This Spikes Not Soft
McRoy wasn't much good in any of the statistics coming into the week in Endicott, N.Y. He was outside the top 150 on the money list. He'd missed five of his last seven cuts. And his best finish in some time was a tie for 50th in Memphis, Tenn., at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
But this is a guy who's been persistant if nothing else over his rather short PGA Tour career. He'd never kept his card in any season he's played on the big tour and his only hope this week was to keep rolling them in and hope for some late tournament help from the two men at the top of the leaderboard (Paul Gow and leader Shaun Micheel).
It all worked out. The Alabama Crimson Tide golfer, who'd won twice on the Buy.Com Tour in 2000, fired a final-round 65 including that bomb on the 18th for birdie to capture the B.C. Open for his first Tour title. More importantly, he's earned himself full exempt status the rest of this year and each of the next two years. And beleive me when I say that means a lot on the biggest tour of them all.
Here's how things have gone for McRoy over the last few years: He earns his way out on the PGA Tour in 1999 only to lose his exempt status and return to the Buy.Com Tour where he wins at Dakota Dunes and then late in the year at the Tour Championship to earn 'Player of the Year' honors and a return trip to the 'show.' Then in 2001 it all comes down to the final tournament in Mississippi where all McRoy needs to do at the Southern Farm Bureau Classic is make the cut to keep his spot in the top 125. He doesn't and thus he doesn't. McRoy finishes 127th which gives him limited starts this year.
At the beginning of the week at the B.C. Open, players were talking about 'opportunity.' The big names were at the British Open Championship and this week meant a great chance to beat some lesser competition while making some nice headway toward a spot inside the coveted top 125.
McRoy admitted to The Golf Channel's Jerry Foltz that he figured he didn't have a chance with Micheel and Gow lighting things up for the better part of three days. But strange things happen and McRoy proved that there's no reason to just 'play it out' on Sunday hoping for a big paycheck.
Micheel and Gow were the only two men inside the top 20 on the final leaderboard to play Sunday's round over-par. And McRoy's been around long enough to realize that those things can happen, so you'd better be ready.
You might say that McRoy 'lucked into' his first PGA Tour win. He probably doesn't care. But I'm here to remind you that he only made two bogeys over the final three rounds. And also tell you that every player with their name on their bag is apt to light it up on any given day or any given week to prove that he belongs. Spike McRoy is just the latest example of playing the game to win, and never taking opportunity for granted.
Nice job Spike. See you in Hawaii at the Mercedes Championships!
Suwannapura beats Lincicome in playoff for first win
SYLVANIA, Ohio - Thidapa Suwannapura won her first LPGA event on Sunday, closing with a 6-under 65 and birdieing the first playoff hole to defeat Brittany Lincicome at the Marathon Classic.
The 25-year-old Thai player is the sixth first-time winner on tour this year. Her previous best finish in 120 starts was seventh at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.
Suwannapura picked up three strokes over her final two holes, making eagle on the par-5 17th and closing with a birdie on the par-5 18th at Highland Meadows to finish at 14-under 270.
In the playoff, Suwannapura converted a short birdie putt after Lincicome hit her second shot into a water hazard and scrambled for par.
Lincicome shot 67. She had a chance to win in regulation, but her birdie putt from about 10 feet did a nearly 360-degree turn around the edge of the cup and stayed out. Next up for the big-hitting Lincicome: a start against the men at the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship.
Third-round leader Brooke Henderson led by two shots after six holes, but struggled the rest of the way. Back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes dropped her out of the lead. The 20-year-old Canadian finished with a 2-under 69, one shot out of the playoff.
Kim cruises to first win, final Open invite at Deere
Following the best week of his professional career, Michael Kim is both a winner on the PGA Tour and the 156th and final player to earn a tee time next week at The Open.
Kim entered the final round of the John Deere Classic with a five-shot lead, and the former Cal standout removed any lingering doubt about the tournament's outcome with birdies on each of his first three holes. He cruised from there, shooting a bogey-free 66 to finish the week at 27 under and win by eight shots over Francesco Molinari, Joel Dahmen, Sam Ryder and Bronson Burgoon.
It equals the tournament scoring record and ties for the largest margin of victory on Tour this season, matching Dustin Johnson's eight-shot romp at Kapalua in January and Molinari's margin two weeks ago at the Quicken Loans National.
"Just super thankful," Kim said. "It's been a tough first half of the year. But to be able to finish it out in style like this means a lot."
Kim, 25, received the Haskins Award as the nation's top collegiate player back in 2013, but his ascent to the professional ranks has been slow. He had only one top-10 finish in 83 starts on Tour entering the week, tying for third at the Safeway Open in October 2016, and had missed the cut each of the last three weeks.
But the pieces all came together at TPC Deere Run, where Kim opened with 63 and held a three-shot lead after 36 holes. His advantage was trimmed to a single shot during a rain-delayed third round, but Kim returned to the course late Saturday and closed with four straight birdies on Nos. 15-18 to build a five-shot cushion and inch closer to his maiden victory.
As the top finisher among the top five not otherwise exempt, Kim earned the final spot at Carnoustie as part of the Open Qualifying Series. It will be his first major championship appearance since earning low amateur honors with a T-17 finish at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, and he is also now exempt for the PGA Championship and next year's Masters.
The last player to earn the final Open spot at the Deere and make the cut the following week was Brian Harman, who captured his first career win at TPC Deere Run in 2014 and went on to tie for 26th at Royal Liverpool.
Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal
Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.
Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.
Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.
"I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."
Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:
Disappointing. Clearly misunderstood my explanation. pic.twitter.com/YcKHMPf2v7— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) July 15, 2018
Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.
Immelman misses Open bid via OWGR tiebreaker
A resurgent performance at the Scottish Open gave Trevor Immelman his first top-10 finish in more than four years, but it left him short of a return to The Open by the slimmest of margins.
The former Masters champ turned back the clock this week at Gullane Golf Club, carding four straight rounds of 68 or better. That run included a 5-under 65 in the final round, which gave him a tie for third and left him five shots behind winner Brandon Stone. It was his first worldwide top-10 since a T-10 finish at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.
There were three spots available into The Open for players not otherwise exempt, and for a brief moment it appeared Immelman, 38, might sneak the third and final invite.
But with Stone and runner-up Eddie Pepperell both not qualified, that left the final spot to be decided between Immelman and Sweden's Jens Dantorp who, like Immelman, tied for third at 15 under.
As has been the case with other stops along the Open Qualifying Series, the tiebreaker to determine invites is the players' standing in the Official World Golf Rankings entering the week. Dantorp is currently No. 322 in the world, but with Immelman ranked No. 1380 the Swede got the nod.
This will mark Dantorp's first-ever major championship appearance. Immelman, who hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2013 Masters, was looking to return to The Open for 10th time and first since a missed cut at Royal Lytham six years ago. He will instead work the week at Carnoustie as part of Golf Channel and NBC's coverage of The Open.