One-Time Exemption Brings Mayfair Back To the Fold

By Associated PressMay 25, 2005, 4:00 pm
Billy Mayfair had 15 consecutive years of job security, so it was quite a jolt when he finished last season out of the top 125 on the money list and faced the prospect of going back to Q-school.
Even more discouraging was the way he was playing.
I got away from my golf swing, I lost some confidence and I lost confidence in the putter, Mayfair said Tuesday. I was missing putts inside 10 feet for par, and that starts working on you after a while.
At age 38, he had to use his one-time exemption for top 50 in career money to keep his status. He was determined to change his fortunes, and even Mayfair is surprised by his progress. His runner-up finish at the Colonial was his fourth top 10 of the year and moved him up to No. 17 on the money list.
I knew I could do it, said Mayfair, a former U.S. Amateur champion whose five victories include the Tour Championship. My first goal was to get my status back, to stay in the top 125. Im not going to lie; its pretty much a surprise to be as high up as I am.
As much fun as Im having this year, I was not having that much fun last year.
The turning point came after he missed the cut in Milwaukee. Both his wife and his good friend, Phil Mickelson, suggested he seek out swing coach Rick Smith.
Along with changing his grip, Smith suggested a move to the belly putter. Mayfair resisted until he shot 81 in the third round at Greensboro. Leaving the tournament, he saw a man selling clubs from a barrel and picked out a belly putter for $15. The next week, he consulted Vijay Singh and had a model made for him.
Suddenly, everything started to fall into place.
Mayfair played only once from the end of 2004 to the start of 2005, tying for 11th in a PGA Tour-sponsored event in Korea. Then he geared up for what might have been his last shot on tour.
I knew if I didnt play well, I was going to have to go back to Tour school, he said. Obviously, some bad thoughts come into your mind. But one of the things I wanted to do was try to get some confidence back. I didnt want to slide into the year. I went to Hawaii ready to go.
He didnt miss a cut on the West Coast, and the momentum kept building through a 10th-place finish at Quail Hollow that locked up his card, and his runner-up finish at the Colonial that has him thinking about the Tour Championship.
If he makes it to East Lake, Mayfair would be the first player since John Huston in 1998 to use a one-time exemption from career money and finish about the top 30 on the money list.
Colin Montgomerie is No. 53 in the world and needs a strong finish in Europe to avoid having to qualify for the U.S. Open. The top 50 in the world ranking after this week are exempt to Pinehurst No. 2.
On the PGA Tour, it might not be that dramatic.
Jonathan Kaye is No. 51, but he did not enter the St. Jude Classic. Neither did Joe Ogilvie at No. 55, because he is moving into a new house in Austin, Texas. Tim Herron (No. 49) could drop out of the top 50, but Lumpy already is eligible because he was among the top 15 at the U.S. Open last year.
Conspicuously missing from Memphis is Charles Howell III, who is No. 46 in the world and not yet exempt for the U.S. Open. One can only suspect that not playing this week will help him secure his place among the top 50.
When he reached 100 straight cuts on his way to breaking Byron Nelsons record, Tiger Woods said it was impossible to compare the two eras. The difference often cited is that Woods played in 31 tournaments that had no cut, such as the Tour Championship and World Golf Championships.
Take those away and his consecutive cut streak would have ended at 111 -- not 142 -- which seemingly would leave him two short of Nelsons mark of 113 in a row.
Nelson, however, also played tournaments that didnt have a cut.
During his streak from 1941 to the start of 1949, he played in at least 10 tournaments that had no cut. The PGA Championship was match play during those years, paying $85 for those losing in the first round. And the Masters didnt institute a 36-hole cut until 1957, long after Nelson retired.
Nelson also played the Miami Fourball four times during the streak, teaming with Harold McSpaden in match play. He also teamed with McSpaden in the Minneapolis Fourball and Inverness Fourball, although it was not clear whether either of those had cuts (in Nelsons era, making the cut meant getting a paycheck).
Eliminate those five PGAs and five Masters, and Nelsons cut streak would have been 103.
U.S. Amateur champion Ryan Moore has decided to keep his spot in the U.S. Open instead of turning pro and going through sectional qualifying.
Moores future was slightly muddled when he tied for 13th at the Masters, which made him exempt from local qualifying. He signed up for sectional qualifying when he submitted his U.S. Open entry form, and USGA officials gave him a Monday deadline for making up his mind.
If he had failed to make it through sectionals, Moore could not have reclaimed his spot at Pinehurst as the U.S. Amateur champion.
His dad said that Ryan thought about it and, given his schedule is so intense with the NCAAs, he felt he didnt want to take that chance, said Betsy Swain, the USGAs director of championship administration.
The FBR Open contributed a record $5.81 million to Arizona charities, second in giving among PGA Tour events behind the Byron Nelson Championship. ... Going into the year, Chad Campbell has never missed the cut in Texas. He proceeded to miss the cut at the Houston Open and the Colonial, and made the cut on the number at the Byron Nelson Championship. ... Retief Goosen is leading the European tour money list despite playing only one tournament outside the United States. He earned the bulk of his money with a tie for third at the Masters and third place at the Match Play Championship.
Bob Tway was the only player to shoot in the 60s all four rounds at the Byron Nelson Championship and the Colonial. He tied for third at the Nelson and tied for 21st at the Colonial.
I felt like the guy who was pitching a no-hitter. Nobody wanted to talk to me.'Kenny Perry, who won the Colonial by seven shots and nearly broke his 72-hole scoring record.
Copyright 2005 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.