From Ending to Beginning

By Mercer BaggsJanuary 31, 2002, 5:00 pm
The Pebble Beach National Pro-Am started this year the way it ended a year ago.
Brent Schwarzrock shot an 8-under-par 28 on the front nine at the Pebble Beach Golf Links in grabbing sole possession of the first-round lead.
Schwarzrock, who started at the 10th, made the turn in even par, only to scorch the easier half for an 8-under-par 64. Hes two shots clear of reigning Q-School medallist Pat Perez and Pebble Beachs tough-luck kid, Matt Gogel.
Tiger Woods, the man responsible for breaking Gogels heart two years ago, shot 2-under-par 70 at Poppy Hills.
Following a 45-minute frost delay, Woods thawed out quickly, playing his first seven holes in 4-under. But at the par-5 18th, his ninth hole of the day, he went cold.
Woods, who was using a Nike driver for the first time in competition, blocked his second shot into the right trees. He tried to pitch out into the center of the green, but watched helplessly as his ball rolled through to the fringe. He then played what looked like a purposeful chunk shot. His ball landed only three feet from its original lie and rolled slowly to the crest of the hill. Fans encouraged the ball to go, though Woods pleaded mightily for it to settle.
Of course, Woods was in the right. His ball rolled down the slope, eight feet past the cup, from where he two-putted for bogey. Woods played the four par-5s in 1-over Thursday.
Nonetheless, he was pleased with his score over the six-hour round on a chilly, yet sunny day on the Monterey Peninsula.
Thats great for me around this golf course, he said. I dont ever play this golf course well, so anytime I can shoot something under par, thats good.
Two years ago, Woods won this event when he overcame a seven-shot deficit with seven holes to play. Gogel just happened to be the victim.
Last year, it appeared as if he might redeem himself as he shot a second-round 62 to take a three-stroke advantage into the weekend. However, he folded with a Day-3 81 at Spyglass Hill and finished tied for 27th.
Ive played well out here since Ive been a pro with the exception of one round, said Gogel, who joined the tour in 2000. I think putting is probably the biggest variable this week, guys will start to lose their head on (the greens) because they do bump up and you just really have to stay patient.
Patience wasnt a problem Thursday, as Gogel, who started on No. 10, birdied holes 11-14.
Thats obviously a great start and I probably just kind of rode the momentum from there, he said.
Schwarzrocks start was a bit more tepid, but his back nine was equal to only two other players in tournament history.
Schwarzrocks 28 matched the nine-hole Pebble Beach record. Spike McRoy posted that number last year, as did Davis Love III - though Loves 28 came en route to victory in the final round.
Schwarzrock, who, like Love, is a resident of Sea Island, Ga., made only two pars on his inward half. He started his carnage by sticking a 4-iron to six feet and converting the eagle putt at the par-5 second.
He then made a pair of 15-foot birdie putts at the third and fourth holes. After a measly par at the par-3 fifth, Schwarzrock birdied each of his final four holes.
It was just an awesome day. What more could you ask for? he said.
Schwarzrock and Love share more than a residency and a record. Both have back problems. In fact, they share the same doctor. The 29-year-old Schwarzrock played only once on tour in 1999 ' withdrawing from this event after an opening 80.
He received a special medical exemption in 2000. But thanks to reoccurring back pains, he earned less than $100,000 in 27 events. He again failed to keep his card in 2001, finishing 142nd on the money list.
This year, Schwarzrock is exempt after finishing 18th at Q-School. He's also receiving a minor medical extension since he played in only 20 events last year. He has nine tournaments this year to earn $84,016 (combined with 2001 earnings of $322,336 would equal No. 125 Woody Austins $406,352) and receive a fully-exempt major medical extension for the remainder of the year.
Obviously, its still a concern, he said of his back problems. I stretch it three times a day and Im still careful with it, but no pain to speak of.
News and Notes from Round 1
Full-field scores from the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
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McCoy earns medalist honors at 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 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 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 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.