Players Battle High Winds in Tampa

By Associated PressMarch 8, 2008, 5:00 pm
2007 PODS ChampionshipTAMPA BAY, Fla. -- Brandt Snedeker turned bogey into birdie on his final hole Saturday morning, chipping in from 80 feet for a 3-under 68 that gave him a one-shot lead halfway through a wicked, windy PODS Championship.
Snedeker was the only player to break 70 each of the first two rounds, an astounding feat considering wind that gusted up to 40 mph on an Innisbrook course that is tough when its calm.
I didnt put myself in any trouble, said Snedeker, who was at 5-under 137.
Jeff Maggert was at 8 under through nine holes when play was suspended Friday because of rain and storms, and while his game didnt change much, the weather sure did. One gust was recorded at 44 mph, the strongest on the PGA TOUR this year.
Maggert dropped four shots on the back nine for a 72, leaving him one shot out of the lead and quite satisfied.
It was a grind, he said. Its a little bit of a British Open-styled wind, where you hit it 160 yards with a 2-iron, then turn around and hit 180 yards with an 8-iron. But if you hit the ball well, you can manage to score.
Seven players were at 3-under 139, and all but two of them finished yesterday. Stewart Cink had a share of the lead on the back nine until consecutive bogeys dropped him to a 73, while first-round leader Bart Bryant rallied late for a 74.
There were strange doings across the Copperhead course in the toughest conditions. The wind was so strong that volunteers were told not to carry the signs, lest both were blown away. Putts fell into the cup almost by accident, and anything in the 4-foot range was sheer guesswork whether the wind would hold it up or blow it in the hole, or neither.
The only constant was frustration.
Jeff Overton stood over an 18-inch putt on the eighth hole, backed off when leaves rushed over his ball, then jabbed at it and missed badly to the right. He rallied with a few birdies and was alone in the lead at 5 under until bogeys on the last four holes.
The weather is better in Europe, two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen said.
That was before he teed off, and while he was in decent shape most of the day, it ended badly. He finished with three bogeys and a par to miss the cut by one shot.
James Driscoll two-putted from 40 feet for par on his final hole, and that was significant because 79 players made the cut at 3-over 145. The TOURs recently amended cut policy goes into effect for the first time, allowing for a second cut after the third round to the top 70 players and ties. That cut wont happen until Sunday morning because it was unlikely everyone could finish Saturday.
Snedeker will be in the last group because of some great play, and a little luck at the end.
He hit six consecutive greens and was making up ground mostly with pars when he pulled his approach into the wind on the uphill ninth, the ball nestled among leaves to the left of the green, a deep bunker between him and the flag.
Great feel on this, his caddie instructed him.
The green slopes severely away from the edge, so Snedeker couldnt expect to hit it terribly close. It came out perfectly, hopping softly onto the green and was gaining steam'a lot of it'when it crashed into the pin and disappeared.
Otherwise, Snedeker would have had 12 to 15 feet remaining for his par. Instead, he had a birdie and the 36-hole lead.
You need a little luck, Snedeker said. I had a lot of putts that I thought were going in, but it was hard to get in the hole because of the wind. Its hard to get the ball hugging to the ground, but you dont want to hit it 3 or 4 feet by. You just hope it evens out in the end.
And it did, leaving him atop the leaderboard in what figures to be a long, fickle weekend.
Only eight shots separated top to bottom, and the wind was not supposed to lay down until late in the afternoon, if at all.
Its a wide-open golf tournament, Maggert said. Theres a lot of guys, but its going to be difficult to come from behind.
Indeed, this might be a tournament where picking up ground means not going anywhere at all.
Some players, however, wind up going home.
Honda Classic winner Ernie Els and Davis Love III were among those who knew they had missed the cut Friday after they finished.
Perhaps the most notable player to miss the cut Saturday morning was Scott Verplank. He had 28 rounds at par or better, the longest active streak on the PGA TOUR. That ended in the wind and with two balls in the water, giving him a 79 and the weekend off.
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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.