Ogilvy defends title at SBS Championship

By Doug FergusonJanuary 11, 2010, 8:05 am
SBS Championship

KAPALUA, Hawaii – Nothing was familiar about Geoff Ogilvy’s return to Kapalua except the winner’s lei draped around his neck.

Ogilvy was playing a new brand of equipment, with conforming new grooves in his wedges. Instead of a family vacation on Maui, his wife stayed home in the final month of her pregnancy. The superstitious stubble from last year gave way to a clean shave. The biggest change of all was the scorecoard – instead of a comfortable lead, Ogilvy had to rally.

Geoff Ogilvy
Geoff Ogilvy poses once again with the SBS Championship trophy. (Getty Images)

That’s what made his victory Sunday in the SBS Championship so gratifying.

A year after winning by six shots, Ogilvy made up a two-shot deficit over his final 10 holes with smart decisions and flawless golf for a 6-under 67 and a one-shot victory over Rory Sabbatini, making him only the second repeat winner at Kapalua.

Even though he was stunned to see Sabbatini run off five straight birdies and close with a 63, Ogilvy knew what he had to do. He wasn’t playing the course, or even a player. He was playing against a number.

“If you beat Sabbo’s score, you’re going to win the tournament,” Ogilvy said. “It’s hard to make birdies when you have to make birdies. I’ve had that situation with a couple of holes to play, but never with nine holes to play. I’m pretty proud of the fact I did it.”

Ogilvy posted his eighth consecutive round in the 60s at Kapalua and joined Stuart Appleby, a fellow Australian, as the only players to win in consecutive years since the winners-only season opener moved to Kapalua in 1999. Appleby won three straight years. Only five other players have won back-to-back in the 58 years of this event.

“I like the golf course, I think it’s fair to say,” Ogilvy said.

Even though he trailed in the middle of his round, Ogilvy still had plenty of holes in front of him.

He played short of the par-4 14th, a 272-yard hole where most players were hitting driver, and pitched to 4 feet for birdie. And he took the outright lead with a 5-wood into 25 feet for a two-putt birdie on the 15th.

With so much talk about the V-shaped grooves required this year, Ogilvy said that helped him on the 14th, where it’s easy to spin the ball off the front of the green and back into the fairway.

“I was happy with the smart play, and it paid off,” he said.

Sabbatini, who started the final round six shots behind, ran off five straight birdies on the back nine to seize the lead. He couldn’t reach the green on the 663-yard 18th in two, however, and missed a 10-foot birdie putt that ultimately cost him.

“I said to my caddie, ‘We need to birdie the last two holes to have a chance,”’ Sabbatini said. “The situation was you had to keep moving forward to put pressure on him. I had my opportunity, and unfortunately, it didn’t pan out.”

Ogilvy finished at 22-under 270 and moved back into the top 10 in the world with his seventh career PGA Tour victory.

It was his first win since the Match Play Championship last February. The trick now is for Ogilvy to keep this form throughout the year, and he hopes he can learn from mistakes a year ago when he tried too hard and practiced more than usual.

He is taking next week off before playing in Abu Dhabi, then returns home to Arizona for the birth of his third child.

U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover’s bid to become the second straight wire-to-wire winner at Kapalua ended early when he hit into the hazard on consecutive holes and lost three shots. He closed with a 76 and was 14th in the 28-man field.

Matt Kuchar lingered without seriously threatening, missing several chances on the middle of the back nine as Ogilvy pulled farther ahead. He closed with a 67 and finished alone in third.

Sean O’Hair made all the right moves to give himself a chance. He was at 20 under, two shots out of the lead with a chance to reach the par-5 18th in two. He was quick with his swing and pulled it into the weeds, leading to double bogey and a 68 to finish fourth.

The Kona wind returned again, which makes Kapalua a tough start and finish, with birdies available in between and trouble on any hole with a poor shot. Sabbatini breezed through with a 32 on the front to get in the mix,

“I was just battling the putter the first three days,” Sabbatini said. “I came out today not knowing what to expect, and the flat stick showed up early.”

Even so, he got some help from the leaders. Ogilvy was in the lead until he pushed his tee shot badly to the right and into the knee-high native grass for a one-shot penalty. Glover followed him into the hazard, and both made bogey. From the middle of the next fairway, Glover came out of his shot and shoved it into the high grass again, leading to double bogey. While he bounced back with two birdies, a three-putt on the 10th ended his chances.

Sabbatini, a bundle of South African energy who always looks to be in a hurry, wasted no time seizing the lead.

He attacked a dangerous pin on the par-3 11th with an 8-iron for the first of five consecutive birdies, finishing the streak by driving to the back of the green on the 282-yard 14th and hitting his approach to the par-5 15th to 15 feet for another easy birdie. Most impressive was a 5-iron into 12 feet for one of only two birdies on the 552-yard 17th.

That was supposed to be the hard part of his plan to birdie the last two holes. His 10-foot birdie putt on the 18th caught the right lip.

In his only other chance to win at Kapalua, he missed a 3 1/2 -foot birdie putt on the 18th in 2002 that would have forced a playoff.

“I swear I’ll make a putt one of these years on 18,” he said.

DIVOTS: For only the second time at Kapalua, everyone in the winners-only field broke par. Mark Wilson and Heath Slocum tied for last at 2-under 290. The other time was in 2003, when Rich Beem finished last at 290. … All but eight players are going over to Honolulu for the Sony Open next week at Waialae. … Paul Casey, battling a rib injury since July, had his first top-10 finish since Colonial.

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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.