Pair share opening round lead at Turning Stone

By Associated PressOctober 2, 2009, 2:49 am

turning stone resort championshipVERONA, N.Y. – Leif Olson decided to give golf another shot after a lengthy layoff. He’s showing signs he might have made a good choice.

Overcoming adverse conditions on a blustery day, Olson shot a 6-under 66 on Thursday to tie Tim Petrovic for the first-round lead at the Turning Stone Resort Championship.

Olson, a 28-year-old rookie from Denver, had to advance through all three stages of Qualifying School to earn his 2009 card on the cut line.

“I consider it really my first main year playing as a professional,” said Olson, the former Duke player who but played only the 2004 U.S. Open on the PGA Tour prior to this year. “I played pro just for like a summer and then I stopped. I just kind of started up last summer.”

Petrovic chipped in twice during his round, posting seven birdies and one bogey. It’s the third time this season he’s opened with a 66.

“It would be nice to get a victory at the end of the year,” said Petrovic, whose lone victory was the 2005 Zurich Classic of New Orleans. “I’ve been close a few times.”

One shot behind were Matt Kuchar, John Senden, and Vaughn Taylor.

Adam Scott, Scott Gutschewski, Kevin Stadler, Ken Duke, Jimmy Walker, Nicholas Thompson and Matt Jones shot 68s. Defending champ Dustin Johnson birdied his last two holes to finish at 69.

The round was halted because of darkness with a handful of players still on the course.

With seagulls replacing fans along a fairway or two and Canada geese squawking loudly overhead on their long journey south, intermittent and sometimes heavy rain and temperatures that never reached 50 made the first day of the Fall Series tailor-made for water fowl over the soggy Atunyote Golf Club course.

“I was expecting worse,” Justin Rose said after a 69. “I pretty much put on half my suitcase today, so I didn’t feel the cold. I think we got a little bit of a break because the wind didn’t blow. It made it playable.”

A year ago, wind, rain and a brief shower of hail forced two weather delays on the second round. There were no delays on Thursday, but because there was so much standing water on the course players were allowed a rarity – to lift and drop on all areas except teeing grounds, greens and hazards.

“In the rough you can tee it up. That’s a big thing,” said Olson, best-known for a hole-in-one at the Canadian Open when his ball caromed off playing partner Kris Blanks’ ball and rolled into the hole.

So-called preferred lies “through the green” also will be in effect Friday. The last time that happened on the PGA Tour was at the 2005 BellSouth Classic, which was also the last time it snowed during a tournament.

Petrovic and Olson teed off in the morning and had to weather a steady rain and temperatures in the 30s. Olson, sporting a striped knit cap pulled tightly over his ears, matched his previous round on tour, a 66 at the Wyndham Championship in August that wasn’t low enough to make that cut.

Olson, who has only made four cuts in 17 events, sits atop the leaderboard because he averaged nearly 280 yards off the tee and birdied four of the most difficult holes on the course. He hit to within 10 feet or closer of each of the pins at Nos. 2, 7, 11 and 13, finishing the day with seven birdies and one bogey.

“It’s a long ball hitting course,” said Olson, 814th in the world ranking. “Hopefully, we’ll see, just take it day by day. Guys are going to tear it up tomorrow. You just want to get off to a good start.”

The 43-year-old Petrovic carded five birdies on the back nine. He hit inside 8 feet from 203 yards at the par-4 17th hole and made birdie, then followed that by hitting inside 6 feet at No. 18 from 146 yards to make the turn at 31.

The lone blemish on Petrovic’s round was a bogey at the par-5 eighth hole. His third shot found a greenside bunker and he failed to convert a 15-foot par putt.

“I was just trying to keep my hands warm. That was the key,” Petrovic said. “I didn’t care if I got wet. It was a battle out there. We didn’t have the trifecta – the wind was down. You just had to suck it up, I guess.”

Stadler, also among the early finishers, had a birdie and eagle on the front side and two more birdies on the back to go with a bogey at No. 13.

“It’s one of those days where I was not really thinking about score,” said Stadler, who holed out from 117 yards for eagle at the par-5 eighth. “I knew it was going pretty well, but without really playing too well. I’m very happy to be done with it and kind of in the back of my mind I’m hoping it’s going to be miserable for the rest of them this afternoon.”

It was. The wind picked up to nearly 15 mph at times, and Johnson, whose two victories on tour have come in inclement weather, never managed to get something going.

At least the greens ran true. Senden narrowly missed a chance for a share of the lead when his 47-foot birdie putt at 18 barely lipped out.

The conditions exacted a toll on David Duval (75) and Robert Allenby, who lost to Johnson last year by one shot. Allenby had three bogeys, one double bogey, and no birdies in a 5-over 77 that matched his worst round of the year.

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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.