Whan shares his story with LPGA pros

By Randall MellNovember 20, 2009, 2:51 am

RICHMOND, Texas – Michael Whan is piling up mileage hiking around the LPGA Tour Championship.

The new commissioner, who doesn’t assume his role until Jan. 4, is making strong impressions with his visibility in his first appearance at an LPGA event.

When Morgan Pressel looked up at the ninth hole Thursday, Whan was in the crowd.

After Stacy Lewis signed her scorecard, she got a fist bump from the new commissioner.

He hiked up and down the driving range Wednesday at the pro-am meeting players and later that night was grilled by them during a special commissioner’s forum for players.

“I like him,” Lewis said. “I like the way he talks about the future. He really wants to listen to us and what we have to say, which I think is what we’ve needed for awhile.”

Lewis acknowledged the new commissioner’s task will be tall that way.

“He said he talked to 40 different players after getting the job and all 40 players wanted something different,” Lewis said.

Whan ended the forum giving all the players his e-mail address. He said he’d be willing to give them his cell phone, too, but they would have to e-mail and ask him for it. He also gave tournament owners and sponsors his e-mail and cell phone information during the Tournament Owners Association meeting last week.

Whan opened Wednesday night's forum sharing details about his life as a husband and father of three sons.

“He shared a lot about his family,” said Heather Daly-Donofrio, a two-time LPGA winner and player liaison. “He shared that before he shared anything about business. That was nice, to get an insight into what kind of person he is, to learn what his priorities are.”

LPGA President Michelle Ellis said family was a strong theme at the forum.

“He really bases his job around being a family,” Ellis said. “He talked about how important family is to him, and he wants to be part of our family.”

Through much of this year, especially in a player revolt that led to the ouster of Carolyn Bivens as commissioner, the LPGA was too much a dysfunctional family. Whan will be looking to change that.

Tour pros better get used to the idea that they are a global family, because Whan also emphasized the global nature of the tour and how important that is to its future. While American players want more American events, Whan made it clear he will continue to seek playing opportunities wherever they occur around the world.

“He shared his vision as it relates to the schedule,” Daly-Donofrio said. “He talked about how the schedule doesn’t have to fit everybody. Ideally, we’ll build a schedule where if you want to play domestically, you can tailor your schedule to that. If you are a player who likes to play overseas, we’ll have a schedule for you. If you are a player who wants to play here and abroad, we'll have a schedule for you. The idea is to create enough playing opportunities that players can have the best of both worlds.”
Given the shrunken nature of the schedule the LPGA released Wednesday, that makes the commissioner’s vision bold and his challenge enormous. The 24-event schedule released is the smallest in nearly four decades. Players have made it clear that they want Whan to give them more chances to play.

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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.