Woods crash hampers wealthy neighbors privacy

By Associated PressDecember 1, 2009, 6:18 pm

WINDERMERE, Fla. – The professional athletes, bold-faced celebrities and corporate moguls who live in Tiger Woods’ neighborhood favor it less for its clay tennis courts and Arnold Palmer-designed golf course than for its 8-foot security wall and platoon of private guards.

Among the many Isleworth amenities – sprawling outdoor sculptures, picturesque lakes, an 89,000-square-foot clubhouse – the one its well-to-do residents value most is its privacy. That’s been harder to maintain since Friday, when the world’s top golfer and most famous athlete smashed his Cadillac SUV into a fire hydrant and a tree as he pulled out of his driveway in the middle of the night.

Woods’ crash outside his multimillion-dollar home near Orlando has drawn a media mob to the exclusive 300-family community, or more specifically, to its gated checkpoints. Visitors can only get past the Spanish-tiled gatehouse at the main entrance if a resident gives their name to a guard. The white-shirted guards in quasi-police uniforms then check visitors’ IDs to verify names on the list.

More than a dozen television trucks were camped outside the entrance Monday as almost 100 reporters, photographers and TV crew members filmed residents’ comings and goings. TV helicopters hovered overhead.

And the media are likely to stay until they get answers to where Woods was headed at 2:25 a.m. and what caused the crash. Woods, who briefly lost consciousness and was treated for cuts and bruises at a hospital, has issued two short statements through his Web site and has declined to talk with the Florida Highway Patrol.

In his statements, the famously insular golfer called the accident embarrassing and asked the public to respect – what else? – his privacy.

It’s the second time in three months his community has made national news. In September, a prominent developer having money problems was accused of fatally shooting his wife in their home, which was once owned by Palmer.

Bob Ward is charged with second-degree murder in the death of his 55-year-old wife, Diane. He has pleaded not guilty and is free on a $100,000 bond.

In a state that boasts locales like Miami Beach and Key West, there are ritzier, more exotic spots than Isleworth, which sits on old orange groves amid the central Florida swamps.

Yet since the neighborhood’s development in the 1980s, it has attracted sports stars and celebrities by the dozen. Former and current residents include Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway and Dee Brown from the NBA; baseball star Ken Griffey Jr.; Andre Reed of the NFL; former Wimbledon doubles champion Todd Woodbridge; and actor Wesley Snipes.

So many PGA golfers live in Isleworth that the neighborhood fields a team each year to play in a tournament against a rival luxury neighborhood in metro Orlando. Isleworth’s Tavistock Cup team this year included Mark O’Meara, Stuart Appleby, Darren Clarke, John Cook, J.B. Holmes, Charles Howell III and Woods, among other pros. Florida doesn’t have a state income tax and there are nearby numerous world-class courses where they can practice.

Pro athletes are specifically attracted to Isleworth, where new homes range from $1.5 million to $8 million, “because of the security and the class of the whole place and its accessibility to the airport,” said Joyce McClane, a retiree who was one of Isleworth’s earliest residents. She bought a lot in the neighborhood with her husband in 1987.

For Kyung Hee Yoon, the appeal is security. She and her radiologist husband bought a $2.5 million home five years ago after moving to central Florida from New York. Having celebrity neighbors such as the PGA’s Appleby was almost an afterthought, she said.

“It is actually not really a big deal,” she said. “I sometimes see (famous) people but it doesn’t bother me. They’re just treated like neighbors.”

With its golf course, tennis courts and camp for kids, Isleworth’s country club is the nexus of the neighborhood’s social life. Sometimes the celebrity athletes get special treatment and can play golf when the course is closed.

“It’s just a perfect life,” McClane said. “We’re very fortunate.”

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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.

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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.