Maruyama Appleby share lead at Sony Open

By Doug FergusonJanuary 16, 2011, 8:48 am

2007 Sony OpenHONOLULU – For the second straight day, Stuart Appleby plodded along the soft fairways of Waialae until he closed strong with improbable shots for eagle or a string of birdies.

That recipe could really come in handy Sunday.

Appleby, who holed out with a 5-iron for eagle on the 16th hole in the opening round, chipped in from 90 feet across the green on the par-3 seventh Saturday. That was part of a birdie-birdie-birdie finish for a 4-under 66 and a share of the lead with Shigeki Maruyama.

But the tournament is only half over.

Because of rain that washed out play Thursday, the Sony Open will try to finish Sunday with a 36-hole finale.

“A bit of a crap shoot,” Appleby said. “There’s a lot of guys in this tournament, absolutely. So it’ll be a very interesting finish.”

If the trade wind ever arrives, just about everybody is still in the hunt.

Appleby and Maruyama, who had his second straight 65, were at 10-under 130. They were one shot clear of Roland Thatcher (65), Steve Marino (67) and Mark Wilson (67). Another shot back was a group that included Justin Rose (68) and Matt Kuchar (68), who has picked up from last year when he won the PGA Tour money title and Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average.

The cut was at 1-under 139, and 83 players will get paid.

But because of the 36-hole final, the playing cut was the number of players nearest to 60. With late birdies by Daniel Summerhays and Matt McQuillan, that cut was 56 player at 3-under 137.

That knocked out the likes of Vijay Singh and Zach Johnson.

The gap between top to bottom at the start of Sunday will be seven shots, which can easily be made up over 36 holes.

“Guys can win from seven and eight back on days like that,” said Davis Love III, who shot a 66 and was only four behind. “That makes it interesting. It’s whoever gets hot with the putter.”

The 41-year-old Maruyama, who hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since 2003, loves playing Waialae because the size of his Japanese gallery is larger than usual and there usually isn’t a premium on power along the palm tree-lined fairways.

He’s not sure about Sunday, however. He looked at his shoes and said with a laugh, “My feet. It’s a problem.”

“I’m getting older, and 36 holes is going to be a struggle,” Maruyama.

What should help is the flat property of Waialae, an old-styled course near the shores of Waikiki Beach.

Anthony Kim matched the low score of the day with a 64 to reach 5-under 135. He was tied with Ernie Els, who might have an advantage based on his experience – not only from winning at Waialae, but playing 36 holes on the last day.

Els faced a 36-hole final round just last month in winning the South African Open. And not many will forget that 36-hole final at Bay Hill in 1998 when he overwhelmed Tiger Woods and Love in the final group.

“That turned out good,” Els said, smiling. “I’m kind of looking forward to tomorrow. I’ve got a month off after tomorrow, and I’d like to let it all hang out.”

Just like his opening round, Appleby wasn’t doing much overly exciting. He was 1 under for his round with three holes to play when he chipped in for an improbable birdie on the seventh. Then came an approach to 2 feet on the next hole for a tap-in birdie, and he reached the green in two on the par-5 ninth for a two-putt birdie and a share of the lead.

“Tomorrow, we’ve got a bit of a sprint, even though it’s going to take us all day,” Appleby said.

It’s not unusual for the PGA Tour to cut to the nearest number of players to 60. The priority always is to finish on Sunday, and that’s the first option mentioned in its guidelines.

But it could lead to an awkward finish. Love recalls early in his career playing the Colonial, which Keith Clearwater won by three shots despite finishing on the ninth hole in the final round.

Els, for example, will be in the first group off Sunday morning on the first tee. There will be no time to change the groups based on third-round scores, so the South African will finish on the ninth hole.

“Anybody who’s made the cut has got a decent change to play for the championship tomorrow,” Thatcher said.

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McCoy earns medalist honors at 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 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 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 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.