Singh Seeks East Lake Redemption

By Mercer BaggsNovember 2, 2002, 5:00 pm
ATLANTA ' Sunday will let Vijay Singh know whether East Lake Golf Club owes him or owns him.
After a pair of frustrating finishes at this venue, Singh will take a commanding three-shot lead into the final round of The Tour Championship.
Singh rolled in an 82-foot eagle at the par-5 15th en route to shooting 5-under 65. He stands at 9-under-par 201 for the tournament.
Overnight leader Charles Howell III is now alone in second place. The 23-year-old Augusta, Ga., native shot his second straight 69 to get to minus 6. This will mark the first time he has played in the final group on Sunday.
I'm very excited to go play tomorrow,' he said. 'Three shots is obviously a lot, especially against a player as good as Vijay, so I'll have to play really well to catch him.'
Tiger Woods escaped an erratic Saturday with a 67, moving him to 4-under. Hes tied for third place with Phil Mickelson (67) and David Toms (70). Toms was a co-leader, at 7-under, before playing his final seven holes in 3-over.
For the second time this week, Woods and Mickelson will be paired together come Sunday, and both know they have more concern than just their deficits.
Im not really worried what Vijay is doing. I have my own things to worry about, said Mickelson, who missed nine fairways and 11 greens in round three. I did not strike the ball well today. No matter what the (deficit), Im very thankful to only be just that far behind. And Ive got a lot of work to do if I expect to have a shot at it tomorrow.
Two years ago, Singh and Woods shared the third-round lead, only to be bypassed by a late-charging Mickelson.
It was the second East Lake disappointment for Singh, who held a one-shot advantage entering the 72nd hole in 1998, but bogeyed the par-3 18th when his tee shot took a bad bounce off the green. He eventually lost to Hal Sutton in a playoff.
Despite the end results, Singh has played as well or better than anyone both times this event has been contested at this venue. But why?
I dont know how to answer that question. Everybody has asked me that, he said. I just think it suits my eye.
I think it all starts off from the very first time that I came over here and I played well. So two years later, I came here, I had good feelings going again and I played well and this year its the same.
Singh played exceptionally well Saturday, making four birdies and a bogey to go along with the aforementioned eagle.
It was weird because where my ball was, thats where the pin was yesterday, and where the pin was (today), my ball was there yesterday, said Singh, who three-putted the 15th Friday for par.
I knew the line, kind of. But I was glad to see it go in. It kind of made for yesterday.
That bomb put Singh at 9-under, four shots removed from the field.
'I believe around 14 or 15 I saw that Vijay was at 9 (under), and then Tiger, myself and David Toms, I think, were all at 5 (under). So that was a bit shocking,' Howell said.
'I would have never have guessed that someone would have a four-shot lead on this golf course.'
One of the reasons Singh is leading is because he played the final three holes in even par. Woods, on the other hand, played that stretch in 2-over.
It was a frustrating finish to what was an exasperating round.
Woods couldn't find the fairway (hitting only 6 of 14) to take advantage of the lift, clean and place rules.
At the par-5 ninth, he hit his tee shot so far left that he decided to punch out into the adjacent first fairway. He then stuck his third shot to two feet and made birdie.
'It's great playing out of the fairway,' he joked. 'It's really not that hard. It's just that I didn't find it very often today.'
He again pulled his tee shot at the 10th. His ball came to rest near a chain-linked fence, from where he was forced to play his second shot left-handed. He saved par, but bogeyed 16 and 18.
The 2000 Tour Championship was the last time Woods lost on the PGA Tour when leading after 54 holes. Now hes on the opposite side, a side that hasnt been kind to him this year.
All of Tigers five 2002 tour titles have come when at least sharing the lead heading into the final round. His last come-from-behind victory was at the 2001 NEC Invitational.
Singh will be tough to catch, too. In this years Shell Houston Open, he took a three-stroke lead into the final round and won by six.
Tomorrow will be just going out there and have a good warm up and do what I did today, he said. Just hit fairways and hit the greens and make the putts and just play my own game. Thats what I plan to do.
'It owes me.'
Full-field scores from The Tour Championship
Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.