Punch Shot: Ultimate World Cup dream team

By Rex HoggardNovember 18, 2013, 9:00 pm

The World Cup kicks off Thursday with two-man teams from across the globe. GolfChannel.com writers weigh in with their picks for the ultimate dream team, taking playes within the same generation.


By RANDALL MELL

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

Yeah, somebody get me Hal Sutton’s cowboy hat, or maybe just a dunce cap.

Yes, I know, the idea is absolutely wacky, given the debacle after Sutton paired them together when he was captain of the American Ryder Cup team in ’04 at Oakland Hills, but Woods and Mickelson are older, wiser and mellower. I can’t think of a more compelling two-man team in the game today. They could revive the World Cup all by themselves. Really, it’s too bad the World Cup isn’t a really big deal now, something Olympic in nature, something the Americans truly needed to send their best two players to win. 

Woods and Mickelson are the faces of American golf today, and it would be riveting theater to see them united to try to win something bigger than themselves for their country.

Now that’s a World Cup I wouldn’t miss.


By JASON SOBEL

Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson.

My initial thought for a dream team was an obvious one: Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. But considering they teamed to win the World Cup in 1963, '64, '66 and '67, the dream was actually a reality.

Instead, give me Hogan and Nelson, who were the same age, grew up as caddies at the same course and always had a complicated relationship.

It wasn't that Hogan and Nelson didn't like each other; in fact, all accounts say that there was a mutual respect. They were two very different people, though, and maybe their dissimilarities would work well together.

Hogan won this title in 1956 alongside Sam Snead, but it's the other member of the Class of 1912 (their birth year) who would be a more intriguing choice. 


By WILL GRAY

Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal.

Given the option to bridge a generational gap I would have gone with Ballesteros and Garcia, but watching one of the most dominant duos in Ryder Cup history once more would be a great consolation prize. From 1987-93, the two decorated Spaniards teamed to go 11-2-2 during Ryder Cup play, helping to turn the tide of the entire event in the process.

Displaying the shot-making creativity that yielded them each a pair of green jackets, Ballesteros and Olazabal would be a great draw in a team format, regardless of the venue. The chance to play for country, not just continent, would likely only enhance their performance, and an opportunity to watch the swashbuckling Ballesteros in action once again would be nothing short of memorable.


By REX HOGGARD

Maybe they don’t like each other. Maybe it’s just indifference. But personalities aside, the best one-two punch in the game is Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

Hal Sutton’s failed experiment in the 2004 Ryder Cup notwithstanding, there may be other combinations that play well together but there aren’t any in the history of the game that promise so much potential.

Combined, Woods and Mickelson have 19 major victories and 121 PGA Tour triumphs, 71 victories in Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup play and are the first- and fourth-ranked players in the world, respectively.

But more importantly, America’s “Dream Team” has enough competitive cachet to demoralize all but the most resilient among the rest of the field. Somewhere between Woods’ power and Lefty’s short game resides the perfect tandem – the 1927 New York Yankees of modern golf.

That is, of course, if they could find a way to get along long enough to collect the trophy.

In ’04 at Oakland Hills, Sutton famously, or maybe it’s infamously, paired the two together in the Day 1 team matches and America’s dynamic duo were sent packing, first by Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington in four-ball play (2 and 1) and then by Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood in foursomes (1 up).

Maybe the stars will never align for America’s stars, but that doesn’t change the fact that, at least on paper, they would be the game’s most formidable two-ball.

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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.