Shigeki Maruyama takes lead at Sony Open

By Doug FergusonJanuary 16, 2011, 5:37 am

2007 Sony OpenHONOLULU – Shigeki Maruyama had another 5-under 65 and found himself atop the leaderboard in the Sony Open on Saturday, allowing him to look ahead to the final round.

He is more concerned about stamina than nerves.

Maruyama, winless on the PGA Tour since 2003, hit a bunker shot that banged into pin and dropped for birdie on the par-3 seventh to break out of a tie, and a two-putt birdie on the short par-5 ninth gave him a two-shot advantage over the early starters.

Stuart Appleby, the 18-hole leader, was among those who played Waialae in the afternoon.

Because the opening round was washed out by rain, the Sony Open is to be decided by a 36-hole final round. The 41-year-old Maruyama 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,” said Maruyama, who was at 10-under 130.

He was two shots clear of Steve Marino (67) and Roland Thatcher (65), whose runner-up finish at Disney in the final PGA Tour event last year enabled him to keep his card and book a trip to Hawaii.

Matt Kuchar, coming off a PGA Tour money title and the Vardon Trophy, had a 67 and was at 7-under 133. The group at 134 includes Boo Weekley (66) and Chris DiMarco (67), who are looking to turn their fortunes around.

Anthony Kim had the best score of the morning group, a 64 that got him back into the picture.

The cut was to be the nearest number of players to 60th place to keep the field small for the 36-hole final. Anyone finishing in the top 70 will still receive credit for a cut, along with money and FedEx Cup points.

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

Maruyama, playing on a sponsor exemption, is popular at this tournament with several Japanese in the gallery and a Japanese sponsor. He has not been heard from much since going three straight seasons with a PGA Tour victory a decade ago, part of that from back and shoulder issues.

Waialae is one of his favorite courses, however, because there’s not a premium on length. Accuracy wasn’t a big deal for him Saturday, as he hit only five fairways. Putting? That helps anywhere, and Maruyama had only 25 putts, helped by holing the bunker shot on No. 7 and knocking in a 40-foot putt from the fringe on the 15th.

But he is well aware the tournament is only half over.

“I haven’t gotten that far yet to think about winning,” he said through an interpreter. “Right now, it’s just been about really trying to play good golf and entertain the Japanese tourists who are here in number.”

Not many other players are as happy to be on the shores near Waikiki quite like Thatcher. He blew a chance to start his season even earlier with the rest of the winners at Kapalua, although he wasn’t complaining. A clutch putt on the last hole at Disney gave him enough money that he didn’t have to go back to Q-school.

He said the experience aged him a year. Oddly enough, he didn’t feel like resting.

“Instead of being dead exhausted at the end of the year, I think I had a little extra pep in my step heading into the offseason and actually didn’t take time off at all,” Thatcher said. “I tried to hit this year with a little bit quicker start, and so far it’s paying off.”

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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.