Bunker Shots Stars Over Texas

By Randall MellMay 25, 2010, 9:12 pm

Blasting into the week ahead, from Lefty’s quasi-title defense to the start of major championship season for the senior circuit ...


PGA Tour (75x100)

Crowne Plaza Colonial Invitational

The Nos. 2, 4 and 5 players in the world lead a strong field that includes five of the top 10 on the Official World Golf Ranking.

No. 2 Phil Mickelson tees it up at Colonial, where he won in 2008 but did not defend last year with his wife, Amy, being treated for breast cancer. No. 4 Steve Stricker is the defending champ, who hopes his inflamed joint, where his right clavicle meets his sternum, is healed enough to make another run at a title. No. 5 Jim Furyk will be seeking his third title this season.

Bunker Shot: With a victory, Mickelson can move to No. 1 in the world rankings, becoming just the 13th player to hold the top spot since the Official World Golf Ranking was created in 1986. There are those who believe the next No. 1 should have an asterisk by his name because of the circumstances that will surround the new No. 1’s ascent. Tiger Woods, after all, has been inactive due to injury or self-imposed exile for almost 15 months of the last two-year rolling period that constitute the rankings. The thinking was that the new No. 1 would be holding the spot temporarily, until Woods gained enough starts to win back his spot. Now, there’s growing sentiment Woods may never gets his No. 1 spot back, not with all that’s gone wrong in his life and his swing. There’s sentiment he may never catch Jack Nicklaus and his record 18 professional major championship titles. Yeah, Woods appears to be a physical, emotional and mental mess right now, but he’ll be back with a vengeance. Unless something goes haywire with that remarkable putting stroke of his, Woods finds his way back to the top and passes Nicklaus.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Jim Furyk. Contender – Phil Mickelson. Darkhorse – Steve Marino.

  • Course: Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth, Texas. Par 70, 7,204 yards (Designed by Perry Maxwell and John Bredemus and opened in 1943, redesign by Keith Porter in 1999).
  • Purse: $6.2 million (winner’s share, $1,116,000).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel’s Golf Central pre-game, 2:30 p.m., Golf Channel tournament coverage, 3-6 p.m.; replay, 9:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m.; Saturday-Sunday, Golf Channel’s pre-game, 12:30 p.m., Golf channel tournament coverage 1-2:30 p.m., Golf Channel pre-game, 2:30 p.m.; CBS tournament coverage, 3-6 p.m. with Golf Channel replay 9:30-11:30 p.m.
  • Last year: Steve Stricker defeated Tim Clark and Steve Marino in a playoff.


Champions TourSenior PGA Championship

The major Championship season begins on the Champions Tour.

Fred Couples, Tom Watson, Jay Haas and Loren Roberts are among the usual suspects teeing it up in the first of the senior circuit’s five majors.

Bunker shot: If the winds stay up at Colorado Golf Club this week, count Watson’s chances as enhanced. He’s going for his sixth Champions Tour major title, his second Senior PGA title. Couples, of course, is THE favorite in his first major in the over-50 circuit. Couples has brought a jolt of new excitement to the Champions Tour with three victories already this season.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Tom Watson. Contender – Fred Couples. Darkhorse – Tom Pernice Jr.

  • Course: Colorado Golf Club, Parker, Colo. Par 72, 7, 604 yards (Designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw and opened in 2007).
  • Purse: TBA ($2 million in ’09 with a winner’s share of $360,000).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel, 6-9 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, NBC, 3-6 p.m.
  • Last year: Michael Allen became the 14th player in Champions Tour history to win his first start on the Tour.


LPGA Tour _newHSBC Brasil Cup

With golf becoming part of the Olympics when the Games are played in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, the LPGA helps the city warm up to the game in an unofficial event.

Brazil’s own Angela Park is in the field of 27 players. It’s just a 36-hole event with play scheduled Saturday and Sunday.

Bunker Shot: Asians have dominated the LPGA this season with Sun Young Yoo’s victory at the Sybase Match Play Championship last weekend extending the Far East’s unbeaten mark to 7-0 in LPGA events. Michelle Wie is the only American to win an LPGA event in the last 12 months. While it wouldn’t be official, it would be encouraging to American fans for an American to win. Morgan Pressel won a Japanese LPGA event three weeks ago. Angela Stanford, Kristy McPherson, Stacy Lewis and Vicky Hurst are among Americans in the field.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Angela Stanford. Contender – Catriona Matthew. Darkhorse – Stacy Prammanasudh.

  • Course: Itanhanga Golf Club, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Par 72, 6,447 yards.
  • Purse: $700,000 (winner’s share, $105,000).
  • TV times: No TV.
  • Last year: Catriona Matthew defeated Kristy McPherson by five shots.


2009 European TourMadrid Masters

Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer and Luke Donald aren’t just the biggest names in the field. They’ll be paired together in the first two rounds.

Spaniards Alvaro Quiros and Miguel Angel Jimenez also will draw large galleries in their homeland.

Bunker shot: Garcia could use a boost to his 2010 season, and there’s nothing like a little home cooking to help him do it. Garcia is going for his fourth European Tour title on Spanish soil. Garcia has yet to log a top-10 finish this season in the 11-stroke play events he’s played on the PGA Tour and European Tour. His best finish in nine PGA Tour starts this year is a tie for 37th at the CA Championship. He did finish fourth at the Accenture Match Play Championship. Garcia’s putter continues to be a problem. He ranks 133rd on the PGA Tour in putts per green in regulation. His ball striking hasn’t been much better in 2010. He’s 118th in greens in regulation. That combo ranks him 132nd on Tour in scoring average (71.20). Just two years ago, he led the PGA Tour in scoring.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Luke Donald. Contender – Sergio Garcia. Darkhorse – Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.

  • Course: Real Sociedad Hipica Espanola Club de Campo, Madrid, Spain. Par 72, 7,162 yards (Designed by Robert Von Hagge and opened in 1997).
  • Purse: $1.5 million euros (winner’s share, $250,000 euros).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Friday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-noon.
  • Last year: Ross McGowan won his first European Tour title, shooting 60 in the Saturday round to build a seven-shot lead.
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.