Notes: Coming off the DL and great perks

By Doug FergusonMarch 14, 2012, 1:53 am

PALM HARBOR, Fla. ' Scott Verplank and Lucas Glover played a practice round together Tuesday at Innisbrook, which was only unusual considering where they have been - on the disabled list.

They return about the time Paul Goydos goes on the DL for what could be three months or more.

Verplank has not played since he withdrew after a 78 in the first round of the Deutsche Bank Championship because the tendon kept slipping out of place in his left wrist. He had surgery two weeks later for a tendon reconstruction, in which tissue was folded over the tendon to help keep it stable.

“I’m pretty sure I’m going to be OK,” Verplank said. “It’s not 100 percent yet. I’m still a little bit leery of hitting irons off marginal lies, when you know you have to take a divot and go get it. A lot of the deal is getting over it in your head.”

Verplank had hoped to return at Phoenix or Riviera, but wasn’t ready. His motivation to return was for the Masters - he is eligible from his tie for fourth in the PGA Championship.

That speaks to what kind of year it was. Verplank said he had weeks when the tendon slipped out of place and make it difficult to hang onto the club. Other weeks, it was fine.

As for the PGA Championship?

“The best it was all year,” he said. “And two weeks later, I couldn’t even play.”

Glover sprained knee ligaments and a tendon the weekend before the PGA Tour season opener at Kapalua when he landed awkwardly after falling from a paddle board.

Glover didn’t realize the severity of the injury until each week rolled around and he wasn’t fit to play. He finally decided to abandon the West Coast swing and prepare for Florida. He felt strong enough to play two weeks ago, but wanted to get into golf shape - walking golf courses on a tender knee.

“The knee is 100 percent,” Glover said. “I’m in good gym shape, but need to make sure I’m in good golf shape to be able to walk four days in a row. That’s the plan for this week.”

He said he would skip Bay Hill, then play Houston in his final tune up before the Masters.

Goydos, 47, had surgery Tuesday to remove a bone spur in his left wrist, which had been bothering him for longer than he cares to remember. He said removing the bone spur was the first step in trying to get his wrist healthy.

“At my age and considering what we do for a living, he’s a little concerned about some cartilage damage,” Goydos said.

Goydos said the pain in his wrist kept getting worse from the opening tournament in Hawaii, and he thought it might be arthritis. When he saw a hand specialist, he saw the X-ray of the bone spur.

“The bone spur doesn’t hurt, but it’s rubbing up against the tendon,” Goydos said.

He said doctors told him he would be out six weeks, but with proper rehabilitation, Goydos said it would be 10 to 15 weeks.

“There’s no reason for me to play unless I’m fit enough to play,” he said.

NEW MEMBERS: Peter Hanson has been trying for the last several years to take up PGA Tour membership, especially after moving his young family to Orlando and joining Lake Nona.

He finally broke through in the two World Golf Championships.

Hanson reached the quarterfinals of the Match Play Championship and earned $270,000, and then he tied for fourth last week in the Cadillac Championship and made $362,500. That’s more than enough to be eligible for special temporary membership, and he’s virtually a lock to be able to become a full PGA Tour member next year.

Hanson has $632,500. He still has the Bridgestone Invitational (guaranteed money), along with four majors and four more regular PGA Tour events for which he already has exemptions.

Hanson is limited to 12 tour starts. Being a special temporary member allows him as many exemptions as he wants. Oddly enough, Hanson might not take any more. This being a Ryder Cup year, he still wants to play a full European Tour schedule to give himself a chance to make the team through European tour money or world ranking points.

His other four PGA Tour events are Transitions, Houston Open, Hilton Head and the Memorial. He also plans to play in the Volvo China Open, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, the French Open and Scottish Open.

Also eligible for special temporary membership is Ryo Ishikawa, on the strength of his runner-up finish in Puerto Rico. That pushed his earnings to $487,471, which is more than 150th on the PGA Tour money list last year.

CLARKE’S PERK: British Open champion Darren Clarke recently picked up another prize that he holds in high regard - membership at Pine Valley Golf Club, perennially rated the No. 1 course in America, and considered among the best in the world.

Clarke said he was waiting for official word, though “it would be a huge honor and privilege.”

“I’ve been going since 1993,” he said. “I know a lot of the members, and it’s always a treat.”

The golf course? The turtle soup? The Par 3 course?

“It’s everything to do with Pine Valley,” he said.

GLOVER’S ADVICE: Brian Harman, the little lefty from Georgia, is part of a refreshing trend among young players (Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler) who play quickly. So life on the PGA Tour his rookie season took some adjustments.

He decided to ask a mentor, Lucas Glover, for advice.

Glover, another player who wastes little time playing, told Harman to make sure he’s the last one in his group to get to his golf ball. Stay behind on the tee to chat, pick through the cooler for a bottle of water, go to the bathroom even he doesn’t need to go.

Glover was on his way to West Palm Beach, Fla., where he played in the Pro-Member at Seminole, when he asked his girlfriend to check on scores from the Honda Classic.

She told him some guy named Brian Harman had shot 61.

“He’s a good listener,” Glover said with a laugh.

DIVOTS: The BMW Championship will be played at Conway Farms north of Chicago in 2013. … Henrik Stenson isn’t sure when his regular caddie - Fanny Sunesson - will be able to return to work. A marshal in Switzerland lifted a rope and tripped her, injuring her back. “Her main priority is to get back to functioning 100 percent in day-to-day stuff, and then we’ll discuss if and how much she can caddie after that,” Stenson said. “The team is getting old.” … Boo Weekley tied for ninth last week in Puerto Rico, his first top 10 since 2010 at the Greenbrier Classic. … J.J. Killeen, Sunghoon Kang and Matt Bettencourt are playing their 10th tournament this week at the Transitions Championship. None are among the top 100 on the money list. … Morgan Pressel will serve as the Girls Golf National Ambassador for the next three years. … All four winners of the Puerto Rico Open - George McNeill, Derek Lamely, Michael Bradley and Greg Kraft - live within 130 miles of each other on the Gulf coast of Florida.

STAT OF THE WEEK: When he returned to golf at the 2010 Masters, Tiger Woods broke par all four rounds. He has not done that at any tournament since then.

FINAL WORD: “If anybody says they are not nervous going into Sunday around the lead, they’re just lying to you. Their psychologist is telling them to lie to themselves.” - Bubba Watson.


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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.