Love, Furyk seek redemption at McGladrey

By Rex HoggardOctober 20, 2012, 11:24 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – This will likely stretch the boundaries of Davis Love III’s accommodating nature.

The host with the most will set out on Sunday afternoon in this idyllic slice of southern hospitality with visions of utter selfishness, the byproduct of three rounds of 66 or better on the Seaside Course and a share of the three-quarter pole lead with Jim Furyk, of all people.

Cue the screenwriters, who would struggle to conjure up a Love vs. Furyk finale at The McGladrey Classic given the events of the past few months.

Not after last month’s Ryder Cup, when Love captained America to its largest Sunday collapse and Furyk bogeyed his final two holes to drop a decisive singles match. Not after the season Furyk had, dropping decisions in heartbreaking fashion at the U.S. Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

This was supposed to be a soft sendoff for both players after what can only be described as bittersweet seasons, but instead we have high drama with the two tied at 13 under and two shots clear of the field.

“This is a perfect golf course for Jim,” said Love, the McGladrey host who has paused just long enough for a short paddle board session since America’s loss at Medinah. “He’s played well and I kept saying he was real close to an all-star, hero year and (on Saturday) he came out firing.”

Furyk’s quick start included three birdies through his first six holes to build a two-stroke lead at one point, but Love rallied with a clutch birdie putt at the last to set up a showdown that few this side of Brunswick, Ga., thought possible.

Sure, Furyk figures his play this season was every bit as consistent as he was in 2010, when he won three times and the FedEx Cup; and Love knows the Seaside Course better than anyone. But as the Europeans celebrated into the Chicago evening last month it was hard to imagine such a showdown.

For 69 holes at The Olympic Club in June Furyk was at his Open best until he yanked a hybrid tee shot left of the 16th fairway and never recovered. In August at Firestone he led by two strokes through 71 holes, double bogeyed the last and lost by one stroke. And then there was the Ryder Cup, where some considered him a questionable captain’s pick. He went 1-2-0 including Sunday’s singles loss to Sergio Garcia at the height of the American collapse.

But for Furyk, who played just three rounds of golf in the two weeks since Medinah, his cup, pardon the pun, is half full.

“There are a lot of similarities between this season and 2010,” said Furyk, who has rounds of 66-65-66 this week. “I’ve put myself in contention a lot more, my scoring average is better this year (69.8 in 2010 compared to 69.4 this season).

“But the differences are pretty glaring as well. I had a chance to win three events (in 2010) and closed out each one. This year is the exact opposite. This year I’ve found a way to lose those events.”

Furyk, one of the circuit’s most thoughtful types, had no interest in turning a possible victory on Sunday at Sea Island into some sort of season salvation. That’s not possible, not after everything that has happened.

Instead, the final round is the closing chapter of a year he is glad to be done with.

“Tomorrow is an opportunity,” he said, nothing more. No cosmic make-good, no vindication for all those missed chances.

In fact neither Furyk nor Love have much interest in history, be it recent or otherwise. The Sea Island host pegged his own event as a litmus test for his game, which suffered from neglect during his two-year stint as captain.

He played solid in Las Vegas and last week’s Frys.com Open and found inspiration on the greens this week thanks a Brian Bateman’s putter and a challenge from his brother, Mark.

Following last year’s British Open Love went to his brother for putting help and Mark’s answer was “something different.” In practical terms that is Bateman’s putter, a belly version that Love allows to hover just below his shirt.

“This was my best Saturday putting for a while,” said Love, who has always been considered one of the game’s best ballstrikers but has struggled in recent years on the greens.

Through three rounds on his home course Love is second in putts per greens in regulation and, despite his accommodating nature, has embraced the role of spoiler, at least for one final round.

D.J. Trahan (66) and Arjun Atwal (69) are tied for third at 11 under and rising rookie Bud Cauley (68) is alone in fifth at 10 under, but for all practical purposes this is about Love and Furyk., longtime friends turned unlikely foes.

On his way out of the interview room Love was reminded that Furyk currently has 16 Tour titles. “I’d love to keep him from (victory No. 17),” Love said.

Hosting, it seems, does have its boundaries.

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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.