Bunker Shots Majors and More

By Randall MellJuly 27, 2010, 6:08 pm

Blasting into the week ahead, from a new PGA Tour venue to a pair of majors and a proud Irish test ... 


PGA Tour (75x100)

Greenbrier Classic

It’s hard to believe, but we’re creeping up on the end of this most unusual and amorphous PGA Tour FedEx Cup season.

It’s almost over, and we’re still trying to get a handle on what this year’s all about beyond Tiger Woods’ swoon.

Catch your breath this week – most of the PGA Tour stars are – because six of the next seven weeks are elite events that will feature loaded fields.

With the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship following the Greenbrier Classic, there’s just the Wyndham Championship to go before the start of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. It’s why Jim Furyk’s the only top-20 player in the field at the Greenbrier Classic. There’s a lot of resting going on.

Bunker shot: Break out the pannkakor and lingonberry jelly, the Swedes are coming. Carl Pettersson and Richard Johnson are coming off victories last week, Pettersson at the RBC Canadian Open and Johnson at the Nordea Scandinavian Masters. They’re both in this week’s field with the glow of their victories still lighting up Sweden.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Ricky Barnes. Contender – Jim Furyk. Darkhorse – Charley Wi.

  • Course: Greenbrier’s Old White Course, White Sulphur Springs, WV. Par 70, 7,020 (Originally designed by Charles Blair MacDonald and Seth Raynor and opened in 1913, restored by Lester George in 2006).
  • Purse: $6 million (winner’s share, $1,090,000).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m. (ET), replay 8:30-11:30 p.m. on Friday, (ET); Saturday-Sunday, Golf Channel, 1-2:30 p.m. (ET), CBS, 3-6 p.m., (ET), Golf Channel replay 9:30-11:30 p.m (ET).
  • Last year: This year is the inaugural event.


LPGA Tour _new

Ricoh Women’s British Open

Royal Birkdale is home to the final major championship of the women’s season. Americans are on a major championship roll, having won back-to-back majors in the same season for the first time in 11 years. Can they make it three in a row? That also last happened in 1999, when Dottie Pepper won the Kraft Nabisco and Juli Inkster won the LPGA Championship and U.S. Women’s Open.

Bunker shot: Four different players have held the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings already this year. Anybody game to make it five? Suzann Pettersen looks like she is despite an ailing hip. Pettersen’s No. 4 in the world but can catapult to No. 1 with a victory this week. She’s done everything but win this year. She has four runner-up finishes and eight top-10 finishes in her 11 starts. She knocked hard at the door again last week, closing with a bogey-free 66 at the Evian Masters to finish fifth, two shots behind the champ, Jiyai Shin. Pettersen, despite worsening tendinitis in a hip, looks determined to break through before fixing this hip.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Suzann Pettersen. Contender – Jiyai Shin. Darkhorse – Karen Stupples.

  • Course: Royal Birkdale Golf Club, Southport, England. Par 72, 6,465 yards (Designed by three generations of the Hawtree Family, opened at current site in 1894).
  • Purse: $2.5 million (winner’s share, TBA).
  • TV times: ESPN, Thursday-Friday, 9 a.m. to noon (ET); Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (ET).
  • Last year: Catriona Matthew won at 3-under 285, finishing three shots ahead of runner-up Karrie Webb at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.


Champions Tour

U.S. Senior Open

The third leg of the five-legged Champions Tour major championship schedule lands at Sahalee Country Club outside Seattle this week.

Tom Lehman won the first major of the year, the Senior PGA Championship at Colorado Golf Club, Bernhard Langer the second, last weekend’s Senior British Open at Carnoustie.

Bunker shot: Langer wrestled away the Charles Schwab Cup points lead from Fred Couples with his victory at Carnoustie on Sunday. Couples had a vice grip on the top spot for five months, and he just might be inspired to take it back this week. Couples is from Seattle. Though he hasn’t lived there since leaving for the University of Houston 33 years ago, he still takes pride in calling it home. There should be lots of magic and motivation working for Couples this week.     

Mell’s picks: Winner – Fred Couples. Contender – Mark Calcavecchia. Darkhorse – Peter Jacobsen.

  • Course: Sahalee Country Club, Sammamish, Wash. Par 70, 6,866 yards (Designed by Ted Robinson and opened in 1969, renovated by Rees Jones in 1996).
  • Purse: $2.6 million (winner’s share, $470,000).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, ESPN2, 5-9 p.m. (ET); Saturday-Sunday, NBC, 4-7 p.m. (ET).
  • Last year: Fred Funk closed with a 7-under-par 65 to run away in a six-shot romp at Crooked Stick. His 20-under 268 total was a championship record for 72 holes.


2009 European Tour

3 Irish Open

Shane Lowry scripted a wildly popular finish to this championship in Ireland a year ago, with the Irish lad becoming just the third amateur to win a European Tour event.

Lowry’s back as a professional to defend his title, and he’s faring respectably this season, ranking 46th in the Race to Dubai standings with a pair of top-10 European Tour finishes.

Bunker shot: It’s a special time in Irish golf with the European Tour’s website touting this week as a welcome home to a “golden generation.” Ireland’s Padraig Harrington and Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell have made that part of the world proud. Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy gives this championship a trio of world-ranked stars to follow in Killarney.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Padraig Harrington. Contender – Rory McIlroy. Darkhorse – Darren Clarke.

  • Course: Killarney Golf & Fishing Club, Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland.
  • Purse: 3 million euros (winner’s share, 500,000 euros).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Friday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (ET); Saturday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (ET).
  • Last year: Amateur Shane Lowry defeated Robert Rock on the third playoff hole.


Nationwide Tour

Cox Classic

Jamie Lovemark bumped Tommy Gainey from the top of the money list last week, making Lovemark the fifth different player to hold the top spot this season.

Bunker shot: D.J. Brigman rocketed from No. 47 to No. 6 on the Nationwide Tour money list with his victory at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational last weekend. That’s the delightfully volatile nature of this tour. Who’s going to blast off this week? A season can go from sour to sweet in a heartbeat on this circuit with the top-25 money winners at season’s end winning promotions to the PGA Tour next year.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Tag Ridings. Contender – Jamie Lovemark. Darkhorse – J.J. Killeen.

  • Course: Champions Run, Omaha, Neb. Par 71, 7,145 yards (Designed by Jeff Brauer and opened in 1992).
  • Purse: $725,000 (winner’s share, $130,500).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Friday, 6:30-8:30 p.m. (ET); Saturday, 6:30-9:30 p.m. (ET); Sunday, 7-9:30 p.m. (ET).
  • Last year: Rich Barcelo’s final-round 6-under-par 65 gave him a one-shot margin of victory over runner-up Tom Gillis.
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.