New Talent and New Challenge

By Tom AbbottJuly 1, 2008, 4:00 pm
What a pleasure it was to watch the final three days of the Open de France Alstom in the hosts chair and witness the arrival of Pablo Larrazabal. A week earlier the production team and I had expected an easy Sunday of sitting back and enjoying Martin Kaymer cruise to victory as he led by six going into the final round. But the 23-year-old German kept us on our toes all morning, eventually winning in a playoff over Anders Hansen.
No such problems for Larrazabal. He was a joy to watch and his demeanor was Seve-esque ' wearing his emotions on his sleeve, putting like a genius and going after every shot as if it were his last. I found it marvelous to watch, a breath of fresh-air. The celebrations were fitting as his fellow countrymen from the European Tour tossed him in the lake. If you held your breath for a second when they let go of him, so did I; some of those lake arent very deep and it would be devastating for a player to get hurt, something to consider as the celebrations get more and more boisterous.
Thats for another discussion, though; Larrazabal is the talking point and so he should be. The French Open was just his 17th European Tour start in this his rookie season. He has plenty of time to develop as a player and its hardly as if hes been steadily building a career. He did represent Spain at boys and youth levels, but didnt grab any large piece of amateur silverware like his brother Alejandro, who won The Amateur Championship in 2002.
Pablo featured a handful of times on the Challenge Tou,r having done a stint on the family fish-farm, then went to Q-school and qualified for the main tour. Coming into the Open de France his best finish was T15, not bad for a rookie but hardly a warning sign of what was to come at Le Golf National ' which, by the way, is a terrific course and should be considered as a potential Ryder Cup venue. Well watch young Pablo ' hes 25 but looks 17 ' with eager eyes over the rest of the season and see whether he can delight us once again with that wonderful form in the coming few months.

Taylor to Return This Week:
On January 9, 2008, Ladies European Tour professional Kirsty Taylor was due to return from Spain having played a pro-am with some fellow LET professionals. The day would change her life. Taylor suffered a mystery fit. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor and nine days later was having surgery. Further procedures followed as did six weeks of radiotherapy.
The recovery process has been tough. Taylor has still not received the all-clear yet, and is unable to drive. Recently though, shes been able to cycle to the her local course, Minchinhampton, trying bravely to resume a normal course of action. That includes teeing it up at the Oxfordshire English Ladies Open this week. Its more of a test to see where I am fitness wise and concentration wise; to enjoy the week and see everybody, she says.
Hubby Alistair will be on the bag; hell also act as chauffeur on the hour-and-15-minute drive from home. If I get tired and get a headache Alistair will encourage me to come in as it will be daft to carry on.
Kirsty will undergo further tests in August to see how shes progressing. If things go well then she hopes to make an appearance at the S4/C Wales Ladies Championship of Europe where she was champion in 2005.

Around Europe:
The European Tour visits a new venue for the European Open this week, The London Club, which is not in London at all but south east of the capital in the county of Kent, nicknamed the Garden of England. Colin Montgomerie defends.
The Challenge Tour is in France at the AGF-Allianz EurOpen de Lyon. Seve Benson is now leading the standings.
The European Seniors Tour heads east to Russia for the Russian Seniors Open at the Pestovo Golf and Yacht Club. Ian Woosnam, Sam Torrance and Jim Colbert are in the field; however, no Russian players are entered.
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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.