Spieth doesn't help fatigue with Singapore jaunt

By Will GrayFebruary 1, 2016, 1:04 am

After waiting an extra day, Jordan Spieth returned to the 18th green at the Singapore Open and calmly rolled in a 5-foot birdie putt.

He offered a halfhearted fist pump. He waved politely to the crowd. He even shared a fist bump with agent-turned-caddie Jay Danzi.

But in the end, it still wasn't enough to beat the world's 204th-ranked player, Younghan Song.

The Asian leg of the Spieth Worldwide Tour has come to a close, as the 22-year-old wunderkind will now head home for a brief respite. He gave the crowds plenty of reason to cheer over the prior fortnight, and his game has shown no signs of slipping since he lapped the field in Hawaii.

The show, indeed, goes on. But at what cost?

Spieth clearly feels a sense of duty to the global game as the world's top-ranked player, and he built his early-season schedule accordingly. Of course, with that honorable obligation reportedly came a couple of seven-figure appearance fees.

Regardless of motivation, Spieth has taken an aggressive approach to the beginning of what will be a busy year. He logged January starts in Maui, Abu Dhabi and Singapore - all while peers like Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson and Justin Rose barely got their campaigns off the ground.

"He's 22," you might think. "He'll be fine." That may be the case, and Spieth appears no worse for wear. But he has already begun to talk about the toll these pay-for-play jaunts have taken.

"We are kind of beat up mentally. Physically, we're not 100 percent right now," Spieth said a week ago in Abu Dhabi. "It shows in certain places."

We've seen this level of commitment from Spieth before. He surprised many when he returned last summer to the John Deere Classic, eschewing Open Championship prep in advance of his quest for a third straight major. Earlier this month, he told media members to expect him at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions every year he is eligible.

He was lauded for the latter statement, and he quieted any criticism of the former decision with his performance at St. Andrews. But this time, with so much important golf still ahead, Spieth has opened himself up to second-guessing.

After all, his next break will be measured in days, not weeks. He'll be back in action at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, with the Northern Trust Open looming the following week. Given his relative fatigue, he alluded last week to possibly tweaking his fall schedule, but there will be no reprieve in the coming months.

Spieth has already said he will return to the Shell Houston Open, where he lost last year in a playoff, and he'll be back at Innisbrook in March to defend his Valspar title. That means that the Masters will cap a run of nine worldwide events in 12 weeks, at which point no one will be asking him how his trip to Singapore helped prepare him for his green jacket defense.

"I was unlucky in the spacing of tournaments," he said. "That's what kind of led to this crazy four-month adventure that we've had."

It's a busy run, but it's also before he even reaches the summer blitz of two majors in three weeks - or a quick August detour to the Olympics before returning to chase the FedEx and Ryder Cups.

After an all-everything season, Spieth is entitled to craft whatever schedule he wants. And, as he did in Scotland last summer, he could halt any criticism if he remains in contention.

But these tournament dates did not just materialize out of thin air. Spieth and his team have known for weeks the gauntlet for which their man had signed up and now must complete.

While there are alterations that could be made, it's difficult to pass up free OWGR points at WGC events. Spieth also feels a strong tie to the Tour's events in Texas, which now number five with the shift of the Match Play to Austin.

Spieth has seemingly done no wrong over the past three-plus years, and he has more than enough talent to continue that trend. But should he begin to falter as the summer months heat up, the source of his frustrations might be traced back to this hectic stretch of global golf - when he tapped into his finite energy reserves before the season's first meaningful shot was struck.

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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.