Garcia leads Woods by one at Players through 36

By Doug FergusonMay 10, 2013, 9:50 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The Players Championship already provides plenty of theater because of its thrill-a-minute golf course. Making it even more compelling is the star attraction of Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods, playing in the final group on the weekend for the first time in nearly seven years.

Garcia made seven straight putts – six of them for birdie – on his way to a 7-under 65 to match his best score on the TPC Sawgrass.

That gave him a one-shot lead over Woods, who again made short work of the par 5s and posted his second straight 67. Woods broke his own 36-hole record at Sawgrass by six shots and can't find much wrong with his game at the moment.

It's hard to call it a rivalry because it's so one-sided.

Not only does Woods have a 77-8 margin in PGA Tour victories, (and 14-0 in the majors) in the previous five times they were in the final group on the weekend, Woods has gone on to win all five times.


Highlights: Garcia leads Woods by one after Round 2

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Asked about the possibility of playing with Woods on Saturday, Garcia said he wouldn't see it as anything but another round of golf.

''I don't have to measure myself against anybody,'' Garcia said. ''I know what I want to try to do, and any given day I can shoot a round like this and any other day he can shoot a good round and beat me. Like we always say, it's not a sprint, it's a marathon. So there are going to be good days and not so good days, so just got to enjoy the good ones as much as possible.''

This was a good day.

Garcia ran off five straight birdies, ending the streak with putts from 20 feet and 25 feet, and then he added a 40-foot birdie putt on the par-3 eighth. Garcia, who won The Players in 2008, was at 11-under 133.

Woods looks like he's having a good time on the course that has vexed him more than any other on the PGA Tour, and he could be the greater threat on the weekend. He now is 8-under on the par 5s this week, including a 20-foot eagle putt on No. 2 that gave him a share of lead. Woods took the outright lead with a short birdie putt on No. 4 until Garcia blazed by him with his string of birdies.

Woods was asked if there was any part of his game that made him unhappy.

''No, I'm pretty pleased with where it's at right now,'' Woods replied.

The reporter looked at him, waiting for more. Woods looked back and finally added with a grin, ''Did I answer that?''

Woods and Garcia have played together on big stages – Bethpage Black, Royal Liverpool – with a big edge for Woods. They first were linked when the Spaniard was 19 and gave Woods all he could handle at Medinah in the 1999 PGA Championship. They were paired in the final round of the 2002 U.S. Open and 2006 British Open, the year Garcia dressed all in yellow.

But with the tournament only halfway over, this is far more than a duel between Woods and Garcia.

The 18 players within five shots of the lead include three current major champions – Adam Scott, Webb Simpson and Rory McIlroy – along with Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson, Steve Stricker, Hunter Mahan and Zach Johnson.

Westwood chipped in from 100 feet for eagle on the 11th hole and was atop the leaderboard until making pars on his last eight holes. He had a 66 and was two shots behind, along with Kevin Chappell (66) and Stenson, who had two eagles on the front nine in his round of 67.

Ryan Palmer, who learned Thursday night that one of his best friends died in a car accident in San Antonio, had two eagles in a round of 69 and was three shots behind. Defending champion Matt Kuchar birdied three of his last four holes for a 66 and was at 7-under 137, along with Scott, Mahan and Johnson.

McIlroy was coming off back-to-back bogeys when he chose to go for the green in two at the par-5 ninth – he had planned to lay up each day. He hit the trees and got into a mess, and McIlroy made his third straight bogey. He rallied on the back for a 72 and was in the group at 6-under 138.

''I've made the cut, which I'm delighted about,'' said McIlroy, who had missed the weekend his three previous times. ''But I am in there with a chance.''

Woods won The Players in 2001, highlighted by that 60-foot putt on the island green described by NBC Sports analyst Gary Koch as ''better than most.'' But he has only seriously contended twice, and he has failed to crack the top 20 eight times in 15 appearances.

Woods is accentuating only the positive.

''Even though I haven't played well in the past, I've still won here,'' he said. ''Actually, I've won here twice, technically.''

He was referring to the U.S. Amateur in 1994, the first of his three straight titles.

''I haven't played my best here, but I've always felt that courses, even though it's been a while I've won on them, I've still won on them,'' Woods said. ''I know how to get around this golf course. This course, more than most, really tests every facet of your game. You have to drive the ball well. You have to hit your irons in the correct spots, and if you don't hit your irons in the correct spots, you're going to have some really funky up-and-downs.

''It's trying to manage the ball in the correct spots, and I've done that the first two days.''

Woods twice made bogey, both times missing the fairway to the right on No. 14 and No. 7. He finished with a 20-foot birdie putt.

Garcia, for two hours, looked like he couldn't miss.

His streak began with a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-5 second. He stuffed his tee shot into 6 feet on the third, and hit wedge to 8 feet on the fourth. He followed that with his two long birdie putts, made a putt just inside 15 feet for par on the seventh and ended his big run with the 40-footer on No. 8.

Garcia also is a past champion, winning a playoff in 2008.

''Fortunately for me, I've managed to play quite decent on this golf course,'' Garcia said. ''So any good thing that you can get in your head, it's obviously positive and those kind of things always help. But it's a different year. We'll see if we can manage to do something similar.''

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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.