Fact Pack: Tour Championship

By Will GraySeptember 18, 2012, 8:00 pm

This week the FedEx Cup playoffs head to East Lake outside Atlanta, where a champion will be crowned on Sunday. Players can expect to find a lengthy course with slick greens, one that should play softer and even longer due to rains earlier in the week. Bill Haas won last year's event, but is not among the field of 30 that will tee it up this week. With that in mind, here is a look inside the numbers to see which players may contend for the title and help your Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge team in the process:

John Huh becomes just the fifth Tour rookie to advance to the Tour Championship since the playoff format began in 2007. Already a winner earlier this year at the Mayakoba Golf Classic, Huh was among 11 rookies in the field at The Barclays but the only one to make it to the fourth stage of the playoffs. He currently ranks sixth on Tour in total birdies and eighth in driving accuracy.

Bill Haas improbably won the FedEx Cup last year despite starting the Tour Championship in 25th place on the points list. Entering this week, that position belongs to Webb Simpson, whose role will be reversed from 2011. The U.S. Open champion will need lots of help to claim the $10 million prize, whereas last year he came to East Lake atop the points list, only to finish 22nd out of 30 players.

• Last year, Haas was able to tame the slick greens of East Lake en route to victory, leading the field in putts per GIR. The man entering this year's event with arguably the hottest flat stick is Brandt Snedeker, who leads the Tour in strokes gained putting, ranks second in putts per round and fourth in total putting. A winner earlier this year at Torrey Pines, Snedeker was third in the field in strokes gained putting at The Barclays and tenth in the same category at TPC Boston.

• Seven players will be making their first appearance at East Lake this week, including points leader Rory McIlroy. The Ulsterman has taken each of the last two playoff events, averaging only 26.4 putts per round in the process. For perspective, that's a full 1.5 putts fewer per round than Greg Chalmers has averaged this year while leading the Tour in putts per round - the same amount separating Chalmers from a group tied for 124th in the category.

• Still reeling from the disappointment of missing out on next week's Ryder Cup, Hunter Mahan returns to a place where he missed out on last year's top prize by the slimmest of margins. He will be looking for his first top-30 finish since the British Open, a struggle that can largely be traced back to issues on the green. While Mahan finished 2011 ranked 13th on Tour in strokes gained putting, he now finds himself ranked 119th in the same category for 2012.

• With rain in the forecast early in the week, players can expect softer course conditions and viewers may get treated to a birdie barrage similar to those seen at TPC Boston and Crooked Stick. Six of the top seven players in approach proximity to the hole will be firing at the East Lake pins this week, led by Steve Stricker who sits atop the metric for 2012.

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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.