What we learned: Zurich Classic

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 29, 2012, 11:53 pm

Each week, the GolfChannel.com team offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the most recent events and news developments. This week we saw the rise of one young player and the fall of a two-time major champion.


It pains me, but I fear that I've learned Ernie Els will never win another tournament on the PGA Tour. Some may believe he will because he continues to put himself in contention. I take the other side which says, at 42, he only has limited opportunities left. He's not as mentally strong as he once was and that putting stroke is anything but steady. With each passing blow – like Transitions and Zurich – it's less likely that the Big Easy will win again. And it would be a shame. Hope I'm wrong. Think I'm not. – Jay Coffin


I learned that outward displays of little emotion are pretty cool, too – literally. For too long, Jason Dufner has been knocked for being Retief Goosen 2.0, which is to say a robotic personality on the course. And it’s true – look at the guy and you can’t tell whether he’s just made eagle or double-bogey. Don’t mistake that demeanor for indifference, though. Dufner has long grinded to achieve this first PGA Tour victory and it means just as much to him as the guy who dances a jig on the final green. Consider this one also a win for those of us who prefer to carry passionate yet unemotional comportment into our golf games. Just because you won a skin off your buddies, that’s not always reason for reenacting the Chi Chi Rodriguez sword dance. Thanks to Dufner, keeping cool just became a little cooler. – Jason Sobel


I learned that I could have given my wife a way better pre-marriage present. Jason Dufner will get married next week to his fiancée Amanda Boyd, but the couple had a tremendous week before the nuptials in a city and at a tournament they both love. 

It just so turned out that Dufner managed to pull out his first PGA Tour win in the process, helping to more than offset the outlay for the ceremony in Auburn, Ala.

'It helps paying for the wedding, which is more expensive than I thought. It's a bit of a gift for her and a bit of a gift for me,' he said.

I would say a PGA Tour win and $1.152 million is more than a bit of money. – Ryan Ballengee


I learned the future of American women’s golf looks a lot brighter in the glow of a Sunday fireworks show staged by Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson.

With her victory Sunday at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic, Lewis becomes the third American to win this year. That’s one more than won all of last year. Of course, last year was the low mark for Americans in the history of the LPGA, with Brittany Lincicome (2 wins) and Lewis (1 win) the only Americans to win all year.

Thompson’s bold charge from five shots back in the final round at Mobile adds to American hopefulness. After a sluggish start to her rookie season, the 17-year-old is off and running in a big way. She started the weekend tied for 35th and shot 66-65 to nearly win her second LPGA title in seven months, her third worldwide title in the same time span. She put tremendous pressure on Lewis, coming up a shot short.

Lewis, 26, and Thompson give the Americans two feisty competitors to help lead USA’s fight back to international respectability. – Randall Mell


I learned that the Official World Golf Ranking may have this one right and Augusta National may have missed an opportunity. Luke Donald overtook Rory McIlroy atop the ranking with his third-place finish in New Orleans, proving that solid play can explain away all the confusing math, while Ernie Els' playoff miss was another indication that the South African probably deserved an invitation to this year's Masters. – Rex Hoggard



John Hancock Pivotal Moments


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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.