Tuesday - News Notes
This is the hardest golf course Ive ever played, said Davis Love III, who is making his 14th U.S. Open appearance this week.
Nothing is tougher, said Brad Faxon.
If the wind blows, its almost going to be impossible, said Chris DiMarco.
But while players agree the 7,214-yard par-70 layout ' the longest in U.S. Open history ' is a beast, they also agree its a beauty.
I love this course, said Stewart Cink, who finished a heartbreaking third in last years Open at Southern Hills.
Best course Ive played, said 15-year tour veteran Billy Andrade.
I asked David Duval, I said, Is this the best U.S. Open greens weve ever seen? He said, They are the best greens Ive ever seen anywhere, recanted Love.
Fleisher, a Disappointment
Bruce Fleisher opted not to compete this week, an honor awarded to him after winning last years U.S. Senior Open. He said last week he felt he could not be competitive and that the course was too much.
Tuesday, a pair of Fleishers Senior PGA Tour colleagues who are participating in the U.S. Open responded to his decision.
I think everybody is kind of disappointed in that, said Tom Kite, who earned a spot in the 156-man field by finishing tied for fifth last year. I think he had a great opportunity to represent the Senior Tour, and to be honest, I think when you win the Senior Open you have an obligation to go to the U.S. Open.
I think everybody on the Senior Tour was surprised and disappointed at Bruces decision.
Added three-time U.S. Open champion Hale Irwin, who is in this week on a special exemption: I think he let a lot of people down. Most of the seniors would give their right leg to play in this event as the Senior Open champion. I think anybody who qualifies to play and decides not to play it really missing out on something.
Eight is Enough?
DiMarco is among the many players this week deciding which 14 clubs to keep in his bag. But the club he may exclude might surprise you.
I am trying to figure out if Im going to take my 8- or my 9-iron out. One of those two are coming out, because you dont need one of those two clubs, he said. I havent hit a 9-iron or a wedge in three days (of practice). Im putting a 2-iron and a 5-wood in.
The Numbers Game
It is often said that you must drive the ball in play to win the U.S. Open. But since the PGA Tour started keeping tournament records in 1980, the player who led the U.S. Open field in driving accuracy has not won an Open title. Only one player who led in driving distance (Tiger Woods, 2000) has won and only two players (Tom Watson, 1982, Curtis Strange, 1988) won who led in putting.
On the other hand, seven players who led the Open in greens hit in regulation won the title, most recently Woods in 2000.
Full coverage of the 102nd U.S. Open
McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School
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
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.
Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4
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
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."
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.