Power Rankings: 2014 McGladrey Classic

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2014, 6:39 pm

The PGA Tour continues to kick off the 2014-15 season with the McGladrey Classic, the third event of the new season. A field of 144 players will tee it up at Sea Island, where players could be challenged by the nearby ocean breezes.

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Chris Kirk won this event a year ago by one shot over Tim Clark and Briny Baird. Here are 10 players to watch in Georgia:

1. Webb Simpson: Simpson may not be a part of the "Sea Island Mafia," but he certainly knows his way around the Seaside Course. In three appearances he has never finished worse than T-12, including a playoff loss in 2011, and he boasts a 67.2 stroke average in the event. Coming off a T-4 finish in defense of his title in Las Vegas, he is clearly in form and should have another strong week.

2. Bill Haas: Making his first start since the Tour Championship, having been edged out by Simpson for a spot on the Ryder Cup squad. Haas quietly capped a solid season last month, one in which he missed the weekend only once in 28 starts and had 17 top-25 finishes. He was a runner-up here in 2010, his lone prior start at Sea Island.

3. Matt Kuchar: Kuchar is a Sea Island resident and tied for seventh a year ago after four straight rounds of 68 or better. After a taxing end to his season, he's had a week off following his T-21 showing at the Frys.com Open and should have some more gas in the tank - not to mention a few Yellow Jacket fans in his corner.

4. Scott Brown: He's gotten out of the gates quickly this season, with a T-12 in Napa followed by a T-10 in Las Vegas. Brown is an Augusta native so he knows a thing or two about golf in the Peach State, and the 31-year-old tied for fourth last year after finishing T-20 in his McGladrey debut in 2012.

5. Zach Johnson: Johnson is making his first start since the Ryder Cup, but like many in this week's field he has plenty of experience on the Seaside Course. Johnson tied for 16th a year ago, going 68-67 over the weekend, and last year showed a penchant for getting hot during the part of the calendar when many top players choose to sit it out.

6. Chris Kirk: The defending champ is teeing it up for the first time since the Tour Championship, but the momentum from his playoff run should still carry over. Kirk had top-five finishes in two of his last three starts last season, including a win at TPC Boston, and closed out 2013-14 with a 68.6 stroke average across his final three events. Now he returns to a course where he fired bookend 66s en route to victory a year ago.

7. Tony Finau: The long-driving rookie has been hot to start the season, with top-15 finishes at both the Frys.com Open (T-12) and Shriners (T-7). While he will be seeing this week's venue for the first time, Finau has had little trouble fitting into the big leagues so far this month and currently sits second on Tour in birdie average.

8. Hudson Swafford: While some fans may mistake him for his doppelganger and fellow Georgia Bulldog Harris English, Swafford has played well so far this season as he looks to build a name for himself on Tour. Swafford has carded 71 or better in each of his first eight competitive rounds in 2014-15, notching a pair of top-20 finishes in the process, and now plays what amounts to a home game at Sea Island.

9. Nick Watney: After a disappointing season, Watney showed signs of life in August and now has begun his new campaign with a T-16 finish in Las Vegas after four straight rounds in the 60s. While he is making his first start on the Seaside Course, Watney now has four top-25 finishes in his last six starts dating back to July and may soon return to the winner's circle.

10. Martin Laird: Laird cooled after an opening-round 64 at TPC Summerlin, but his T-18 result was still his fourth straight top-20 finish dating back to last season. The Scot now has 16 straight stroke-play rounds of 71 or better and has hit the green in regulation 77 percent of the time to begin the new season.

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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.