Reynolds takes long road to leaderboard

By Associated PressJuly 9, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 U.S. WomenBETHLEHEM, Pa. ' Jean Reynolds has taken a roundabout route to contending at the U.S. Womens Open.
The 24-year-old from Newman, Ga., shot a 2-under 69 Thursday to tie for second with top-ranked Lorena Ochoa and 2007 champion Cristie Kerr, a stroke behind first-round leader Na Yeon Choi.
Thats pretty heady company for a Southern girl who had a solid junior career, was recruited by the University of Georgia, then redshirted her freshman year before stepping away from the game for a time.
On the last hole of her first round, the two-time Futures Tour winner and its leading money winner had a chance for the Open lead, but she missed a birdie putt.
That didnt dampen the rush.
I was pretty nervous, Reynolds said after a round that included four birdies and two bogeys. It was a good feeling, but then again, coming in under the radar and leading at the U.S. Open after the first round is pretty awesome.
Reynolds name on the leaderboard is a surprising sight considering she chose the college experience over collegiate golf. She stepped away from golf to concentrate on school, joined a sorority and studied abroad in Austria.
I looked at it as kind of five years of that much golf intensity for me, I think, would have burned me out very easily, especially at that time because I wasnt 100 percent, she said.
Reynolds eventually missed golf and competition. She went to qualifying school for the Futures Tour, did well and has enjoyed plenty of success since.
Of her two victories on the LPGA developmental tour, one came two weeks ago in her last tournament before the Open.
Reynolds is adamant that the Futures has prepared her for contending in the national championship, and seeing 27 of her tours competitors in the field this week backs that up.
Youve got competition, theres a lot of talent out there, and so when you come into a week like this, I mean, I feel pretty prepared, she said.
JUST SPECIAL: Former Womens Open champion Laura Davies is making the most of a special invite to Saucon Valley Country Club ' with a distinct goal in mind.
Davies played the 6,740-yard layout in 1-over 72 in the opening round, and was tied for sixth place.
Davies received a special exemption into the championship that extended her Open run to 24 straight, dating to 1986. She was anxious about possibly having to qualify this year and was glad to hear from the USGA.
The 45-year-old from Coventry, England, has made no secret of her appreciation of the Womens Open.
Its probably, along with the British Open, the best tournament we play in womens golf, Davies said. So, its just lovely to be here, have a chance to play the great golf courses of America, which this is obviously one of them.
And, I need a major win to get into the Hall of Fame. So, Im trying to do a lot of stuff in one week.
Davies said she knew she would like the lengthy Lehigh Valley course, and responded with three birdies, four bogeys and 11 pars in the opening round. She played the par-5 holes in 2-under.
Davies won the 1987 Womens Open, beating Ayako Okamoto and JoAnne Carner in an 18-hole playoff for her first pro victory. She has struggled since, missing the cut in eight of the last 12 events.
Her game has been inconsistent this year, too, making the cut in five of 10 tournaments, with her best finish a tie for 33rd at Phoenix in March.
STREAKING: Two-time Womens Open champ Juli Inkster made her 30th straight start in the championship.
The winner of the 1999 and 2002 events opened with a first-round 7-over 78.
Inkster played in her first Womens Open as an amateur in 1978 and finished in a tie for 23rd.
The 31-time LPGA Tour winner has missed the cut in the Open the last two years.
WITHDRAWAL: Martina Eberl of Germany withdrew from the championship midway through the first round because of a wrist injury.
Eberl, a four-time winner on the Ladies European Tour who finished third in the Order of Merit last season, started playing the 10th hole before pulling out. The 28-year-old was 9-over through nine holes.
Seon Hwa Lee of South Korea, who was in the same group as Eberl, withdrew later Thursday because of a back injury. Lee carded a 9-over 80 before dropping out.
DIVOTS: Alexis Thompson was the low amateur with an even-par 71. The 14-year-old is the reigning U.S. Girls Junior champ. In 2007, she was the youngest Womens Open qualifier in history. This is her third Open. Defending champion Inbee Park opened with a 4-over 75, one stroke better than 49-year-old Rosie Jones. Sophie Gustafson played to the Lehigh Valley area sports fans for the second straight day. The Swede sported a white Philadelphia Phillies cap with a red P in the opening round. A day earlier, she wore a red Phillies cap.
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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.