What They Said: U.S. Open media day at Merion

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 29, 2013, 8:50 pm

USGA executive director Mike Davis and defending U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson headlined the 2013 U.S. Open media day on Monday.

Here is a sampling of what they had to say about this year’s championship, scheduled for June 13-16 at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa.:

• Merion, which will play to a par 70 and 6,996 yards, should yield a lot of birdies, Davis said: “This blend of short and long is going to be such a neat and exciting feature of this Open. There’s going to be more birdies made, trust me, at this U.S. Open than any we have seen in recent memory.”

• Wedge play likely will be one of the deciding factors this year. Simpson, who played the East Course during the 2005 U.S. Amateur staged there, said: “On the first 13 holes, there will be more wedges into these greens than most U.S. Opens … Potentially through 13 holes, if you drive it well, you can have nine wedge opportunities. I think a guy with a good wedge game and a good mind will have the advantage because you’ll have your birdie opportunities. But what I remember about Merion is that the second that you think, 'I got an easy hole, an iron and a wedge,' is the second that you probably will make a mistake.” 

On the other hand, Simpson said, “The last five (holes) are going to be some of maybe the hardest that we have ever had in the U.S. Open.” That includes four par 4s and a lengthy par-3 17th. “I don’t think there will ever be a point in this U.S. Open where somebody will have it won because the last five holes are so hard that a guy will be hanging on.”

• There are only two par 5s on the course. Interestingly, they are Nos. 2 and 4.

• Davis said that Merion will “probably be the most precise golf course we play a U.S. Open on.” 

• Players will need to adjust to the blind and semi-blind shots at Merion, Davis said. He estimated that 11 of the 18 holes have that design element, whether a player cannot see the entire putting surface, or half of the flagstick, or the landing area in the fairway. “If you’re a member here and you’re playing it every day you get used to it,” Davis said. “But for players coming here for the first time, or not even the first time, that does add an element of difficulty.”

• Though the official yardage on the scorecard will be 6,996, Davis said there will be some days when the course will play “68 and change.”

The greens are expected to run about 13 to 13 ½ on the Stimpmeter, Davis said, which is what was used during the ’05 Amateur.

As has been the case during most of the USGA championships contested at Merion, the flagsticks will topped by the traditional wicker baskets instead of the usual flags.

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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.