Punch Shot: Masters winner be under or over 30?

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 9, 2014, 6:17 pm

Experience matters at Augusta National. Youth has taken hold on the PGA Tour this season. Which will prevail in the season's first major? GolfChannel.com writers weigh in on whether the 2014 Masters champion will be under or over the age of 30.


This is an easy one: The Masters champion will be under 30 years old.

I know this because I picked Rory McIlroy to win and I know he won’t even turn 25 until next month and 25 is less than 30. So it’s simple math, really.

Even if it doesn’t happen that way, though, I’ve got boundless enthusiasm and bold aggression on my side. These young players today aren’t fearful of anything – and yes, that includes playing with a Masters title at stake.

They’ve got some chops, too. McIlroy is a stick, obviously. But in the under-30 set, you’re also giving me Keegan Bradley, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed. I like my team.

Even though the Masters is all about “experience” and “knowing where to miss,” I’m banking that a younger guy will laugh in the face of such aphorisms.


Over. There is a reason why Fuzzy Zoeller is the last first-time participant to lift the green jacket and only three players in the history of the event won in their maiden trip down Magnolia Lane.

More so than any other event, perhaps in all of sports, the year’s first major championship requires an understanding that goes beyond the first blush.

It’s why Fred Couples, 54, is a regular contender despite age and a baulky back; why Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods have a combined seven green jackets and why this year’s champion will be born before 1984.

Forget the trend on the PGA Tour this year of inexperienced youthful brilliance. With apologies to Harris English, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, there is more to the former fruit nursery than can be gleaned from an X Box 360.

Adam Scott’s victory last year at 32 seems to be the new standard, with plenty of candidates to choose from. With apologies to Rory McIlroy – a bona fide favorite at 24 – Hunter Mahan (31), Justin Rose (33) and Brandt Snedeker (33) all have the game and, more importantly, the experience to end this year’s parity party.


As much as I believe Rory McIlroy is going to win this Masters, I’m going over because I believe there are more opportunities to win for dudes over 30 than there are for the youngsters.

Pick a player, any player from the world ranking – Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Matt Kuchar, Justin Rose, Zach Johnson, Bubba Watson, Graeme McDowell, Steve Stricker, Jason Dufner, Brandt Snedeker and Ian Poulter.

Well, they’re all on my side of the list and all 13 men are ranked inside the top 20 of the Official World Golf Ranking. Aside from McIlroy, a recently injured Jason Day and Dustin Johnson, there aren’t as many 20-somethings who have what it takes to wear the green jacket this week.

I may change my mind next year, when some of these newbies get a week under their belts. But this year one steely veteran will add a major to his resume.



It has escaped notice for the most part, but the British Open has taken over as the tournament for old golfers. Augusta used to be that place for the gray hairs – Gary Player, Ben Crenshaw, most famously Jack Nicklaus – to find a bit of their past. But this isn’t the same Augusta National where local knowledge mattered more than anything. It’s long and fiery and it helps to be young and steady over those bone-chilling 3-footers.

There are a bunch of young guys – including Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Keegan Bradley, Patrick Reed, Harris English and, of course, the ubiquitous Rory McIlroy – who are good enough to win the Masters. Everybody around golf can sense that there’s a vacuum at the top – no Tiger Woods means there’s a job opening for No. 1 golfer in the world.

This is the place to take that spot, the place that launched Woods. Youngish first-time major winners took the last three Masters (Charl Schwartzel was 26; Bubba Watson and Adam Scott had just crossed 30) and that is what this tournament is becoming. Look for one of the kids to break through and try to make a play for the huge opening at the top of the game.

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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.