Hot Seat: Phil the Burn

By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2012, 3:30 pm

You might want to loosen your collar, it can get warm in here.

It’s time to see who is taking their place on golf’s Hot Seat this week.

Here’s our special heat index with the PGA Tour making its way to the Humana Challenge, with the European Tour to the Volvo Golf Champions and with the Champions Tour opening its season at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai.

Smokin’ britches – Phil Mickelson

It’s difficult to believe Mickelson will turn 42 this summer.

It’s equally difficult to believe he has slipped to No. 15 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Lefty will be looking to halt his slide when he tees it up at the Humana Challenge.

When last year opened, Mickelson was No. 4 in the world ranking. For the longest time, Tiger Woods was the only American ranked ahead of him. Now, Mickelson is just the sixth highest ranked American. Which way will he go in the rankings this year? Back up the ladder? Or farther down it? That’s a Hot Seat question.

Lefty’s fans love that he is making an earlier-than-normal start to his season, his first return to La Quinta in five years, and they are hoping he can win this event for the third time. He captured the Bob Hope Classic in ’04 and ’02.

Bill Clinton

Bhut Jolokia chili pepper hot – Bill Clinton

No mulligans this week for the former president, if he decides to play while hosting the Humana Challenge. When you are accustomed to dropping second balls, that is pressure.

Actually, if make-up shots would get Clinton to play this week, let’s play two on every tee. Clinton brings a welcomed new presence to the event, whether he plays or not. He may not be a golf star, but he’s the biggest star there this week. Clinton loves the game, and he has loads of charm. There is still an open spot alongside Greg Norman in the pro-am pairings, and there is speculation that Clinton will fill it. The revised pro-am format will feature just 144 amateurs this year, down from 388 last year, and will be played over 72 holes instead of 90, on three courses instead of four. Those are good changes right off the bat with the Clinton Foundation now connected to the event.

Dustin Johnson

High noon at Volcano Springs – Dustin Johnson

Johnson is the highest ranked player in the Humana Challenge, but he has more rust to work off than most pros making their 2012 debuts.

Seven weeks ago, Johnson underwent surgery to repair cartilage in his right knee. He played with discomfort since the middle of summer before taking care of the problem at season’s end. This week marks Johnson’s first event since the Presidents Cup in Australia in November. If Johnson wins this week, he will have won in each of his first five years on the PGA Tour. Nobody has done that since Tiger Woods hit the Tour.

Charl Schwartzel

Serengeti Sunburn II – Charl Schwartzel

Going for a three-peat at the Joburg Open last week, Schwartzel missed the cut.

With the Volvo Golf Champions the third leg of the South African swing on the front of the European Tour schedule, Schwartzel doesn’t want to be missing the cut in back-to-back weeks in his homeland. Schwartzel, by the way, is the first player to make it on our Hot Seat in back-to-back weeks. Volvo Golf Champions sports a decent field at the Links at Fancourt. Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Padraig Harrington, Louis Oosthuizen, Darren Clarke, Robert Karlsson, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Thomas Bjorn and Matteo Manassero are scheduled to play.

Bernhard Langer

Bengay burn – Bernhard Langer

A thumb injury sidelined Langer for three months last year, hurting his bid to win a fourth consecutive Jack Nicklaus Player of the Year trophy on the Champions Tour. Langer also suffered through knee and ankle injuries. He is back at this week's Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii, looking to show Tom Lehman, Fred Couples, John Cook, Mark Calcavecchia and Kenny Perry that he’s still a force in the battle for that tour’s top honors.

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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.