After Further Review: Were you in Rio on Sunday?

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 14, 2016, 10:25 pm

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

On golf's return to the Olympics:

The podium was moved to the 18th green of the Olympic Golf Course, each nation’s flags hoisted high into the Rio sky and “God Save the Queen” echoed off the nearby hillsides. After seven years of hyperbole and handwringing, golf’s Olympic dream finally arrived.

As Justin Rose basked in his victory, there was no more talk of the Zika virus or security concerns. No one was worried about land disputes holding up construction of the Olympic course or condensed schedules.

Your scribe was there when Cal Ripken played his last playoff game at Camden Yards, when Jack Nicklaus made his last start at The Open at St. Andrews and when Arnold Palmer made his final turn around Augusta National.

Being in Rio for golf’s return to the Olympics, felt a lot like that. – Rex Hoggard

On golf's rightful place in the Olympics going forward:

I’m no longer worried about the future of golf in the Olympics. The sport will remain after 2020. I don’t need to wait to see the results from next year’s summit where officials vote on the game’s longevity.

I was an early skeptic of the golf’s addition for all the reasons that have been bandied about over the past seven years. But I got aboard the Olympic train a year or so ago. I was in Rio all week and grew more passionate about the marriage between the two as the days went by. This is the happiest golf has been all summer.

We still have another week left where women, who have all been eager about the Olympics, are expected to put on a show as great as we just saw from the men. To anyone who doubts that golf is here to stay I give you Justin Rose’s line, while wearing the gold medal: “I would just ask them, were you in Rio on Sunday?” – Jay Coffin

Can you name this week's John Deere Classic winner?

Ryan Moore won the John Deere Classic – not that many people noticed.

While the golf world was still raving about the gold medal duel between Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson, Moore put the finishing touches on a tournament that was lost in the shuffle of golf’s Olympic return. It was an unfortunate development for tournament organizers, who run an event that is annually lauded by participants.

This late in the season, there are too many FedEx Cup ramifications to simply eliminate a start for mid-tier PGA Tour players. But it’s also unfair to relegate a tournament essentially to opposite-event status against the global competitor of the Olympics.

The golf season is already too long, but there has to be a way to schedule things such that the Deere isn’t contested in a shadow the size of Christ the Redeemer.

There are many scheduling aspects that the Tour will look to improve come 2020. Hopefully eliminating any Olympic competition makes the cut. – Will Gray

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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.