College Review: Florida State takes next step

By Ryan LavnerOctober 22, 2014, 3:28 pm

Each week on, we’ll review the main storylines in college golf.

Biggest takeaway: Florida State has taken the next step

There’s a new No. 1 on the men’s side after the Seminoles made four birdies in the last two holes and beat seven top-30 programs – including former No. 1 Illinois – at the Tavistock Collegiate. After runner-up finishes in each of its first two starts – both times losing to the host school, Illinois (Olympia Fields) and Alabama (Jerry Pate) – FSU finally got in the win column after four Seminoles finished inside the top 13 individually, including T-3s from both 2014 ACC Freshman of the Year Jack Maguire and junior Rowin Caron. Florida State reached the NCAA finals a year ago, but flamed out in the stroke-play portion. Expect a deeper run this year, with a strong, well-balanced lineup that features three sophomores and two juniors. This mightn’t be the Seminoles’ last week atop the rankings. 

Team of the week: Texas 

Ah, now that’s more like it for the preseason No. 2. Locked in a compelling duel with Virginia, the Longhorns eked out a one-shot victory at the U.S. Collegiate to take home its first team title of the season. Top-10s by Gavin Hall and Scottie Scheffler were welcome signs in the best tournament on the fall schedule, but the key for the No. 5-ranked Longhorns might have been the addition of Kramer Hickok. To underscore just how deep and talented this roster is, consider this: Hickok is a two-time All-Big 12 selection, but he couldn’t even crack the starting five coming out of team qualifying. He squeaked through for the U.S. Collegiate, then finished 15th in his season debut. One of only two seniors on the team, Hickok is the glue that holds this squad together. 

Player of the week: Derek Bard, Virginia

The sophomore (pictured above), ranked No. 34 by Golfstat, dusted the field with a closing 64 at the U.S. Collegiate to capture medalist honors by six shots. Bard’s 15-under 201 was the third-lowest 54-hole total in school history (behind only PGA Tour players Ben Kohles and Steve Marino). In just 14 career starts, Bard has already amassed six top 10s, though this was the first victory of his career. His win, along with teammate Denny McCarthy’s runner-up finish, nearly helped Virginia pull off a big upset in Georgia. The Cavs, now ranked No. 8, ultimately finished one shot behind Texas. 

Biggest disappointment: Oklahoma State 

Things went from bad to worse for the Cowboys, a team we had ranked No. 1 entering the season. After placing no better than fifth in its first two starts, Oklahoma State finished 14th in the 15-team field at the U.S. Collegiate and now has tumbled all the way to No. 41 in Golfstat’s latest rankings. Three OK State players finished outside the top 60 individually, including junior Jordan Niebrugge (73rd), who was making his first start of the season after being sidelined with a wrist injury. Sophomore Wyndham Clark, one of the nation’s best a year ago, has yet to record a top 10 this season. The Cowboys will look to salvage what has been a disappointing fall at their final event, the Oct. 28-29 Royal Oaks Intercollegiate.

Keep an eye on: USC

Sophomore Rico Hoey and freshman Jonah Texeira finished second and third, respectively, at the Bill Cullum Invitational in helping lead the Trojans to an 11-shot win over Arizona State and their second first-place finish of the season (lost in a team playoff at the Itani Quality Homes Collegiate). Losing Anthony Paolucci (Q-School) definitely hurts, but Hoey has stepped up to record a pair of top 3s this season. Last year, he had eight top 10s and earned first-team Pac-12 honors. Freshman Sean Crocker also looks like one of the country’s brightest newcomers, twice finishing in the top 4 in four starts.

What you may have missed: Vanderbilt’s Hunter Stewart and Carson Jacobs comprise the best 1-2 punch in the country. That much was clear after they held down the top two individual spots at the Tavistock, where Stewart’s closing 66 was enough to steal the title from his teammate. Stewart now has two wins this season, while Jacobs has finished inside the top 12 in all four starts. (Vanderbilt is the only team with two players ranked in Golfstat’s top 10.) With Matthias Schwab on the mend, Vandy will be a top-5 program come March. … Two-time defending NCAA champion Alabama took a huge hit when sophomore Gavin Moynihan, a 2013 GB&I Walker Cupper, left the team because of homesickness. I wrote about the impact of that decision here. … Arizona State’s Jon Rahm won for the fourth time in his career Tuesday at the Bill Cullum Invite. Whenever he decides to turn pro – he’s only a junior – he won’t need to wait long for his first pro title. This kid is immensely talented. …  Stanford, USC and UCLA, three of the top women’s programs, were separated by only one shot at this week’s Stanford Intercollegiate. Cardinal sophomore Mariah Stackhouse sank a 33-footer on the last to secure a share of the team title with USC, while UCLA finished one behind.

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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.