Trio Tops Kemper Leaderboard

By Mercer BaggsMay 24, 2001, 4:00 pm
The TPC at Avenel gave a lot, but took a little back on Thursday.
Chris DiMarco, J.J. Henry and Stuart Appleby each fired 6-under-par 65s to lead after the first round of the Kemper Insurance Open. All three men recorded a host of birdies, but none went unscathed.
Lee Porter, Bob Estes and Frank Nobilo are all one off the pace after a trio of 5-under 66s. Mark OMeara, who hasnt won on the PGA Tour since the 1998 British Open, is in tie for seventh place following a 4-under 67. OMeara is making his first start since the death of his mother, two weeks ago.
There were some times I was thinking out there on the golf course that I need to stay focused and positive because thats what my Mom would want me to do, OMeara said.
DiMarco has yet to win in 2001, but has had an impressive season. The 32-year-old shot 65-69 to lead through 36 holes of his first Masters Tournament. He ended the event in 10th place; one of four top-10 finishes this year.
Thursday, he bogeyed two of his first five holes, but moved to the top of the leaderboard thanks to eight birdies over his final 13 holes.
DiMarco recorded four birdies in a row down the stretch, however, Appleby bettered him.
Starting on the back nine, Appleby opened with a bogey at the par-4 10th. He then responded with six straight birdies beginning at the par-4 12th.
After making the turn in 5-under 30, the 30-year-old Australian traded two bogeys for three birdies on his inward half.
Appleby, a winner of this event in 1998, needed a bit of course knowledge on Thursday.
They ran out of yardage books in the pro shop, he said, pulling out a single sheet of paper on which he kept notes from his hip pocket. So this is it.
Henry also carded nine birdies and three bogeys in the first round. The 26-year-old rookie graduated from the Buy.Com Tour by finishing 13th on the 2000 money list.
He made a return trip last week when he didnt earn an invitation into the MasterCard Colonial. Henry was tied for the lead through 54 holes of the Richmond Open, but stumbled in the final round to finish fourth.
Still the result was a positive one. In 12 starts on the big tour, Henry has missed eight cuts and has failed to record a top-20.
Who knows? said Henry. This tournament, in a way its got to be rewarding to rookies, looking back at whos won the last couple of years. Youve had numerous first-time winners here. Its got to be in the back of your mind, something positive to feed off of.
Tom Scherrer collected his first career tour title at this event last year; Rich Beem did the same in 1999.
A host of players are tied at 3-under-par, including Phil Mickelson. The left-hander has seven top-3 finishes this season, with one victory ' the Buick Invitational.
I felt like I threw quite a few shots away on the greens, but I played well to shoot 3-under, Mickelson said.
Full-field scores from the Kemper Insurance Open
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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.