McCoy breaks wrist day before 2nd stage of Q-School

By Ryan LavnerNovember 8, 2016, 1:56 pm

Things were finally starting to look up for Lee McCoy. 

After a rough start to his pro career, he made the cut last week at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, tying for 41st. It was the first paycheck he’d earned since turning pro in June.

Now came the second stage of Tour Q-School, scheduled to begin Tuesday at three sites across the country. It’s a pivotal checkpoint for any tour hopeful – advance to the finals and gain some kind of status, or get left in a competitive no-man’s land, having to rely on Monday qualifiers and sponsor exemptions.

But on Monday morning, after flying across the country, McCoy was on his way to Plantation Reserve Golf Club in South Florida when he was involved in a minor car accident. His right wrist crunched into the steering wheel at impact, fracturing in two places. An hour passed before he noticed the swollen bump on his right hand. 

McCoy visited the doctor, hoping for a quick fix that would allow him to play in the four-round qualifier. For two hours, they tried to mold a cast that put his right wrist in the proper position to swing, but he couldn’t wrap more than three fingers around the club.

“There was just no way,” he said by phone Tuesday morning. “I wasn’t going to go out there and risk hurting it further. Plus, the odds of me playing competitively with a cast and one hand were slim anyway.”

And so, on Tuesday, he withdrew from second stage, leaving his immediate future in doubt.

“The sad part is you put in so much work for one thing,” he said, “so it’s disappointing to see it all end that way. There’s going to be a lot of people who are disappointed after this week, but it’s an easier pill to swallow playing bad golf instead of not even teeing it up.”

McCoy was one of the top-ranked amateurs in the world and a first-team All-American at Georgia, where he earned seven career victories, one shy of the school record. In March, he played the final round of the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship alongside Jordan Spieth and tied for fourth. He didn’t receive any FedEx Cup points for that performance, and he decided to stay in school for the remainder of his senior season.

When he turned pro, after the NCAAs in June, his game wasn’t as sharp, and McCoy missed his first eight cuts on the PGA and European tours.

“Obviously there’s a bit of a learning curve,” he said. “But all of the stuff on the learning curve would have taken care of itself if I was hitting it well and putting well. Just another case of bad timing, I guess. I couldn’t really get it figured out.” 

Too reliant on a swing coach, McCoy went back to his roots, working on his game alone on the range at home in Jupiter, Fla. He was striping it when he made the trip last week to Vegas, where he played on a sponsor exemption. A third-round 67 positioned him for a decent showing. 

“I took a lot of positives out of that,” he said. “I was looking forward to building on that.”

And then Monday’s accident happened. 

The injury won’t require surgery, but McCoy likely will be sidelined for the next 6-to-8 weeks. Without status, his only options next year are Monday qualifiers and sponsor exemptions; the Mackenzie (Canadian) and Latinoamerica circuits are also an option, but their seasons don’t begin in earnest until spring.

“It won’t be a career-altering type of thing,” he said. “I’ll make it work somehow.”

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in four months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014. 

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."