Allen's U.S. Sr. Open lead shrinks to 2 over Perry, Funk

By Associated PressJuly 13, 2013, 10:08 pm

OMAHA, Neb. – Kenny Perry went for broke, and now he is back in contention for a second straight win in a senior major.

Perry shot a 6-under-par 64 at the Omaha Country Club on Saturday and, along with Fred Funk, will go into the final round of the U.S. Senior Open two shots behind leader Michael Allen.

Perry, who was 10 shots off the lead after a 73 on Friday, figured he would need to halve the deficit to have a chance Sunday. He posted nines of 32-32 and got some help from Allen, who went from 63 on Friday to 72 on Saturday and was at 8-under 202.


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''I was in that rocking-chair seat,'' Perry said. ''I was in a very aggressive mode, where if I go out and play great today, I've got a chance to move my way up the leaderboard. Or if I don't play any good, it's OK, too.''

It looked as if Funk, the 2009 champion, might fade after taking a double bogey on No. 10. But he birdied the last two holes for a 67, rolling in a 35-foot putt on the 18th. Suddenly, he was right back in the tournament, too.

''To make that putt on 18 was a bonus,'' Funk said. ''Having that good finish was great. At least it kept me in the game.''

Allen, a journeyman on the regular tour and a four-time winner since joining the senior tour in 2009, started with a 5-shot lead – the largest after 36 holes in the tournament's 34-year history.

He went out in even-par 35, but he bogeyed three holes on the back nine and came in with a 37.

''Obviously, yesterday was a lot of fun. I made a lot of birdies and very few bogeys,'' Allen said. ''Today I had a few more bads than goods, but it's fun. It's nice to be in the lead. If you'd have given me a two-shot lead to start the week, I would have been pretty thrilled to have it, I'm sure.''

The 54-year-old Allen has been playing through neck pain. He rubbed the right side of his neck Saturday as he walked up the last two fairways. He saved par on the 17th but bogeyed No. 18 to set the stage for a dramatic finish.

''For a guy who's never had an injury, this has kind of been interesting for me, to see what guys have to go through,'' Allen said. ''I'm trying to get through it. It's still tight.''

Rocco Mediate, who was Allen's closest pursuer at the tournament's midway point, had bogeys on four of five holes in the middle of his round and sat five shots off the lead after a 72.

Perry, who won the Senior Players Championship two weeks ago, matched Corey Pavin for low round of the day.

''I birdied the first two holes right out of the gate, kind of set the tone for the day, and it was foot to the floor,'' Perry said. ''I was trying to birdie every hole out there, and I had so many great opportunities. I mean, I played a phenomenal day. It could have been 59.''

Perry started his push with an eagle on the par-5 sixth hole, leaving himself only 155 yards to the hole after his drive. From there he hit a 9-iron to tap-in range.

He was the only golfer to birdie the 501-yard, par-4 10th. He drove into the rough but recovered with a pitching wedge to 20 feet. He birdied the par-3 16th and the 297-yard, par-4 17th to get to 6 under for the tournament.

Perry hopes the heavy lifting was done Saturday and that he won't have to go as low Sunday.

''But if you do shoot that round,'' he said, ''you'll win the tournament.''

Pavin, who tied for second last year, bounced back from a 73 and was lurking two shots behind Perry and Funk and four behind Allen.

''When the USGA sets up the golf course, funny things can happen on Sunday,'' Pavin said. ''I've seen it time and time again. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't where guys come back. Probably going to need a little help, but we'll see what happens out there with how Michael plays.''

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Stock Watch: Spieth searching for putting form

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:50 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Patton Kizzire (+8%): By today’s accelerated standards, he’s a late bloomer, having reached the Tour at age 29. Well, he seems right at home now, with two wins in his last four starts.

Rory (+7%): Coming off the longest break of his career, McIlroy should have no excuses this year. He’s healthy. Focused. Motivated. It’s go time.

Chris Paisley (+5%): The best part about his breakthrough European Tour title that netted him $192,000? With his wife, Keri, on the bag, he doesn’t have to cut 10 percent to his caddie – she gets the whole thing.

Brooke Henderson (+3%): A seventh-place finish at the Diamond Resorts Invitational doesn’t sound like much for a five-time winner, but this came against the men – on a cold, wet, windy, 6,700-yard track. She might be the most fun player to watch on the LPGA. 

New European Ryder Cuppers (+2%): In something of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal, newcomers Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton each went undefeated in leading Europe to a come-from-behind victory at the EurAsia Cup. The competition come September will be, um, a bit stiffer.



FALLING

Jordan’s putting (-1%): You can sense his frustration in interviews, and why not? In two starts he leads the Tour in greens in regulation … and ranks 201st (!) in putting. Here’s guessing he doesn’t finish the year there.

Brian Harman’s 2018 Sundays (-2%): The diminutive left-hander now has five consecutive top-10s, and he’s rocketing up the Ryder Cup standings, but you can’t help but wonder how much better the start to his year might have been. In the final pairing each of the past two weeks, he’s a combined 1 under in those rounds and wasn’t much of a factor.

Tom Hoge (-3%): Leading by one and on the brink of a life-changing victory – he hadn’t been able to keep his card each of the past three years – Hoge made an absolute mess of the 16th, taking double bogey despite having just 156 yards for his approach. At least now he’s on track to make the playoffs for the first time.

Predicting James Hahn’s form (-4%): OK, we give up: He’d gone 17 events without a top-15 before his win at Riviera; 12 before his win at Quail Hollow; and seven before he lost on the sixth playoff hole at Waialae. The margins between mediocre play and winning apparently are THAT small.

Barnrat (-5%): Coming in hot with four consecutive top-10s, and one of only two team members ranked inside the top 50 in the world, Kiradech Aphibarnrat didn’t show up at the EurAsia Cup, going 0-3 for the week. In hindsight, the Asian team had no chance without his contributions. 

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Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

“I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

“If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”


Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)


Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

“He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

"I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”

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McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:18 pm

The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.

McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.” 

And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.

“I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.” 

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Floodlights may be used at Dubai Desert Classic

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 12:44 pm

No round at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic will be suspended because of darkness.

Tournament officials have installed state-of-the-art floodlighting around the ninth and 18th greens to ensure that all 132 players can finish their round.

With the event being moved up a week in the schedule, the European Tour was initially concerned about the amount of daylight and trimmed the field to 126 players. Playing under the lights fixed that dilemma.

“This is a wonderful idea and fits perfectly with our desire to bring innovation to our sport,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “No professional golfer ever wants to come back the following morning to complete a round due to lack of daylight, and this intervention, should it be required, will rule out that necessity.”

Next week’s headliners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson.