A Couple of Veterans on Top in Vegas

By Mercer BaggsOctober 10, 2001, 4:00 pm
Fred Couples, winless since 1998, opened in 9-under-par 63 to tie Tom Lehman for the first-round lead in the 5-day Invensys Classic at Las Vegas.
Craig Parry, Rory Sabbatini, Joe Ogilvie and Tom Pernice, Jr., are all one back after shooting 8-under 64s.
Couples matched his lowest score of the season. The 42-year-old shot 7-under 63 in the second round of this years Byron Nelson Classic, where he eventually finished tied for 11th ' his best showing of the season.
Meanwhile, Lehman shot his lowest score since he opened in 63 at the 2000 Phoenix Open; which, coincidentally, was his last victory.
Couples last PGA Tour title came at the 1998 Memorial Tournament. The victory was part of a two-win season and a 9th place finish on the money list. The other win came at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, which, along with Vegas, are the only 90-hole events on the current PGA Tour schedule.
Since his Memorial triumph, the 14-time Tour winner has failed to record a top-3 finish. Two years ago, Couples also shot a first-round 63 in Vegas, but faltered with a Saturday 79 and tied for 10th.
He said earlier in the year that he didn't know if he still had the desire to be competitive on the tour. He even hinted at retirement.
'I don't want to quit,' Couples said. 'I hate to have people think this guy is having one bad year and he's ready to quit. That's not the case.'
Wednesday, Couples carded nine birdies and no bogeys at Southern Highlands. He creditted his score to a new putter he anchors against his stomach.
'I don't want to say I had the yips, but my stroke wasn't as solid as it should be,' said Couples, who took 28 putts in the first round. 'I needed to be better on the greens, that's the bottom line.'
Five of the top six players on the leaderboard played Southern Highlands in the first round; Lehman was the lone exception, playing the host course, the TPC at Summerlin.
The third course is the TPC at The Canyons. The 144-man field will play each of the three courses over the first three rounds alongside amateurs. A cut will then be made (top-70 and ties) and only the remaining professionals will compete on Summerlin over the weekend.
'These aren't the hardest courses,' Couples said. 'Obviously, I'm surprised at 63, but very excited how I putted the ball.'
Its been 58 PGA Tour starts since Couples entered the winners circle, miniscule when compared to that of Parry. The 35-year-old Australian has yet to win on tour, a span of 217 tournaments.
Parry has earned $4,314,312 since playing his first PGA Tour event in 1987. He held the dubious distinction of having earned the most money without a Tour victory, before being past this season by Flesch.
Flesch, 34, is in his fifth full season on the PGA Tour and has collected $4,338,149.
Full-field scores from the Invensys Classic
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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.