Quigley Tanaka Lead at Hartford
Quigley birdied four of the first six holes and Tanaka birdied four of the last six for matching 6-under 64s ' and an eye-popping 13-under 57 best-ball total ' in perfect conditions Thursday on the TPC at River Highlands.
``Today, I wasn't worried about the final score. I was just playing and trying to have fun out there,'' said Quigley, winless in six seasons on the PGA Tour.
Tanaka, a 10-time winner on the Japanese tour, made a 16-foot putt on 16 and a 12-footer on 18 late in the afternoon session for his best round on the PGA Tour.
``This is the first time I've played here,'' Tanaka said of the course. ``Now, I really like it.''
Scott Verplank, Tim Herron, Briny Baird, Jonathan Kaye, Skip Kendall and Japan's Kaname Yokoo shot 65s, and Steve Pate and Kirk Triplett topped a six-player group at 66.
Quigley, the nephew of Senior PGA Tour player Dana Quigley, took the lead at 6-under with a 6-foot birdie putt on the par-5 13th, and saved par on 14 with an 8-footer after driving into the left rough and laying up on his second shot.
The Rhode Island player dropped to 5-under with a bogey from the greenside bunker on the par-3 16th, but got the stroke back with a 17-foot birdie putt on 17 and closed with a scrambling par.
``The greens are good, but they had some pretty tough pins that are hard to get at,'' said Quigley, coming off a 64th-place tie two weeks ago in the Buick Classic.
Verplank made a 35-foot birdie putt on his first hole, the par-4 10th, and holed a 35-foot chip on the par-4 4th, turning a potential bogey into a birdie.
``It was over the waterfall and through the windmill,'' he said, joking about the difficult 7-iron shot from a swale. ``I was hoping to get up and down and actually made it.''
The Ryder Cup player had a double bogey on the par-3 16th after his ball hit the lip of a bunker and rolled into a hard lie.
``There was pretty much no sand in the bottom of the bunker,'' Verplank said. ``I knew it was going to come out a little hot, but it went over the green.''
Herron, trying to earn a spot in the PGA Championship in his home state of Minnesota, birdied the final two holes, holing a 16-foot putt on 17 and hitting a 122-yard shot to 2 inches on 18.
``The ball is starting to go where I was looking,'' Herron said. ``I'm generally a pretty good iron player and a long driver. I just have to get the ball in play.''
Baird, the son of former PGA Tour player Butch Baird, eagled the 284-yard 15th, hitting his drive to 3 feet.
``I hit a driver, which is borderline a little too much club, but it hit in there perfectly,'' Baird said after capping his bogey-free round with a 25-foot birdie putt on 18.
Notah Begay III, the 2000 winner with a River Highlands record 20-under 260 total, was three strokes back at 67 in a group that also included Scott Hoch and Corey Pavin.
Begay, recovering from a back injury, had only his second round in the 60s this year after missing the cut in all 11 of his starts.
Davis Love III, Mark Calcavecchia and Paul Azinger opened with 68s, defending champion Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Ernie Els followed at 69.
Mickelson bogeyed the first hole and had a double bogey on No. 4. He got a stroke back on the par-3 8th and salvaged the round with birdies on Nos. 16 and 17.
``That was kind of a miracle score for the way I played,'' said Mickelson, second last week in the U.S. Open. ``I didn't strike it that well, but somehow I was able to get up and down and birdied a couple coming in.''
Garcia, regripping the club at address far less than he did at the U.S. Open, had seven birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey.
Playing the back nine first, he reached 3-under with a two-putt birdie from 7 feet on the short par-4 15th, but bogeyed the par-3 16th from the greenside bunker and had a double bogey on 17 after hitting into the water from the left rough.
McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School
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
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.
Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4
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
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."
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.