Furyk, Goosen share lead at Transitions

By Doug FergusonMarch 18, 2012, 12:01 am

PALM HARBOR, Fla. ' Retief Goosen was about ready to give up.

His lower back was in so much pain that he decided to withdraw next week from Bay Hill so he could get treatment. A double bogey late in his round knocked him nine spots down the leaderboard, which he figured was the end of his hopes to get into the Masters.

One day later, everything changed.

Goosen ran off three straight birdies on the back nine and closed with a tough par from the fairway bunker on the 18th hole Saturday for a 6-under 65 that put him atop the leaderboard with Jim Furyk in the Transitions Championship.

Goosen is No. 52 in the world ranking, and he has to be in the top 50 after next week to avoid missing Augusta National'along with St. Andrews, his favorite course'for the first time since 1999.

Or he can avoid the math and just win the tournament, which comes with an automatic invitation.

Those prospects looked dim when he decided Friday to pull out of Bay Hill and arranged for a protein injection in Virginia on Wednesday. Suddenly, the final round is packed with significance.

Maybe Im fighting for that last spot in Augusta, he said.

Either way, it figures to be quite a battle.

Furyk, determined to overcome an atrocious season in 2011, surged into the lead with a 6-iron that covered the flag on the par-3 15th hole and settled three feet away for a birdie. He fell back into a tie on the 18th hole with a three-putt bogey up a steep ridge. That gave him a 66.

Furyk and Goosen, former U.S. Open champions who have won before at Innisbrook, were at 11-under 202.

I made some birdies out of the rough today and was able to knock some putts in and keep the round going, Furyk said. I played very patient, and when I struggled'no putts were going in'I didnt let it bother me.

Furyk was tied for the lead with Sang-Moon Bae, the South Korean rookie who lost in the quarterfinals of the Match Play Championship to Rory McIlroy.

Bae escaped with a par on the par-5 14th after his 3-wood found the water by making an 18-foot putt. He wasnt so fortunate on the 16th, however. He drove left into the trees to protect against water running down the right side of the hole. He pitched out to the fairway into the rough, flew the green and three-putted for a triple bogey.

He at least made birdie on the 17th and wound up with a 68.

Bae was one shot behind, along with Jason Dufner, who struggled to a 71 and hopes is worst round is out of the way as he tries to win for the first time on the PGA Tour.

Dufner tends to see the glass half-full. Even though he made three straight bogeys to lose a five-shot lead in the final hour of the PGA Championship, he thinks about the tough par he made on the 18th to at least get into a playoff that he lost to Keegan Bradley.

And even though Dufners bogey-free streak ended Saturday on a par 5, he walked off the Copperhead Course realizing that he was only one shot behind, very much in the hunt.

Anything can happen with as many people bunched up like that, he said.

How many?

Goosen started the third round five shots out of the lead and finished atop the leaderboard. There are 28 players separated by five shots going into the final round Sunday.

Ernie Els, who likely would need to win to get into the Masters, had a 68 and was only three shots behind. So was Luke Donald, who can return to No. 1 in the world by winning at Innisbrook.

Harrington has been dropping shots since his course-record 61 on Thursday. He had a 72, yet still was only four behind.

The mystery, however, is Goosen.

He has a bulging disk and a degenerating disk in his lower back, which forced him to miss two majors last year. Kicking a soccer ball with his son last month caused it to flare up again, and the pain has been getting worse. What has saved the South African this week is the warm weather and a few adjustments in his stance to help get through the ball.

Its not good, Goosen said.

He plans to get a protein injection in his disks on Wednesday in Virginia, similar to the treatment that Vijay Singh and Fred Couples have received in Germany. Goosens pain was so bad last year that his left leg went numb when he stooped over, and he started to put 90 percent of his weight on the right side.

He has lost length off the tee, which isnt as big of a factor at Innisbrook. He atoned for that with his putting, which has carried him to a pair of U.S. Open titles over the years.

The last three weeks, its really just started getting bad again, Goosen said. So hopefully, Ill be ready to get going again after the Masters'or maybe the Masters, if I play well tomorrow.

Furyk won the Transitions two years ago, part of a big year that ended with a $10 million bonus for winning the FedEx Cup. He hasnt won since then, and Furyk said he had no one to blame but himself for falling out of the top 50.

He couldnt wait for last year to end, though it finally did on a happy note. He shot 69 the last day at Sherwood for a tie for sixth, earning just enough points that he finished the year at No. 50 by two-hundredths of a point. That at least made him eligible for the Masters, though Furyk hasnt had to worry about qualifying for majors for some 10 years.

His long offseason'Furyk didnt return until Pebble Beach'allowed him to clear his head, and he also sorted out some equipment.

My results probably dont look good on paper, but I feel good about the way Im playing, Furyk said. Ive been playing much better golf this year than I was last year.

DIVOTS: Stewart Cink had a hole-in-one on the par-3 eighth, notable in that he said he also made an ace on the same hole 10 years ago Nine of the 20 players separated by four shots going into the final round are not eligible for the Masters. A win comes with an automatic invitation. The group includes Chris DiMarco and former PGA champion Shaun Micheel.

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.