Feeling the Heat on The BuyCom Tour

By Rich LernerMay 2, 2001, 4:00 pm
Is it me, or have springtimes in recent years grown shorter? It's already summer-like in the Carolinas, so players at this week's Buy.Com Carolina Classic will have their conditioning put to the test on the new TPC at Wakefield Plantation, designed by Hale Irwin.

What's a common characteristic of all TPCs? 'Long walks between the greens and the tees,' cracked Emlyn Aubrey, still grinding away at a career that's yet to fully take flight.
The month of May's just taken the baton from April, and already the course is firm. 'You're going to have to hit your tee ball reasonably straight here,' said Aubrey. 'Because the fairways are so hard, if you curve it even slightly off line your ball could end up bounding into a hazard,' he explained.
Not surprisingly, Irwin's first TPC effort puts a premium as well on second shots, some of which will need some air underneath since several greens slope from front to back. Irwin's regarded as one of the game's greatest iron players.
He joins other TPC player designers like Mark McCumber (TPC at Heron Bay), Greg Norman (TPC at Sugarloaf), and D.A. Weibring (TPC at Deere Run). Incidentally, the Buy.Com Tour will visit another TPC next week in Virginia Beach, designed by the original TPC maestro, Pete Dye, with help from native Virginian Curtis Strange. What's more, the seniors are also in the Tar Heel state this week at a TPC designed by Arnold Palmer, the TPC at Piper Glen in Charlotte.
The Buy.Com Tour arrives here with plenty of momentum. Last week in a town with a name straight out of a work of fiction, Traveler's Rest, South Carolina, the Tour arguably had one of its most memorable weeks ever. Dan Marino, who by the way will try to qualify for the U.S. Open this month, tossed a football around while waiting to tee off, and Kevin Costner lead the gallery in cheers at the final hole. Of course, he then rolled in a lengthy putt to give his team the Pro Am victory. Tin Cup, in which he starred so famously, didn't end any more perfectly than that.

The overall tournament winner, Jonathan Byrd, felt the same way. A highly touted 23 year-old All-America from Clemson, Byrd tried four times to Monday qualify for Buy.Com Tour events this season alone. And he went 0 for his first four.

'I think I'm a pretty good player,' he said afterwards. 'But it's really tough.'
Soon after those disappointments, Byrd was a winner, in his home state with family, friends and former Clemson teammates there to enjoy the ride.
Byrd's journey gives hope to all who aspire to play professionally but struggle to make strides. What may seem like little, even insignificant steps to the public at large simply because the Buy.Com Tour's played far from the center of the golfing universe are in fact huge steps for so many of these guys. Monday qualify-big step. Win a tournament-big step. Qualify for The PGA Tour-big step. Win on The PGA Tour-big, big step.
In so many cases now for guys not named Tiger, this is the road more often traveled. And this week in balmy North Carolina, the sweat it takes to go the distance figures to drip in buckets.
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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.