Johnson Day atop leaderboard in Boston

By Doug FergusonSeptember 4, 2010, 3:36 am
PGA Tour (75x100)NORTON, Mass. – Zach Johnson and Jason Day beat up on the course and beat the weather at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

For Tiger Woods, it was the other way around.

Johnson strengthened his Ryder Cup case Friday by rolling in putts from everywhere in easy scoring conditions ahead of Hurricane Earl, giving him an 8-under 63 and a share of the lead with Day.

Woods had two bogeys in four holes when the first patch of rain arrived, and it didn’t get much better. He had two more bogeys and was in last place until he fought back for a 72, leaving him three shots below the projected cut. If he doesn’t make the cut Saturday, Woods will not advance to defend his title next week outside Chicago.

“I’m going to have to shoot something good tomorrow, hopefully move up a little bit,” Woods said. “Obviously, get off to a better start than I did today.”

Scoring was so ideal that Johnson and Day had a 63 and still only had a one-shot lead—over eight players. That group included Ryder Cup hopeful Ryan Palmer, Rory McIlroy and Geoff Ogilvy, who had the best score of anyone in the afternoon.

That they finished the first round was a bonus considering the Earl forecast. More surprising was that the wind never arrived, and late starters only had to cope with the nuisance of an occasional shower.

“It had the potential to be the most lopsided draw in history,” Ogilvy said, noting that gusts upward of 50 mph were expected. “It was way better than we assumed it was going to be.”

The outer bands of Earl began arriving right after Johnson and Day finished. But after a 1 1/2 -hour rain delay, there was little more than a breeze along with a few bursts of rain, none long enough that Woods ever put on a rain jacket.

Woods’ problem was putting his tee shots into the short grass—he missed eight of 14 fairways—and not converting enough putts. He officially entered the BMW Championship next week, a formality, and now has to finish inside the top 70 in the FedEx Cup standings. Woods started the week in 65th place.

Phil Mickelson, with his 10th chance to replace Woods at No. 1 in the world, opened with a 69.

Getting to the third round of the playoffs is not an issue for Johnson. His hopes this week start with the Ryder Cup, knowing that Corey Pavin will announce his four captain’s picks on Tuesday in New York.

Most players believe Johnson is in good shape to get one of the picks, and opening with a 63 certainly didn’t hurt.

“It would be an honor, and I want to get on that team very, very bad,” Johnson said. “But you can justify the case for a number of guys. I’m not concerned about it. I’m going to let things fall where they fall. I feel like if I keep performing decent, then I’ll have a pretty good chance.”

Day, the 36-hole leader last week at The Barclays, shot 30 on the back nine.

Defending champion Steve Stricker, who has an outside shot to go to No. 1 in the world this week, was in the group at 65. Matt Kuchar, who won last week at The Barclays and leads the FedEx Cup standings, was in the group at 66.

One thing was clear under a gray sky south of Boston—the early starters had an advantage. Of the 27 players who shot 66 or better, only seven of those rounds came in the afternoon. Even in conditions that were calm and dry, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway. The tour had to do that in case the first round was not completed Friday and the course became saturated.

Combine that with the shorter tees and accessible pins, and birdies were easy to find.

“There’s a lot of deep scores out there,” Day said. “It was out there today. Hopefully, this thing can blow through and not hit us too hard. But I’ll probably try and put his round behind me and just focus on the next round.”

What makes Johnson so appealing as a captain’s pick is his short game, and that was evident Friday.

He chipped in from behind the 10th green for birdie on his opening hole, made a 30-foot birdie on the 11th, and his day got even better when he holed a 35-foot birdie on the 17th over a knob on the green. He made two birdies on the par 5s with his wedge game and hit his best shot on the par-3 eighth, a 6-iron to about 6 feet.

“This is probably the easiest this golf course can play,” Johnson said. “So I’m not taking anything for granted right now. I’m excited about the remainder of the week.”

Woods hit driver more times Friday than he did all last week at Ridgewood, and all but one of his missed fairways were to the left. He had to pitch out sideways on the 15th and scrambled just to make bogey.

He turned it around with consecutive birdies on the 17th and 18th, but lost three good chances on his front nine.

“I just didn’t have it today,” Woods said. “I wasn’t really doing what I was supposed to be doing out there swing-wise, and then wasn’t releasing the blade out there and was dragging it a little bit. It was a bad day all round.”

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.