O'Toole desperate to rebound

By Randall MellSeptember 15, 2011, 11:43 pm

You can hear the determination in Ryann O’Toole’s voice.

But you can also hear the desperation.

The LPGA rookie is determined to help the Americans win the Solheim Cup next week in Ireland.

And that makes her desperate to regain the form that inexplicably left her after her appointment to the squad.

The desperation’s fueled by a ticking clock. A charter flight to Dublin is scheduled to take players to the matches after Sunday’s finish of the Navistar LPGA Classic. The matches are practically at hand.

“You can say I’m struggling a bit, I don’t want to say struggling in my mind, but in finding a piece of my game,” O’Toole told GolfChannel.com in a telephone interview after she posted a 4-over-par 76 Thursday at Navistar. “After being named to the team, after finishing top five at the Safeway Classic, I went to Canada the next week, and I pressed a little bit to make things happen. I went there to win. I felt I was so close to being able to do that. I was all guns blazing.”

The guns have been misfiring since she was named a surprise captain’s pick almost a month ago.

'You have to be patient in this game, and I got ahead of myself,' O'Toole said.

O’Toole’s missed back-to-back cuts since making the American team and needs a rally Friday to avoid leaving for Ireland after three consecutive missed cuts.

O’Toole had four bogeys, a double bogey and two birdies in Thursday’s round of 76. She shot 75-79 to miss the cut at the CN Canadian Women’s Open and 73-81 to miss the cut at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship last week.

“I was shocked a little bit at what happened in Canada,” O’Toole said of missing the cut the week after being named to the American team. “It was like, ‘What was that?’ Last week, I spiraled. I pressed a little bit more. I made a couple bad shots, and then it’s tough. You get embarrassed.”

As a rookie, O’Toole might be under as much scrutiny and pressure as any captain’s pick in the relatively short history of the international competition. That’s because O’Toole’s selection was such a stunner. When American captain Rosie Jones named her, O’Toole had played in just seven LPGA events, finishing ninth at the U.S. Women’s Open and tying for fifth at the Safeway Classic in her best finishes.

But it was O’Toole’s fight, her big game, her power and bravado that made the pick less shocking to LPGA regulars who saw her summer run.

“I was telling people she should be a pick,” European Solheim Cup veteran Maria Hjorth said. “It was less surprising to me.”

As O’Toole works to sharpen her form, she’s got something special going for her. She’s got an American team rooting for her. The Americans are already closing quarters like a protective family.

“Ryann’s a little bit nervous,” said Michelle Wie, who excelled as a rookie helping the Americans win the Solheim Cup two years ago. “At the same time, she’s got us. She’s got the entire team, the captains, all the families. We’re going to get her going. We’ve got each other’s backs, especially overseas.”

American Christina Kim is just getting to know O’Toole, but . . .

“I adore her,” Kim said. “If there is anybody who wants to talk crap about her, I will defend her.

“Ryann is a fighter. She’s got this passion. She’s kind of like a hurricane. She’s got this fury of emotion, passion and talent. She just has to make sure it’s reigned in so she doesn’t become Category 5.”

O’Toole said she’s been emboldened by teammates who’ve reached out to her.

“So many of them are encouraging me, asking if there’s anything they can do for me, if I need advice,” O’Toole said. “That’s been great.”

O’Toole also believes she’s going to round into form.

“My ball striking’s good, it’s my scoring right now,” O’Toole said. “But I’m working hard, and I’m learning a lot about my game and myself. My game’s getting stronger through this. I feel it.”

If these matches prove close, O’Toole’s strength will be needed.

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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.

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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.