Power Rankings: WGC-Accenture Match Play

By Will GrayFebruary 18, 2013, 5:03 pm

This week the PGA Tour holds its first World Golf Championship of 2013, as 64 of the game's best head to Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz. for the Accenture Match Play Championship. Divided into four brackets, players will compete all week in individual, single-elimination matches until a winner is crowned.

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Hunter Mahan is back in the field this year, ready to defend the title that he won last year over Rory McIlroy in the final match. Here are 10 players to watch this week in one of the most unpredictable events of the year:

1. Tiger Woods: Making his first start since a dominant win at Torrey Pines, Woods enters as the No. 2 overall seed in search of his first Match Play title since 2008. Though he hasn't advanced past the second round in three appearances since, his game appears able to carry him to the third round and beyond this week. 

2. Charl Schwartzel: Flat-out the hottest player in the world right now. After several high finishes over the past two months, the South African tied for third on the friendly kikuyu grass at Riviera. No one will have more confidence this week at Dove Mountain.

3. Rory McIlroy: The top overall seed, McIlroy made it to the finals last year but missed the cut in his lone professional start of 2013 in Abu Dhabi. Rust and new equipment may still be factors, but the Ulsterman can't be overlooked.

4. Ian Poulter: The match play ninja. Poulter won this event in 2010, won the Volvo Match Play the following year and his Ryder Cup singles record is well-documented. Poulter was ousted in the first round each of the last two years, but the Englishman may be poised for another deep run this week.

5. Luke Donald: A winner here in 2011, Donald has won at least two matches in five of eight appearances in this event. The Englishman will begin the week as the top seed in the Snead bracket after a solid showing at Hogan's Alley last week.

6. Matt Kuchar: Kuchar made the quarterfinals last year after a third-place showing the year prior, and showed positive signs with an opening 64 at Riviera. A potential second-round matchup with Sergio Garcia looms, but the Players champion has shown an affinity for both the venue and format this week.

7. Louis Oosthuizen: Making his first start in the U.S. since a strong run through the 2012 FedEx Cup Playoffs, Oosthuizen already has a win under his belt at the Volvo Golf Champions last month. Though perhaps the least-hyped top seed, the South African's game tee-to-green is among the best in the world.

8. Nick Watney: Has made it to the third round each of the last three years, including ousting Tiger Woods a year ago. Though he has struggled somewhat since a T-4 at Torrey Pines, Watney's draw may open up if he can defeat match play veteran David Toms

9. Adam Scott: Quietly notched a tie for 10th at Riviera after a successful 'off-season' that included a win in his native Australia. Though he has only won two matches in six MPC appearances since 2007, the Aussie's game is showing no signs of early-season rust. 

10. Webb Simpson: The U.S. Open champ appeared in position for a win at Riviera, but nonetheless added another solid finish to his early 2013 season that now includes three top-20s in five starts. Should he keep up his strong play, a third-round match with Tiger Woods may await.

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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.