Campbell Blows in Masters Lead

By Associated PressApril 7, 2006, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- There's no mistaking this place for Augusta National.
 
Azaleas are bursting with pink, white and purple blooms. The wind swirls down at Amen Corner, turning good shots into bogeys or worse, and Rae's Creek is as scary as ever.
 
Chad Campbell
Chad Campbell is in search of his first major championship victory.
Everything else about this Masters, however, is starting to resemble the U.S. Open.
 
Chad Campbell kept his mistakes to a minimum in Friday's second round, turning three straight birdies into a 5-under 67 and taking a three-shot lead over Vijay Singh, Fred Couples and Rocco Mediate.
 
'I don't think there's anything to celebrate yet,' said Campbell, who was at 6-under 138. 'I haven't really accomplished much yet. We're only halfway through.'
 
Campbell's birdie run through the back nine was about the only thing resembling a charge that typically defines this major. Everyone else was hanging on, happy with par, trying to survive what is shaping up as the toughest test in golf.
 
Just like so many U.S. Opens, the goal was to keep the ball in play off the tee and go from there.
 
'You play away from flags here like you do at U.S. Opens,' Ernie Els, who has won the Open twice, said after his second straight 71. 'The only difference is the rough is not as high. Give that some time.'
 
And as Els looked ahead to a weekend in which 15 players were within five shots of the lead -- including defending champion Tiger Woods -- he expected something else that reminds him of that other major held in June.
 
'You don't want to get too aggressive here at the moment, the way the golf course is playing,' he said. 'I can see a lot of backtracking over the weekend at some stages in this tournament.'
 
For now, much depends on Campbell.
 
He is a khakis-and-a-white-shirt player in an arena of dogwoods and magnolias, a prototype U.S. Open golfer who digs shots out of the dirt. The firm, crusty conditions over two days has shortened this beefy course and helped medium-length hitters like Campbell, who once described his driving distance in relation to a steak -- medium, left on the grill two extra minutes.
 
Campbell began his surge at Amen Corner, holing a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-3 12th that drew virtually no applause. He laid up on the par-5 13th and made a 10-foot birdie, then hit a 9-iron to a back pin on the 14th that stopped 6 feet away. His final birdie, a 15-foot putt that swirled into the hole, gave him a comfortable margin.
 
But as so many others learned, no lead is safe.
 
Singh birdied two of his first three holes and appeared to be in command until hitting two shots he thought were perfect. A 6-iron went over the fourth green and into the bushes, and a 7-iron went over the fifth green into a bunker. Singh made double bogey on both holes, and the gallery gasped as it watched him tumble down the leaderboard.
 
For good measure, Singh found Rae's Creek on the 13th for another double bogey. He wound up with a 74, bruised but not out of it.
 
'I don't think I've ever had back-to-back doubles for a long, long time,' Singh said. 'I'm happy that I hung in there. I didn't give up. I cannot win the tournament today. I just made sure I wasn't going to lose too many shots.'
 
Fred Couples, who has never missed a cut at the Masters, was poised to join Campbell in the lead until his second shot in the par-5 15th came up short and rolled back into the water. He managed a 70, while Mediate ground out a 73.
 
Mediate has been struggling on the PGA Tour, but got into the Masters because he tied for sixth last year in the U.S. Open. Clearly, he likes this kind of golf.
 
Phil Mickelson
It wasn't all smiles for Phil Mickelson Friday, as he had four bogeys to go along with four birdies.
'I hit a few good-looking shots that turned out horrible,' Mediate said. 'Just to be in this position to have a shot, that's all I can ask for. It's the ultimate examination, this golf course.'
 
It proved plenty tough for Woods again, although he was very much in the picture. He made short work of the par 5s on the back nine, two-putting for birdie on both of them, but was disgusted by missing birdie putts of 8 feet on the 16th and 18th holes that could have brought him closer to the lead.
 
Instead, he was at 1-under 143 and in a group that included two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen (73) and Ben Crenshaw, the two-time Masters champion who shot 72. At age 54, he's wondering when his improbable run is going to end.
 
'I'm in contention, so it's a good spot,' Woods said.
 
The group at 2-under 142 included Els, Darren Clarke (70), Tim Clark of South Africa (72), David Howell of England (71) and former Masters champion Phil Mickelson, who kept his round together with clutch par saves, but failed to shoot up the leaderboard by missing putts after spectacular shots.
 
His best one might have been for bogey.
 
Mickelson posed over a 6-iron into the back right hole location on the 11th, only to feel the wind shift on his face -- switching from left to right -- enough to gently push his ball into the water. From behind the pond, he fired a long chip that stopped 6 feet from the hole and enabled him to escape with only a bogey.
 
He traded birdies and bogeys the rest of the way in his round of 72.
 
'I would not say it resembles the U.S. Open because the rough isn't rough -- it's first cut,' Mickelson said, referring to the grass that grows just under two inches. 'But the penalty for a missed tee shot on a number of holes now is U.S. Open-type penalties.'
 
The leaderboard might be the best indicator.
 
Even with Campbell ahead by three shots, this Masters appears to be wide open with some of the strongest games in golf -- from Singh to Mickelson to Els to Woods to Goosen, all members of the so-called Big Five.
 
The only thing that could transfer Augusta National back to its old self is rain, and there is a chance for that Saturday.
 
'Unless we get rain to soften it up, if it's windy then 2 or 3 under might not win,' Couples said.
 
Perhaps no one is more desperate to wear a green jacket than Els, who has been runner-up twice at Augusta National since 2000, and is still smarting from losing a duel to Mickelson two years ago. He closed with 67 in 2004; he was happy with 71-71 this year.
 
'I've just got to try and sneak something into the 60s over the weekend and see what happens,' Els said. 'At least I know you don't have to try and shoot 65 to win.'
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - 70th Masters Tournament
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  • Thompson wins Race, loses tournament after short miss

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 8:52 pm

    The drama went down to the very last hole in the LPGA's final event of 2017. Here's how things ended up at the CME Group Tour Championship, where a surprising miss from Lexi Thompson opened the door for Ariya Jutanugarn to win in dramatic fashion:

    Leaderboard: Ariya Jutanugarn (-15), Lexi Thompson (-14), Jessica Korda (-14), Pernilla Lindberg (-13), Eun-Hee Ji (-13)

    What it means: There were scenarios aplenty entering the final round, with nearly every season-long accolade still hanging in the balance. Thompson appeared set to take them all as she sized up a 2-foot par putt on the final hole - a stroke that looked like it would take her to world No. 1 for the first time. Instead, the putt barely touched the hole and allowed Jutanugarn to rally to victory with birdies on the closing two holes. Thompson still took home $1 million for winning the season-long Race to the CME Globe, as it was a reverse scenario from last year when Jutanugarn won the $1 million but not the final tournament.

    Round of the day: Sei Young Kim made the day's biggest charge, turning in a 6-under 66 to close the week in a share of 11th at 10 under. Kim made eight birdies during the final round, including five over her first eight holes en route to her lowest round of the week while erasing a third-round 75.

    Best of the rest: Jutanugarn seemed like an afterthought as the tournament was winding down, but she kept her hopes alive with an 18-foot birdie on No. 17 and then capitalized on Thompson's mistake with a clutch birdie on the difficult final hole. It capped off a final-round 67 for the Thai who now ends what has been a tumultuous season with a smile on her face.

    Biggest disappointment: Thompson faced heartbreak after the penalty-shrouded ANA Inspiration, and she again must handle a setback after essentially missing a tap-in with everything on the line. Thompson can enjoy a $1 million consolation prize along with the Vare Trophy, but a tournament win would have clinched Player of the Year honors as well as her first-ever trip to world No. 1. Instead, she now has the entire off-season to think about how things went awry from close range.

    Shot of the day: There were only three birdies on No. 18 during the final round before Jutanugarn laced one down the fairway and hit a deft approach to 15 feet. The subsequent putt found the target and gave her win No. 7 on her young LPGA career.

    Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

    He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

    Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

    Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

    Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

    Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

    "I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

    The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

    Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

    "I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

    McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

    When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

    Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

    Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

    While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

    Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.