Power Rankings: 2014 John Deere Classic

By Will GrayJuly 7, 2014, 4:52 pm

This week marks the 35th event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, as the Tour heads to Illinois for the John Deere Classic. A full field of 156 players will tee it up this week at TPC Deere Run, where scores are expected to be low from the start and where back-nine heroics have been the norm in recent years.

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Jordan Spieth returns to defend the title he won here a year ago in a playoff over Zach Johnson and David Hearn. Here are 10 names to watch this week in Silvis:

1. Zach Johnson: With four top-five finishes here since 2009, including a win in 2012 and a near-miss last year, Johnson is the man to beat this week. While he has cooled since his hot start to the season, with no top 25s since May, Johnson doesn't shy away from the fact that this is a big event for him as an Iowa resident and his play backs it up. He is sixth on Tour this season in fairways hit and has fired 20 straight rounds in the 60s at TPC Deere Run.

2. Steve Stricker: The former master of this event, Stricker won three straight titles at TPC Deere Run from 2009-2011. While he has played a limited schedule in 2014, the veteran does come off a solid week at Greenbrier where he was in the mix for the first three days and tied for 21st at Pinehurst last month. Even when he hasn't been winning this event, Stricker was T-5 in 2012 and tied for 10th in 2013.

3. Jordan Spieth: The defending champ has shown no signs of a sophomore slump: six top 10s and 15 top 25s in 19 starts this season, including seven top-20 finishes in his last eight starts overall dating back to the Masters. Spieth surprised many with his dramatic win here a year ago, but a repeat should come as no surprise as the 20-year-old currently sits eighth on Tour in both scrambling and scoring average.

4. Ryan Moore: Making his first start since a tie for fifth at the Travelers Championship, Moore recorded top-25 finishes at this event each of the last two years, including a tie for eighth in 2012. He's among the best ball-strikers on Tour, ranking 12th on Tour in GIR percentage and 17th in fairways hit, and can go low when needed, as evidenced by his three rounds of 63 this season.

5. Chris Kirk: His week at Greenbrier was derailed by a Saturday 75, but Kirk has now made 22 straight cuts dating back to last season and is among the Tour's most consistent players. In three starts at TPC Deere Run, he has finished no worse than T-30 and recorded 11 straight sub-par rounds before a Sunday 72 dropped him out of contention a year ago.

6. Chris Stroud: Stroud punched his ticket to Royal Liverpool with his T-4 finish at Greenbrier, his third top-20 result in his last four starts. Stroud is still in search of his first win but now has four top-10 finishes to his credit this season, and is among the Tour's best around the green (sixth in scrambling). He has never missed the cut in five starts at this event, including two top-25 finishes.

7. Harris English: Seen for many weeks as the next breakout star of 2014, English has slowed down a bit recently but did notch his seventh top-10 finish of the season at the Travelers Championship in his most recent start. English tied for 15th in his Deere debut last year and enters this week ranked eighth on Tour in GIR percentage, ninth in birdie average and ninth in scoring average.

8. Brendon de Jonge: The Zimbabwean still can't find that elusive first win, but he has now made nine cuts in a row, including six top-30 finishes. De Jonge had three straight top-20 finishes at TPC Deere Run from 2010-2012, including a T-7 result in 2011 when he played in the final pairing Sunday, and enters this week ranked 24th on Tour in total driving.

9. Billy Hurley III: Hurley let one slip away Sunday at Greenbrier, but he is still in the midst of a career year and now has made seven straight cuts, with five top-40 finishes across that span and top-10 results in back-to-back starts. He's among the straightest drivers on Tour (seventh in fairways hit), ranks 12th this season in scrambling and tied for eighth at TPC Deere Run in his most recent visit (2012).

10. Kevin Na: Na struggled to back up an opening 66 at Greenbrier last week, but he still has top-25 finishes in more than half of his starts this season. The 30-year-old is making his first trip to TPC Deere Run since 2008 and will look to continue a solid '13-'14 campaign, having already notched a pair of runner-up finishes in Tampa and Columbus and entering this week 11th on Tour in scoring average.

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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.