Fowler-McIlroy showdown highlights Tour's health

By Bailey MosierMay 7, 2012, 6:42 pm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Knock, knock. (Who’s there?) Orange. (Orange who?) Orange you glad to see Rickie Fowler finally win?

For the 318,000-plus Twitter followers, countless little Rickies and thousands more adoring fans, Sunday’s Wells Fargo finale was Orange Dreamsicle sweet.

It’s taken Fowler three years since turning professional to notch his first PGA Tour victory, but with all the cynics and the critics, you’d think it had been an eternity.

Fowler finally “shut (critics) up a little bit” with his playoff win over Rory McIlroy and D.A. Points, solidifying the street cred so many failed to give him.

Hoggard: Tour brethren celebrate Fowler's win

Sunday at Quail Hollow it was two 23-year-olds who took center stage – with apologies to 35-year-old Points – and it was exactly the type of pedal-to-the-metal finish we would expect out of Fowler.

The emotions that flooded Fowler were as varied and as vibrant as ROYGBIV when he squared off against McIlroy, five months his junior in age yet already his senior in accomplishments. But Fowler kept his composure, knocked his approach to 4 feet at the first extra hole and when he rolled in the birdie, his hard work culminated, his dreams materialized.

After witnessing Rickie’s reign at Quail Hollow, it’s tempting to paint the PGA Tour with ‘new era in golf’ storylines and undertones, to preach about how great the future will be.

Truth is, the present is pretty remarkable.

A wide spectrum of storylines has fueled the season, from the redemption of Kyle Stanley to the romanticism of Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson’s conviction to Tiger Woods’ conundrum, the fortitude of Jason Dufner to the fickleness of the world’s top ranking.

That No. 1 spot is currently held by McIlroy, a consolation prize to his playoff loss.

While Fowler is definitely the flavor of the moment, McIlroy has established himself – regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking says on a weekly basis – as the game’s best player.

McIlroy’s runner-up showing at Wells Fargo was his fourth top-3 finish in five PGA Tour starts this season, which includes a victory at the Honda Classic. His game and mentality are maturing and he’s settling into a rhythmic pace.

He now heads to TPC Sawgrass, where he opted out a year ago, citing scheduling conflicts and his limited number of starts as a non-member of the Tour.

This year, he enters the Tour’s flagship event not only as a card-carrier, but a new man in many respects and, essentially, the Tour’s next golden boy.

Meanwhile, Woods, the man who once was – or still is, depending on your point of view – the Tour’s golden boy comes into the week looking anything but polished. His year has included a win at Bay Hill, his worst finish at the Masters as a professional and a missed cut at Wells Fargo.

No, writers aren’t contractually obligated to mention Woods in every column. His inclusion in this piece is further highlight the Tour’s health. With or without Woods, at his best or a struggling mess, the Tour has thrived in 2012.

Now, as we come off our orange rush and look ahead to The Players, we cannot ignore that one question: Is this a new era in golf?

Is this the beginning of an era in which Woods and Mickelson should no longer be considered the weekly favorites? Or have we already embarked on that journey and we’re just now starting to realize where we are?

It may be time to steer our faith and following in a different direction. In the past we’ve bet the house on Sunday red. Are we now putting it all on orange?

That’s not to suggest that with one Tour victory, Rickie is suddenly the new Tiger. That would be like comparing apples to, well, oranges. The suggestion is that times are changing and the change is good.

The PGA Tour’s present is a vibrant as Fowler’s wears. To continue down this pleasant path in the long term, there must be youthful leaders, those with talent, charisma and victories.

Two such men were on display Sunday. One was declared No. 1, the other crowned champion.

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.