Poulter Widens Gap in Morocco
The young Englishman went around the Royal Golf Dar-es-Salams Red Course in 4-under-par 69 Saturday, and with a 54-hole score of 12-under 207, he finds himself in good shape for his second victory on the European Tour.
Poulter is four clear of Gary Evans (66), Thomas Levet (70) and Robert Karlsson (70). Six others, including first-round leader Paul McGinley are five back at 7-under.
I didnt do too much wrong, said Poulter following his round. Tomorrow I need to just go and play the same. Go out there and enjoy it. I really enjoyed it today.
Enjoyed it indeed. Not only is Poulter looking to gain his second win in as many years on the tour (he won the 2000 Italian Open and was the recipient of the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award), but he is looking for a bit of improvement here in Morocco.
It was at this very same course last year that Poulter, just 24 at the time, finished in joint second to eventual champion Jamie Spence.
So too, for that matter, did Frenchman Levet.
This year, however, it would appear that Poulter is the man with the game to win. Whether or not he has the nerves, however, remains to be seen.
Ian is playing very well, commented Levet. He has not missed many shots today. He is a solid leader and it is going to be tough to pass him.
But this is golf. It is a tough finish and will be tough on his nerves. If you can get within two shots, he might think, and you never know. Anything can happen.
Ive won from seven behind and know what it is to win. He has still to win it. There are lots of guys on seven and eight-under who can shoot 66 and catch him.
Poulter did not seem overly concerned, however.
If I play the way I played today things should be fine, he commented.
One other player who performed just fine on Saturday was Evans, whose score of 7-under 66 equaled the existing course record at Dar-es-Salam, and whose 30-foot birdie putt on the 17th separated him from the large pack at minus-seven.
I just tried to get my head down, stated Evans of his marvelous putting display. I feel Ive been playing well but not holing any putts. But the field was so bunched ' even if I had only gotten to four-under, I would still have been in the top-25. Im just trying to play half decent. Its all about holing putts. If you hole a few putts you get a bit of confidence.
Ive played five tournaments so far, made four cuts, but have no made more than 10,000 pounds which is disappointing to say the least.
Ill be looking for a good finish tomorrow.
Full-Field Scores from The Moroccan Open
McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School
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
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.
Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4
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
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."
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.