Harrington leads after 36 as weather makes 'mess' of Honda

By Doug FergusonFebruary 28, 2015, 10:05 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) - Padraig Harrington is a 36-hole leader on the PGA Tour for the first time in nearly five years and he knows he has a long way to go.

A vicious storm Saturday at the Honda Classic made his weekend even longer.

Harrington made six birdies in the 12 holes he played Saturday morning in the rain-delayed tournament to complete a 4-under 66 and take a one-shot lead over Patrick Reed, with Ian Poulter and Brendan Steele another shot behind.

The third round ended 51 minutes after it started because of a storm that packed 50 mph gusts and dumped about 5 inches of rain on PGA National. The storm was so severe that it created an air bubble on the 18th green the size of a sea turtle, caused the sides of bunkers to cave in and toppled an electronic scoreboard off a platform and down to the bottom of a lake.

"That's as bad as I've ever seen it rain," Russell Knox of Scotland said after a 68 left him four shots behind.


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Only 24 players completed a hole before the storm arrived, causing the third delay of the week. The plan was to return at 10 a.m. Sunday to resume the round, and continue with the same pairings to play as much as possible on Sunday. The tournament now is to end on Monday.

"We've got pretty much a mess," said Slugger White, the tour's vice president of competition.

It helps that the next event is a World Golf Championship about a 90-minute drive down the highway at Doral, and there is no pro-am.

Harrington, the three-time major champion from Ireland, has fallen to No. 297 in the world and couldn't qualify for Doral even if he were to win. He won the Indonesian Open on the Asian Tour at the end of last year, ending a four-year drought dating to another Asian Tour event.

His last PGA Tour victory was his second straight major, the 2008 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills. He said the benefit of playing Indonesia was a boost to his confidence, on and off the golf course. At such a small tournament, his name resonates.

"They treat you like a star, you play like a star," he said. "I'm back to being a three-time major winner. I went for that reason - to give my ego a boost. There's definitely a lot to being a big fish in a small pond."

That was a proper analogy when PGA National turned into a pond, and Harrington surely played the role of a big fish.

Thanks to nearly four hours of rain delays Friday, he made it through six holes and returned Saturday with back-to-back birdies on the 16th and 17th holes, and then another from about 10 feet on No. 1, posing over just about every shot.

After a bogey set up by a wild tee shot on the par-5 third hole - he had to pitch down the second fairway because of the trees - Harrington ran off three straight birdies before a few loose tee shots cost him. The rough had become so thick and wet that he couldn't reach the green on his last two holes, making bogeys on both.

He finished at 7-under 133.

"It's nice to be in contention," Harrington said. "I'm very positive about my game coming in here this week. I don't know what's going to happen the next 36 holes, but I have a good idea where I'm going. I'm pretty confident."

Reed finished his 67 on Friday.

Poulter matched the low round of the week at PGA National with a 64 and was two shots back. He holed out for eagle with a sand wedge on the fourth hole and dropped only one shot on the back nine.

"If I play half as good as I've obviously played today, then I'm going to have a chance come Sunday," Poulter said.

Steele's 69 score doesn't reflect his up-and-down day. He didn't make a par until the 10th hole, playing the front nine with six birdies and three bogeys. And then he made nothing but pars on the back nine except for a double bogey on the 16th.

Luke Donald finished his 67 on Friday and was another shot back at 4-under 136.

The cut was at 4-over 144 and didn't include Rory McIlroy. His first tournament in America in five months lasted only two days for the world's No. 1 player. McIlroy bogeyed three of his last four holes on Friday for a 74 and missed the cut by three shots. 

Phil Mickelson, who had missed two straight cuts on the West Coast swing, finished up at 67 on Saturday and was five shots behind.

The focus on Sunday starts with Harrington.

"Through 27 holes, I was the most confident guy in the world, and less so at the moment," he said after his bogey-bogey finish. "I know it's going to be a long weekend, and a tough weekend. I have two options. I can play well on the weekend or I can dig deep and hang in there."

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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.