Rookie Shon has all of Princeton cheering her on

By Randall MellFebruary 7, 2015, 12:03 am

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – Kelly Shon is a different type of cat out here on the LPGA’s tour.

She’s a Princeton Tiger.

Though this is her first start as an LPGA rookie here at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic, she’s already the greatest player in the history of the Princeton men’s or women’s golf programs. When she advanced through LPGA Q-School last December, she became the first golfer from Princeton to earn a PGA Tour or LPGA card.

She’s just the third Ivy Leaguer to play the LPGA as a member, joining Yale’s Heather Daly-Donofrio, a two-time winner who is now the LPGA’s senior vice president of tour operations, and Jeehae Lee.

Shon, 22, made her fellow Tigers even prouder Friday, when she bolted on to the leaderboard at the Ocean Club Golf Course. With a 2-under-par 71 following up her opening-round 69, Shon sits at 6 under overall, just one shot behind Sun Young Yoo, the leader in the clubhouse.

“You know, I don’t know how to feel about that,” Shon said. “Does it shock me a little bit that I’m on the leaderboard? Absolutely.”

It delights Princeton athletics. Shon, who graduated with a sociology degree, made fellow Tigers proud tying for ninth at LPGA Q-School in December to earn tour membership.

Just how big a deal is it?

“I’m not sure I can really quantify it,” said Will Green, the director of golf at Princeton. “It’s huge. It’s enormous.”

Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic: Articles, videos and photos

When Shon put herself in position to earn a tour card that last day at Q-School, Green was more than paying attention. He was live tweeting her results hole-by-hole.

“I was a wreck,” Green said. “You can’t imagine how proud I was.”

Green said Shon’s success is being celebrated within the walls of Princeton.

Green is proud of what Shon represents. He was especially proud to see her carrying her small Princeton golf bag Friday, with her Tiger orange head covers.

“When I saw that on TV today, it was emotional for me,” Green said.

“For someone of her talent coming out of high school, she made the choice to go to an Ivy League school to compete and get her education,” Green said. “That’s very difficult for talented young players, to make choices like that, with the pressure there is to go to sports centric schools. To have the maturity to do that speaks to her character.”

Shon was born in Seoul, South Korea, and moved to New York when she was 8 after her father took a job as a surgeon there. She grew up in Port Washington. She has interests that reach beyond golf. Even with this impressive start, she isn’t sure how long she will play professionally.

“My senior year, it hit me that I really wanted to work for others in a non-profit,” Shon said. “I still have `windows and tabs’ open looking for jobs. Golf is all about me, and there’s a piece of me that wants more. There’s a part of me that wants to work in an office helping others, with colleagues, with 9 to 5 hours.

“I actually want to go to work for the Peace Corps. It’s something I will do at some point in my life.”

For now, though, there are birdies to make and lots of fellow Tigers to please back at Princeton.

“I think she will go down as the best player we’ve ever had,” Green said.

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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.