The Next Big Thing
But, said Texas-based Rocky Hambric of Hambric Sports Management, He (Lee) will probably make more money long term by remaining amateur.
Hambric said theres not as much money available from equipment companies to hot young prospects as there was five or six years ago. But, he added, theres no question Lee will be the next great player. And today, if youre great, you will make more money than you can ever spend.
The 18-year-old Lee, a New Zealander of Korean descent, is the youngest player ever to win the U.S. Amateur, breaking a Tiger Woods record. He is also the No. 1 ranked amateur in the world and recently tied for 20th at the PGA TOUR's Wyndham Championship.
Asked to rank his top amateur prospects for the PGA TOUR since Woods turned professional in 1996, Hambric called it a tie for first between Lee and Anthony Kim, a former client. This kid (Lee) is as good as Anthony Kim and maybe a little bit better putter, said Hambric, who had a representative of his company scouting Lee at the U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst last week.
Hambrics guy wasnt alone. Pretty much every player agency worth its weight in titanium was at Pinehurst. Sources say IMG, the biggest of the management companies, made contact with Lee but no negotiations took place.
It wasnt as bad as it could have been, Hambric said of the rush to Lee. He pointed out there was plenty of interest in USCs Jamie Lovemark and Oklahoma States Rickie Fowler, both of whom are generally expected to turn pro before Lee.
THE CASE FOR VERPLANK
On the matter of who Azingers four picks will be, almost everyone agrees Steve Stricker is a lock because of his No. 10 spot in the latest world rankings.
After that its up for grabs. One source close to the selection process said he hears Azinger is leaning toward Bubba Watson, currently way down at No. 97 in the world rankings.
Since none of the players, not already on the team, are red-hot, Scott Verplank becomes an extremely logical choice.
Verplank is 4-1-0 in his two previous Ryder Cup appearances. Hes 2-0 in singles including a 2-and-1 victory over Lee Westwood at the Belfry in 2002 and a 4-and-3 pasting of Padraig Harrington at the K Club in Ireland two years ago.
Moreover, Verplank tied for 12th at Barclays last week to move up 47 spots in the FedExCup point standings from 100 to 53.
Verplank ranks 13th in driving accuracy and 36th in putting average this year on the PGA TOUR. Those are both numbers a captain is looking for, especially in choosing players to send out in the foursomes (alternate shot) matches.
Were quietly optimistic, said Verplanks agent, John Mascatello.
Verplank is playing this week in the Deutsche Bank Championship.
GOLF CHANNEL has confirmed from Nick Faldo that the European captain will not ask for an extension to make his captains picks.
It had been reported (by this reporter) that Faldo would get an extension from European Ryder Cup officials, if he asked for one.
Instead Faldo has said that he will make his picks Sunday following the Johnnie Walker Championships at Gleneagles in Scotland. The conclusion of that event will determine the 10 players qualifying for the European team on points. Shortly thereafter (some time in the early afternoon on the East Coast in the U.S.) Faldo will name his two picks.
The early heavy favorites are Darren Clarke and Ian Poulter.
If Faldo had asked for an extension, he could have also weighed the results of the Deutsche Bank Championship which concludes Monday in the U.S.
American captain Paul Azinger will name his four captains selections Tuesday Sept. 2 in New York.
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McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School
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
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.
Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4
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
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."
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.