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Finau, Palmer share lead at Memorial as Tiger hangs on

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Tony Finau figured he was on the right track when he shot 59 at Victory Ranch last week in Utah. That kind of score isn't happening at Muirfield Village, where the greens are getting firmer by the hour. Finau still took enough confidence from playing with his kids at home during a week off, and it translated into 14 birdies over two days and a share of the 36-hole lead at the Memorial. Finau recovered from two bogeys after three holes of his second round Friday, making birdie on the rest of the par 5s and finishing with a wedge to 2 feet for birdie and a 3-under 69. That put him at 9-under 135 with Ryan Palmer (68), who had only one bogey over two rounds. The way Muirfield Village is playing, both are impressive. They were a shot in front of Jon Rahm (67), who has another chance to reach No. 1 in the world this week for the first time in his career. U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland had a 70 and was two behind. For Tiger Woods, it was a matter of making it to the weekend. Woods said his back felt stiff while warming up, and missing a pair of 3-footers didn't make him feel any better. He managed two birdies and a 7-foot par save on his final three holes for a 76 that allowed him to make the cut on the number at 3-over 147, matching his highest 36-hole score at the Memorial. “Not very good,” Woods said. “I three-putted two holes early, and whatever kind of momentum I was going to create, I stifled that early and fought it the rest of the day.” Finau elected to stay home last week instead of playing Muirfield Village twice in a row. He won't compare Victory Ranch with Muirfield Village, though it inspired him. He was 14-under par through 16 holes until making a bogey on the 17th hole and settling for his second sub-60 round away from the PGA Tour. “I don't know how many times I've been 14 under through 16 holes on a good golf course,” Finau said. “But it told me I was in good form and just told me how good I am at scoring. So I think I definitely carried some of that right into this week, and that confidence I think is pretty cool.” The cut of 147 matched the highest of the season — it also was 147 at Bay Hill. Among those going home was Bryson DeChambeau, who was in reasonable shape until hitting his tee shot into a hazard on the 15th, taking a penalty drop, hitting the next two out-of-bounds and making 10. It was his highest score on a hole in his career. DeChambeau came into the Memorial having finished in the top 10 in seven straight tournaments, and having 19 consecutive rounds at par or better. He left with rounds of 73-76, and without comment. Dustin Johnson shot 80-80 for the highest 36-hole score of his PGA Tour career Collin Morikawa, who won at Muirfield Village last week in a playoff over Justin Thomas, recovered from a 76 with a 70 to make the cut with one shot to spare. Thomas had a 67 and was six shots behind. The way Muirfield Village began to look Friday, the weekend at the Memorial might be more about hanging on than going low. The course is replacing all the greens after this week, so officials are letting them go. It doesn’t matter if they’re so fast the grass dies because they’re being ripped up, anyway. Brooks Koepka appeared to hit a solid bunker shot from right of the 16th green until it rolled out a few feet past the hole, and then a few more feet until it was off the green and resting against the collar of rough. That wasn't his biggest problem. Koepka dumped a shot in the water on his final hole at No. 9 and made double bogey for a 75. That put him at 3-over 147, same as Woods. Rory McIlroy shot 72, which goes in the book as a round of even par. It was anything but that. He hit into the creek and muffed a chip for a double bogey on the par-5 11th. He smoked a fairway metal to 8 feet for eagle on the par-5 fifth. He hit wedge to 10 feet for a pair of birdies. He chunked a wedge into a bunker and made bogey. He was at 2-under 142. “I don't know what it was,” he said. “It was a few birdies and an eagle thrown in there and a few mistakes. There's some good in there, some mediocre and there was some pretty poor shots. But I battled back well.” Palmer played the Workday Charity Open last week at Muirfield Village and missed the cut. Instead of staying in Ohio, he went home to Texas to work with swing coach Randy Smith, and he found a fix to whatever was holding him back. “One little, small flaw in my back swing,” Palmer said. He also did some work on the greens with Steve Stricker, and Palmer feels good enough about his chances on the weekend. Stricker didn't do too badly, either. The 53-year-old Ryder Cup captain had a 67 and was at 4-under 140, along with Jim Furyk, who turned 50 two months ago and shot 68......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJul 18th, 2020

Finau, Palmer share Memorial lead as Woods struggles

Los Angeles, United States | Tony Finau shook off two early bogeys to post a three-under-par 69 on Friday and maintain a share of the lead alongside Ryan Palmer early in the second round of the US PGA Tour Memorial......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJul 18th, 2020

Big finish for Woods gets him to the weekend at Memorial

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Five months without competition, and Tiger Woods was grinding over key shots and big putts Friday at the Memorial. None was bigger than a 7-foot par putt on his final hole. It kept him from going home. Woods missed a pair of 3-foot putts early that shut down any momentum, twice missed the green with awkward chip shots in deep rough and had to finish birdie-birdie-par for a 4-over 76. It was just enough to make the cut on the number at 3-over 147, his highest 36-hole score at Muirfield Village since his Memorial debut in 1997. The Memorial, the Masters and the Arnold Palmer Invitational are the only tournaments he has played at least 15 times without failing to make the cut. Woods said his back felt a little stiff while warming up and he couldn't move through his swing like he would have liked. He said it was a struggle on a warm, calm morning at Muirfield Village. But when asked if it was enough to keep him from playing the rest of the week, Woods replied, “I would like to have the opportunity to play tomorrow.” Woods was outside the cut when he finished, and he was helped by a pair of fellow Californians. Max Homa finished with two bogeys, and Bryson DeChambeau made a 10 on the par-5 15th hole, moving the cut to 3 over. Ryan Palmer (68) and Tony Finau (69) managed just fine and were tied for the lead, leaving Woods 12 shots behind going into the weekend. The finish at least gave him a chance. Woods had to lay up from deep rough short of the water on the sixth hole — he started on the back nine — and missed a par putt just outside 5 feet to fall to 6 over for his round. He looked to be done. He wasn't moving well, the look of someone who would be heading home shortly. But he found the fairway on the par-5 seventh and made birdie from a greenside bunker. Then, he rolled in 20-foot putt for birdie on the par-3 eighth. He found more trouble on the ninth, sending his tee shot to the right, in rough and blocked by trees, leaving his only option to chip out to the fairway. From there, his wedge spun back to 7 feet below the hole and he made that par for to have hope. “I finished birdie-birdie-par,” he said. “That's about the only positive to it today.” He wasn't sure what to make about his back, which has undergone four surgeries, the last one to fuse his lower spine. He has recovered well enough to win three more times, including the Masters last year for his 15th major. Woods last played Feb. 16 in the cold at Riviera, where he finished last in the Genesis Invitational with a 76-77 weekend. He attributed stiffness that week to the cold. As for Ohio in July? Woods said he felt fine when he woke up, not so much while going through his practice sessions. “It wasn't quite as good as I'd like, and it it what it is,” he said, adding later, “It's going to happen more times than not.” What really irritated him was his putting. He three-putted from about 35 feet on the par-5 11th, missing a 3-footer for birdie. Two holes later, after a superb play from the rough to right side of the green, he rolled a fast putt to 3 feet and missed that par putt. And then when he chopped up the par-5 15th for bogey, the rest of the day became a battle. From a fairway bunker right of the 17th fairway, he sent his shot high on the hill into rough so deep it took him a few minutes to find it. With the greens so brittle, he hit that through the putting surface into more rough, and he had to make an 8-foot putt to escape with bogey. Making the turn, Woods had an awkward lie with his ball in the collar of a bunker. He caught all ball and sent that long, through the green and into a bunker, failed to get up-and-down and took double bogey. His next shot sailed to the right toward a hazard, and Woods simply hung his head. He still managed to have enough left at the end to give him a chance. Woods is a five-time winner of the Memorial, and his next victory would set the PGA Tour career record of 83. Also looming is the first major of the year at the PGA Championship in three weeks. For a 44-year-old who won the first of his 82 tour titles at age 20, time isn't on his side. “Aging is not fun,” he said. “Early on in my career, I thought it was fantastic because I was getting better and better and better. And now I'm just trying to hold on.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 18th, 2020

Finau leads Memorial at 65 as Woods has quiet return to golf

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Tiger Woods was back on the PGA Tour for the first time in five months Thursday and saw Muirfield Village like never before. It was practically empty. Woods opened with a 10-foot birdie and there was silence. He finished with a 15-foot birdie for a 1-under 71, leaving him five shots behind Tony Finau in the Memorial, and he walked to the side of the green and stood with Rory McIlroy, chatting briefly before they nudged their elbows toward one another without touching. It’s a different world, Woods keeps saying. It was a reasonable return. “Got off to almost an ideal start and got a feel for the round early,” Woods said. “I just didn’t make anything today. I had looks at birdies, but I really didn’t make much.” He left that to Finau, who seemed to make everything. Finau finished with seven birdies over his last 10 holes on a Muirfield Village course that was faster and tougher than last week in the Workday Charity Open. That gave him a one-shot lead over Ryan Palmer. The greens are being replaced after the Memorial, so there’s no concern about them dying out. They were 2 feet faster on the Stimpmeter, the wind was strong and often changed direction without notice. That showed in the scoring. Only seven players broke 70, compared with 35 rounds in the 60s for the first round last week. This is the first itme in 63 years the PGA Tour has played consecutive weeks on the same course. Muirfield Village only looked like the same course. “It’s night and day,” Palmer said. “The greens, they’re 2, 3 feet faster for sure. So I knew it wasn’t a course you had to just go out and light up.” It wasn’t a course to overpower, either. Bryson DeChambeau hit one drive 423 yards with the wind at his back, leaving him 46 yards to the pin on No. 1, a hole where he recalls hitting 5-iron in the past. That was a rare birdie. With wedges in his hand, he still managed only a 73. Collin Morikawa won at Muirfield Village last week at 19-under 269, beating Justin Thomas in a playoff. Morikawa opened with a 76. Thomas, who didn’t make a bogey until his 55th hole last week, had two bogeys after two holes. He shot 74. Dustin Johnson shot 80, his highest score on the PGA Tour in more than four years. Rickie Fowler shot 81. By now, players are used to seeing open spaces with minimal distraction. That wasn’t the case for Woods, who last played Feb. 16 when he finished last in the Genesis Invitational during a cold week at Riviera that caused his back to feel stiff. The absence of spectators was something new, and it was even more pronounced with Woods playing alongside McIlroy (70) and Brooks Koepka (72). They still had the biggest group, with 36 people around them on the 16th green. That mostly was TV and radio crews, photographers and a few volunteers. No one to cheer when Woods opened with a birdie and quickly reached 2 under with a wedge that spun back to a foot on the third hole. And there was no one to groan when he wasted a clean card on the back nine with a bunker shot that sailed over the green into the rough. “I definitely didn’t have any issue with energy and not having the fans’ reactions out there,” Woods said. “I still felt the same eagerness, edginess, nerviness starting out, and it was good. It was a good feel. I haven’t felt this in a while.” U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland and Brendan Steele each shot 68, with Jon Rahm among those at 69. McIlroy had two splendid short-game shots on the back nine that led to par and birdie, and he was in a group at 70 that included Jordan Spieth and defending champion Patrick Cantlay. Cantlay hit a pitch-and-run across the fifth green that last week would have settled next to the hole. On Thursday, it kept rolling until it was just off the green. Finau didn’t play last week, so he wouldn’t know the difference. “I don’t know about an advantage, but I definitely felt like I played this golf course this way before,” Finau said. “I don’t know what the numbers might be as far as the guys that played last week compared to this week. I’ve played this golf course in these type of conditions, and it definitely helped me.” DeChambeau brought the pop with five more tee shots at 350 yards or longer, two of them over 400 yards. Some of his tee shots wound up in places where players normally hit into the trees or rough and can’t reach the green. But he failed to capitalize with short clubs in his hands. He hit a wedge into a bunker on the 14th and his chip went over the green, which would not have happened last week. He had to make a 6-footer to save bogey. He also was a victim to the swirling wind at the worse time — a 7-iron from 230 yards over the water to the par-5 fifth. The wind died and he never had a chance, leading to bogey. “When I was standing over it, it was 20 miles an hour downwind. And when I hit it, it dead stopped. Can’t do anything about it,” DeChambeau said. “That’s golf, man. You’re not going to shoot the lowest number every single day. I felt like I played really bad. My wedging wasn’t great. If I can tidy that up, make some putts, keep driving it the way I’m doing, I’ll have a chance.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 17th, 2020

McIlroy, Cantlay the sole survivors to par at Olympia Fields

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. (AP) — Rory McIlroy doesn't need fans to keep his head in the game at the BMW Championship. Olympia Fields is so tough it won't allow anything but his full attention on every shot. McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay made their share of mistakes Friday and shrugged them off because that's bound to happen on the toughest test the PGA Tour has seen this year. By the end of another steamy afternoon south of Chicago, they were the sole survivors to par. One week after McIlroy admitted to going through the motions without spectators around to provide the cheers, he had a 1-under 69 to share the 36-hole lead with Cantlay. It was plenty tough for Tiger Woods, whose PGA Tour season appears to be two rounds from being over. He didn't have enough good shots to atone for his bad ones, and he had to make a 35-foot par putt on his final hole to shoot 75, leaving him nine shots behind. Woods was toward the bottom of the pack at a tournament where he needs to finish around fourth to be among the top 30 who advance to the Tour Championship. Cantlay holed a 50-foot chip for birdie, and holed out a 50-yard wedge for eagle. He also missed the green on three of the par 3s, the last one leading to a double bogey. He finished with a 6-iron out of the thick rough and made a 40-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole. It added to a 68, matching the best score of the round. They were at 1-under 139, one shot ahead of Hideki Matsuyama and Dustin Johnson, who were going in opposite directions when it was time to sign their scorecards. Matsuyama, the only player to reach 4 under at any point this week, dropped four shots over his last 10 holes for a 73. Johnson finished birdie-birdie for 69. The phrase “U.S. Open” is being heard a lot more than “FedEx Cup” this week. “I think the test is what’s helped me focus and concentrate because if you lose focus out there for one second ... just one lapse in concentration can really cost you around here,” McIlroy said. “I think one of the big keys this week is just not making big numbers. If you hit it out of position, get it back in position, make sure that your worse score is bogey and move on. Honestly, bogeys aren't that bad out here.” He made a mistake on the 14th hole by going long and left, and only a great wedge to a back pin to 5 feet kept him from a big blunder, even though he missed the par putt. He flirted with trouble later in his round on the fifth hole with a wedge from 134 yards that came up 30 yards short, the pin tucked behind a big bunker. He left that in collar short of the green and got up-and-down for bogey. Cantlay doesn't expect to hole out twice a round with wedges and hopes he can sharpen up his game a little. Still, he loves the idea of having to think and plot his way around the course. “It's about as stiff of a test as you would want,” Cantlay said. “It's very, very difficult, and you have to play from the fairway, and you have to play from below the hole, frankly. The greens have so much slope on them that you really need to be putting uphill. And so if you're in the rough, it gets exponentially harder to do that.” For those playing well — anywhere within a few shots of par in this case — it was an enjoyable challenge. For everyone, regardless of the score, it was a grind. “I don't know if any rain will matter, really,” Kevin Kisner said after a bogey-bogey finish ruined an otherwise good day and gave him a 70, leaving him three shots behind. “I think even par wins the golf tournament.” Doesn't 280 always win the U.S. Open? That's what Arnold Palmer used to say. And this feels like a U.S. Open. Go back to Shinnecock Hills two years ago in the U.S. Open to find the last time someone won at over par (Brooks Koepka). For non-majors, the tour said over par hasn't won since Bruce Lietzke at the Byron Nelson Classic in 1981. It's a massive change from last week, when Johnson won by 11 shots at 30-under 254. “Last week was fun, too,” Johnson said. “But this week is more of a grind, that's for sure. Every single hole out here is difficult. You've got to really be focused on every shot that you hit.” Among those two shots behind was Louis Oosthuizen, whose birdie in the dark on the final hole last week at the TPC Boston moved him to No. 70 to qualify for the BMW Championship. “This is the golf course I needed to do what I must do,” he said of moving into the top 30. “Look, this can go really south on you quickly. You can shoot 6, 7 over on this golf course very quickly. But if you really stick to it and play middle of the greens and lag those putts, you can make a lot of pars. And you're not going to lose spots if you're making pars.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 29th, 2020

Morikawa quickly goes from college grad to major champion

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Collin Morikawa couldn't help but break into a smile, and not just because the shiny Wanamaker Trophy he won at Harding Park was positioned on a stand next to him. Just over 14 months ago, Morikawa went through commencement after his All-American career — on the golf course and in the classroom — across the Bay Bridge and up the road at Cal-Berkeley. Since then, he has played 28 tournaments around the world and already has three victories on the PGA Tour, one of them a major championship. In the last 50 years, only four other players won their first major before age 23 or younger — Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and Seve Ballesteros. He already is No. 5 in the world. That alone puts him among the elite, except that Morikawa didn't need to win the PGA Championship to feel that way. “When I woke up today, I was like, ‘This is meant to be.’ This is where I feel very comfortable,” Morikawa said. “This is where I want to be, and I'm not scared from it. I think if I was scared from it, the last few holes would have been a little different. But you want to be in this position.” Harding Park was not a place for the meek. Rare is Sunday at a major with so many possibilities at the beginning, at the turn and down the stretch. The drama was relentless. Nine players at one point could claim a share of the lead. There was Dustin Johnson, who started with a one-shot lead. The power of Tony Finau, Bryson DeChambeau and Cameron Champ was on full display. Jason Day brought the experience of winning majors and being No. 1 in the world. Morikawa embraced the moment and delivered the signature shot that allowed him to win a thriller. Actually, there were two moments. After catching a good break — even the most tested major champions need those — with a tee shot off a tree and into play on the 14th, he was short of the green and chipped in for birdie to take the lead. Two holes later, Paul Casey tied him with a nifty up-and-down for birdie on the 16th, where the tees were moved forward to 294 yards to entice players to go for the green. Morikawa thought back to the 14th hole at Muirfield Village during the Workday Charity Open, where he fearlessly hit driver in a similar situation — big trouble left, water right — and drilled it to 12 feet. His shot was the signature moment of this major, a driver that bounced just right and onto the green and rolled up to 7 feet below the cup. He made the eagle putt and was on his way to a two-shot victory with a 6-under 64, matching the lowest final round by a PGA champion. There were no spectators because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Casey must have felt like one. He was still on the 17th tee when he looked back and saw Morikawa's shot. “Nothing you can do but tip your cap to that,” Casey said. “Collin has taken on that challenge and pulled it off. That's what champions do.” He won at Muirfield Village last month not from that bold play on the 14th hole, but after Justin Thomas made a 50-foot birdie putt in the playoff. Morikawa answered with a 25-foot birdie of his own and won two holes later. He is comfortable in the most uncomfortable situations. It was Thomas who gave Morikawa more confidence than he needed. They got together for dinner at the Canadian Open last summer, Morikawa's first start since graduating from Cal. Thomas told him he was good enough, he would make it. Thomas knew from experience. He spent a year in the minor leagues before getting his PGA Tour card, went through a year of learning without winning and now has 13 wins, a major and twice has been No. 1 in the world. Morikawa didn't wait that long. He won the Barracuda Championship to earn a PGA Tour card. He won against a strong field for validation. Now he's a major champion. Young stars are emerging every year, and it was easy to overlook Morikawa. He was a runner-up two years in a row for the Hogan Award, given to the nation's best college player. Doug Ghim won in 2018, Matthew Wolff a year later. And it was Wolff who denied Morikawa a victory last year in Minnesota by making a long eagle putt on the last hole. Players know best. “There’s always a bunch of guys that rock up on the scene, and he didn’t necessarily get the most publicity out of the group he was in,” Casey said. “I know talent when I see it. I don't like the term ‘talent,’ but you know when somebody is good. And Collin was good. We could just tell. ... And we weren't wrong.” Morikawa grew up in Southern California with Wolff. He considers the Bay Area a second home from his time at Cal and the dozen times the Golden Bears played or had qualifiers at Harding Park, a public course that never was this tough. In just over a year — it feels less than that because of the three months golf was shut down because of the pandemic — he has emerged as a star without ever being surprised. He thought back to his debut 14 months ago and recalled being comfortable then. He tied for 14th. “There's a different sense of comfort now,” Morikawa said. Another big smile. A bright future......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 10th, 2020

Rahm s wild day ends with Memorial win and No. 1 ranking

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — The drama was more than Jon Rahm wanted. The result was what he always imagined. Rahm became the No. 1 player in the world Sunday with a victory in the Memorial in which he watched an eight-shot lead at the turn shrink to three shots with three holes to play, and then hit what he called the greatest shot of his life that turned into a bogey because of a penalty. All that mattered was that fist-bump — not a handshake — with Jack Nicklaus, and taking his place along his idol Seve Ballesteros as the only Spaniards to reach No. 1 in the world. With a two-shot penalty for his ball moving the length of a dimple on his chip-in behind the 16th green, Rahm closed with 3-over 75 for a three-shot victory over Ryan Palmer. Rahm got up-and-down on the final four greens, which made it feel even sweeter. “One of the best performances of my life,” Rahm said. “Yesterday was probably one of the best rounds of my life, and finished today with some clutch up-and-downs. As a Spaniard, I'm kind of glad it happened that way.” The fiery emotion is his hallmark. He showed it with a tee shot that sailed left into a creek on the 11th hole, Rahm slamming his club into the ground in a pique of anger. And it was evident with that ferocious fist-pump when his flop shot from deep rough behind the 16th green rolled into the cup. Birdie or bogey, it was a winner, a shot that would have made Ballesteros proud. “I still can't believe it, I'm not going to lie,” he told Nicklaus off the 18th green. With the penalty — Rahm had no idea it was an issue after his round, but accepted the penalty when he saw a video that zoomed in close on the ball — he finished at 9-under 279 for his 10th career victory, fourth on the PGA Tour. Muirfield Village played its toughest in 42 years, with only five players under par, the fewest for the final round since this tournament began in 1976. Rahm's 75 was the highest finish by a winner since Roger Maltbie shot 76 the inaugural year. The rough wasn't cut all week. The greens were allowed to go to the edge because they are being replaced. Crews already had stripped the entire fifth green as the leaders were on the back nine. Rahm looked to be playing a different course. He played bogey-free on the front nine with birdies on the two par 5s. That put him eight shots clear on his way to No. 1. And then he made bogey on the 10th. Not a problem. He yanked his tee shot into a creek on the par-5 11th, and that was a bigger problem based on how hard he slammed the club into the ground in a pique of anger. He made double bogey. Palmer made birdie on the 12th, and then Rahm made another bogey from the bunker on the 14th. Just like that, the lead was three shots. Only a week ago at Muirfield Village for the Workday Charity Open, Justin Thomas had a three-shot lead with three holes to play and wound up losing in a playoff to Collin Morikawa. Rahm was worried his tee shot might find the back bunker, though the rough was not a great option with how fast the greens were running. Rahm was thinking anything inside 10 feet would be good. This was perfect, the ball landing on the fringe and sliding down the slope into the cup. As for the penalty? “It doesn’t change the outcome of the tournament,” he said. “It just puts a little bit of an asterisk in it in the sense of I wish I could just keep that birdie because it was one of the greatest shots of my life, right?” The chip was similar — but from a different angle — to Tiger Woods chipping in from behind the 16th green when he won the Memorial for the fifth time in 2012. Woods, in his first competition since Feb. 16 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, shot 76 and tied for 40th. “Tough, tough conditions to start out my first week back, Thursday and Sunday,” Woods said. “But it was good to get the feel and the flow of competing again.” Matthew Fitzpatrick had a 68 for the low score of the final day to finish third. The consolation prize went to Palmer (74) and Mackenzie Hughes (72), who earned spots in the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in September as the leading two players from the top 10 who were not already eligible. Henrik Norlander could have taken the final spot with a par on the 18th, but he missed the fairway well to the right, couldn't reach the green and made bogey. Norlander and Hughes tied at 3-under 285, but the spot went to Hughes because he had the better world ranking. That ranking now starts with Rahm, who only four years ago was at the Memorial to receive the Jack Nicklaus Award as the nation's best college player. Now he's the best in the world, a ranking that McIlroy had since Feb. 9. “He deserves it,” McIlroy said after his tie for 32nd. “He's been playing great for a long time. Even the display this week, it's pretty impressive.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 20th, 2020

Birdie binge lifts McIlroy

MIAMI (AFP) — Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy made five consecutive birdies in his self-declared best round of the year to share the lead after Thursday’s start of the US PGA Arnold Palmer Invitational. The 31-year-old from Northern Ireland fired a six-under par 66 at Bay Hill in Orlando to share the lead with Canada’s […] The post Birdie binge lifts McIlroy appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsMar 6th, 2021

Palmer, English share lead at PGA Tournament of Champions

Ryan Palmer birdied six of the last seven holes to share the lead with fellow American Harris English after Saturday's third round of the US PGA Tournament of Champions......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJan 11th, 2021

A hot start for Woods in Boston, just not on the golf course

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer NORTON, Mass. (AP) — Tiger Woods got off to a hot start Thursday (Friday in the Philippines) before even hitting his first shot. The images of Woods on the practice range rubbing his upper back with a towel and placing a cold bottle of water on the back of his neck was alarming for someone who has endured four back surgeries. He said last month at the Memorial that he has days when his back doesn't feel right. This wasn't one of them. Woods had some heating oils applied to his upper back before teeing off in The Northern Trust, and they were a little spicy. He was rubbing off the excess and trying to cool it down with the water. Once he got on the TPC Boston, it took him a little more time to heat up. Woods didn't make a birdie until a two-putt on the par-5 18th hole as he made the turn, and then he ran off four birdies in a six-hole stretch on the front nine for a 3-under 68. That left him four shots out of the lead. “My lower back is used to it,” Woods said about the hot oils. "We do it all the time just so I can get loose. I decided to put some up on my neck, and it's not as tolerant as my lower back, so it gets awfully hot. It's common in pretty much every other sport, and especially hockey. Those guys put some pretty hot stuff on their legs, but you become accustomed to it. “My lower back is pretty immune to it,” he said. “But my neck is not.” His 68 was his lowest start since his last victory at the Zozo Championship in Japan, though it's a small sample size. Woods has played only five times since then. Having played only twice since the PGA Tour resumed in June, he has slipped to No. 49 in the FedEx Cup with a goal of being among the top 30 after two weeks so he can reach the Tour Championship. Woods went back to his old putter — slightly shorter than the one he used at Harding Park in the PGA Championship two weeks ago — and didn't have any good looks at birdie until he reached the par-5 18th in two. On the front nine, which played about a half-stroke easier, he had more chances and converted most of them. He made birdie on both par 3s, from 15 feet on No. 3 and from 6 feet below the cup on No. 8. “Whenever I gave myself a look, I made them,” he said. Both bogeys were set up by poor tee shots, one that hit a tree right of the 13th fairway and left him no shot at the green, and the other on his final hole at No. 9 when he went from the right rough to the shaggy collar of a bunker some 25 yards short of the green. Still, he made enough birdies over his last 10 holes to get going in the right direction. “Coming to a golf course I know helps,” said Woods, who has one victory and two runner-up finishes at the TPC Boston......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 21st, 2020

Dustin Johnson emerges from a pack to lead PGA Championship

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Dustin Johnson supplied the birdies, eight of them Saturday at the PGA Championship, the most he has ever made in his 157 rounds of major championship golf for a 5-under 65 and a one-shot lead. Brooks Koepka supplied the needle. Koepka recovered from three straight bogeys to salvage a 69 and stay within two shots of a leaderboard more crowded than any of San Francisco's congested highways. At stake is a chance to become only the seventh player to win the same major three straight times. He surveyed the cast of contenders, and focused on the guy at the top. “I like my chances,” Koepka said. “When I've been in this position before, I've capitalized. He's only won one. I'm playing good. I don't know, we'll see.” As he stepped away from the microphone, Koepka smiled and said to Jason Day, “How about that shade?” They laughed. Too bad this isn't a two-man show. The final round at Harding Park figures to be wide open, just like it was on a Saturday so wild that eight players had at least a share of the lead during the third round. Johnson lost his yardage book and still found his way through an enormous crowd of contenders. He made a double bogey on the ninth hole and still bounced back with a 31 on the tough, windy back nine. He needed all eight of those birdies on a day of low scores, long putts and endless possibilities. One possibility is Koepka hoisting the Wanamaker Trophy for the third straight year, which hasn’t happened since Walter Hagen won four in a row in the 1920s when it was match play. The last player to win any major three straight times was Peter Thomson at the British Open in 1956. Koepka was two shots behind on a board that features only two major champions among the top six. Scottie Scheffler, the PGA Tour rookie from Texas, ran off three straight birdies only to miss a 6-foot par putt on the final hole. He still shot a 65 and was one shot behind, in the final group at his first PGA Championship. Cameron Champ, who has the most powerful swing on tour, shot 67 and joined Scheffler one shot behind. Johnson was at 9-under 201 as he goes for his second major title. For all the chances he has had, this is only the second time he has led going into the final round. The other was down the coast at Pebble Beach, his first chance at winning a major. He had a three-shot lead in the 2010 U.S. Open and shot 82. Now he is more seasoned with experiences good (21 tour victories) and bad (five close calls in the majors). “I'm going to have to play good golf if I want to win. It's simple,” Johnson said. “I've got to hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens. If I can do that tomorrow, I'm going to have a good chance coming down the stretch. ... I'm just going to have to do what I did today. Just get it done." Among the cast of contenders are major champions like Koepka, Jason Day and Justin Rose, and fresh faces like Scheffler, Champ and Collin Morikawa. Also right there was Bryson DeChambeau, thanks to a 95-foot putt for birdie on his last hole. Turns out he can hit long putts, too. Missing from all this action is Tiger Woods, who didn't make a birdie until the 16th hole and is out of the mix for the fourth straight major since his emotional Masters victory last year. A dozen players were separated by three shots. Li Haotong, the first player from China to lead after any round at a major, was leading through 12 holes until his tee shot didn't come down from a tree. He made double bogey, dropped two more shots and finished four shots out of the lead. Johnson didn't have smooth sailing, either, especially when he couldn't find his yardage book. He thinks it slipped into the bottom of the golf bag, and he didn't feel like dumping his 14 clubs all over the ground to find it. Austin Johnson, his brother and caddie, had a spare yardage book. Johnson shot 65 even with a double bogey on the ninth hole. Mistakes like that might be more costly on Sunday with so many players in the mix. Even those who struggled — Rose, Daniel Berger, Tommy Fleetwood all settled for 70 — are only three shots behind. Adding to the drama will be the lack of atmosphere, this being the first major without spectators. Paul Casey said he still didn't feel nerves from the lack of people. Perhaps that helps with younger players in the hunt for the first time. It also could make it difficult for players to know what's happening around them without any cheers. Then again, Johnson won the U.S. Open in 2016 at Oakmont without knowing the score as the USGA tried to decide whether he should be penalized for a potential rules violation earlier in the round. He had to play the last seven holes without knowing his score. It's just one example of what Johnson has endured in the majors. There was a penalty that knocked him out of a playoff in the 2010 PGA at Whistling Straits for grounding his club in sand without realizing it was a bunker. He had a 12-foot eagle putt to win the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, only to three-putt for par and a silver medal. But he's back for another shot, and his game looks to be in order. He has the power, and on this day, he had the putting. “I definitely have experience in this situation that definitely will help tomorrow,” Johnson said. “I’ve been in the hunt a bunch of times in a major. I’ve got one major. ... Still going to have to go out and play really good golf.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 9th, 2020

Li at his best and builds early lead at PGA Championship

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Still young, often inconsistent, forever fearless, Li Haotong is capable of just about anything on a big stage in golf. He was at his best Friday in the PGA Championship. Three years after his 63 in the final round of the British Open, Li hit only four fairways at Harding Park and still managed a 5-under 65 that gave him the early lead and set the target for Jason Day, Brooks Koepka and Tiger Woods to chase. The 25-year-old from China capped a bogey-free round with his eighth straight par and was at 8-under 132, two shots ahead of Tommy Fleetwood of England among the early starters. Surprised? Depends on the day. “The last couple days, I've been pretty much all hit in the right spot,” Li said. Getting as much attention was the logo on his hat — WeChat, the Chinese social media company and one of his biggest sponsors. Li was in the spotlight at Harding Park one day after President Donald Trump signed executive orders on a vague ban of WeChat and TikTok in 45 days. Just as unclear was whether Li was aware of the development. “I don't know,” he said. “Who knows?” Li is a two-time winner on the European Tour, most recently in 2018 at the Dubai Desert Classic when he rallied down the stretch to beat Rory McIlroy by one shot. He was sensational at Royal Birkdale in 2017 — only five other players have 63 in the final round of a major. But he had a terrible week in his Presidents Cup debut at Royal Melbourne in December. When he first came to America, he made fast friends on the developmental tours with his constant laughter, engaging personality and aggressive play. “He's got the arsenal to take it low,” said Adam Scott, his teammate at Royal Melbourne. “But we don’t see that kind of consistency out of him, and that probably matches his personality a little bit. He’s young, though, and that’s the kind of golf he plays. He plays pretty much all guns blazing, and when it comes off, it’s really good.” And when it doesn't? He beat Koepka in the Match Play last year and reached the round of 16. But that was his last top 10 in America. And then there was the Presidents Cup. Li brought his trainer to be his caddie, and the caddie got lost on the course during a practice round, gave up and headed for the clubhouse. Instead of finding him, Li played the rest of the round out of another player's bag. International captain Ernie Els wound up benching him for two days, playing Li only when he had to. Li lost both matches he played. “It's been very tough on me, the Presidents Cup, because I didn't play until Saturday,” Li said. “So not quite in the Presidents that way, actually. But anyways, good experience.” Fleetwood had one of those final-round 63s in the majors two years ago at Shinnecock Hills in the U.S. Open. He had a 64 on Friday and was two shots behind at 134. Much like Li — maybe the only thing they have in common — it's been a slow start back. Fleetwood stayed in England during the pandemic, not returning to competition until Minnesota two weeks ago (he missed the cut). He also played a World Golf Championship last week with middling results, but he found his form in San Francisco. “It’s funny really, like when you’ve played poorly, you feel a long way off, and then you have a day like today and you obviously feel a lot better about it,” Fleetwood said. “I feel like I’ve prepared well last week and this week and felt way more in the groove of tournament golf.” Cameron Champ, who grew up in Sacramento, had a 64. He was three shots behind Li, along with Paul Casey (67). Brendon Todd, who shared the 18-hole lead with Day, settled for a 70 and joined them at 135. Li, who primarily plays the European Tour, went back to China in March when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down golf. He returned at the Memorial and missed the cut, and then tied for 75th in a 78-man field last week in Tennessee. “I didn't even (think) I could play like this ... got no confidence,” Li said. “Probably it helped me clear my mind a little bit.” He's wise enough to realize the tournament is not even at the halfway point. If the lead holds, Li would be the first player from China to hold the lead after any round of a major......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 8th, 2020

Column: The revolving door at No. 1 in the world ranking

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer Jon Rahm is the No. 1 player in the world. The best player in golf? That depends on the week. Webb Simpson looked to be tough to beat when he won the RBC Heritage, giving him two victories, a runner-up finish and a third place in his last six PGA Tour events. But then Dustin Johnson won the Travelers Championship, renewing conversations that when he puts in the time, no one has a greater package of talent. During his two weeks off, however, golf became obsessed with super-sized Bryson DeChambeau and his 200 mph ball speed that carried him to victory in Detroit, his seventh straight top 10. And then two days after DeChambeau took a 10 — ideal for gymnastics, not so much for golf — on the 15th hole at Muirfield Village to miss the cut, Rahm built an eight-shot lead at the turn and held on for a victory at the Memorial that sent him to No. 1 in the world. For how long? Longer than Tom Lehman, for sure. Of the 24 players who have been No. 1 since the world ranking began in 1986, Lehman was there the shortest time — one week. And just his luck, he took that week off, so he never even played a tournament at No. 1 in the world. Rory McIlroy, whom Rahm replaced at No. 1, and Justin Thomas can return to the top if they win the World Golf Championship this week in Memphis, Tennessee. At least that's easier to track than two weeks ago, when five players at the Memorial had a mathematical chance of reaching No. 1. Whether the reason is depth or parity, it's become a revolving door that doesn't appear to be stopping anytime soon. Brooks Koepka started the year at No. 1, and McIlroy took over in February. Rahm was asked Tuesday if he considered them the best players in the world while they were at No. 1, and if he looks at himself that way now. “I think nowadays it's really tough to determine one player,” Rahm said. "Because yeah, Brooks is having a hard year right now. He's not playing his best. But he has won four majors in the last few years. Rory played amazing last year. It's hard to dictate one player alone. But it would be foolish of me to say that I'm not here thinking I'm the best player. “And I think all the great players out there who have got to this point are playing like they believe they're the best player,” he said. “In golf, you need to prove that every week.” McIlroy and Johnson have done that better than anyone over the last decade. McIlroy has reached No. 1 on eight occasions for a total of 106 weeks. Johnson has been there five times for a total of 96 weeks. During their longest stretches — 64 weeks for Johnson, 54 weeks for McIlroy — there was little argument. With Tiger Woods, there was no argument. Not since Woods in 2009 has a player started and finished a year without surrendering the No. 1 ranking. It was the eighth time Woods did that. Consider the 281 consecutive weeks Woods was No. 1, from the 2005 U.S. Open until the 2010 HSBC Champions. In the last 281 weeks, No. 1 has changed hands 27 times. Phil Mickelson was never on that list, and Rahm was quick to point out that playing against Woods in his prime certainly didn't help Lefty's cause. “But it still doesn't take away from what I've done,” Rahm said. “Now at the same time, getting here, it's great. I played great golf the last four years. ... It's not only to get here. but to stay here, hopefully for a long time.” Of the previous 23 players to reach the top of the ranking, seven won in their debut at No. 1. The most recent was Johnson in 2017 at the Mexico Championship, his second of three straight wins. The most timely belonged to Adam Scott, who had three chances to reach No. 1 by winning, and then got there during a week off. He returned and won at Colonial. The best was Ian Woosnam. He got to No. 1 in 1991 and then won the Masters. It's just a number. Rahm understands the world ranking enough to realize it's a product of two years, not one week. He should be proud, just as the 23 others before him. Thomas reached No. 1 after The Players Championship in 2018 and didn't play until the Memorial. He conceded to feeling a little different. “I just remember being a little more nervous because it's like all eyes are on you, and you're the best player in the world, so you feel like you should kind of play up to that,” he said. He tied for eighth. It could have been worse. Jordan Spieth missed the cut in his debut at No. 1. Adding to the volatility of the No. 1 ranking is the strength of the fields, which have been loaded with the world's best players since the restart and will remain strong with this World Golf Championship, the PGA Championship, the FedEx Cup playoffs and then the U.S. Open, all in the next two months. Getting to No. 1 is hard work. These days, staying there might be even harder......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 29th, 2020

Rusty Woods five shots adrift as Finau leads Memorial

Los Angeles, United States | Tiger Woods showed signs of his five-month layoff Thursday, his one-under-par 71 putting him five strokes behind first-round leader Tony Finau at the Memorial Tournament......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJul 17th, 2020

Morikawa builds big lead at Muirfield Village before storms

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Among the lessons Collin Morikawa took away from missing his first cut as a pro was that his reliable cut shot had left him. He found at it Muirfield Village, and suddenly looks as though he'll be tough to catch at the Workday Charity Open. Morikawa ran off four straight birdies after making the turn Friday, finished with another birdie and shot 6-under 66 to build a four-shot lead over Sam Burns (66) in the storm-delayed tournament. His 13-under 131 was one shot off the course record set by Jason Dufner in 2017 at the Memorial. The Workday Charity Open, which replaces the canceled John Deere Classic for this year only, has been set up a little easier than it will be for the Memorial next year, with slightly slower greens and rough that isn't quite as high or thick. Morikawa is still playing a different brand of golf than anyone else. Through two rounds, he has 15 birdies and an eagle. His four bogeys have come from silly mistakes that are bound to happen. Ian Poulter, back at Muirfield Village for the first time since 2009 because of a reconfigured schedule brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, had a 69 and joined Chase Seiffert (69) at 7-under 137. The second round had a pair of 75-minute delays because of the rumbling thunder and lightning that seems to appear whenever the PGA Tour is at Muirfield Village. “Who knows who's going to take it deep today?” Morikawa said. “Whether I have the lead or not, I've got to go into the weekend feeling like I've got to make the same amount of birdies I have the past two days. I feel like there’s a lot of birdies out there for me especially, the way I’ve been hitting it.” Morikawa, who turned pro just over a year ago after graduating from Cal, is making his debut at the course Jack Nicklaus built, and perhaps it's no coincidence that Nicklaus was famous for hitting a cut. “I had heard from a lot of people before, this course was going to suit a left-to-right shot, anyway,” Morikawa said. “Obviously, Jack hit that, and I think it does. But I’ve been able to leave myself some really good numbers into approach shots. I’ve been keeping myself in the fairway for the most part, and that obviously helps.” Among those playing in the afternoon, Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka first had to worry about making the cut after sluggish starts. Koepka started at 2 over. Rahm was at even par. Phil Mickelson had another exciting day, minus the meltdown at the end of his round. He opened by chipping in for birdie and making a 12-foot eagle putt. With the tee moved forward on the 14th hole, the par 4 guarded by a pond right of the green, he hit driver to 10 feet and had to settle for birdie. And right before the first batch of storms arrived, Mickelson felt the wind shift and get stronger, so he took driver on the par-5 fifth and whaled away over the trees and just inside backyard fences. It settled in the rough, but it left him only 114 yards away and a pitching wedge to the green. The speed of the greens fooled him, and he repeatedly left putts short. Even so, he managed to post a reasonable number. Jordan Spieth wasn't as fortunate. He took double bogey on his 17th hole, the par-3 eighth, and was likely to miss the cut. Morikawa had made 22 cuts in a row to start his pro career, a streak that ended two weeks ago at the Travelers Championship. That was three short of the streak Tiger Woods put together when he turned pro. But the 23-year-old Californian was more interested in low scores than simply getting in four rounds and a pay check. “At the end of the day, you’re out there to win tournaments,” he said. “If you miss the cut, make it by whatever, you just want to learn from each week. And like I said, I learned a lot from those two days missing the cut than I have in a lot of events so far when I’ve been finishing whatever." This one caused him to take a closer look at what was lacking in his game, instead of being reasonably content with a solid finish. “I think sometimes when something really doesn’t go your way, like missing a cut, it just stands out a little more,” he said. Somewhere along the way, he couldn't rely on his cut shot, allowing him to aim some 6 yards left of his target and fade it toward the pin, no matter where it was located. It was after his practice round Wednesday that he figured out what was missing, and he went back to an old drill of sticking his glove under his left arm. It's a rotational drill, and it paid off. He had to wait until the storms to see if anyone could catch him, with the second round not likely to end until Saturday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 11th, 2020

Morikawa back from missed cut with strong debut at Muirfield

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Collin Morikawa didn't get rattled by his first missed cut as a pro or his first time playing Muirfield Village. Morikawa finally had a forced weekend off two weeks ago after 22 consecutive cuts to start his PGA Tour career, three short of the standard set by Tiger Woods. He bounced back Thursday in the Workday Charity Open with a 7-under 65 for a one-shot lead over Adam Hadwin. It was a quiet day of work, typical for the PGA Tour with no spectators allowed in the return from the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. It was never more evident at Muirfield Village, which typically has enough fans to frame just about every hole. Morikawa goes about his work quietly in any circumstances, and he was dialed in from the start of a relatively calm and steamy afternoon on the course Jack Nicklaus built. His shot into the par-5 fifth settled 3 feet away for eagle. All but one of his birdie putts was inside 12 feet. The only setback was a bogey from the fairway on the 18th. “It's a beautiful track. It’s a very tough course, obviously, but you just have to map your way around it,” Morikawa said. “You've got to be really smart. If you’re not in the fairway, you’ve got to make sure you play smart. I was playing smart but I felt good with my irons, so I was able to attack some pins when they were accessible.” He liked it so much that Morikawa is even more excited about spending two weeks at Muirfield Village. For the first time in 63 years, the PGA Tour will have tournaments on the same course in consecutive weeks. The Workday Charity Open fills a void this year for the John Deere Classic, which decided to cancel without being able to have spectators, a pro-am or corporate hospitality. The second week at Muirfield Village — the Memorial — was supposed to be the first with fans since the PGA Tour returned June 11. That plan was scrapped at the last minute and it was clear how much work went into it. There were signs for spectator parking along the streets outside the club. Concession and hospitality tents were a few days away from being completed. There was no point taking them down, because sound travels when no one is around. Rory Sabbatini found out the hard way. He was at the top of his swing for his opening tee shot when a volunteer some 80 yards away laughed in conversation. Sabbatini flinched, sent his drive well to the right and he stood looking at the volunteer, too far away to realize what had happened. Jon Rahm was in a perilous spot in juicy rough left of the 14th green, facing a downhill chip toward the water. He took a full swing for a flop shot, it came out softly and raced down the green and into the cup for a birdie. That hole — that shot — is best known for when Tiger Woods chipped in for par on his way to victory in 1999. Rahm was a 4-year-old in Spain at the time, but apparently he has seen enough video of the shot that as he stood to the side of the green, he smiled and said of the empty theater, “Just like when Tiger did it.” Phil Mickelson made plenty of noise, at least for nine holes. Lefty was 4 under at the turn and narrowly missed a 10-foot birdie chance on the 11th. He made bogey from the bunker. He missed a 5-foot par. He needed two chips from 25 feet to get on the 14th green. He hit in the water for double bogey on the 16th. He shot 41 on the back for a 73. Brooks Koepka played for the first time since withdrawing from the Travelers Championship two weeks ago after his caddie tested positive for the coronavirus. He used PGA Tour winner Marc Turnesa as a caddie for this week, which might be a short week. Koepka opened with a 74. Most of the good scoring came in the morning. Hadwin had five birdies over his last eight holes for a 66. Nick Taylor, a new father who chose to stay home in Canada for an extra month after the tour resumed, had an eagle at No. 11 and kept bogeys off his card for a 67. He was joined by past Muirfield Village winner Hideki Matsuyama. Keegan Bradley had a 69 and was among 35 players who shot in the 60s. One shot summed up the environment at PGA Tour events at the moment. He hit a 6-iron on the par-3 fourth hole for an ace, and didn't even know it. “There was probably five or six people up by the green, and no one did anything,” Bradley said. “We walked up to the green, I fixed my ball mark. I'm looking all over the green for it. And someone just goes, ‘It’s in the hole,' like really casually. It was just bizarre.” And it will be that way for two weeks......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 10th, 2020

Column: Johnson back to winning now after brief knee concern

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer It only looks as though Dustin Johnson barely has a pulse on the golf course. One moment made him a little nervous. It wasn't the tee shot that rolled toward the railroad tracks and barely crossed the out-of-bounds line, right after he had taken a two-shot lead in the final round of the Travelers Championship. It wasn't even the tee shot two holes later that was headed for the water until it landed softly enough to stay dry, even though his feet got wet hitting the next one. That's just golf. Good or bad, he moves on. No one has a shorter memory. What caused concern was his knee. Johnson missed three months at the end of last year recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to repair cartilage damage. He lost another three months when golf shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. And then as he worked overtime getting ready to resume, the knee started acting up. He called his partner, Paulina Gretzky, on the Tuesday before the Colonial and said he was coming home. The next day the knee felt better, so he stuck it out and missed the cut. “I was nervous,” Johnson said Tuesday. “I had an MRI when I got home, and everything with my surgery had healed great. It was just a strained tendon.” Whether it was time away from golf and then an abundance of practice, Johnson isn't sure. “Obviously,” he said, “everything is better now.” Johnson won the Travelers Championship for his 22nd victory worldwide, ending a drought of 490 days that matched the longest of his career. It was more exciting than it needed to be, which often is the case with his entertaining brand of golf. After going out of bounds on the 13th, he answered with a 15-foot birdie putt and then got a rare break for him — Johnson's ledger remains heavily skewed toward misfortune on the course — when his ball stayed out of the water. One victory doesn't always signal he's on his way. One shot did it for Butch Harmon, his swing coach who was watching from Las Vegas. With a one-shot lead playing the 18th, Johnson smoked his driver 351 yards, setting up a flip wedge and two putts for the win. “He was leaking oil a little on the back nine,” Harmon said. “His bounce-back is incredible. But the key to me was knowing he had to drive it well on 18. I told him when I talked to him later, that was the part I appreciated the most. Yeah, that was just like Oakmont.” The drive on the daunting closing hole at Oakmont in Pennsylvania, reputed to be the toughest course in America, is what Johnson considers one of the signature shots of his career. It sealed his victory at the 2016 U.S. Open, which remains his only major title. Johnson turned 36 last week. There is still plenty of time to fix the one area of his resume that — with his talent — is sorely lacking. What also got Harmon's attention was where Johnson won. The TPC Riverland Highlands in Connecticut is a par 70 at 6,841 yards, hardly known as a course for big hitters. Johnson played the two par 5s in just 2 under for the week and still shot 19-under 261, his sixth straight victory with a score of 19 under or better. His 22 victories have come on 18 courses. He has won at sea level (Doral) and mile-high altitude (Mexico City). He has won on courses that reward power (Crooked Stick) and shot-making (Riviera). Pebble Beach; the TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee; Kapalua and Chapultepec in Mexico City are the only courses where he has won twice. Johnson wasn't aware of this. “I think it shows my game is suitable for any course,” he said. “I like a variety of golf courses. And a lot of these courses that I didn't like then, I've grown to like now.” He paused before adding with a laugh, “And I wasn't hitting it as straight.” If there are “horses for courses,” this might make him mostly a thoroughbred. He's not alone in that department, of course. Rory McIlroy, the current No. 1 player in golf, has won 26 times on 22 courses around the world, with his only repeat victories at Quail Hollow, TPC Boston and both courses in Dubai (Emirates and Jumeirah Estates). Ditto for Tiger Woods, even if it doesn't seem that way. Woods has eight victories at Torrey Pines, Firestone and Bay Hill. He has five victories at Augusta National, Muirfield Village and Cog Hill. They are among 19 courses where he has won multiple times. That's mainly because Woods wins a lot. Phil Mickelson has 47 wins worldwide on 25 courses, with multiple wins on 14 courses. “Being able to adapt is a huge deal, play on different golf courses,” Bryson DeChambeau said. “That's what I'm trying to learn how to do. I think that will happen down the road if I just keep playing good golf, but being able to adapt in different situations and play in different conditions, win everywhere, is pretty impressive." When he's on his game, when he's healthy, Johnson is as impressive as anyone. A winner again, he plans to spend two weeks at home in Florida before returning for the Memorial. He hasn't won there yet......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 1st, 2020

4-way tie for lead at Heritage as another wild finish looms

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — The PGA Tour's return to competition has brought together the strongest fields of the year on courses that have not been overly punishing, and the result is the same. It's another free-for-all at the RBC Heritage. Webb Simpson practically had to apologize for a 3-under 68, in which he managed just one birdie on the back nine. He was part of a four-way tie for the lead, and that was good enough for him. He also knows good probably won't cut it Sunday at Harbour Town,. “It's not like I've got a three- or four-shot lead and could shoot a couple under,” he said. “It's going to take a good one.” Tyrrell Hatton had one of six rounds at 63, giving the 28-year-old from England a share of the lead as he goes for his second straight victory, albeit three months apart because of the shutdown from the COVID-19 pandemic. Abraham Ancer, so solid with his irons, had a 65 and joined the lead along with Ryan Palmer, who had a 66. They were at 15-under 198, a number that didn't even start to explain the low scoring. Even with Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele sputtering to 75s, the field was 223-under par, the lowest for any round since the RBC Heritage began in 1969. There were 35 players at 10 under or better, compared with only one player (Dustin Johnson) a year ago. The previous mark was seven players at double digits under par through 54 holes. Most telling were the opportunities on Sunday. There were 21 players separated by just three shots going into the final round. A week ago at Colonial, there were 14 players separated by three shots. “I think the fields have been extremely strong,” Ancer said. “Everybody out here was just eager to come out and play. Thre greens are a little bit soft, especially this week, and the ball isn't really rolling out as much as you're used to on the greens and on the fairways. That's yielding a little bit more birdies, for sure." Carlos Ortiz, who started this tournament with two double bogeys after playing only five holes, suddenly has a chance to grab his first PGA Tour victory after two eagles in a round of 63. He was one shot behind, along with Colonial winner Daniel Berger and Joel Dahmen, both with 63s. And there was more testing than usual. Players and caddies on the charter flight to Connecticut for next week's event had to take a saliva test Saturday for the coronavirus before they can get on the plane. Eleven others had testing Friday night because they were deemed to have been in close contact with Nick Watney, whose positive test on Friday was the first in golf's return. Among them was Sergio Garcia, who flew with Watney from Austin, Texas. The initial test was negative. Garcia was nervous as he waited for the result, though not so nervous he couldn't put down a 65 to join the chase. He was two shots behind, along with Ian Poulter and Joaquin Niemann. Bryson DeChambeau, starting the day one shot behind, hit his approach into the par-5 second in the trees and it never came down. He has added 40 pounds of mass, still not enough to uproot the tree and shake it loose. That led to a bogey, and more damaging was no birdies on the back nine for a 70. Even so, he remained three shots behind in a group that included Johnson, who birdied three of his last four holes to go from around the middle of the pack to 12-under 201, three shots behind and very much in the picture. That's all it took Saturday, and it likely won't be any different in the final round. Brooks Koepka quietly posted a 68 and was in the group three shots behind. Chalk it up to June, a new date for the RBC Heritage because of the pandemic. The tournament usually is the week after the Masters in April, when the temperature is slightly cooler, the greens are firmer and the rye grass hasn't been taken over by Bermuda. It's soft. And these are the best players in the world, all of them eager to get going again. “Because we're not at a major championship-style golf course last week or this week, where you're going to have separation because of bad scores, I think that's probably why,” Simpson said when asked to explain the bunched score. Perhaps that explains why Justin Thomas called it “the worst 66 I've ever shot in my life.” Hatton has won back-to-back before in his career, under entirely different circumstances. In 2017, he won in Scotland and Italy in consecutive weeks. Now he goes after two in a row three months apart, having won at Bay Hill in March before the pandemic shut down sports. It apparently wasn't long enough for anyone to accumulate much rush. “I think we’ve all had enough notice to try and get ready to play tournaments again,” said Hatton, who rented a house in Orlando, Florida, during the stay-at-home mandate. “So it’s not massively surprising to see guys playing as well as they are, and hopefully the guys at home are enjoying it, watching on TV.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 21st, 2020

Birdies galore at Hilton Head, and Spieth needed them badly

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer The RBC Heritage began two month later than usual with a little rain, a little sunshine and a lot of birdies, most of them from Jordan Spieth to turn a rough start into a furious finish. Ian Poulter holed a 30-foot birdie putt and followed with a 5-iron to 4 feet for a birdie that closed out his round of 7-under 64, giving him a share of the lead Thursday with Mark Hubbard at Hilton Head. “I've always loved coming here to play golf,” said Poulter, and he has plenty of company this year. The RBC Heritage, typically a week after the Masters in April, is the second tournament since the PGA Tour returned after 90 days from the COVID-19 pandemic. The top three players in the world are at Hilton Head — Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas — and none broke par on a day in which 66 players in the 151-man field shot in the 60s. A year ago, only 38 players in the 132-man field opened with rounds in the 60s. Spieth wouldn't have guessed he would be one of them after a tee shot what was 5 yards right of the 12th fairway hit a tree and didn't stop rolling until it was out-of-bounds. He made triple bogey and was 3 over through three holes. “All of a sudden, I’m 3 over through three, and you start to see guys going 2 under through two, 2 under through three early,” Spieth said. “It’s not a great feeling.” Determined to at least try to get under par for his round, Spieth had a career-best six straight birdies on his back nine and finished with seven birdies over his last eight holes for a 66. Poulter and Hubbard, who started birdie-eagle, were a shot ahead of a group that included Webb Simpson, Ryan Palmer and Viktor Hovland, Colonial winner Daniel Berger, Brooks Koepka, Ernie Els and that incredible bulk, Bryson DeChambeau, were in the large group at 67. DeChambeau, who added some 40 pounds of mass to increase his swing speed, was hammering shots over the range during practice earlier in the week. He had to tone it down on the tight, tree-lined Harbour Town Golf Links. “I couldn’t unleash the Kraken today,” DeChambeau said, a student of physics and Scandinavian folklore. “It was just too tight out there. The wind was swirling all day, and I couldn’t feel comfortable to give it a good whack, but I was still able to manage keeping it mostly in the fairway.” Dustin Johnson was poised to make a move until hit into the water on the par-3 14th and compounding the error with a three-putt triple bogey. He still managed a 68. It was the first PGA Tour with spectators on the property, just not on the golf course with tickets. Harbour Town is lined with vacation homes, villas and townhouses, and plenty of people spilled onto their decks and into their yards to watch. The tour has ropes to line the fairway. This year, they put up ropes to line the yards to keep people from coming all the way onto the course. One family had a sign up for Spieth as he walked along the eighth fairway, one of only two holes on the front nine where he failed to make birdie. That shot out-of-bounds had all markings of bad breaks he has seen too often during three winless years. With a provisional tee shot in the fairway, Spieth went over to look at the trees, and then some 20 yards to the right at his original tee shot nestled in the pine straw. And then he three-putted. Instead of getting down, he told caddie Michael Greller on the next tee, “That's over. Le'ts get four (birdies) today and shoot under par.” “I ended up getting a few more than that,” he said. Just like last week's opening round at Colonial, he got hot on his back nine. The streak began with an 8-foot putt on the par-5 second hole, and included a 7-iron to 4 feet to a left pin near the water on the par-3 fourth. He was on such a roll that Spieth began to contemplate eight straight birdies to end his round. But he saw enough mud on his ball from the fairway on No. 8 that he played conservatively to 30 feet, and then finished with another short birdie. McIlroy and Thomas, who both had chances to win going into the final round at Colonial last year, had 72. Rahm had a 71. For McIlroy, it was the first time since the ZoZo Championship in Japan in late October that he was over par after the first round. Rory McIlroy was among those who struggled, and only a pair of birdies on the back nine kept it from being worse. He opened with a 72. That ended a streak of seven straight tournaments in which he broke par in the opening round dating to the ZoZo Championship in Japan last October. “I'm sort of missing my 3-wood left and missing my driver right,” McIlroy said. “If you’re in any way like in two minds what to do off the tees around here and get a little bit sort of guidey, it can bite you.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 19th, 2020

Korda shares Women s British Open lead with Sagstrom, Kim; Saso one behind

Nelly Korda lived up to her tag of world number one by taking a share of the first-round lead in the Women's British Open alongside South Korea's Kim Sei-young and Swede Madelene Sagstrom at Carnoustie on Thursday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsAug 20th, 2021

Tolentino delivers for Choco

Kat Tolentino unleashed her best game thus far as Choco Mucho survived a pesky Bali Pure, 25-23, 23-25, 25-13, 25-21, yesterday to seize a share of the lead with Creamline in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference at the PCV Socio-Civic & Cultural Center here......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJul 30th, 2021