Power Rankings: 2014 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

By Will GrayJuly 29, 2014, 5:37 pm

This week marks the 38th event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, as the Tour heads to Ohio for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. An elite field of 76 players will tee it up this week at Firestone Country Club, with the season's final major now just one week away.

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Tiger Woods returns to defend the title he won here a year ago by seven shots over Keegan Bradley and Henrik Stenson. Here are 10 names to watch this week in Akron:

1. Rory McIlroy: No reason to back off McIlroy now that he's making his first start as Open champion. The Ulsterman has finished no worse than T-25 all season long on the PGA Tour, and now he heads to Akron with unlimited confidence. Despite a pedantic record at Firestone, he's the odds-on favorite for a reason this week.

2. Adam Scott: Scott won here in 2011, the highlight of a trio of top-15 finishes since 2010. The Aussie tied for fifth at Royal Liverpool despite getting the short end of the draw, his fourth consecutive top-10 finish on the PGA Tour dating back to his playoff win at Colonial.

3. Jim Furyk: Furyk came agonizingly close to ending his four-year winless drought last week in Canada, but his runner-up finish in Montreal was still his third such result this year and fourth top-five showing in his last seven starts. He has three top-10 finishes in the last four years at Firestone, including T-2 in 2012, and is fifth on Tour in scoring average.

4. Justin Rose: Rose tied for 23rd at the Open, a solid follow-up to back-to-back wins at Congressional and Royal Aberdeen. He was a runner-up at Firestone in 2007 and tied for fifth as recently as 2012. Rose has 10 top-25 finishes in 14 PGA Tour starts this season, and the overall consistency of his game should be rewarded this week in Akron.

5. Rickie Fowler: Fowler notched a second consecutive runner-up finish in a major two weeks ago in England, and is playing with some serious momentum for a player whose last win came in 2012. Fowler has cracked the top 15 in his last four worldwide starts and now tees it up on a course where he tied for second in 2011.

6. Keegan Bradley: Bradley tied for second last year in defense of his Bridgestone title from 2012, and he has broken par in 10 of his 12 competitive rounds at Firestone. His T-19 finish at the Open came on the heels of a tie for fourth at the Greenbrier, and Bradley now has 11 top-20 finishes this season.

7. Jordan Spieth: Spieth is making his first appearance at Firestone, but he's been a model of consistency this season, with eight top-20 finishes in his last 10 starts dating back to his runner-up finish at the Masters. As 2013 showed, a lack of course knowledge is no reason to doubt this 21-year-old.

8. Henrik Stenson: The Swede was a runner-up here a year ago, a result that came in the midst of a torrid stretch that yielded him both the FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai titles. While he failed to contend at Royal Liverpool, Stenson does appear to have found his footing after a shaky start to 2014 and enters this week ranked fifth on Tour in total driving.

9. Brendon Todd: While he is making his first appearance at Firestone, Todd may be the hottest American player right now. His T-39 finish at Hoylake was respectable, but it was also his worst finish since May, as the 29-year-old ran off five straight top-20 finishes after his win in Dallas. He enters this week ranked third on Tour in strokes gained putting and fifth in scrambling.

10. Matt Kuchar: Kuchar quietly notched a T-4 finish last week in Canada, his 10th top-10 finish in just 19 starts this season. Kuchar has a solid track record at Firestone, with a pair of top-10 finishes since 2010 and no result worse than T-27 across that stretch.

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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.