After Further Review: Phil's game not close enough

By Randall Mell, Rex Hoggard, Will GrayFebruary 15, 2016, 2:45 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Phil Mickelson nearly missing out on a return to the winner's circle at Pebble Beach

Phil Mickelson has made plenty of progress over the last month, and I believe him when he insists that his game is close. He is finally starting to compile consistent results, and he might have been able to string together four strong weeks in a row were it not for a squirrely effort last month on the North Course at Torrey Pines.

But as Mickelson demonstrated Sunday, there is a chasm in between contending and winning – even for a guy who has already piled up 42 trophies. Mickelson appeared cool and calm throughout the first three rounds while building his lead, but his play got decidedly shaky when it mattered most during the final round. Mistakes that were easily erased earlier in the week proved costly.

Mickelson described his play as “tight,” and he certainly seemed nervous – not because of any heavyweights chasing him down on the leaderboard, but simply because of the situation. He felt pressure to finish the job, and he faltered ever so slightly because of it.

Another win will come soon for Lefty, perhaps as soon as this season. But his closing effort at Pebble Beach showed once again that winning out here just isn’t as easy as it sometimes appears. - Will Gray

On the caddies lawsuit against the PGA Tour being thrown out

A U.S. District Court judge ruled this week that there may be room for improved treatment of PGA Tour caddies, but a lawsuit filed by a group of caddies last year didn’t withstand legal scrutiny.

“The caddies’ overall complaint about poor treatment by the Tour has merit, but this federal lawsuit about bibs does not,” Judge Vince Chhabria wrote in his ruling to dismiss the lawsuit.

Although the lawsuit may move to another stage in appeals court, the plight of caddies on Tour has been forced into the general conversation and for both parties involved. That’s progress. - Rex Hoggard 

On Lydia Ko donating her winnings from the New Zealand Open

Lydia Ko didn't have to play the New Zealand Women's Open. There weren't many world ranking points at stake with just two other players among the top 100 in the Rolex Women's World Rankings there, and there wasn't a lot of money to be won with the entire purse ($227,000) roughly the same as a winner's check on the LPGA tour. Plus, the stop complicates her schedule in a particularly busy year in women's golf. And yet she was in tears when she won. That's how much winning in her Kiwi homeland meant to her. Ko playing there was a special act of gratefulness to that nation and everyone there who supports her. So was her donating her entire winnings ($33,000) to New Zealand. In the end, Kiwi golf fans know her time with them was the richest gift she could give them. - Randall Mell

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McCoy earns medalist honors at 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 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 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 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.