Woods reclaims card; Feng medalist at LPGA Q-School

By Randall MellDecember 7, 2015, 12:09 am

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – China’s Simin Feng went wire to wire winning medalist honors Sunday at the final stage of LPGA Q-School.

Amateur Gaby Lopez won a tour card and instantly turned pro.

Cheyenne Woods won back full membership.

Meghan Khang of Rockland, Mass., earned her way to the LPGA at 18 years old in just her second event as a pro, but she wasn’t the youngest player to make it through.

Thailand’s Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras won full status at 17, but she won’t need a waiver of the LPGA’s age restriction because she turns 18 on Dec. 29. Thanapolboonyaras led a strong new wave of Thai players through Q-School. Overall, eight Thai players made it through with four earning full status.

Eight teenagers earned tour cards Sunday, five with full status.

It was a busy final round at LPGA International’s Hills Course, with the top 20 earning full LPGA membership for next year and the next 29 players earning conditional status. Everyone else who made it through four rounds of the five-round event earned Symetra Tour Status.

The day’s drama continued past 90 holes with a playoff needed to determine the last two players to earn full status.

In a three-way playoff for two spots, China’s Jing Yan and Thailand’s Benyapa Niphatsophon won out. They advanced over American Christine Song in a three-hole aggregate playoff.

Feng, 20, closed with a 3-under-par 69 to win medalist honors in a runaway. She led or shared the lead after every round. At 18 under overall, Feng was seven shots better than American Grace Na (69) and Thailand’s Budsabakorn Sukapan (70).

The Philippines’ Cyna Rodriguez (71) and Canada’s Maude Aimee LeBlanc (71) finished eight shots back.

Lopez, a senior at the University of Arkansas, closed with a 1-over-par 73 to finish tied for 10th. She announced afterward that she was turning pro and accepting tour membership. She said she was turning pro in a bid to increase her chances to represent Mexico in the Olympics this summer.

“Right now, I have a million emotions in my mind and my heart,” Lopez said. “This round was a tough one. I didn’t expect it to be that hard, but I proved to myself that I was prepared for that moment.”

Woods started the day on the bubble in a bid to regain full tour status after finishing 125th on the LPGA money list as a rookie. After getting off to a rough start Sunday, she rallied with five birdies over her final 12 holes. She rolled in a 50-foot birdie at the 17th to give herself a cushion, closing with a 69 to finish tied for 13th.

“I was 2 over after six holes,” Woods said. “I managed to fight my way back. I wanted it so badly.”

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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.