Kim returning from major disaster

By Randall MellApril 17, 2012, 10:20 pm

I.K. Kim returns to action in pain this week after her bitterly disappointing finish at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, but it’s not her heart that’s aching.

Not anymore.

It’s her left elbow.

In her first start since the hard blow that came in losing the Kraft Nabisco in a playoff after missing a 1-foot putt at the 72nd hole, Kim makes her return in Wednesday’s start of the Lotte Championship presented by J Golf. She does so nursing soreness in the elbow, soreness that developed in practice the week after the year’s first major championship.

“I had to put my clubs away for a week to rest my elbow,” Kim told in a phone interview from the Ko Olina Golf Club, just outside Honolulu. “I’m getting treatment, and I’m excited about playing in Hawaii this week, but I just have to be careful it doesn’t get worse.”

Video: Kim seeks redemption

As far as her heart goes, Kim said it took her two to three days to recover from the blow that came watching her 12-inch putt at the 18th hit the right side of the hole and horseshoe out. The South Korean drove back to her American home base in the Los Angeles area and digested the stunning finish.

“I was upset about what happened, but at the same time, I looked back at the experience, and I had so much fun playing the back nine with a chance to win a major,” Kim said. “The game’s a journey, a process, and I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, and I look forward to the opportunities I will have.”

Kim says she didn’t take the missed short putt for granted, didn’t haphazardly make her stroke, but she says she might have rushed the putt, that given another chance she would have gone through her entire routine.

“Golf is a game I love, and these kinds of things are a part of it,” Kim said.

Kim’s game seems built to win a major championship. A three-time LPGA winner, Kim has climbed to No. 5 in the Rolex World Rankings. She has finished T-5 or better six times in majors. She has recorded top-10 finishes in nine of the last 15 majors.

In a final round where so much trouble lurked at the Kraft Nabisco, Kim played almost flawlessly until stepping onto the 18th green. She hit every green in regulation. She was bogey free. She looked like a champion until calamity struck, and she lost in a playoff to Sun Young Yoo.

“Everybody makes mistakes,” Kim said. “What’s important is how you react to them.”

Give Kim credit. She’s a generous soul. She proved that donating her entire first-place check to charity after winning the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in the fall of 2010. While it can’t be easy reliving the loss with all the curious questions in her return this week, Kim is being direct in meeting the challenge. She also did a sit-down interview Tuesday with Golf Channel for Golf Central, and she did a live chat on the LPGA’s streaming TV web site.

The healing, Kim says, is aided by all the people who have reached out to offer support. She says Hall of Famer Judy Rankin gave her a big hug and offered encouragement in the aftermath of the loss. She said U.S. Solheim Cup captain Meg Mallon also reached out to her. She said Anna Nordqvist, Pat Hurst and Lexi Thompson were among friends who have made a difference.

“One putt isn’t going to make a difference in my life and who I am,” Kim said. “I love golf, but after I’m done playing, I’m I.K. Kim. I’m a person, not just a golfer. I have a lot of family and friends who mean a lot to me.”

Kim won’t be alone trying to rebound at the Lotte Championship this week.

Battered and bruised, a bunch of players are hobbling back after enduring hard blows at the Kraft Nabisco.

OK, they’re not actually physically damaged from what happened on the Dinah Shore Course that Sunday almost three weeks ago, but but they got beat up emotionally.

World No. 1 Yani Tseng, tied for the lead going into the final round, bogeyed three holes on the front nine and didn’t make her first birdie until the 12th. She shot 73 and finished third.

Hee Kyung Seo, runner-up at the U.S. Women’s Open last summer, had a three-shot lead on the back nine before making bogeys over the final four holes.

Karin Sjodin seized the lead from Tseng on the first hole in the final round, only to shoot 74 and tie for fourth.

Michelle Wie didn’t make it to the weekend, missing a cut in back-to-back starts for the first time in five years.

Call this week the Lotte Championship Rodeo, because there are a lot of players looking to get back in the saddle after being thrown from their horses in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Kim, Tseng, Seo, Sjodin and Wie are all in a strong field this week. Fourteen of the top 15 players in the Rolex World Rankings are scheduled to play, including Paula Creamer, who won the last LPGA event played at Ko Olina back in 2008.

It’s a big week for Wie, a good place to get her game back on track in a return to her roots. She grew up in Honolulu, and Ko Olina was once her home course. Wie, 22, will be part of an intriguing threesome that knows what it’s like to be teen phenoms. She will play the first two rounds with Jessica Korda, 19, and Lexi Thompson, 17.

Tseng, the tour’s headliner with her dominant run, will be looking to win for the fourth time this season.

The tournament will be broadcast live on Golf Channel, from 6:30-11 p.m. ET on Wednesday, 6:30-9:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and from 7:00-10:00 p.m. on Saturday.

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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.