Vaughan Breaks British Hold at Royal Swazi
The Royal Swazi Sun course continued to have its par of 72 battered from all sides, with Vaughan leading the assault with a second nine of 29. The 25-year-old from Vanderbijlpark, two shots off the lead overnight, reached the turn at a modest level-par for the day as Scotland's Murray Urquhart climbed to 16-under and the on-course lead with an outward nine of 32.
But Vaughan surged through the field with his back nine of 29, featuring an eagle and five birdies on his way to a 65 and the overall lead at 17-under par 199.
Englishman Mark Hilton, Switzerland's Andre Bossert and South African Hennie Otto are all grouped together at 14-under 202, while Urquhart dropped three shots in his final four holes to finish a stroke back on 203.
'It was absolute carnage out there. There were birdies being made all over the place,' said Vaughan, who struggled with a cold putter on a first nine where he stood the chance of being left behind by Urquhart, Bossert and Otto.
'I missed at least four short birdie putts on the front nine. The whole time I just told myself to keep hitting the ball as well as I was, and just wait for that one putt to drop. I knew it would start a run when it happened.'
Vaughan came close to birdies on holes 10 and 11, but the catalyst was his chip-in from 15 meters for an eagle at the par-five 12th. He went on to birdie five of his next six holes to separate himself from a bunched leaderboard.
'I just had tunnel vision off the tee. I picked my target and that was it. I'm thinking a lot better than in the past. Now that I have a manager, I can focus solely on my golf and not have to worry about other things,' said Vaughan, who has aligned himself with Cape Town-based BMT Sports Management.
'In the past, a frustrating first nine like this would have taken the wind out of my sails. But I've changed all that, and am far more focused and positive on the course.'
Otto made a strong charge for the lead on Saturday. The Boksburg professional was joint leader with Vaughan and Urquhart at 15-under and playing 17. But his efforts were undone by a double-bogey after he hit a sand-wedge fat and into the water guarding the green, making for a disappointing seven amidst three birdies at holes 15, 16 and 18 for a 67.
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.