Ranking the U.S. Open field no small task

By Jason SobelJune 12, 2012, 9:55 pm

SAN FRANCISCO – If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

That could be Luke Donald’s mantra, as the game’s No. 1-ranked player also deals with the Catch-22 that labels him as its current best to never win a major championship.

It might as well be mine, too. Just two months ago, in a similar list ranking the field prior to the Masters Tournament, I placed Donald atop that one – only to see him finish in a share of 32nd place.

That doesn’t change my overall feeling that Donald is primed and ready to win a big one. And so in advance of this week’s 112th U.S. Open Championship, he once again tops the list of 156 competitors.

Where does everyone else rank below him? Here are your answers, complete with a few surprises. Just remember: If this one isn’t completely correct, I’ll just try, try again.

 

1. Luke Donald Keys to contending at any major: Keep the ball in play, eliminate mistakes and be deadly from 100 yards and in. That’s pretty much an analysis of Donald’s game.
2. Martin Laird Trending in the right direction with a T-2 at The Players Championship and a solid weekend in Memphis, Laird fits the mold of a Charl Schwartzel or Geoff Ogilvy major champion.
3. Tiger Woods He will contend that he enjoys playing tournaments in which the winning score is closer to par, but history shows tough conditions only level Woods with the playing field.
4. Jonathan Byrd Looking for a hot hand? Byrd has finished 12th or better in each of his last four events. Ironically, this Ben Hogan fan could be this week’s Jack Fleck.
5. Bubba Watson Everyone maintains players will have to work the ball both ways at The Olympic Club, and nobody in the game does that better than the reigning Masters champion.
6. Lee Westwood One of the world’s best tee-to-green players, it will all come down to how he’s rolling the rock. A win last weekend in Sweden should give Westwood some confidence.
7. Davis Love III Don’t scoff. The current United States Ryder Cup captain is peaking at the right time, reaching the field through sectionals before a T-3 finish in Memphis.
8. Adam Scott In a season where seemingly every big-name player has enjoyed his week in the sun, Scott is still waiting to see his name atop a leaderboard on a Sunday afternoon.
9. Nicolas Colsaerts Length may not be that much of an advantage on this course, but Colsearts is about more than just bombing the ball. He’s got a pretty solid short game, too.
10. Dustin Johnson Oozing with confidence coming off his victory in Memphis, Johnson will try to break a streak that has never seen a previous week’s winner also take the U.S. Open.
11. Nick Watney
12. Rory McIlroy
13. Steve Stricker
14. Justin Rose
15. Phil Mickelson
16. Bo Van Pelt
17. Zach Johnson
18. Louis Oosthuizen
19. Aaron Baddeley
20. Rickie Fowler
21. Matt Kuchar
22. Jason Dufner By holding a weekend lead during each of the last two major championships, Dufner is quickly establishing himself as a big-time player in big-time events.
23. Bill Haas
24. Geoff Ogilvy
25. Hunter Mahan
26. Kevin Streelman
27. Miguel Angel Jimenez
28. Spencer Levin
29. Sergio Garcia
30. Mark Wilson
31. Jim Furyk
32. Padraig Harrington
33. Keegan Bradley Hard to believe that one year ago Bradley was sitting at home, still two months shy of winning the PGA Championship. His first U.S. Open comes on a course that should suit him well.
34. John Senden
35. Ernie Els
36. Charlie Wi
37. Peter Hanson
38. Ian Poulter
39. K.J. Choi
40. Francesco Molinari
41. John Peterson
42. Graeme McDowell
43. Michael Allen If home course knowledge was everything, this Champions Tour regular and Olympic Club member would be your runaway winner. No one knows this place better.
44. Charl Schwartzel
45. Martin Kaymer
46. Branden Grace
47. Kevin Chappell
48. Kevin Na
49. Vijay Singh
50. Blake Adams
51. Mikko Ilonen
52. Ben Crane
53. Scott Langley
54. Michael Thompson
55. Rafael Cabrera Bello
56. David Mathis
57. Robert Rock
58. David Toms
59. George Coetzee
60. Colt Knost
The answer to a trivia question, Knost has won three USGA events (U.S. PubLinks, U.S. Amateur and Walker Cup) before competing in his first U.S. Open.
61. Y.E. Yang
62. Jason Day
63. Fredrik Jacobson
64. James Hahn
65. Carl Pettersson
66. Charles Howell III
67. Robert Castro
68. Sang-moon Bae
69. Ryo Ishikawa
70. D.A. Points
71. Joe Durant
72. Lucas Glover
73. Thomas Bjorn
74. Matteo Manassero
75. Brian Harman
76. Hiroyuki Fujita
77. Retief Goosen
Once considered the preeminent U.S. Open-type player, Goosen hasn’t finished inside the top-10 at this event since his second of two wins in 2004.
78. Webb Simpson
79. Alvaro Quiros
80. Peter Lawrie
81. Rod Pampling
82. Stewart Cink
83. Soren Kjeldsen
84. Angel Cabrera
85. Robert Karlsson
86. Tim Clark
87. Jason Bohn
88. Shane Bertsch
89. Stephen Ames
90. Trevor Immelman
91. Robert Garrigus In this week’s field based on his T-3 at Congressional one year ago, Garrigus has leveled off lately with sub-70 scores in only three of his last 15 rounds.
92. K.T. Kim
93. Scott Piercy
94. Bob Estes
95. Simon Dyson
96. Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano
97. Steve Marino
98. Brendan Jones
99. Raphael Jacquelin
100. Joe Ogilvie
101. a-Patrick Cantlay
This week’s contingent of nine amateurs is paced by Cantlay, a UCLA junior who recently won the Ben Hogan Award despite not claiming an individual title this year.
102. Hunter Haas
103. Anders Hansen
104. a-Jordan Spieth
105. Gary Woodland
106. Lee Slattery
107. Chez Reavie
108. Kyle Stanley
109. Toru Taniguchi
110. Kyle Thompson
111. Morgan Hoffmann
112. Alex Cejka
113. Matt Bettencourt
114. Marc Warren
115. Casey Wittenberg
116. Alistair Presnell
117. Edward Loar
118. Justin Hicks
119. Martin Flores
120. Alex Noren
121. Gregory Bourdy
122. Tim Herron
123. Michael Campbell
There aren’t many sadder stories in the game than that of Campbell, who was on top of the golfing world seven years ago, but has seen a major dropoff ever since.
124. Tommy Biershenk
125. Jim Herman
126. Will Claxton
127. Darron Stiles
128. Tadahiro Takayama
129. Nicholas Thompson
130. Jeff Curl
131. Brice Garnett
132. Bill Lunde
133. a-Cameron Wilson
134. Olin Browne
135. Aaron Watkins
136. a-Hunter Hamrick
137. Steve Lebrun
138. Jesse Mueller
139. Casey Martin The best story to come out of sectional qualifying, Martin overcame a degenerative leg condition and will be riding around Olympic Club in a cart this week.
140. a-Beau Hossler
141. Scott Smith
142. Matthew Baldwin
143. J.B. Park
144. Anthony Summers
145. Dong-Hwan Lee
146. a-Brooks Koepka
147. Brian Gaffney
148. a-Nick Sherwood
149. Cole Howard
150. Samuel Osborne
151. Brian Rowell
152. a-Alberto Sanchez
153. Tim Weinhart
154. Mark McCormick
155. Dennis Miller
156. a-Andy Zhang The last man in the field on Monday, this 14-year-old also finished in last place when all competitors were ranked by age and alphabetically.

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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.