Day One in Atlanta

By Rich LernerAugust 16, 2001, 4:00 pm
Jack Nicklaus could help provide perspective on Tigers so-called struggles, with Woods '0-for' in his last two majors and threatening to make it three.
Twenty-five years ago, Jack went 10 majors without winning before taking the 1978 British. And in the late 1960s he experienced a similar drought.
Pulling off the win at Augusta, said playing partner David Duval, I think that was really his biggest focus and it took a lot out of him.
Meanwhile, Duval appears very relaxed. A reporter suggested that Davids a changed person, smiling more, even jovial.
Ill try to stop, deadpanned the 29-year-old, and the media room erupted in laughter.
Keep in mind that if Duval wins here, and you have to like his chances, hell head to Augusta next spring with a legitimate shot at three in a row.
Davids got company at -4 with a group of nine players, including Fred Funk. Funk cracked before the tournament, What am I doing here? Relatively short-hitting, he didnt figure to be a match for the lengthy Atlanta Athletic Club. But he putted well and kept it in play.
Niclas Fasth is here to prove that his runner-up finish at the British Open was no fluke, and well see plenty of the Swede at The Ryder Cup.
David Toms, also in with 66, may well run into Fasth at The Belfry. Brad Faxon, too, opened his bid to make the U.S. team in strong fashion.
Dudley Harts also a shot back but is the clubhouse leader for funniest line of the week. Harts wife is expecting triplets in January, prompting Dudley to say, Were getting a sleeve!
As for Phil Mickelson, should he win here, we just may have the makings of a new big three, with Tiger, David and Phil each having staked a piece of major ground in 2001.
There was a time not long ago when any notion of a big three had to include Ernie Els. But he appeared burned out after a subpar U.S. Open. Now off a third-place finish at The British Open and another at The International, Ernies reminding us with his 3-under-par first-round score that hes more than big enough to hang with Tiger, David and Phil.
A victory here would be a tremendous jumpstart for the South African, whos in jeopardy of no longer even being the best from his country with the emergence of Retief Goosen.
Not to be forgotten is leader Grant Waite. The athletic New Zealander came to Atlanta off six straight missed cuts. On the range on Monday I asked him what was wrong.
I really dont know, he replied. I feel like Im swinging pretty well.
He put it together in Round 1, providing a glimpse of the form he displayed when he pushed Tiger to the limit in Canada a year ago.
How do you explain it?
Duval put it best when asked about Tigers travails. Its a very tough game to stay on top of for years and years at a time, he explained. I think most everybody goes through spurts and we certainly expect a lot of him. We expect his spurts of greatness to last longer than maybe other peoples. But hes going to have down times, too. Hell fight back.
Hell need a few haymakers Friday. With the Atlanta Athletic Club very docile, the leaders dont figure to come off the accelerator.
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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.