Woods Figures Being Underdog May Help US

By Associated PressSeptember 13, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesLONDON -- A winner of five straight tournaments, Tiger Woods is a big favorite in the World Match Play Championship.
 
The Ryder Cup is another story.
 
'This year, we are definitely the underdogs,' Woods said Tuesday as he embarked on a three-week run in England and Ireland.
 
He then interrupted a question to drive home his point.
 
'We are definitely the underdogs,' he said.
 
Woods has history on his side, not to mention 11 teammates. Europe has won four of the last five Ryder Cups, an era of dominance that includes going home with the gold chalice seven of the last 10 times.
 
The world's No. 1 player will get ready by taking on a 16-man field at Wentworth for the HSBC World Match Play Championship, which features 36-hole matches each day in single elimination. His first opponent is former PGA champion Shaun Micheel.
 
After the Ryder Cup at The K Club outside Dublin, Woods returns to the London area for the American Express Championship, his next official PGA Tour event as he tries to match his six-tournament winning streak from late 1999 and early 2000.
 
'These will be three great weeks right in a row, and this week is wonderful preparation for the Ryder Cup next week,' Woods said.
 
Woods' winning streak began with the British Open at Hoylake, and it includes the PGA Championship. He now has 12 majors, but has a losing Ryder Cup record (7-11-2), which he blamed on the fickle nature of 18-hole matches.
 
'I've played some of my best golf in these (Ryder) matches, and I've won and lost points,' he said. 'And I've played some of my worst golf, and won and lost points. When you play 18 holes, anything can happen.'
 
Woods also acknowledged the hoopla surrounding the Ryder Cup has been difficult.
 
'I look forward to competing and playing,' he said 'I always love doing that. But I'm not a really big function guy, so that part's never been fun for me.'
 
The two weeks surrounding the Ryder Cup offer big paydays.
 
The World Match Play Championship offers the richest prize among official events, with about $1.87 million going to the winner. First prize at the American Express Championship -- Woods is the defending champion -- is $1.3 million.
 
Woods has played the World Match Play only once, finishing second to friend Mark O'Meara in 1998.
 
Sitting next to Woods, David Hodgkinson, the chief operating officer of HSBC said Woods' three-week presence would bring a huge cash injection to the British and Irish golf economies, estimated to be about $320 million by an English professor who prepared a report for HSBC.
 
Woods laughed when he heard the figures.
 
'I don't know where they get that number,' Woods said. 'It is flattering to have that impact on this game of golf.'
 
The American Ryder Cup team will be younger this year, with Woods the youngest at 30. He expects to be a leader, sharing the role with Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk. They are the world's three top-ranked players.
 
'I think all three of us are going to take more of a leadership role because ... we're now the vets on the team,' said Woods, who has played in four Ryder Cups.
 
Woods said the Americans must putt better to beat Europe, which defeated the United States 18 1/2 -9 1/2 two years ago at Oakland Hills near Detroit. He said winning the 18th hole was also crucial.
 
At The K Club, No. 18 is a 537-yard par-5, which bends left with water guarding the green, and eight bunkers protecting it on the right. It offers eagle chances -- and big trouble, too.
 
'The Europeans did that at Oakland Hills, they played 18 better than we did and, hence, they won the cup pretty easily,' Woods said. 'Hopefully we can putt a little better as a team and if the match goes to 18 -- hopefully we can get those matches and put the momentum back on our side.'
 
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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.