AskLav: Why the rush to judgment about Rory?

By Ryan LavnerNovember 1, 2012, 3:43 pm

One of several apocalyptic comments this week:

A complete equipment overhaul (to Nike, no less!) … for $200 million … but still … at age 23 … after two majors … is he nuts?

Perhaps he is, which could help explain why six-time major winner Nick Faldo was so adamant – both here and here – that Rory McIlroy was making a grave mistake.

No doubt, The Decision in which Rory may take his talents not to South Beach but rather Beaverton, Ore., will be examined and then re-examined some more, especially if – hold your breath – the Northern Irishman endures another months-long swoon, as he did in summer 2012.

But how can this already be deemed a mistake? Can we really bash a guy who hasn’t even struck a competitive shot with the swooshes?

Based on a few comments this week, you’d have thought Rory ditched Titleist after recently strolling into Golf Galaxy and spotting a shiny new set of irons on the rack. No proper testing. No consultation. No conviction. Nothing.

Rest assured, no equipment decision this significant is made impulsively.

So there’s no need, then, to be so hasty with our judgments.

Here are this week’s mailbag questions:

#AskLav If Rory signs with Nike, how do you think Nike will market him? And how does this affect Tiger's relationship with Nike?

Remember that Duel at Jinsha Lake? Fun, wasn’t it? Just Tiger and Rory, Rory and Tiger, pals and rivals, chumming around for 18 holes in a made-for-TV (or Internet), pay-per-view event that doled out $3 million in appearance fees. Expect to see a few more of those shindigs in the future. 

Marketing the two players together will be a fascinating case study, too, if only because of their divergent personalities. On the course, Tiger is intense and conditioned to step on his opponent’s neck, while Rory smiles and melodically makes his way around the course and before you know it, well, damn, he won by eight again. How will that dichotomy play in a 30-second spot?

@RyanLavnerGC is there any real possibility of someone other than David Toms as next American Ryder Cup Captain #AskLav

Of course there is a groundswell of support for hard-luck Larry Nelson, who was passed over for the captaincy in the 1990s, and the revered Paul Azinger, who was so successful in 2008, but this appears to be David Toms’ job. He’s 45. He’s a major winner (a PGA!). He has played on three Ryder Cup teams. This is a slam-dunk – or at least an uphill 2-footer with no break.

Everyone wants to know, @RyanLavnerGC What are you going to be for Halloween? #AskLav

Well, I wanted to be Rickie Fowler, but his all-orange outfit apparently is in hot demand this time of year. I wanted to be video-goofball Ben Crane, but needed to walk around the block in less than two hours. I wanted to be Jungle Bird, but couldn’t afford to get that intoxicated and still make it to work the next day.

So, instead, this year I went as the Allstate ‘mayhem’ guy, with the dirty clothing, the disheveled hair and the appetite for destruction. Think it turned out well, right?

Sorry to hear that even Hulk can be slowed by a hurricane. My initial reaction was that Hulk should take his mind off the destruction and do what he always does – smash stuff! – but that seems counterproductive at this point.

D.J. Piehowski@RyanLavnerGC Who are you voting for? I'll just vote for the same person as you. #AskLav

Finally! I’ve been waiting for the perfect opportunity to express my political views. After watching the heated debates and analyzing the media reports and, most importantly, compiling all of my friends’ passionate Twitter and Facebook posts, it’s clear that this year I am voting for … oh, no, sorry, apparently I’ve just reached my word-count limit.

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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.