Who Wants to be a Millionaire
For perspective on this let us take a look back at 1950. That was the first year the LPGA kept a money list. At the end of that season the name at the top was Babe Zaharias. Her earnings: $14,800.
To steal a line from womens tennis, youve come a long way, baby.
Granada, who celebrated her 20th birthday Friday, was still a teenager when the tournament began Thursday. Her mother, Rosa, is her caddie. All of which helps make Julieta Granada the first million dollar baby in womens golf.
Just two years ago Granada was playing in the U.S. Junior Girls. She has come a long way in a short period of time. For more perspective, it should be noted that the first million dollar winners check on the PGA Tour was issued to Jeff Maggert in 1999 for capturing what was then called the Anderson Consulting Match Play.
Are the women catching up?
Maybe. A little. Cable viewership, commissioner Carolyn Bivens tells us, is up 59 per cent from 2005. Page views on LPGA.com are up almost 40 per cent in the same period.
Youre going to hear a lot about our priorities, Bivens said before the ADT Championship had ended. And you are going to see that while we are building on our success, were out front investigating ways in which we can change in order to meet the demands of an ever-changing fast moving marketplace.
Bivens has our attention. To be fair, much of this is because of the groundwork laid by her LPGA predecessor, former commissioner Ty Votaw.
The ADT format was brilliant. Cutting the field from 32 players to 16 after Fridays second round created an instant drama as six women vied for three spots in the playoff hopes of surviving for Sundays million dollar payday.
Lorena Ochoa has emerged as the games new big star ands the LPGAs Player of the Year. Karrie Webb, the first woman to win a million dollars in a season (1996), is its Comeback Player of the Year. Its a credit to where the LPGA is going that the group of Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie, Natalie Gulbis, Morgan Pressel and Ai Miyazato produced a total of zero LPGA wins in 2006--yet womens golf remained compelling throughout.
Last Wednesday Bivens was asked if she had any regrets in her first full year as commissioner. There were several brush fires early on and not all of them are entirely extinguished.
I regret having to call my mom and dad so many times and say, Dont open the newspaper today, youre not going to like it, Bivens said. And Im going to leave it there.
Fact is, the LPGA has enough traction and momentum at the moment to be able to withstand growing pains and missteps here and there.
It really has come a long way.
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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.