on the course between rounds. Many players were upset with the ruling and PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem contacted Zoeller to apologize Monday.
The 54-hole tournament goes through Sunday, and the winner will receive $240,000.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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McCoy earns medalist honors at 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 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 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 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.