McGirt leads after WGC Rd. 1; Spieth steals show late

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 30, 2016, 10:30 pm

William McGirt rode a hot putter to the first round lead at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, going out early and besting the field by three shots; But Jordan Spieth stole the show down the stretch, closing with four straight birdies after a rough start to shot 68. Here’s the skinny with 54 holes to play at Firestone Country Club.

Leaderboard: McGirt (-6), Jason Day (-3), Emiliano Grillo (-3), Jimmy Walker (-3), Spieth (-2), Rickie Fowler (-2), Charley Hoffman (-2), Anirban Lahiri (-2)

What it means: McGirt is still riding the momentum of his first PGA Tour victory at the Memorial earlier this month, and he’s off to a great start at the WGC-Bridgestone as he tries to become the only player to win both tournaments in the same year other than Tiger Woods, who has done it four times.

Round of the day: McGirt started fast, carding four birdies on the front side and turning in 31. He made five straight pars on the back side before carding circles on two of his last three holes for a 6-under 64.

Best of the rest: While there were better scores than Spieth’s 68, including Day (67) and Walker (67), nobody battled harder than the two-time major champion. Spieth opened in 37 and was 2 over with four holes to play before closing with four straight birdies to rocket up the leaderboard and finish Round 1 in a tie for fifth.

Biggest disappointment: Defending champion Shane Lowry, who decided to defend his title at the WGC-Bridgestone instead of playing the French Open, opened with a 6-over-76. The Northern Irishman was coming off his best-ever finish in a major at the U.S. Open, a tie for second after entering the final round with a four-stroke lead.

Shot of the day: Almost every round on the PGA Tour a player does something that makes your jaw drop. That was the case with Hideki Matsuyama on the par-5 16th hole on Thursday. Staring at a 297-yard approach, Matsuyama pulled driver off the deck and hit his ball through the green. From there his eagle chip lipped out and he tapped in for birdie:

Not impressed? Here’s the third of Spieth’s four straight birdies:

Quote of the day: “It’s just one of those days where it seemed like the farther I got from the hole, the bigger it looked.” – McGirt, on his opening 64.

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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.