Senior Golfers Set for First Major of Year
This week, he will have his first opportunity at a defense, when the Senior Tour travels to Scottsdale, Ariz., site of the first major championship of the year, The Countrywide Tradition.
Kite made the Countrywide his first victory on the Senior Tour last season, when he beat out another rookie Tom Watson on the sixth hole of a playoff at The Cochise Course of Desert Mountain.
After finishing at 8-under-par 280 with both Watson and Larry Nelson, Kite hit a beautiful 6-iron at the par-3 17th (sixth extra hole) to a foot for a gimme birdie and the apparent win.
With Nelson already out of the mix due to a bogey on the second extra hole, Watson tried in vain to keep the playoff alive, with a chip shot from off the green that hit the hole and flagstick, nearly went in, but finally veered off some three feet.
Kite had won.
He would then win again, two months later, at the SBC Senior Open.
But after that triumph, the little man from Texas has been rather quiet. He has recorded several top-5 finishes since that time, but he has yet to really kick it in like so many others have done on the Senior Tour.
In this 2001 season, Kite has six starts and four top-10s. Not bad play. But while others, such as Larry Nelson and Hale Irwin, already have each recorded two victories in this season, Kite has yet to put a lock on one.
Not that his two wins last year was a bad start, but for a player of Kites abilities, people have expected more.
For that matter, the same could be said for Watson. He has won but once.
While Watson is not scheduled to compete the week, however, Kite will be ready to go. Others in the field include four-time winner at this event Jack Nicklaus, Irwin, Nelson, Raymond Floyd and Gary Player.
Bruce Fleisher will also be teeing it up. He, too, has been in a bit of a slump, when comparing his recent record to that of his first couple years on the circuit. The man who played in hundreds of PGA Tour events without a win, but then collected four in his first season on the Senior Tour, has gone 18 starts without a victory.
The CountryWide Tradition has been played since 1989, and the Cochise course has served as its host venue every year. Other than Nicklaus, Gil Morgan is a multi-champion at this event. He won in back-to-back years during 1997-1998.
The Tradition is one of four major championships on the Senior Tour. The other three are the U.S. Senior Open, the PGA Seniors Championship and the Ford Senior Players Championship.
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.
Wie takes shot at LPGA dress code in crop top
The new LPGA dress code got mixed reviews when it was announced in July, and Michelle Wie is taking full advantage of her offseason with no restrictions.
The 28-year-old former U.S. Women's Open champion is keeping her game sharp while back in her home state of Hawaii, but couldn't help taking a shot at the rules while doing it, posting a photo to Instagram of her playing golf in a crop top with the caption, "Offseason = No dress code fine."
Wie isn't the first to voice her displeasure with the rules. Lexi Thompson posted a similar photo and caption to Instagram shortly after the policy was announced.