McCoy shines on Spieth's stage

By Ryan LavnerMarch 13, 2016, 11:59 pm

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – In the scoring trailer, there is a prize-money chart so players can see how much will be deposited into their bank account Monday morning.

After signing their cards, Jordan Spieth turned to amateur Lee McCoy and told him not to look at the chart.

Solo fourth paid out $292,800.

“I looked,” McCoy said, pausing for effect. “I shouldn’t have looked.”

The 22-year-old University of Georgia senior can’t collect that six-figure check, of course, until he joins the play-for-pay set. A shame, too, because McCoy says he has about $350 in his bank account, enough for gas and some grub on the 7 1/2-hour drive back to Athens, Ga. McCoy has lived in the same cheap one-bedroom apartment for the past three years. He will turn pro in a few months, most likely after the NCAAs in early June, so his star-making performance here at the Valspar Championship couldn’t have been timed better with the Big Jump upcoming. 

“You better believe I’m going to be getting into some people’s ears and make sure everybody knows what happened this week,” he said.

McCoy is talking about sponsors and equipment representatives, the potential signing bonuses and bidding wars. He hopes his play this week, and on Sunday in particular, will help boost his marketing appeal.

How could it not? Playing about a par 5 away from his childhood home, McCoy closed with a 2-under 69, dusted world No. 1 Spieth by four shots and finished fourth in his fourth career PGA Tour start, just three shots out of the playoff eventually won by Charl Schwartzel. 

It was the best finish by an amateur in a non-opposite-field event since Justin Rose at the 1998 Open Championship (T-4). 

“I would say that being able to put on my résumé that I contended in a PGA Tour event is my absolute biggest accolade,” McCoy said. “At the end of the day, that’s what companies want is their logo on TV. I don’t know how much coverage I got …”

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Every shot on every hole, he was told.

“… Wow, um, well …” he started.

Turns out he just gave four hours of free advertising to Under Armour (shirt), FootJoy (shoes), Callaway (glove) and the Porzak Golf Academy (hat).

“I hope people were watching and I’ll be able to live a little more comfortably,” he said. “I’m trying to move down to Jupiter (Florida) and rent’s not cheap. If I can get a deal boosted up a little bit and not live in a dump, that would be awesome.”

McCoy is the 10th-ranked college golfer in the country, one of the rare seniors who has actually performed well in his final year at school. For a player like McCoy who has already appeared in the big leagues – he made three Tour starts last season, including in the U.S. Open – the pro game can’t arrive soon enough. He is reminded of that promising future on a weekly basis, with the distractions of trying to line up sponsorships and representation and playing opportunities once he turns pro. 

Though McCoy technically wasn’t playing for money Sunday at Innisbrook, well, in many ways he still was: The better he played, the higher he’d rise on the unofficial priority ranking for new pros, the more money in his pocket.

That’s why McCoy was openly rooting for a final-round pairing with Spieth on Sunday. More publicity, more pressure, more opportunity. On Saturday afternoon, after a 66, he watched the leaderboard on his phone “like a hawk” and secured the 1:10 p.m. tee time when one of the contenders made a late bogey.

“He was pumped out of his mind,” said McCoy’s father, Terry.

Spieth and McCoy hadn’t played together since September 2012, at The Farm in Georgia. Spieth tied for second that week, while McCoy was eighth.

Their career paths diverged from there.

After helping Texas capture the NCAA title the previous spring, Spieth turned pro a few months later. McCoy’s rise has been more gradual, from a consistent All-American performer to a Walker Cupper and four-time winner a year ago, when he set a school record for low scoring average.

“I wanted to play with him so bad,” McCoy said. “He’s the No. 1 player in the world, and not only do I know him and know that he’s an awesome guy to play with, but getting used to a crowd like that was such a great experience for me, to see what that was like. There are people moving everywhere. There’s nothing still about playing with a Jordan Spieth-type of crowd.”

Yet it didn’t faze him. He birdied his first two holes. He made bogeys on the sixth and ninth holes, after poor shots around the green, but his favorite moment of the week came on the par-4 12th. There is a lively Hooters hospitality tent to the right of the green, and the whole place erupted when his 30-foot birdie putt dropped.

Spieth walked up to McCoy on the next tee and draped an arm around his shoulder.

“Isn’t that the coolest sound in the whole world?” Spieth asked.

“Yeah,” McCoy replied, “that was as good as it gets.”

He two-putted for another birdie on 14 to move within two shots of the lead, then missed reasonable chances on the last four holes – all inside 30 feet – that could have made the final hour really interesting.

Perhaps the best part? He impressed Spieth, who began clapping as he approached McCoy on the 18th green.

“You would have thought he was out here for years,” Spieth said. “The way he was talking, you couldn’t sense any nerves or anything on his putting stroke, either. He’s certainly really ready to be out here. It was really fun to watch.”

And so now it’s back to reality, back to Athens, back to same one-bedroom apartment that he’s lived in for the past three years.

After making the media rounds and signing for about 50 autograph seekers, McCoy headed north with his girlfriend and a longtime family friend. It was a long trip ahead and he hoped to sleep for a few hours. He has an 9:42 a.m. tee time Monday, for the Bulldogs’ home tournament, the one-day, 36-hole Southern Intercollegiate, and they need their No. 1 player.

“I came back to school for a reason,” he said. “I’m playing good golf so I want to try to help our team defend our title.”

For a few more months at least, the pro game – and those big checks – can wait.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.