Bubba-Webb could form premier team at Medinah

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 27, 2012, 4:06 pm

MEDINAH, Ill. – These Ryder Cup matches have no shortage of ready-made pairings.

After years of unsuccessful partnerships, Tiger Woods has finally found a steady teammate in Steve Stricker. That’s a lock.

Rory McIlroy has enjoyed plenty of success with his friend and fellow Ulsterman Graeme McDowell. They could play all four team sessions together.

Phil Mickelson seems likely to play with mentee and frequent practice-round partner Keegan Bradley, and Luke Donald can make a formidable team with Lee Westwood, and Justin Rose and Ian Poulter form another solid, all-English duo.

Yet it wouldn’t surprise if one of the most successful pairings this week at Medinah is Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson – devout Christians who first teamed at last year’s Presidents Cup, with much success – even if the two players couldn’t be any more dissimilar.

Bubba is a goofball in golf slacks, a Masters champion who buttons his shirt all the way to the top, who tries mind-bending shots and posts trick-shot videos on Twitter, who cries and scowls in equal measure, who tops the Tour in titanium-denting drives, who wears a $500,000 Richard Mille watch and donates plenty of cash to charity.

Webb, meanwhile, is straight out of a Polo ad, a good ol’ boy from North Carolina who wields a belly putter with ease, who won the U.S. Open when no one was watching, who can be painfully deliberate during rounds yet quick with a compliment, who pummels courses into submission with his ball-striking, who takes his young children to Starbucks and reads the Bible.

“We’re good friends away from golf,” Simpson said of Watson, “and I think that makes us a good team. You put him and me together, where I am a little more serious, he kind of relaxes me and I help him focus on golf and draw him back to what we need to be looking at.”

Last year at Royal Melbourne, Simpson, 27, and Watson, 33, went out first during each team session, sporting a 3-1 record en route to a U.S. victory at the Presidents Cup. They went 2-0-1 in the foursomes format (alternate shot), a trend that could continue at Medinah given the course’s forgiveness off the tee and Watson’s prodigious length.

For Watson, that partnership in Australia stood in stark contrast to what he endured in the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor. He went 1-3 in Wales, a performance more memorable for Jeff Overton’s “boom, baby!” hole-out than anything Watson accomplished on the course.

This, now, is Bubba’s first Ryder Cup on U.S. soil, an experience that is sure to stir an already emotional man. He’s playing for his father, who died in October 2010 after a lengthy battle with throat cancer. He’s playing for his country, and Watson has talked at length in the past about his passion and respect for the U.S. military.

The enormity of the moment already has hit Watson, hard. On Tuesday night, during a private team dinner at Gibsons Bar and Steakhouse, both captain Davis Love III and Watson teared up while seated at the same table.

“I’m probably going to cry at some point this week,” Watson said, “because I cry just about every week. So there’s going to be good shots I’m going to cry about, there’s going to be bad shots I cry about, and hopefully I do everything in a respectful way.” 

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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.