Els Pulling Away From Mercedes Field

By Mercer BaggsJanuary 12, 2001, 5:00 pm
One year ago, Tiger Woods fired a second-round 66 to take a four-shot lead entering weekend play at the Mercedes Championships. He eventually won the tournament.
Ernie Els is hoping history repeats itself in 2001.
Els carded a bogey-free 66, Friday on the par-73 Plantation Course, to grab a commanding four-shot lead over Vijay Singh, Rory Sabbatini and Jim Furyk with 36 holes remaining in Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii.
Overnight leader Justin Leonard is now six shots off the lead after posting an even-par 73. Tiger Woods also shot 73 on Friday. The score was good enough to keep alive his consecutive rounds at par or better streak on the PGA Tour, which now stands at 49; however, he now finds himself nine strokes back of Els, whom he defeated in a playoff to win this event last year.

Els' 66 moves him to 12-under-par for the tournament. His day included seven birdies and no bogeys in the strong, swirling trade winds. Els will play the third round alongside Singh. The reigning Masters champion played the four par-5s in 5-under-par on Friday en route to a 6-under-par 67.
Furyk and Sabbatini will play in the penultimate group on Saturday. Both men have carded back-to-back rounds of 69 this week. Sabbatini's day included a pair of eagles at the par-5 9th and the par-5 15th.
Furyk, who injured his wrist late last year, is playing for the first time on the PGA Tour since the Invensys Classic at Las Vegas in October. The unorthodox swinger is noted as a solid wind player, having won the Hawaiian Open and three Invensys Classics.
'I would never say I like the wind,' Furyk said. 'That's asking for it to blow 100 mph. But when I'm hitting it well, I can do as well as the next guy.'
Tiger's second round was marked by a series of lip outs early and a host of mis-hits late. Woods was 2-over for the day through 14 holes, before birdying the 15th and 17th holes, the latter coming courtesy of a 30-foot bomb.
'Nothing really went right today,' said Woods, who shot his worst round since a 3-over-par 73 in the first round of the Byron Nelson Classic on May 11; his last round over par.
'It can't be much worse. I'm hitting it terrible, putting it terrible, chipping it terrible. Other than that, it's pretty good.'
Woods will play the third round paired with his winning World Cup partner, David Duval. Duval followed an opening 73 with a second-round 71.
Three players are tied at 7-under-par. Rocco Mediate, Michael Clark II and Billy Andrade are all five off the 36-hole lead. Mediate finished his second round eagle-bogey-birdie, holing his second shot at the par-4 16th.
Jesper Parnevik also holed his approach shot at the 16th. The Swede missed a four-foot birdie putt on the final hole, but still managed to tie Els for the low round of the day, a 7-under-par 66. Parnevik now stands tied for 16th at 4-under.
MORE on The Mercedes Championships:
Full-Field Scores
Ernie Els' 2nd Round Interview Transcript
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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.