Jake Irwin - and Championships
He has been the most successful Champions Tour player, Jake said flatly. For me to hang with and eventually beat Hale Irwin is a proud moment for me.
Hale and I have been playing against each other for a long time. He's 60 years old, I'm 51. When I came out on the tour, he was already an established star. I've got tremendous respect for Hale not only as a player, but as a person, too.
Hes always been this kind of guy, Peter Jacobsen. His golf career has always been that of a good journeyman player, interspersed with moments of brilliance. Much of the up-and-down nature of his play has had to do with injuries, of course. But one thing has always been constant ' his respect for people. Ask Irwin.
He's always been kind to me, said Jacobsen just moments after he had defeated Irwin. I've said many times that, because of the alphabetical order of our names and locker assignments, he and I either lockered together or were next door neighbors. We've gotten to know each other very, very well over the years.
While I've got great respect for him as a player, there's nobody you'd rather beat than a great player. For me to come on top over Hale is a proud thing for me.
Jacobsen won by a stroke when Irwins 12-foot slider barely curved around the edge of the cup on the 72nd hole. Jake fully expected to be marching down to the18th tee to begin a playoff with Irwin ' much as the two had done in 1981 at the Buick Open up the road in Flint.
That one was a four-player affair ' Jacobsen, Irwin, Gil Morgan and Bobby Clampett. All four parred the first playoff hole. On the second, Irwin sunk a coast-to-coast 40-foot birdie. Yes, he made it, even though Jake, Morgan and Clampett all hit their approaches inside him. Hale has been a great player a long time, said Peter, remembering all the many hundreds of occasions when Irwin has done something similar to yet another player.
Jacobsen, himself, has been a pretty spectacular player on the Champions Tour. He won the U.S. Senior Open Championship last year in his first Champions major, before adding the Ford Senior this year. And in so doing, he continues to play the regular tour also. Thats because he won on the regular tour in 2003 in Hartford, and therefore received a two-year exemption.
I fought for 29 years to keep my card, he said by way of explanation. It's hard to turn around and walk away when you turn 50. You're going to see a lot of players in my same category.
I think that strengthens the Champions Tour to see players playing both tours. It's kind of a blurring of the edges, so to speak. These guys out here on the Champions Tour, they're as competitive as anybody on the regular tour. Coming down the stretch, a Hale Irwin or Dana Quigley or Tom Watson is pretty tough.
There it is again ' that guy named Irwin. Jake remembers his first tournament as a Champions Tour member last year, when he and Irwin were paired together the final round. And although Irwin is winding down his career and Jacobsen just gearing up, Peter knows there will never be another quite like Hale Irwin.
Hale has dominated this Champions Tour like no other player and probably will, he said.
I think the Champions Tour is only going to get stronger as the younger players start turning 50. I'm probably in the generation that when the Champions Tour came to fruition, we realized that, hey, there's life after 50, there's life after the PGA Tour. So you're going to see more and more players coming out on the Champions Tour that can win.
I'm not sure Hale's record will ever be in jeopardy. What he's done out here is phenomenal.
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McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School
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
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.
Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4
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
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."
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.