Tour cards at stake in PGA finale at Disney

By Associated PressNovember 12, 2009, 1:25 am

PGA TourLAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The thought of spending another year writing letters, making phone calls and doing just about anything possible to get a sponsor’s exemption into PGA Tour events makes Rich Beem cringe.

Don’t even mention having to go back to qualifying school.

At No. 124 on the money list, the 2002 PGA Championship winner is among those who begin play at the Children’s Miracle Network Classic at Disney World on Thursday hovering near the cut line for a tour card next year. The top 125 get full status, and the next 25 will at least get conditional status and be able to enter more than a dozen tournaments.

The pressure should make the final stop on the PGA Tour this season a wild, wacky and entertaining finish. That is, for everyone but the players.

“I must say that this predicament … I’m not having any fun with it,” Beem said.

Hard to imagine any of the players near the cut line are enjoying themselves this week.

The place that declares at the entrance gates “Where Dreams Come True” will crush as many hopes as it fulfills this weekend. With so many in search of that fairy tale ending, some will inevitably fall short.

Players have already noticed some of their counterparts pressing in practice rounds—overswinging, misreading putts and muscling for the green when they otherwise wouldn’t. Even around the plush Disney clubhouse, complete with a playroom for kids, these are anxious times.

“It is one of those weeks where you just can kind of tell some guys are having fun with their families, and the other guys are not having any fun,” said Kevin Streelman, who has his Tour card for next year already secured but is looking to protect a two-stroke lead in the Kodak Challenge for a $1 million prize. The contest designates a hole each week and keeps score throughout the season.

Perhaps the biggest names who might not get their cards are Ricky Barnes and David Duval.

The runners-up at the U.S. Open are Nos. 121 and 125, respectively, on the money list. Duval, a former world No. 1 and the 2001 British Open champion, will have to finish strong or lose his full status.

“I’m not real worried about my position,” Duval said. “I feel like I’ve played better than my standing.”

Rickie Fowler and Jamie Lovemark are among those who will have to play catchup to even get a conditional card.

Because they were top 10 in the previous tournament – The Viking Classic in Mississippi was rained out – they got into Disney. If they can win enough this weekend, the young upstarts would get a card.

Both are looking to avoid the pressure of qualifying school.

“You hear the horror stories,” Fowler said. “There’s always little things that could happen there.”

Erik Compton, the two-time heart transplant recipient who made his return to the tour at this same event last year, received a sponsor’s exemption. Compton already has advanced to the second stage of qualifying school.

But perhaps nobody wants to avoid losing full status more than Beem.

This weekend’s tournament will be his 26th this season, a surprisingly high number given that he decided not to go to qualifying school after finishing outside of the top 125 last season. Still, frantically writing and calling tournament directors or trying to qualify every week for a spot is not a task he wants to endure again.

“Looking at a 39-year-old, short, fat, balding guy, you kind of wonder how many chances they’re going to give you,” Beem joked.

Beem penned letters to every tournament director this season and followed them up with a phone call, he said. The letters ranged from serious to completely sarcastic, anything to tee-it-up with the pros.

Some letters worked. Others were disastrous.

For the Phoenix tournament, he claimed he was “kind of a big deal” on the Tour and could bring fans to the “struggling” tournament in attempt at humor. Apparently they didn’t find it funny.

“I kind of hammed it up pretty good,” he said. “Of course, they didn’t give me a sponsor’s exemption.”

Beem said he would opt for qualifying school if he has a bad week at Disney.

Even though he was successful this year at earning exemptions, he wants a chance to play every week at his favorite tournaments. And he doesn’t want to beg.

“I want to play those events,” Beem said. “I don’t want to hope that I get a chance to play those events. So it’s a big deal.”

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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

Wie takes shot at LPGA dress code in crop top

By Grill Room TeamDecember 10, 2017, 5:33 pm

The new LPGA dress code got mixed reviews when it was announced in July, and Michelle Wie is taking full advantage of her offseason with no restrictions.

The 28-year-old former U.S. Women's Open champion is keeping her game sharp while back in her home state of Hawaii, but couldn't help taking a shot at the rules while doing it, posting a photo to Instagram of her playing golf in a crop top with the caption, "Offseason = No dress code fine."

Offseason = No dress code fines #croptopdroptop

A post shared by Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) on

Wie isn't the first to voice her displeasure with the rules. Lexi Thompson posted a similar photo and caption to Instagram shortly after the policy was announced.