Four-way tie on top at ATT National

By Doug FergusonJuly 2, 2010, 2:46 am
2010 AT&T NationalNEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. – Arjun Atwal of India ran off three straight birdies early in his round at the AT&T National and wound up in a four-way tie for the lead with a 4-under 66 on a gorgeous Thursday in the Philadelphia suburbs.

Tiger Woods let a decent round get away from him, throwing away five shots over the last five holes and opened with a 3-over 73, making it a challenge just to make the cut.

“It was a very frustrating day on the greens, especially how good I was driving it,” Woods said. “I was driving it on a string all day.”

Atwal, who made seven birdies for the day, had no such complaints after finding himself atop the leaderboard with Nick Watney, Joe Ogilvie and Byron Nelson winner Jason Day on a tough day at Aronimink, where the pin locations made it difficult to attack the flags.

Playing on a sponsor’s exemption – spending so much time with Woods has its perks – Atwal recovered from a bogey on his opening hole with three straight birdies, all of them inside 12 feet, and kept the mistakes to a minimum.

“Four under, I think, is a great score for me or anybody on this golf course,” Atwal said. “I’ll take it every day.”

Woods, who won the AT&T National last year at Congressional, had his best round of the year off the tee. He hit driver on all but three holes on the tree-lined course with rough nearly as thick as it was in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He just didn’t give himself that many birdie chances, and when he did, he couldn’t make any.

His only two birdies were from 4 feet on the opening hole, and a 60-foot putt from the back of the green on the par-3 fifth. What hurt even more, however, was the finish.

Woods was at 1 under and poised to join the crowd toward the top of the leaderboard. Then came a three-putt from 50 feet on the 14th to bring him back to even par. Then, he really unraveled.

After laying up perfectly from the rough on the par-5 16th, he had 82 yards to a front pin. His swing was so bad that Woods flung the wedge toward his bag and started walking as it flared to the right and into the bunker. He made bogey on the easiest hole on the course.

The par-3 17th proved to be the toughest hole at Aronimink. No one hit it closer than 15 feet all day on the 197-yard hole over water, and Jonathan Byrd made the lone birdie. Woods tried to hammer a 6-iron toward the middle of the green, but he turned it and watched it come up short on the shaved bank and trickle down into the water. From the drop area, he hit it to 15 feet and made double bogey.

Walking quickly to the 18th, Woods hit his best drive of the day and followed that with a wedge to 5 feet. His round ended appropriately when the birdie putt caught the corner of the cup and spun away.

Woods will start the second round Friday morning in a tie for 81st, needing a good round to stick around for the weekend in a tournament that benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation.

“I keep hitting it like this, I’ll be fine,” Woods said. “The putts will start going in. It felt good to drive it on a string again.”

It felt great for Atwal, who is playing on a minor medical extension this year after injuring his shoulders while lifting weights last year. He has eight more tournaments to earn about $280,000 and retain full playing status for the rest of the year.

Atwal, who grew up playing Royal Calcutta in his native India, was the first Indian to win on the European Tour in 2002. He also made news when a man trying to race him down an Orlando street died in a crash. Atwal was cleared of any wrongdoing, although the investigation lasted a year and took an emotional toll.

Lately, however, he is best known for playing with Woods – not only at Isleworth, but three rounds of practice at the U.S. Open.

“As far as comparing myself with him … it’s strange, because we practice and play every day, so I’ve stopped doing that,” Atwal said. “Initially, when I used to practice and play with him, I used to compare myself. But now, it’s just … whatever. He’s always helped me if I have any questions about short game or whatever it is. He’s always been there.”

Asked what kind of bets they have at Isleworth, Atwal smiled and said, “No comment.”

“All I can say is I owe him a little bit right now,” he said.

The debt might feel even heavier if Atwal can continue his play in a tournament that Woods helped to get him in.

Getty Images

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.

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.