Villegas, de Jonge don't regret Olympics decision

By Will GrayAugust 18, 2016, 11:36 pm

GREENSBORO, N.C. – With their playing privileges for next season still in doubt, Camilo Villegas and Brendon de Jonge have no regrets about their respective decisions to skip the Olympics.

Both players have been outside the top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings for much of the summer, and they each decided to bow out of golf’s Olympic return in order to focus on maintaining their PGA Tour cards. The gamble didn’t exactly pay off, as both Villegas and de Jonge missed the cut at the Travelers Championship and John Deere Classic.

Those results meant that Villegas began this week’s Wyndham Championship at No. 150 in the FedEx Cup standings, while de Jonge sits at No. 153.


Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Villegas waited as long as possible to pull the plug on his Olympic participation, and the Colombian admitted that watching the Rio coverage on television was bittersweet.

“It was a bummer not to be there,” Villegas said. “It wasn’t easy to watch the opening ceremony. I really wanted to be there, but it was a tough decision. I had to pull out due to my performance this year, and I’ll do everything I can to be there for 2020.”

De Jonge watched plenty of Olympic coverage last week in between his rounds at TPC Deere Run, but the Zimbabwean said that he didn’t watch much of the golf.

“I watched a lot of swimming,” de Jonge said. “I just thought I’d rather watch the other events, to be honest.”

De Jonge gave his playoff aspirations a boost with a 3-under 67 in the opening round at Sedgefield Country Club, his lowest score since a final-round 66 at the Barbasol Championship last month. Despite struggling in each of his last two starts, he stands by his decision to skip last week’s event in Brazil.

“I made the decision I had to,” de Jonge said. “Obviously in hindsight I missed those two cuts, so I may as well have gone and played the Olympics. But I didn’t anticipate that. I did what I had to.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Villegas, who won the Wyndham in 2014 but sits well off the pace after opening with a 2-over 72.

“I’m pretty at peace with my decision,” Villegas said. “Obviously I wish I would have played a little bit better the last two weeks, but it is what it is. I wanted to be there, I just couldn’t be.”

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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.