Errant Ko 4 back in bid for Swinging Skirts three-peat

By Randall MellApril 23, 2016, 2:19 am

DALY CITY, Calif. – Lydia Ko’s ball striking isn’t honed in this week.

Not yet, anyway.

At day’s end Friday at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, she was 85th in hitting greens in regulation and 79th in driving accuracy.

And yet she is T-5 on the leaderboard.

That says everything about Ko’s short game.

With a scrambling 1-under-par 71 on a difficult, blustery day at Lake Merced Golf Club, Ko fought her way into weekend contention. She’s four shots off the lead in her bid to win her fourth worldwide title this year and to win this event for a third consecutive year.

Haru Nomura (70) leads at 9 under overall.

“It was tough when you don't hit the fairways as much as you want to, but I've just got to maybe go to the range and try and get this sorted out, but I feel like I've hit quite a few quality shots, made quite a few good strokes on my putts,” Ko said. “I've just got to think positive. We’ve got two long days to go.”

Ko has scrambled impressively. Lake Merced isn’t some easy muni, either. Getting up and down from the thick rough here, onto some firm greens, takes some creativity, some versatile shot making and a velvet touch.

Full-field scores from the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic

“We've been working on trying to spend more time on the short game, because even though I would love to hit the ball straight every single time, there are going to be those days where I don't hit it as good as I want to,” Ko said. “And if you have a short game you can trust, you can always kind of feed off that.

“There are going to be times where you need to make up and downs, and a crucial up and down to get in contention, or stay within the lead. That's what we've been focusing more on, trying to spend more time on the short game stuff, because it is important. When something is off, it can definitely balance it and help your day out.”

Ko is chasing Nomura, whom she has some history with this year. Ko opened Sunday at the Women’s Australian Open in February one shot behind Nomura. Though Ko pressed her hard with a strong final round, Nomura didn’t crack. Nomura closed impressively to win by three.

This time, Ko has two rounds to catch Nomura.

“I know Haru is playing great, and there are some other big names that have played well the last two days,” Ko said. “But there is still a lot of golf to be played. I've just got to focus on my game. Because of the three-peat thing, obviously, there is a lot of say about it, but I've got to enjoy it, and, at the end of the day, just try my best.”

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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.