Woods shows he's not intimidated by McIlroy

By Damon HackSeptember 20, 2012, 11:18 pm

ATLANTA – When it comes to responding to insults, Tiger Woods is on a level with Tony Soprano and Miss Piggy.

Like his pal Michael Jordan, who spent his career checking into hotels under the name of the kid who beat him out of a spot in high school basketball, Woods can turn a put-down into a stretch of superior play.

When Phil Mickelson once suggested that Woods was using inferior equipment, Woods came back from knee surgery for a four-shot victory at the 2003 Buick Invitational.

When Stephen Ames disparaged Tiger’s driving accuracy before the 2006 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, Woods was ruthless in his retort, thumping Ames, 9 and 8, with cold-hearted glee.

Two days after Greg Norman suggested that Woods was “really intimidated” by Rory McIlroy, Woods went out in the first round of the Tour Championship and beat his supposed intimidator by three shots. Tiger’s round of 66 was good enough to be tied for the first-round lead with Justin Rose in the FedEx Cup finale.

No word on whether Woods warmed up with a bucket of balls with Norman’s picture on them.

Norman’s comment was the background noise of Woods and McIlroy’s latest round of golf together. (Woods is 6-2 against McIlroy when paired together).

While Tiger made his way up the second fairway, one member of the gallery shouted “Ray Lewis!” referring to the Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker.

Woods cited Lewis in his Wednesday news conference as the reason intimidation is fiction in the game of golf. There is no crying in baseball. There is no de-cleating your playing partner in golf.

Woods was not amused by Norman’s comments Wednesday, but he had fun with McIlroy on Thursday. The two walked side by side for much of the round, talking about the fast speed of play with only 30 players in the field, enjoying the kind of rapport rarely seen between Woods and other would-be rivals.

As Rory has ascended to No. 1 in the world and claimed victory in three of his last four starts, his relationship with Tiger has been analyzed from every angle.

Why is Tiger close with Rory and distant with Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson? How can Tiger, taught to beat everything on the golf course, share laughs with Rory on the fairway?

“He’s a great kid,” Woods said. “Over the years, certain pairings I’ve enjoyed. Rory is one of them.”

Woods went on, speaking like the veteran of golf (and life) that he is, and not the single-minded destroyer he has long been viewed to be.

“You probably don’t believe this, but I get along really well with a lot of guys out here,” Woods said. “Rory is no different. This is a fraternity out here. That’s one of the great things about being out here for 17 years. You get to know the guys quite well.”

Woods, at 36, may be learning to enjoy his walks more, even as he seeks to stack trophies on his mantel and prove the doubters wrong, be they Norman or anyone else.

Woods may not be closing out tournaments as he once did, but he’s still getting after it, still grinding hard against Rory and the rest.

And as he showed on Thursday, amid sharp barbs from the Shark, few can parry a blow better.

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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.