What Weve Learned

By Randall MellDecember 10, 2009, 4:43 am

My top 10 stories from 2009 and what we learned from them:

1) The Tiger Woods’ crash and the scandal that followed

Wow, where do you begin? Maybe it’s the message in Romans 3:10: “There is none righteous, not even one.” Let’s see. There’s a lesson about worshipping idols. There’s also the realization that we’ve become a nation of Peeping Toms. Really, though, the big lesson’s probably still in the works. Redemption is life’s great storyline. The Tiger Woods’ story will now be about so much more than whether he reaches the goals he had tacked on a wall in his home when he was growing up. It will be about more than his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus. It will be about character and what Woods makes most important in his life after the crash.


2) Tom Watson nearly wins the British Open

This isn’t so much about what we learned as what we were reminded. As celebrated as Watson’s career has been, it is underrated. When talking about the greatest players who ever lived, his name deserves more prominent mention. He may be the greatest on links courses, right there with Harry Vardon and Peter Thomson. We also learned that Stewart Cink is as gracious and classy as he is a worthy champion.


3) Y.E. Yang knocks off Tiger Woods to win the PGA Championship

Tiger Woods is beatable with the lead in the final round of a major. That’s what we learned at Hazeltine. We weren’t really sure if that were true until Yang overcame a two-shot deficit and beat Woods by three shots. Woods didn’t have the same aura of invincibility leaving that major, but who knew Yang wouldn’t engineer the most painful takedown of Woods this year? Who knew it would be Us Weekly?


4) Tiger Woods returns from knee surgery and wins seven times

The curious waited to see if Woods would be vulnerable on a rebuilt left knee in his return after eight months away. There were doubts, but he answered them with six PGA Tour victories and a seventh title in Australia in November. We learned that Woods’ knee won’t prevent him from being a force again. We’ll have to wait and see if injuries to his heart and soul will be more damaging.


5) Lucas Glover defeats Phil Mickelson and David Duval to win the U.S. Open

Duval’s bid to find his best form doesn’t feel like a hopeless task despite the fact that he wasn’t able to build on the momentum of his runner-up finish in June. Duval didn’t win fully exempt status at Q-School last week, but the memory of Bethpage Black offers hope he will become a factor in golf again. We learned in close calls at Shinnecock, Winged Foot and Bethpage Black that New Yorkers can only will Mickelson so far. We also learned that as much as Glover likes to read, he doesn’t care for storybook endings. He squashed the sentimental favorites in his real-life ending.


6) Phil Mickelson’s wife (Amy) and mother (Mary) are diagnosed with breast cancer

Breast cancer’s practically an epidemic, and it doesn’t discriminate. Rich, famous and beautiful aren’t exempt. We learned in the Mickelsons’ ordeal that maybe golf isn’t the solitary game it seems to be. It’s a team sport.


7) Michelle Wie wins her first LPGA event

Wie-mania was only dormant. With her victory at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational last month, Wie resurrected all the hope she brought to women’s golf as the young Hawaiian phenom whose mighty swings made even PGA Tour pros marvel. Wie is still capable of leading a new wave of popularity for the LPGA.


8) Carolyn Bivens ousted as LPGA commissioner, Michael Whan hired

The LPGA was built on a mom-and-pop corner-store foundation, where long-term relationships were about more than business. Bivens was a board-room warrior who couldn’t change the dynamic. We learned in the player revolt that, ultimately, the commissioner doesn’t run the tour. The players do.


9) Economy’s effect on golf

We learned golf isn’t recession proof. The PGA Tour is facing its challenges, especially with uncertainty over how the game will be affected by Woods’ “transgressions,” but it was the LPGA that was hit hardest. The tour will feature 24 events next year, down from 34 last year.


10) Golf named as an Olympic sport beginning in 2016

We learned the timing of these things is crucial. Who knows how the process would have gone if Woods had become embroiled in controversy in the months leading up to the Olympic vote?


Apologies to Angel Cabrera, who knocked off Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell to win The Masters. He's No. 11 in my top stories of the year.

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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.