Donald back in the major game for U.S. Open

By Ryan Reiterman June 7, 2016, 1:45 pm

POWELL, Ohio – Luke Donald once proved he has the game to be No. 1 in the world, and on Tuesday he took another step in his road back up the world rankings by qualifying for the U.S. Open in a six-for-five playoff at Wedgewood Golf and Country Club.

Currently No. 80 in the world, Donald has struggled to regain his consistent form since exchanging the No. 1 ranking with Rory McIlroy for much of the 2012 season.

“Glad it’s all over,” Donald said of qualifying. “Looking forward to getting to Oakmont.”

The 38-year-old, five-time PGA Tour winner will be making his 13th start at the U.S. Open and second at Oakmont. Donald missed the cut in 2007. Three years ago at Merion, Donald tied for eighth for his best finish at the U.S. Open.

But since then the wins and consistency have been sparse. Rather than fume about having to qualify for the U.S. Open for a second straight year, Donald took care of business two days after finishing 68th at the Memorial.


U.S. Open sectional qualifying results


“It is frustrating, but I think I’ve got to use the old adage of being as patient as possible,” he said. “I know I am working on the right things, I’m working hard on my game. Good things are going to happen – good things have already happened. Not quite enough to get me back in the top 50, but I’ve been knocking on the door. You just got to trust that what you’re doing is going to pay off.”

With his tee time at Oakmont secure, Donald said he will skip the FedEx St. Jude Classic and rest after playing the BMW PGA Championship in England, the Memorial and the 36-hole qualifier all in a row.

“Playing a U.S. Open as your fourth [tournament] in a row, plus trips across the pond, isn’t probably great preparation,” he said.

The past two days were another sign Donald’s game is getting back to where he knows it should be. The first was in April. Donald nearly won the RBC Heritage a week after missing his first Masters since 2004.

“Last year I was a different golfer, different mentally more than anything,” Donald said. “I wasn’t that sure about my game, lost a bit of confidence in it. Now, I step up onto the first tee and feel pretty good about my chances and where my game is. I’ve come a long way since last year.”

And now he has earned his way back into a major.

“If you’re not playing you don’t have a chance to win,” he said. “Sitting on the couch isn’t going to do me any good. I want to play for as long as I can.”

Mission accomplished! This piece of paper means a lot to me! Can't wait to get to Oakmont next week for the US Open. It was a long day yesterday, spent 15 hours at the course waiting to see if my score was good enough to qualify, then had to come back this morning for a playoff to book my spot. I've had to qualify the last 2 years for the US Open, haven't liked it, but somehow making it this way feels pretty damn rewarding. I do want to apologize to the gentleman I hit on the hand on the 6th hole yesterday afternoon. You had left for the clubhouse before I could see how you were and say sorry. If my ball hadn't of hit you on the hand, it would probably have been in a much worse position. I ended up getting up and down for birdie, and that one shot helped me get to the US Open! Sorry and thanks! #USOpenBound

A photo posted by lukedonald (@lukedonald) on

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McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com 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 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

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.