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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Kirk Makes Bid For Ryder Cup Team With Win At Deutsche Bank Championship

Chris Kirk holds the trophy after winning the Deutsche Bank Championship on Monday.
NORTON, Mass. -- Chris Kirk picked up the biggest win of his career with a two-stroke victory Monday at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Just how big he’ll have to wait to see.
But that’s a story for Tuesday night when Tom Watson makes his captain’s picks for the Ryder Cup.
In the meantime, Kirk was happy with moving to the top of the FedExCup standings and earning a spot in the season-ending TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, where the Atlanta native will have a chance to play for $10 million and his first FedExCup title.
“I'm still just in such shock that I actually won this tournament,” Kirk said. “It's going to take me a little while to figure that out.”
A dozen birdies -- including five on Monday -- and no bogeys over the final 36 holes at TPC Boston certainly helped.
So apparently did playing alongside Rory McIlroy a day earlier. Kirk fed off the environment and matched the world’s top-ranked player shot for shot.
On Monday, Kirk held McIlroy, and everybody else, off with more mistake-free golf.
“Being in the group with (McIlroy) and watching him play so great (Sunday) … and just the huge crowds that go along with that, it's really just kind of heightens your focus a little bit,” Kirk said. “That's something that I do struggle with every now and then, really getting myself into it and getting focused, playing how many tournaments we play every year, every single shot, it's hard to get to that extreme level of focus where you don't even see anything around you or hear anything.”
It was quite a turnaround from earlier in the week.
Ten shots behind after the opening round, Kirk was so disgusted he skipped his usual practice session.
But by the time he got to Monday he had rounded into form. Kirk made two birdies and a clutch 15-footer for par over his final nine holes to stay in front.
As for whether he makes the Ryder Cup?
“I would absolutely love to do it,” he said. “But I'm not going to really base how happy I am with how I'm playing, or how my year has gone, on whether I make the team or not.”

• All seven Bulldogs in the field at the Deutsche Bank Championship remained in the top 70 in the FedExCup standings and will move on to this week's BMW Championship in Colorado. The new standings are No. 1 Kirk, No. 6 Bubba Watson, No. 14 Russell Henley, No. 25 Brendon Todd, No. 31 Harris English, No. 33 Brian Harman and No. 62 Erik Compton. The top 30 after the BMW Championship will advance to TOUR Championship.

Henley came in second to Kirk at the Deutsche Bank Championship, just two shots back.

• Hudson Swafford and Ryuji Imada missed the cut in the Hotel Fitness Championship, the first leg of the 
Web.com Tour Finals. They will play this week in the Chiquita Classic in North Carolina.


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Bulldogs Claim The Carmel Cup

The Bulldogs celebrate after winning The Carmel Cup at Pebble Beach Golf Links on Sunday.
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. --- The No. 5-ranked Georgia Bulldogs claimed first place on Sunday in The Carmel Cup at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

The Bulldogs went wire-to-wire atop the leaderboard at the season-opening event. Georgia finished at 17-under 1,063, including a final-round 7-under 353, for a 5-stroke victory over Vanderbilt.

Lee McCoy came in second at 9-under 207, two shots shy of Vanderbilt's Hunter Stewart. Mookie DeMoss placed eighth at 4-under 212, while Nicholas Reach, Greyson Sigg and Sepp Straka came in 15th at even-par 216, and Zach Healy wound up 46th at 10-over 226.

"It's a long season of course, but to win right out of the gate does a lot for us," Georgia coach Chris Haack said. "Anytime you get to hold the trophy on the last day, it's a shot in the arm for your confidence. Our guys played well all summer and they were steady in this tournament. We can build on this as we move forward."

The Bulldogs will return to action Sept. 19-21 in the Dick's Sporting Goods Collegiate Challenge Cup in Nashville, Tenn. Georgia is the tournament's defending champion.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Bulldogs To Open Season At Pebble Beach

Sepp Straka returns to the Georgia lineup after redshirting in 2013-14.
The Georgia men’s golf team will kick off the fall portion of the 2014-15 schedule this weekend in The Carmel Cup in Pebble Beach, Calif.

The Bulldogs, who were 11th at the 2014 NCAA Championships just three months ago, will begin the season with 54 holes on the Pebble Beach Links Friday through Sunday. Joining the Bulldogs will be SEC counterparts South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Arkansas along with Big 12 teams Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas Tech. Tee times and live scoring can be found at GolfStat.com.

Coach Chris Haack will open his 19th season in Athens with a lineup of senior captain Mookie DeMoss, senior Nicholas Reach, redshirt junior Sepp Straka, junior Lee McCoy, sophomore Greyson Sigg and freshman Zach Healy. The tournament format consists of six players with five counting (as opposed to the typical five players with four counting).

McCoy earned All-America and All-SEC honors a year ago as he posted a scoring average of 71.34 — second-best on the team. Reach ranked fourth with a scoring average of 72.70, Sigg was sixth at 73.07 and DeMoss was seventh at 73.50. Straka redshirted last season, while Healy will be making his Georgia debut. The Bulldogs won four events last season and their lone finish outside the top 10 was the 11th-place effort at the NCAAs.

This is the earliest the Bulldogs have ever opened the fall portion of their schedule. But this is the final year of The Carmel Cup and playing at Pebble Beach was an opportunity they did not want to pass up.

“The start of the season is always exciting and it’s even more exciting this year because we get to do it at Pebble Beach,” Haack said. “This is a world-class facility, one of the most famous in golf, so it’s an honor to get to participate. I’m also excited about seeing the way our team performs. It’s a new year, so we have to create our team identity and begin the process of building toward championships. The six guys played well in qualifying and I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do in this tournament.”

The Bulldogs will begin play at 1 p.m. on Friday with their counterparts from Vanderbilt, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.

• The Bulldogs are No. 5 in the initial GCAA Coaches Preseason Poll released on Thursday. Alabama and Oklahoma State shared the top spot, followed by No. 3 Georgia Tech and No. 4 Texas. Other SEC teams in the rankings include No. 9 LSU, No. 12 South Carolina, No. 16 Vanderbilt, No. 21 Auburn, No. 22 Arkansas

Monday, August 25, 2014

Seven Bulldogs Advance In FedExCup Playoffs

Erik Compton's 19th-place finish at The Barclays moved him up 15 spots in the FedExCup Playoffs standings.
(Check back later this week for details on Georgia's season-opening tournament in California.)

Seven Bulldogs advanced through the first round of the FedExCup Playoffs this weekend.

Following play at The Barclays, No. 5 Bubba Watson, No. 17 Chris Kirk, No. 18 Brendon Todd, No. 25 Harris English, No. 27 Brian Harman, No. 50 Erik Compton and No. 62 Russell Henley remained among the top 100 players. Kevin Kisner, at No. 104, was eliminated.

The Playoffs will continue this week in the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston in Norton, Mass. Afterward, the top 70 will move on to the BMW Championship, followed by the final 30 in the Tour Championship.

At The Barclays, Compton was the top Bulldog in 19th at 6-under. Watson came in 30th at 4-under, Todd placed 46th at 2-under, Kirk was 53rd at 1-under, Harman finished 57th at even par, and Henley checked in 61st at 1-over, while Kisner and English missed the cut.

Compton’s effort was critical to his Playoffs success as the 2014 U.S. Open runner-up jumped 15 spots (from 65 to 50) in the standings.

• In the Web.com Tour’s WinCo Foods Portland Open, Justin Bolli, Paul Claxton, Joey Garber and Scott Parel missed the cut.

• Hudson Swafford and Ryuji Imada will play this week in the Hotel Fitness Championship in Indiana as the Web.com Tour Finals brings together the top 75 players on the Web.com Tour regular-season money list and Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour FedExCup standings (Swafford was 146th, Imada was 195th). The Web.com Tour Finals is a four-event series to determine the final 25 Tour cards for 2014-15 earned through the Web.com Tour. The top 25 on the Web.com Tour money list have already secured Tour status, but will be striving to improve their position.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Eight Bulldogs Qualify For FedExCup Playoffs

Four weeks. Four tournaments. Eight Bulldogs. One survivor. $67 million on the line.

The 2013-14 FedExCup Playoffs begin this week with The Barclays at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey before heading to Boston, then Denver and finally to Atlanta. Along the way, the field of 125 eligible players will be whittled to 30 for the finale, the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola the week of Sept. 8.

Each tournament will produce a winner, but it's the FedExCup points race that provides the next four weeks with its special allure. The player who leads in points after the TOUR Championship will be crowned the FedExCup champion, ending the season-long chase that started nearly a year ago at the Frys.com Open.

Incidentally, the FedExCup winner receives a $10 million bonus that comes from a pool of $35 million in FedExCup bonus money. With the four Playoffs events offering a combined purse of $32 million, let's just say there's a lot at stake during the next four weeks.

How do the FedExCup Playoffs work? Start with the top 125 players in points during the FedExCup season -- which includes No. 3 Bubba Watson, No. 10 Chris Kirk, No. 12 Brendon Todd, No. 17 Harris English, No. 21 Brian Harman, No. 50 Russell Henley, No. 65 Erik Compton and No. 93 Kevin Kisner.

The list is reduced to 100 for the Deutsche Bank Championship, then 70 for the BMW Championship, then 30 for the Playoffs finale, the TOUR Championship.

Going into East Lake, the points are reset to give every player a mathematical shot at winning the FedExCup. But only the top five in points control their own destiny. If any of the top five wins the TOUR Championship, then he automatically wins the FedExCup. Everyone else needs varying degrees of help.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

McCoy, DeMoss, Healy Eliminated From U.S. Amateur

Georgia’s three participants in the match play portion of the United States Amateur Championship were eliminated on Wednesday.

Lee McCoy, the No. 1 seed after sharing co-medalist honors in stroke play, fell on the 19th hole to Pittsburgh, Pa., native Nathan Smith. Smith, the last player to make the 64-man match play field, is a four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and is a three-time Walker Cup Team member.

Playing in his 14th U.S. Amateur, Smith squared the match with a birdie on the water-fronted par-3 17th hole and converted a critical up-and-down for par on the 18th. Smith won in 19 holes by sinking a 3½–foot par-saving putt.

“I saw the list and I saw four-time Mid-Am winner and a guy that's played in the Masters four times, and I was like, ‘I get to play the grizzled veteran in the first round. Fantastic,’” McCoy said. “I don't think he had his best stuff today and neither did I. I didn't play nearly as well as I did the last two days. He made some incredible up-and-downs and he just scored unbelievably well, like a veteran would.”

Cheng-Tsung Pan, a two-time U.S. Amateur quarterfinalist from Chinese Taipei, defeated freshman Zach Healy 4&2. Senior Mookie DeMoss fell to Roman Robledo of Harlingen, Texas, 1-up.

• Five Bulldogs will be playing this week in the Wyndham Championship: Ryuji Imada, Kevin Kisner, Hudson Swafford, Brian Harman and Justin Bolli. The Wyndham Championship, is the Tour's final stop before the start of the FedExCup Playoffs. Swafford is No. 142 and likely needs a top-7 finish this week to make the playoffs, while Imada and Bolli would need to win the tournament. Kisner and Harman are safely in.

• Paul Claxton and Scott Parel will tee it up in the Web.com Tour's News Sentinel Open.

• Bubba Watson finished first in the points race, which closed after the PGA Championship at Valhalla, and will be one of the nine players representing the United States in the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. Watson is 3-5 in his previous two Ryder Cup appearances. U.S. captain Tom Watson will select three more captain's picks next month to bring the total to 12. Brendon Todd (12th in points) and Chris Kirk (14th) are in contention.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

McCoy, DeMoss, Healy Advance To U.S. Amateur Match Play

Lee McCoy high fives his caddie after a shot on the 16th hole during the second round of
stroke play at the 2014 U.S. Amateur on Tuesday. (Copyright USGA/John Mummert)
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. --- Three Georgia golfers have advanced to the match play portion of the United States Amateur Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club.

Junior Lee McCoy finished tied for first in stroke play at 8-under 135, senior Mookie DeMoss tied for 14th at 3-under 140, while freshman Zach Healy tied for 61st at 2-over 145. Former Georgia golfers Butler Melnyk (5-over) and Keith Mitchell (11-over) missed the cut.

“I couldn't be any happier,” said McCoy of sharing the medal. “Well, I guess I could be. I'd like to be holding the trophy at the end of the week but that being said, it is a long week. It's great to be a high seed going into the weekend, but you know, main goal is still in check. I am still trying to get that trophy.”

McCoy, the 2012 Georgia High School Player of the Year at Habersham Central who is playing in his first U.S. Amateur, was buoyed by local support.

“Oh, it's awesome,” he said. “I got so many ‘Go Dogs’ out there on the golf course today it was unbelievable. It's awesome to be so close to home, and I've got plenty of friends and family out here to support me this week.”

McCoy, the No. 1 seed, will take on 64th seed Nathan Smith of Pittsburgh, Pa., at 2:10 p.m. Wednesday in match play. DeMoss, the No. 19 seed, will face No. 46 Roman Robledo of Harlingen, Texas, at 12:50 p.m. Healy survived a 17-for-4 playoff Wednesday morning to snare the No. 62 seed and he will take on Cheng-Tsung Pan of Chinese Taipei at 1:50 p.m.

First-round matches will be aired on the Golf Channel Wednesday from 4-6 p.m.