Four hole stretch dooms Piercy at TPC Sawgrass

By May 11, 2012, 11:52 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Danger lurks around every turn at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. Scott Piercy became a victim of going wrong every which way in the final four holes to miss the cut at The Players Championship.

'It was just very unfortunate,' said playing partner and 36-hole co-leader Kevin Na. 'I was kind of pulling for him. But it's unfortunate.'

Standing on the 14th tee, Piercy was at even par and on the right side of the cut line. Piercy fanned his tee shot some 40 yards right of the fairway. When he discovered his ball, he found himself inches from a forward tee at the par-4 12th.

As he was hitting his second shot, Tiger Woods approached the tee fresh off of a fourth consecutive birdie. They were going in opposite directions in more than one way.

The approach stayed right with the ball leaning symbolically against a trash can in the pine straw short of the green. Piercy removed the receptacle and brought in a PGA Tour rules official. Acutely aware his ball was lying on a sod seem, Piercy managed to get a free drop. He did not take advantage, however, skulling his third shot beyond the green. Another pitch and two putts later, Piercy had made double bogey and was outside the cut line at 2 over.

On the 15th tee, the line on the tee shot is even tighter. This time, Piercy pulled the ball left. Piercy arrived to his ball to find it on the cart path. Again, a free drop, but Piercy didn't need an official for help. He simply shouted to playing partner George McNeill, 'It's on the path, George,' before taking relief.

Perhaps sensing he needed par, Piercy pulled out a mid-iron trying to execute a low, small hook to get to the green. As he was preparing to hit, a pair of love birds strolled ignorantly up the path toward Piercy – right in the line of fire. After the couple scurried away, Piercy hit a nearly perfect shot to 17 feet and made the birdie putt to get back to 1 over.

Any momentum gained was subsequently lost as he flared his tee shot at the par 5 16th again way to the right. Piercy then pitched the ball down the fairway, leading to a benign par while his playing partners struggled. Na put his ball in the water hazard right of the green but managed par, while George McNeill pulled his approach miles left of the green, nearly into the corporate hospitality tents. Piercy remained one off the cut line.

Then with 2002 Players champion and golfing Houdini Craig Perks watching, Piercy landed his tee shot to the misnamed island-green par-3 17th on the one slip of dry land connecting the putting surface to the mainland. Piercy took a drop from the artificial turf walkway on the neck and played out of the fluffy rough.

With no room for error on a very tight line to the pin, Piercy skied his flop shot well beyond the pin. Three putts later, Piercy had himself another double bogey. Now he was 3 over and, barring a record hole-out from the 18th tee, would be going home.

Piercy made par at the last, but the score was a moot punctuation of a frustrating stretch. The Vegas native will likely leave wondering how his luck could turn on a dime or, more accurately, pine straw.

Na believes his friend and Sin City buddy will rebound.

'I was hoping he'd make the cut and play well on the weekend,' he said. 'But he's a great player. He's going to bounce back and have a lot of good tournaments.'

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.