Should the Old Course host every Open Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2010, 2:17 am

Should the Old Course at St. Andrews host the Open Championship every year? Rex Hoggard and Jay Coffin offer their takes.


ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Asked where he would play all of his major championships if he had the choice, Tiger Woods didn’t hesitate – St. Andrews. Phil Mickelson offered a similar endorsement saying the Royal & Ancients should ditch the rota and make the Auld Grey Toon the Open Championship’s permanent address.

Nothing against the Turnberrys and Royal Troons of the rota, all fine venues with more history on a single mound than most American layouts have over their entire 18 holes, but nothing beats St. Andrews.

Not inside the ropes, where the game is played on a crisscrossed pitch with an assortment of double greens and a litany of strategic options, or outside.

“Some golf courses are like a mugger, hold a gun to you and say 'give me a stroke,'” said Alan Grant, the master of ceremonies at Skibo Castle, who is best described as the Scottish David Feherty. “The Old Course taps you on the shoulder, asks about your family and how you are doing and, by the way, I’ll just take a stroke from you.”

But it is surrounding color and texture that truly makes St. Andrews worth an annual visit. No other major venue is as intimate or inviting as St. Andrews, from the iconic Old Course Hotel and adjacent Jigger Inn to the Dunvegan pub, a staple hardly a pitching wedge from the Old Course’s 18th green.

Golf deserves a yearly St. Andrews fix, and besides it seems to work just fine for the folks at Augusta National.


ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – The Old Course is a special place, but coming here once every five years is perfect. There isn’t a better atmosphere in all of golf to hold a championship of this magnitude, but there are many great courses in the Open rota which deserve to host this grand event.

If nothing else it gives us a chance to revisit historic championships from the past. Had we not returned to Turnberry in 2009, we wouldn’t have talked about the Duel in the Sun, the epic battle in 1977 where Tom Watson bettered Jack Nicklaus. Next year when we return to Royal St. Georges, we’ll talk about Greg Norman’s final-round 64 in 1993 to clip Nick Faldo by two shots. Royal Lytham & St. Annes will host in 2012 and David Duval and Seve Ballesteros will be front and center. History is important to this great game and going back to places that produced historic moments is invaluable.

I especially enjoyed the sense of urgency that players felt this year. Phil Mickelson understands the importance of the Old Course. He knows that the best players in history have won here. That’s why he was miffed that he played so poorly. He knows that his next shot to win here will be in 2015, when he’s 45 and likely past his prime.

There isn’t a better Open Championship to win than one that’s at the Old Course. Having it here each year could make winning lose some of its luster.

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.