US Open Twice as Nice for Hicks and Hicks

By Associated PressJune 12, 2008, 4:00 pm
2008 U.S. OpenSAN DIEGO -- Justin Hicks went to the golf course, took a walk around, had a beer and a sandwich. Five hours later, he spotted his name atop the U.S. Open leaderboard.
 
Indeed, it was quite a day to be Justin Hicks at Torrey Pines'even if you werent THE Justin Hicks at Torrey Pines.
 
Turns out, there were two of them out there Thursday.
 
One was the Nationwide Tour professional, the one who shot 3-under 68 to take the clubhouse lead halfway through the first round. The other was the club professional at Stadium Golf Center in San Diego, who simply drove up the road to watch the action.
 
I got home, I had three or four e-mails saying `Congrats on the Open, said Hicks, the teaching pro. I had students saying, `Wow, youre playing fantastic.
 
A nice sentiment.
 
But in fact, it was the other Justin Hicks who was making a name for himself.
 
Hes the 33-year-old from Royal Palm Beach, Fla., who has been playing the Nationwide on and off for the past four years. He made it here through qualifying earlier this month.
 
Who am I? Hicks said after his round. Well, I think Im just another one of the guys out there playing the Nationwide Tour, trying to earn his PGA TOUR card. Theres a lot of great young players in America, and were all out there trying to earn our way up.
 
The other Justin Hicks, a 38-year-old who was born and raised in San Diego, was like that once, too.
 
He went to UC-Santa Barbara in the early 90s, then transferred to UCLA, where he played golf as a walk-on. In 1995, he went to Q-school and made it to the second round. After that, he played on the Hooters Tour for five or six months.
 
Thats when I realized my game wasnt good enough and that wasnt quite what I was looking for, he said.
 
Around then, Stadium Golf opened, and he has enjoyed a successful career there ever since.
 
Not that he hasnt dabbled in the playing side a little.
 
He was named the San Diego chapters PGA Player of the Year last year, and as such got a sponsors invitation to the Buick Invitational, played at Torrey Pines earlier this year.
 
He played a practice round with Tiger Woods.
 
A once-in-a-lifetime experience, he called it.
 
But all this mixing of Hickses has caused some confusion.
 
For instance, around the time Hicks was practicing with Tiger, the other Hicks got a call from the Nationwide Tour after officials saw his name on the entry list for the Buick. They said they were scratching him from their season-opening event in Panama City.
 
I told them, Well, Id like to go to Panama, because thats not me, Hicks said.
 
That led to Hicks the teaching pro suddenly becoming Jason B. Hicks, as far as the PGA TOUR recordbooks were concerned.
 
There have been other moments.
 
Both players have sponsorship deals with Titleist, and occasionally their checks get crossed in the mail. (No comment on whos getting the better deal in that.)
 
They are not friends, barely know each other, but they did happen to be on the same airplane in 2004 in Houston: Justin B. Hicks was going to a teaching summit, Justin Hicks on his way home from Q-School.
 
They have exchanged e-mails, talking about their strange connection.
 
On Monday, during practice rounds, Justin B. Hicks made a point of coming to the course to meet his namesake. Justin Hicks invited him inside the ropes, they chatted for a bit and Justin B. Hicks decided to watch him some when he returned for the first round Thursday.
 
I was talking to his mom, his wife, his sister-in-law, Hicks said.
 
He also met Justin Hicks friend, John Turcotte, who should not, in any way, be confused with Jon Turcott, the Nationwide pro who is also in the U.S. Open this week.
 
I said, `We oughta get a foursome together. It could be a pretty interesting time, Justin B. Hicks said.
 
(Justin B. Hicks also has a good friend named Dean Wilson, not the Dean Wilson who shot 5-over-par 76 Thursday, but lets not even go there.)
 
When all the craziness is over, its hard to know who will get the most out of this jumble of Justins.
 
Any golf fan who typed the words Justin Hicks into Google on Thursday saw a link for www.hicksgolf.com. Thats Justin B. Hicks teaching Web site. Hard to buy publicity like that.
 
As for Justin Hicks the playing pro'well, anything seems possible after a day that very few could have expected.
 
Hopefully people arent too surprised, at least my good friends, he said. I thought it was a pretty good round.
 
Surely, the other Justin Hicks would second that.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Open
  • Getty Images

    McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com 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 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

    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.