Amateur McCoy contending in hometown event

By Ryan LavnerMarch 12, 2016, 6:57 pm

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Lee McCoy figures he has played Innisbrook’s Copperhead Course about a thousand times, but never as well as he did Saturday in the Valspar Championship.

The University of Georgia senior, who grew up about a par 5 from the first tee, was 7 under for the day here and a shot off the lead before a double bogey on the 16th hole. He settled for a 5-under 66, matching the low round of the week, and now will be within striking distance heading into the final round of his fourth career PGA Tour start.

“This is as good as it gets,” he said afterward. “That’s about as good as I can play minus 16.”

McCoy, 22, lived in one of the subdivisions here in Innisbrook until he was 17, when he moved to Georgia for his senior year of high school. He said he has been coming to this tournament for “eons,” riding his bike behind the 14th green, chaining it to the fence and sneaking inside the property. Not old enough to drive a cart, he was dropped off at the course in the late afternoon and on weekend mornings to find groups that didn’t have a fourth.

Valspar Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“It was incredible to grow up here and just to get some experience on this golf course early in my life,” he said. “It’s a tough test and kind of taught me to grind early.”

McCoy moved to his family’s home in Clarkesville, Ga., to establish residency, which saved the school money on his golf scholarship. McCoy won the state championship that year.

At Georgia, he earned All-American honors and last year tied a school record with four wins, including three in a row during the spring. He also qualified for the U.S. Open, made the cut at the John Deere Classic and played on the Walker Cup team.

McCoy actually asked for a sponsor exemption into his hometown event last year, when he popped into tournament director Tracy West's office unannounced and pleaded his case. There weren't any spots available, but they extended McCoy an invitation last summer.

McCoy is playing Q-School in Canada next month and plans to turn pro after NCAAs in early June. Though he is not eligible to receive any prize money this week – nor is the PGA Tour allowing him to donate his would-be earnings to charity – the Tour experience should prove valuable.

His father, Terry, took a screenshot of the Valspar leaderboard when McCoy moved to 7 under for the day and 4 under for the tournament, just one back of the leaders. Then McCoy pushed his tee shot into the water on 16 – “One of the toughest holes I’ve ever played” – and made double, but he rebounded with back-to-back stress-free pars to shoot 66. 

“He’s competitive,” Terry McCoy said. “He thinks he can win every time he tees it up.”

Said Lee McCoy: “I’ve known now for a couple of years that I had the game to compete out here, but getting out here and doing it and putting it on a scorecard is another animal.” 

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''

Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.