Notes McIlroy Mickelson have nice chat round

By Associated PressAugust 6, 2010, 2:31 am

WGC-Bridgestone - 125wAKRON, Ohio – Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson, a future superstar and a current one, were paired in Thursday’s opening round of the Bridgestone Invitational.

It was a big hit with the fans, and especially with the two players.

After McIlroy completed a 2-under 68 and Mickelson finished off a 66, they were already looking forward to playing together again on Friday. 

“Every time I’ve played with Phil, I’ve enjoyed it,” said McIlroy, the 21-year-old phenom from Northern Ireland. “I think we enjoy each other’s company. We chatted pretty much the whole way around. It’s nice, especially when you’re out in a two-ball. It’s nice to have a playing partner that you can talk to and have a little bit of a chat.”

Mickelson felt the same way.

“I do enjoy playing with Rory,” he said. “He’s fun, he’s interesting, he’s a smart guy. So we always have intelligent conversation. He’s really got a great demeanor – always upbeat, great to be around, not to mention his talent. I do enjoy playing with him and we get to play together again tomorrow.”

The two discussed building projects, of all things. Both are in the process of constructing new practice facilities at their homes and were comparing notes throughout the round on different designs, grasses and greens.

Mickelson was 2 over throught his first six holes and 1 over though 10. But he birdied five of the last eight holes to pull into a tie for second, two shots back of Bubba Watson.

The highlight came at the par-4 6th. He hit 300 yard drive, but overcooked his 170-yard second shot, leaving himself with a difficult, short-sided flop shot from 50 feet.

“I needed to get that up and down to maintain some momentum,” Mickelson said later. “I was only 1-under par and I was trying to keep it just a couple under. And when that lob shot went in the hole, it gave me a nice boost.”

McIlroy raved about the shot.

“That was one of the best shots I’ve seen this year,” he said.

Mickelson grinned when he was told that.

“Well, it was a good one,” said the dramatic winner of the Masters. “There were some at Augusta that I kind of remember a little more fondly than Thursday here at Akron. But it was a good one.”


BEST MOVE: Tiger Woods had a dreadful day, shooting a 74, but after making a 7-foot birdie putt at the 17th hole he bowed and tipped his cap – in two directions.


TWO THUMBS UP: A change in tee times at the Bridgestone Invitational made a big difference. Instead of playing off both tees in groups of threes, the PGA Tour decided to send players off in twosomes.

“We just figured we would try it and thought it would work,” said Slugger White, vice president of rules and competition.

There were 10 groups of two that started on each nine, morning and afternoon, and among other things it kept more players on the course at the same time for the gallery.

“It fills the golf course which helps the spectators, so they’re not sitting around for an hour waiting on someone to come through,” White said. “And the pace has been good.”

Players much prefer twosomes over threesomes for the pace of the round.

White said the tour might try this at the World Golf Championship at Doral, where the field size (81 at Firestone) is about the same. The only holdup for Florida in March, however, is that it gets dark around 6:30 p.m. In Ohio in August, they can play until almost 9 p.m.

“If you like playing in 3 hours, 40 minutes, it was perfect,” Adam Scott said after his 66. “The field is small enough that we should be able to do it.”


BUBBA VS.: Bubba Watson took the last two weeks off, playing only five holes of golf. But he kept plenty busy.

He shot an episode of “Inside The PGA Tour,” giving viewers a look into his life. He also spent time playing with family and friends on a lake in North Carolina.

Oh, and he also filmed a segment of “Shaq Vs.” in which the NBA’s gentle giant tests himself against other athletes.

“He’s not very good at golf (but) Shaq actually impressed me,” said Watson, the first-round leader of the Bridgestone Invitational after shooting a 6-under 64. “Shaq is an athlete; he just happens to be 7-foot-2, 300 pounds of pure muscle. His feel on the greens wasn’t very good, but for the first five holes he’s ever played, he impressed me.”

Watson wouldn’t disclose the outcome of the alternate-shot match pitting Shaq and Anthony Kim against Watson and Charles Barkley.

He did reveal something that wasn’t really a secret.

“Charles Barkley is not very good at golf,” he cracked to loud laughter.


TRYING TO BE INVISIBLE: Firestone Country Club head pro David Champagne was a marker for Sweden’s Henrik Stenson.

“My goal was to stay out of his way,” Champagne said.

Stenson struggled to a 79; Champagne was three strokes better.


SHORTER DRIVER: Mickelson was playing with a reconfigured Callaway driver. At the urging of his coach, Butch Harmon, Mickelson had the shaft of his driver shortened to 44 inches and made heavier by 20 grams.

“I seemed to hit the ball a little bit straighter with it,” said Mickelson, who hit 8 of 14 fairways and averaged 310 yards on his measured drives.


DIVOTS: Watson’s 64 matched the lowest round ever by a playing making his debut at the Bridgestone (Ben Curtis in 2003). … No player has ever won the Bridgestone in his first appearance. … International players have won the year’s first two World Golf Championship events (Ian Poulter in the Match Play and Ernie Els in the CA Championship). … Anthony Kim, making his first appearance after a three-month layoff following left thumb surgery, shot a 77. … Woods’ 74 was his highest score ever in a competitive round at Firestone Country Club. The previous worst was a 72.

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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.