National Defense

By Mercer BaggsOctober 25, 2000, 4:00 pm
The last time we saw Tiger Woods in a play-for-pay event was six weeks ago. He stuck a 6-iron from 218 yards out of a fairway bunker over water to win the Bell Canadian Open.
Well, Tiger's back again this week at the National Car Rental Golf Classic at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
His game is on form. He's motivated. He's playing at home. He's the defending champion. And, he loves the two courses - Magnolia and Palm - the tournament is contested on.
'I'm really looking forward to being able to stretch it out and use my length to my advantage,' said Tiger, who admitted he is still testing drivers after accidentally breaking his last week. 'So many courses we play throughout the year, I can't do that. I have to hit a lot of deuces (2-irons) off the tee, kind of lay up and play from there.'
Last year, Tiger bettered Ernie Els by one stroke to claim his second title in as many starts. Asked afterwards if he had any goals remaining for the 1999 season, Tiger quipped: 'A hat trick, I'd like to win the last three.'
And so he did.
Woods won the Tour Championship, and then ended the season by capturing the WGC - American Express Championship in Valderrama, Spain.
'I thought it could be done,' Woods said. 'Simple as that.'
That made it four wins in four starts for Woods. He went on to win his first two starts in 2000 to up that streak to six-in-a-row, before Phil Mickelson topped him at this year's Buick Invitational.
Tiger has won nine times on the PGA Tour in 2000. Last week, he helped his American teammates win back the Presidents Cup in overwhelming fashion at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Prince William County, Va.
Woods is one of only seven Presidents Cup participants to make the trip to central Florida. One of those is Vijay Singh. Tiger competed against Vijay in four of his five Cup matches, including Sunday's singles match.
For those who missed Sunday's festivities, Singh's caddie, Paul Tesori, sported a baseball cap with 'Tiger Who?' stitched on the back. Neither man conceded many putts on that tension-filled day. Woods went on to defeat Singh 2-and-1.
Tiger and Vijay are the only two players inside the top 10 on the money list in attendance this week. Those absentees can afford to take the week off. They've secured not only their 2001 playing privileges, but also a spot in next week's Tour Championship.
Meanwhile, others aren't feeling quite as cozy. This is the final event before the $5-million Tour Championship, which is held at the East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Ga. It's also the penultimate full-field event on the 2000 schedule. The Southern Farm Bureau Classic will be contested in Madison, Miss., opposite the Tour Championship, giving players one last chance to keep or earn their 2001 PGA Tour cards.
Of the players currently ranked 24th to 40th in earnings, only four are not in the Disney field - Nick Price (No. 27), Chris Perry (32), Shigeki Maruyama (35) and Greg Chalmers (38).
At the other end of the spectrum, all but one of the players 111th to 139th on the money list are competing this week. The lone exception is Joe Ozaki, who resides in 127th position.
This week's event offers a $3-million purse, with $540,000 going to the winner.
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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.