Day injures back during victory over G-Mac

By Ryan LavnerMarch 23, 2016, 7:56 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Jason Day won his opening match Wednesday at the WGC-Dell Match Play, but his status for the rest of the event is uncertain after injuring his back on the 15th hole.

Day, who didn’t speak to reporters after his 3-and-2 victory over Graeme McDowell, received treatment for what he described as shooting pains down his lower back and into both legs.

Day’s caddie, Colin Swatton, said that he first noticed an issue on the 15th tee.

“He grabbed his back and said, ‘Oh, I just tweaked it,’” Swatton said. “Up until that point, there was nothing.”

The world No. 2 impressed despite walking only seven holes during the practice rounds here at Austin Country Club. After falling into an early hole, Day drove the green on 5 for an easy birdie, then made back-to-back birdies on 8 and 9 to take a 1-up lead. He won the 11th with a conceded birdie and made a 12-footer for birdie on 12 to take a 3-up lead.

Walking up the 15th fairway, Day began holding his back and stretching. By the time he reached the green, he was grimacing and walking gingerly. Off 16 tee, he released the club almost immediately after impact and pulled his tee shot into the fairway bunker.

“I’m thinking to myself: That’ll be right – I’m 3 down with three to go,” McDowell said. “He could probably hop up here and beat me.”

Day almost needed to. While McDowell played his second shot into the par 5, Day bent over and rested both hands on his thighs. When it was time to climb into the fairway bunker, he slid in sideways. Limping up to the green, his par was enough to halve the hole and win the match.

“I’m not going to say it rubbed salt in my wound when a guy is 3 up with three to go and then he starts hurting and is able to limp up and win the match, but it does put a salty edge in it for me,” McDowell said, before adding, with a laugh: “Go down six holes ago if you’re going.”

“But you never wish an injury on a guy," he said, "especially on a guy on top of his form like Jason is, and as good of an athlete as Jason is.”

Day, who is coming off a victory at last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, could return to world No. 1 if he goes deep into the knockout stage and Jordan Spieth falters.

Day’s plan for the rest of the event is not immediately known. His agent, Bud Martin, said in a statement that Day is "getting prepared to play tomorrow."

With the round-robin format, Day could decide to forfeit his match Thursday against Thongchai Jaidee and return Friday. But with Jaidee winning his opening match, Day would need to beat Paul Casey on Friday and then have McDowell defeat Jaidee for Day to have a chance to advance to the weekend via the tiebreaker playoff.

Of greater concern now is Day’s health, especially with the Masters now only 15 days away.

“He’s been great all year,” Swatton said of Day’s health. “Just out of the blue. I don’t know if it was one swing or what it was.”

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.

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Wie takes shot at LPGA dress code in crop top

By Grill Room TeamDecember 10, 2017, 5:33 pm

The new LPGA dress code got mixed reviews when it was announced in July, and Michelle Wie is taking full advantage of her offseason with no restrictions.

The 28-year-old former U.S. Women's Open champion is keeping her game sharp while back in her home state of Hawaii, but couldn't help taking a shot at the rules while doing it, posting a photo to Instagram of her playing golf in a crop top with the caption, "Offseason = No dress code fine."

Offseason = No dress code fines #croptopdroptop

A post shared by Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) on

Wie isn't the first to voice her displeasure with the rules. Lexi Thompson posted a similar photo and caption to Instagram shortly after the policy was announced.