Power Rankings: 2015 Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Will GrayMarch 17, 2015, 3:49 pm

The PGA Tour concludes the Florida swing with the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the 18th event of the wraparound season. A field of 132 will tackle Bay Hill Club & Lodge this week, where the winner will receive a three-year Tour exemption.

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Matt Every won this event a year ago by one shot over Keegan Bradley. Here are 10 players to watch in Orlando:

1. Henrik Stenson: The Swede has finished fourth in back-to-back weeks, first at Doral and again at Innisbrook. He has also cracked the top 15 each of the last three years at Bay Hill, highlighted by a T-5 finish last year, and could become the latest high-profile player to enter the winner's circle.

2. Bubba Watson: Watson had an early exit from Bay Hill last year, but he has been remarkably consistent this season: four top-10 finishes in five starts, including a WGC victory, and no finish worse than T-14. Prior to last year's withdrawal, Watson had put together three straight top-25 results at Bay Hill, including T-4 in 2012.

3. Rory McIlroy: McIlroy makes his API debut in what is expected to be his final pre-Masters start. While his club throw grabbed headlines at Doral, he still cobbled together a T-9 finish to rebuild some momentum after his surprising missed cut at PGA National. Another top-10 finish this week would surprise no one.

4. Adam Scott: Scott had one hand on the trophy here a year ago, turning an opening-round 62 into a seven-shot lead at the halfway point. He faltered badly on Sunday en route to a third-place finish, but has a chance for redemption this week. While his streak of made cuts ended at Innisbrook, he was T-4 at Doral just two weeks ago.

5. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama has had a top-five finish in alternating starts this year, which means he's due to contend this week in Orlando. The Japanese phenom is third on Tour in total strokes gained and second in total driving, and his tee-to-green consistency should provide plenty of birdie opportunities at Bay Hill.

6. Jason Day: The Aussie already has a win under his belt this year, and his T-31 finish at Doral was his first result outside the top 20 all season. Day is making just his second start in Orlando since 2011, but he leads the Tour in birdie average and ranks second in GIR percentage.

7. J.B. Holmes: Holmes let a five-shot lead slip away at Doral, but he remains on a tear: T-2, T-10, T-22 and second in his last four starts dating back to a playoff loss at Torrey Pines. Holmes finished T-10 last year at Bay Hill and three of his last four starts in Orlando have gone for top-30 finishes.

8. Kevin Na: Na has quietly thrived at Bay Hill, with four top-15 finishes in his last five starts dating back to 2009. He is once again in the midst of another successful Florida swing, with a T-9 finish at Doral followed by a T-10 result in Tampa where he closed with a 66.

9. Brooks Koepka: A winner earlier this year in Phoenix, Koepka got back on track with a T-17 finish at Doral and now heads to a course where he finished T-26 last year in his debut, highlighted by a Sunday 69. Koepka is currently fourth on Tour in scoring average and will look to use this week as a springboard into his first Masters appearance next month.

10. Keegan Bradley: Bradley has yet to emerge from the middle of the pack this month, but that usually changes at this event, where he was T-3 in 2013 and second a year ago. Each of his last seven rounds at Bay Hill have gone for par or better, including 66s in the third round each of the last two years.

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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.