Golf in America: The Paul Szep's Story

By Golf In America ProducerSeptember 22, 2011, 1:30 am

Meeting people like former Boston Globe, and now globally syndicated cartoonist, Paul Szep, is why I love doing features.

Here is a guy that, on the surface, seems like your normal, “Everyday Joe”. Call him on the phone, cool and calm. Meet him at the golf course, cool and calm. He greets you at the front door of his house, cool and calm.

Walk into his house, however, and you begin to realize that Paul Szep has seen and done much more than your ordinary man during his 60-something years (we’ll go without mentioning actual age at Szeppy’s request).

His life is plastered all over the walls of his Largo, Florida condo. White House Press Correspondents’ Dinner? Been there, done that. Played Pebble? Sure. Pissed off a senator or too with some of his work? Maybe.

Szep has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with presidents, actors, athletes, you name it. He’s got the pictures to prove it. The long wall in his office looks like a who’s who of American pop culture over the past 50 years. Still, he remembers his roots. A seat from the old Maple Leafs Gardens hangs behind his desk to remind him where he’s from – Szep originally hails from Hamilton, outside of Toronto.

A few posters he whipped up for the Pebble Beach Pro-Am with caricatures of Bill Murray and Clint Eastwood adorn the hallway. He’s bartered some art for invites over the years, and wound up playing in the Pro-Am a half dozen times or so. A nice shot of him and good buddy, Matt Lauer, neighbors a signed caricature of Steve Elkington. Somewhere amidst the well-manicured chaos, a couple of Pulitzer Prizes for his cartoons are displayed; which for a cartoonist is like winning the Masters – twice. Szep respectfully refers to them as “those” as if he is taking about salt and pepper shakers and not the crown jewel of his profession.

When we originally found out Szep was the man who sold the putter to the shop who sold the putter to Jim Furyk who in turn used it to win the Tour Championship, we thought he was just a piece to the puzzle. One more dot to connect to tell the story. After meeting him and learning about his story, his love of golf and how the game has given back to him over the last 30 plus years, we changed the tone of the feature entirely. It was no longer, “Hey, meet the guy who sold the putter Furyk bought.” It was, “Hey, meet Paul Szep. You know, Furyk was using his putter when he won the Tour Championship last year.”

Don’t get me wrong. We could’ve done the Furyk story without Szep. A major winner and Ryder Cupper walking into a used club store and buying a $39 putter, then using it to win 11.35 million dollars is a story in its own right. But that putter didn’t belong to a bartender from Brooklyn or a bricklayer from Boston, it belonged to a great guy with a fantastic story, all his own.

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McCoy earns medalist honors at 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 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 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 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.