Woods plays his best round of the year

By Doug FergusonAugust 26, 2010, 9:44 pm

PARAMUS, N.J. – In his first tournament since his divorce, Tiger Woods finally looked like the No. 1 player in the world Thursday at the Barclays when he opened with a 6-under 65, his lowest score of the year, to share the lead with Vaughn Taylor.

It was Woods’ first time leading after any round on the PGA Tour since the Tour Championship last September.

“It’s exciting to hit the ball flush again,” Woods said. “It’s something I’ve been missing all year.”

He didn’t miss much at Ridgewood Country Club. Woods hit all but one fairway and putted for birdie on all but two holes. And while he hit his driver only twice, they were two of his best shots of the day – including on the 291-yard fifth hole, where his drive landed pin-high and settled 15 feet away.

Was it just a coincidence that his game showed up so soon after his marriage was dissolved?

“I can’t really say that’s the case,” he said. “As far as golf, it was nice to put it together.”

Woods and Taylor both played in the morning, when the greens were smooth and the conditions were only breezy. They had a one-shot lead over Australian Adam Scott, Brian Gay and Ryan Palmer. Scott played in the afternoon, where a gust of wind played tricks on him at the final hole and led to bogey.

Tiger Woods
Woods shot his best score of the year Thursday with a 6-under 65. (Getty Images)
Scott endured a long day in the pro-am Wednesday and didn’t think Ridgewood would serve up a 65 to anyone.

“Seeing some good scores this morning made me change my mind,” he said.

That one of those scores belonged to Woods was hardly a surprise.

“For him to piece things together can’t be too hard,” Scott said. “He’s very good.”

The last time Woods’ was atop the leaderboard after any round of any tournament was when he won the Australian Masters on Nov. 15, less than two weeks after his life caved in on him – the car crash after Thanksgiving night, details of adultery, five months away from the game and a broken marriage, which officially ended Monday.

His golf hasn’t been very good either, which is why Woods began the FedEx Cup playoffs 112th out of 125 players who qualified. He was so low down the list that he was first to tee off under a sunny sky at Ridgewood, the first time he’s done that in his PGA Tour career.

It worked to his advantage.

“With fresh greens, everybody in our group was making putts on the front nine,” Woods said. “You had to get it today.”

And he did. The 65 was his lowest score in 46 rounds, dating to a 62 in the BMW Championship last year. Taylor grinned when asked if he was surprised to see Woods’ name on the leaderboard.

“Somewhat, you know?” he said. “It’s good to see him back up top.”

With sunshine and a light breeze, conditions were ripe for scoring. Palmer had a chance to join the leaders until a three-putt bogey on the 18th put him at 66. Even though the greens became bumpy in the afternoon after so much foot traffic, the course was soft enough to allow for good scores. There were 14 players who shot 67, including Davis Love III, defending champion Heath Slocum and Stewart Cink.

Phil Mickelson, with his ninth chance in the last four months to replace Woods at No. 1 in the world, made only one birdie for a 72.

For Woods, the timing could not have been better.

Only the top 100 in the FedEx Cup standings advance to the second round of the playoffs next week in the Deutsche Bank Championship. Woods at least needs to make the cut, then finish in the middle of the pack. He had a better solution.

“I figure if I win, I should be OK,” Woods said.

For one of the few times this year, he gave himself ample reason to believe that. Woods opened with a 3-wood down the middle of the fairway, a pitching wedge to 15 feet below the hole and a birdie putt.

More followed, even on the par 5s, which have given Woods fits in recent months.

He mostly used his 3-wood off the tee, figuring that was enough to reach the corners without having to take on the tops of trees that line the fairways. Plus, with saturated conditions from rain earlier in the week, tour officials allowed players to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

“With the ball in hand, it’s much more important to hit the fairways,” Woods said. It was the first time since the 2006 British Open at Royal Liverpool that he hit his 3-wood off the tee on every par 5.

The two times he hit the driver turned out to be two of his best shots of the day.

After the tee shot on the par-4 fifth – only six players hit that green off the tee – Woods used driver into the wind on the 18th, hitting it so well that he had only a 7-iron into the green. He hit a punch shot to just over 6 feet for a final birdie.

“It was just a low, bullet fade right around the corner,” he said. “It was just the shape of the shot, because it was different than most of the 3-woods I played all day. I didn’t hold a single 3-wood. I was turning them over. Now, the shape of the driver in the complete opposite direction … and I hadn’t hit a driver since the fifth hole.”

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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.