World No. 1, money and scoring titles for grabs in LPGA finale

By Randall MellNovember 20, 2013, 4:40 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – The Big Three haven’t settled everything yet this year.

Inbee Park may have wrapped up the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year award last week, but there are still a lot of meaningful prizes left to divvy up at this week’s season-ending CME Group Titleholders at Tiburon.

Park, Suzann Pettersen and Stacy Lewis have clearly separated themselves from the rest of the pack on tour this season. They’ve combined to win nearly half the events played (13/27). They’ve won all the majors, and they’re ranked 1-2-3 in the world.

They tee it up this week with the No. 1 ranking, the money title and the Vare Trophy for low scoring average all still hanging in the balance.

Pettersen can seize the No. 1 ranking for the first time in her career this week. She’s also within reach of winning her first LPGA money title and first Vare Trophy. She could haul away a significant load of treasures with a big week.

“The remaining titles, or whatever you want to call them, are still very much on my mind,” Pettersen said.

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Pettersen is just four-tenths of a point behind Park in the Rolex world ranking averages. A win will vault Pettersen to No. 1. Even a second-place finish this week might do it, depending on what Park does.

“This is not a short-term goal,” Pettersen said. “I know I’m going to get there, eventually, but I don’t want to get there and disappear. I want to get there and dominate. So, if it happens now, or if it happens in January, or if it happens in two years, I’m really laid back about it because I know I’m good enough to be there. It’s definitely one of my main goals.”

While Park is relishing being the first South Korean to win the POY, she can still sweep all the major awards. She can take home her second money title and second Vare Trophy in as many years. She can also extend her run at No. 1 to 33 weeks.

But after winning Player of the Year, Park said anything else is frosting.

“This was my only goal this year,” said Park, who won the first three major championships of the year. “I played better than last year, and I’ve achieved what I wanted to achieve.”

Park leads the LPGA money list with $2,393,513 in winnings. Pettersen is second at $2,284,326 and Lewis is third at $1,894,630. The richest first-place check in women’s golf is at stake in Naples. The winner will take home $700,000.

Lewis became the first American in 18 years to win the Player of the Year last season. She can become the first American in 20 years to win the LPGA money title and the first in 19 years to win the Vare Trophy with a big finish at Tiburon.

Lewis leads the tour in scoring at 69.48, with Pettersen at 69.59 and Park at 69.90.

The Big Three don’t want to just end the year with a statement. They want to send a message into 2014.

“We’ve made each other work hard,” Lewis said earlier this month. “The three of us have definitely made each other better, I can tell you that, and I’m sure it will continue into next year as well.”

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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.