Euros in contention at WBO bodes well for Solheim prospects

By Randall MellAugust 5, 2017, 9:31 pm

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Annika Sorenstam is relishing all the Europeans who played their way into weekend contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

England’s Georgia Hall is in the hunt going to Sunday. She’s tied for second.

England’s Mel Reid and Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Germany’s Caroline Masson are tied for seventh.

France’s Karine Icher, Spain’s Carlota Ciganda, England’s Charley Hull, Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist, Spain’s Azahara Munoz and Germany’s Sandra Gal are all in position to make runs at top-10 finishes.

They’re all in contention to make the European Solheim Cup team.

“I’m excited so many Europeans are finding their forms,” Sorenstam said. “But it isn’t making it easy for the leadership team.”

Solheim Cup stalwarts Suzann Pettersen of Norway and Catriona Matthew of Scotland missed the cut, but they are proven commodities. Pettersen is a lock to make the team via the world rankings, and Matthew is a potential captain’s pick who will be in Iowa in two weeks for the matches no matter what. She is one of Sorenstam’s assistant captains.

“I’ve been using a lot of spread sheets and statistics and comparing averages,” Sorenstam said.

Solheim Cup standings entering Ricoh Women’s British Open

“I like numbers, but it will also come down to this,” Sorenstam said patting her heart.

Four Europeans will make Sorenstam’s Solheim Cup team off the Ladies European Tour points list. Hall leads the list with England’s Florentyna Parker second, Reid third and Ciganda fourth.

Four Europeans will also make the team off the Rolex world rankings, the four highest ranked Euros who aren’t on the team on points. Pettersen leads the world rankings list with Hull second, Icher third and Shadoff fourth.

While Hall and Parker look secure to make the team on points, there is still some jockeying possible on the points and on the rankings lists, but those eight players appear solid to make the team one way or another.

Nordqvist should be a lock as a captain’s pick unless her glandular fever worsens.

While Sorenstam isn’t tipping her hand, it would appear five players are in contention for her three remaining captain’s picks, barring a surprise. Matthew, Masson, Munoz, Gal and Swedish LPGA rookie Madelene Sagstrom appear as if they are competing for those three picks, should they not play their way on to the team. Matthew missed the cut and can only make it as a captain’s pick.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.