Bunker Shots International Flair

By Randall MellJuly 20, 2010, 6:01 pm

Blasting into the week ahead, from another major event in Scotland to French, Canadian and Scandinavian tests.


PGA Tour (75x100)

RBC Canadian Open

You can’t always judge the appeal of a PGA Tour field by the world rankings.

That’s the case at the RBC Canadian Open, where the most popular players in the field aren’t among the top 80 in the world. Fred Couples, John Daly and David Duval remain strong draws folks want to see. Canadian Mike Weir is No. 82 in the world, but he will be the biggest draw of all as he bids once more to win his national open. Paul Casey and Luke Donald are the highest ranked players competing at Nos. 8 and 9 in the world, respectively. Retief Goosen, Tim Clark, Hunter Mahan, Camilo Villegas, Sean O’Hair, Ricky Barnes, Matt Kuchar also spice the field with veterans Paul Azinger and Rocco Mediate in the mix.

Bunker shot: How is it that Weir makes his 20th start in the Canadian Open this week? And that he’s 40 now? The still youthful looking Canadian can script a wildly popular story if he manages to break through and win this event for the first time. Though he missed the cut the first nine times he played the Canadian Open, Weir has managed three top-10s in his last seven tries. With the Canadian Open being played at St. George’s Golf and Country Club outside Toronto for the first time since 1968, there’s some odd mojo in Weir’s favor. Bob Charles won that year. Like Weir, Charles plays left-handed. Weir’s got some momentum to change, though. He’s missed cuts in four of his last six starts and has just one top-10 finish this season. 

Mell’s picks: Winner – Luke Donald. Contender – Retief Goosen. Darkhorse – Stephen Ames.

  • Course: St. George’s Golf and Country Club, Toronto, Canada. Par 70, 7,046 yards (Designed by Stanley Thompson and opened in 1929).
  • Purse: $5.1 million (winner’s share, $918,000).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m., replays 8:30-11:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, CBS, 3-6 p.m.
  • Last year: Nathan Green defeated Retief Goosen on the second hole of a playoff.


Champions Tour

Senior Open Championhsip

It’s the first of back-to-back Champions Tour majors.

After a week at Carnoustie, the senior circuit will head back to the states for next week’s U.S. Senior Open at Sahalee outside Seattle. For a select group at St. Andrews, it’s the second of three consecutive majors.

Bunker shot: Mark Calcavecchia and Tom Lehman looked more than ready to claim a senior major with their “warm-ups” at St. Andrews last week. The challenge is less daunting this week with the dominant Fred Couples skipping the trip overseas to play the RBC Canadian Open. Still, Tom Watson, winner of five British Open titles and three senior British Open titles, is expected to bounce back strong after missing the cut at St. Andrews last week. Seven of his eight previously mentioned major championship titles were claimed in Scotland. He won at Carnoustie in ’75.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Corey Pavin. Contender – Tom Lehman. Darkhorse – Tom Pernice Jr.

  • Course: Carnoustie Golf Links, Carnoustie, Angus, Scotland. Par 71, 6,785 yards (Designed by Alan Robertson 1850, Old Tom Morris 1867).
  • Purse: $2 million (winner’s share, $315,600).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, TNT, noon-2 p.m. Saturday, 1:30-3 p.m., ABC; Sunday, ABC, 1-3 p.m.
  • Last year: Loren Roberts defeated Mark McNulty and Fred Funk in a playoff.


LPGA Tour _new

Evian Masters

Paula Creamer’s back in action after her inspiring U.S. Women’s Open victory two weeks ago.

Creamer, who never looked better winning her first major at brutish Oakmont despite her still sore reconstructed left thumb, is part of a strong field playing for a giant purse in France. The nature of the event makes it feel like the women’s fifth major with players getting ready for next week’s Ricoh Women’s British Open.

The top 24 players in the world are all committed to the Evian Masters and competing for $3.25 million, which equals the U.S. Women’s Open as the largest purse in women’s golf. The 111-player field isn’t as large as the LPGA’s full-field events but it’s an expanded field with 20 players more than a year ago.

Bunker shot: The fight for No. 1 continues to be the story within the story again this week with Creamer looking to move up from her No. 7 ranking with another victory. Ai Miyazato, Evian’s defending champ, regained the No. 1 ranking from Cristie Kerr by ten thousandths of a decimal point in this week’s new rankings. Though neither player teed it up last week, Miyazato’s average jumped over Kerr’s based on points they lost within the two-year rolling window of the rankings. Watch out for Suzann Pettersen if she gets her putter working before next week’s Women’s British Open. She’s No. 3 in the world with a chance to become the fifth different player to hold the No. 1 ranking this year. Pettersen’s ball striking was phenomenal at the U.S. Women’s Open, but she left saying she could have putted better blindfolded.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Paula Creamer. Contender – Ai Miyazato. Darkhorse – Helen Alfredsson.

  • Course: Evian Masters Golf Club, Evian-les-Bains, France. Par 72, 6,344 yards (Originally opened in 1904, renovated by Cabell B. Robinson in 1990).
  • Purse: $3.25 million (winner’s share, $487,500).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Friday, 6:30-8:30 p.m., replay midnight-2 a.m. following Thursday’s round; Saturday, 1-4 p.m., replay 9:30-11:30 p.m. Sunday, 1-4 p.m., replay 9:30-11:30 p.m.
  • Last year: Ai Miyazato broke through to win her first LPGA event, defeating Sophie Gustafson in a playoff.


2009 European Tour

Nordea Scandinavian Masters

Jesper Parnevik, one of Sweden’s favorite sons, hopes to return to action in his homeland this week.

Parnevik dropped out of the Northern Trust Open in February with severe back pain. That was his last PGA Tour start and he’s said he’s still uncertain how the back will hold up in his return. He had hip surgery in the middle of last season. He won the Scandinavian Masters in 1995 and ’98.

Bunker shot: A year ago, Louis Oosthuizen could probably have sneaked in and out of the Scandinavian Masters unnoticed. He’ll get a good feeling just how much his life’s changed this week. He’s suddenly a headliner thanks to his virtuoso performance winning the British Open Sunday by a whopping seven shots. He headlines a nice crop of up-and-coming stars in the Swedish event. Americans Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler also are in this week’s field, as are Italy’s Edoardo Molinari, winner of the European Tour event the week before the British Open, and Spain’s Pablo Martin, who three years ago became the first amateur to win a European Tour event.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Dustin Johnson. Contender – Edoardo Molinari. Darkhorse – Peter Hedblom.

  • Course: Bro Hof Slott Golf Club, Stockholm, Sweden. Par 72, 7,365 yards (Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and opened in 2007).
  • Purse: 1.6 million euros (winner’s share, 333,330 euros).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Friday, 8:30-11:30 a.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 7:30-10:30 a.m.
  • Last year: Argentina’s Ricardo Gonzalo won by two shots.


Nationwide Tour

Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational

Thirteen events remain before the season-ending Nationwide Tour Championship.

The top 60 on the money list earn their way in, where the top 25 at event’s end win PGA Tour cards.

Bunker shot: Tommy Gainey  became the first two-time winner of the Nationwide Tour this season with his victory last week at the Chiquita Classic. He’s bidding this week to win a third time and become the 10th player in Tour history to earn a same-season promotion to the PGA Tour. Michael Sim did it last year in the middle of August.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Kevin Chappell. Contender – Gavin Coles. Darkhorse – Joe Affrunti.

  • Course: Ohio State University Golf Club, Scarlet Course, Columbus, Ohio. Par 71, 7,455 yards (Designed by Alister MacKenzie and opened in 1938, Jack Nicklaus oversaw a restoration in 2005).
  • Purse: $800,000 (winner’s share, $144,000).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel, 12:30-2:30 p.m., replay 2-4 a.m.; Saturday, Golf Channel, 6:30-9:30 p.m., replay 2-4 a.m.; Sunday, 7:30-9:30 p.m., replay midnight-2 a.m.
  • Last year: Derek Lamely’s 6-under-par 65 helped him come from eight shots back in the final round and win. He defeated amateur Rickie Fowler in a playoff.
Getty Images

McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com 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 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

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.