Furyk Donald tied for lead at East Lake

By Doug FergusonSeptember 25, 2010, 2:29 am
2006 The TOUR Championship presented by Coca-ColaATLANTA – This should serve as a wake-up call for Jim Furyk: He’s tied for the lead at the Tour Championship, and very much in the hunt for the $10 million FedEx Cup prize.

Furyk played bogey-free on the back nine at East Lake for a 5-under 65 on Friday, giving him a share of the 36-hole lead with Luke Donald heading into a weekend of dwindling possibilities.

A two-time winner on the PGA Tour this year, Furyk began the playoffs at No. 3 in the standings. But in the opening event at The Barclays, he was disqualified for missing his pro-am when the alarm didn’t go off. He slipped six spots, and didn’t scare anyone the next two weeks to fall to No. 11.

But with the top players in the standings starting to fade, Furyk only has to win at East Lake to collect the biggest payoff in golf.

“It’s a bunch of money,” Furyk said. “The only thing I can really control is to go out and play good on the weekend, try to win the golf tournament. And at that point, there’s nothing else I can do about it.”

Furyk has a chance to join Tiger Woods as the only FedEx Cup champion to skip the first playoff event, although it wasn’t by choice.

“I’d like to join him with about 16 majors, too,” Furyk said. “But that doesn’t look like it’s in the cards.”

Going into the weekend, the deck is stacked in his favor.

Donald did a great job scrambling whenever he struggled off the tee, and pieced together another 66 to join Furyk at 8-under 132. One shot behind was Geoff Ogilvy, who had seven birdies in his round of 67.

Ogilvy’s biggest concern was the Australian Rules Football grand final in Melbourne with his beloved St. Kilda going for only its second championship. He planned to watch the game and worry about sleep some other night.

Saturday’s third round, with tee times moved up because of NBC Sports’ obligation to Notre Dame football, could determine whether this FedEx Cup finale is a three-man race.

Ogilvy, at 7-under 133, was the only player within four shots of the leaders. K.J. Choi did well to stay close by knocking in a 45-foot birdie putt on the par-3 18th, one of only seven birdies on that hole through two rounds.

Phil Mickelson’s hopes were fading. He had a chance to become the first repeat winner of the Tour Championship, and even a runner-up finish would be enough to replace Woods at No. 1 in the world ranking. Mickelson, however, had a 72 and was tied for 13th, nine shots out of the lead.

Paul Casey, getting plenty of attention for his Ryder Cup snub, had a share of the lead at various times during the hot afternoon until a sloppy finish, making bogeys on this last three holes for a 71. That put him in the group at 3-under 137.

Casey is No. 5 in the standings – the highest-seeded player without a victory this year – and he could wind up a FedEx Cup champion with a runner-up finish depending on how top-seeded Matt Kuchar fares.

“If I want to get up there and challenge those guys, I’m going to have to hit it a lot better than I did today,” Casey said.

Furyk was in that spot a year ago – a chance to win the FedEx Cup without winning on tour that year. He was a stronger contender this year with his victories at Innisbrook and Hilton Head. But then he lost ground with his pro-am blunder. Furyk headed home to Florida, making no excuses for his battery dying in a cell phone that he used for an alarm.

The tour changed its pro-am policy a week later after an outcry by just about every player except him.

“It was my fault,” Furyk said. “If I whined or complained or anything about the rule, it’s just going to make me look worse. My peers actually did plenty of that for me.”

He got plenty of sympathy, followed by plenty of grief.

“Hundreds of people told me that I was going to get alarm clocks for Christmas,” Furyk said.

He could afford plenty of those depending on how the rest of the week goes. He has made only one bogey through 36 holes, that coming on the seventh hole Friday when he missed the green to the right and missed a 7-foot par putt.

All he is thinking about his a good round Saturday, another one Sunday then figure out where he is.

“Yesterday I said all I want to do was think about the next day, try to shoot a round in the 60s,” Furyk said. “I’ll be doing the same thing tonight – try to shoot another round in the 60s and put myself in the hunt.”

That’s not a simple task at East Lake, which is such a stern test that it doesn’t take much for a round in the 60s to wind up over par. Kuchar had to play one shot on the 17th hole with his feet in the water and scrambled for a 70, leaving him in a tie for 15th at 2-over 142.

Charley Hoffman, the surprise winning in Boston to get to No. 3 in the standings, rallied with a 67 and was among the nine players still under par. He was at 2-under 138. The other players in the top five in the FedEx Cup – they only have to win to capture the prize – were Dustin Johnson (71) at 144 and Steve Stricker (68) at 142.

Donald hasn’t won on the U.S. tour all year, but he is showing great form with the Ryder Cup looming. It wasn’t the fairways-and-greens golf for which Donald is known, but it was good enough for a share of the lead.

“The short game on the back nine kind of kept my score together,” he said.

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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.