Clarke, Glover out front at wide open major

By Associated PressJuly 15, 2011, 12:00 pm

SANDWICH, England – Darren Clarke marched along bumpy fairways on a wild ride at Royal St. George’s that was filled with blunders and brilliance, and one final birdie that brought the kind of ovation he had not heard in a decade at the British Open.

Right behind him was Lucas Glover, far more steady in closing his solid round with eight straight pars.

When a sun-baked and wind-blown second round finally ended Friday, they shared the lead in a major that is living up to its proper name.

The Open Championship is every bit of that.

Before anyone could get excited about the prospects of Clarke delivering yet another major to Northern Ireland, all it took was one look down the leaderboard — all the way to the bottom—to realize this championship was just getting started.

Only seven shots separated first from worst going into the weekend.

“There’s still two days of tough golf and tough weather ahead of us,” Clarke said.

Clarke, a forgotten figure as Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy captured the U.S. Open the last two years, bounced back from a double bogey to make a 90-foot eagle putt and survived a few more hiccups on his way to another 2-under 68.

Glover, playing the kind of golf that won him a U.S. Open two years ago in New York, has made only three bogeys in the opening two rounds. He had a 70 to join Clarke in the lead at 4-under 136.

“Unlike often when you’re in contention in a championship where it may be between six, seven, eight of you, now it’s between the whole field,” Thomas Bjorn said. “You’ve just got to go out there and knuckle down and see where it gets you to on Sunday afternoon.”

Bjorn (72) was one shot behind along with PGA champion Martin Kaymer (69), Chad Campbell (68) and Miguel Angel Jimenez (71). The 29 players within four shots of the lead included U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy, who met his goal of getting to even par for the tournament with a spectacular save from a buried lie in the pot bunker in front of the 18th green.

McIlroy will play Saturday for the third straight time with Rickie Fowler, a fellow 22-year-old who fought his way to a 70 and then summed up the state of this British Open going into the weekend.

“It’s basically a new tournament starting tomorrow,” Fowler said.

That won’t be the case for Luke Donald, who became the second No. 1 player this year to miss the cut in a major. His hopes ended when his ball plugged so badly in a bunker on the 17th that he had to play back toward the fairway, only to see it roll back into the sand. Donald at least was in good company. Lee Westwood at No. 2 also missed the cut and refused to speak to reporters.

Even with a beloved figure like Clarke in the lead, nothing is drawing more attention than the weather.

The forecast is strong wind and increasing rain late in the morning, followed by heavy rain and even stronger gusts in the afternoon. Depending on the weather, it could be a repeat of 10 years ago at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, when David Duval started the third round seven shots out of the lead and wound up with a share of the lead by the end of the day.

“There’s an awful long way to go yet, and I believe the forecast for the weekend is very, very poor, which I quite look forward to,” Clarke said. “But the course is going to play very, very tough. If that’s the case, then the tournament is still wide open for an awful lot of players.”

So many players, in fact, that it was easy to overlook Phil Mickelson, who has never fared well at the British Open and suddenly finds himself within three shots of the lead going into the weekend.

“I’m looking forward to that challenge, and I’m hoping I’ve got the shots now to be effective in it,” Mickelson said.

The eclectic mix of contenders still includes 20-year-old amateur Tom Lewis, who shared the lead after the first round with a 65 and held it together until the end of his round when he three-putted the 17th and was fortunate to make bogey on the final hole. His shot from the rough went over the green and was headed out of bounds until the ball hit the stake. He shot 74, and was still only three shots behind.

On the other end of the spectrum was 61-year-old Tom Watson, who put on another memorable show with a hole-in-one on the sixth hole, hitting a pure 4-iron from 160 yards into the wind that took one hop and banged off the pin before dropping into the cup.

“They’re all lucky when they go in,” Watson said. “But that’s what I was aiming at.”

The group at 2-under 138 included a former Ryder Cup captain in Tom Lehman (67) and the current captain in Davis Love III (68). They were joined by Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, who has experience with a crowded leaderboard. He was among eight players who had a share of the lead on the final day at Augusta National until he birdied the last four holes to win by two.

McIlroy was the favorite going into the British Open, and it’s hard to rule him out at only four shots behind. At times the kid looked as though he was ready to make a move, only to miss a key putt for find a bunker that led to bogey.

Even so, he was right where he needed to be.

“I think you’ll see a lot of chopping and changing at the top of the leaderboard,” he said. “It’s the most open Open I’ve seen in a long time. Yeah, I think it’ll be excited to be a part of, and it’ll be excited to watch over the next two days.”

It wasn’t much fun for him to be watching from his house early Friday, when the day started under so much sunshine and so little wind that low scores were anticipated until the gusts arrived in the afternoon, about the time McIlroy was to tee off.

“It’s the first Open Championship round I’ve played in short sleeves the whole time,” Glover said.

But it didn’t work out that way. There were enough tricky pins to keep anyone from doing better than a 67, and as lunchtime approached, the wind shifted to the opposite direction and made the closing holes as tough as ever.

Glover fired at a tight pin on No. 2 for birdie, and picked up another shot on the downwind, par-5 seventh that could easily be reached in two. A bogey on the 10th hole was his last of the round.

“I didn’t hole as many putts as I did yesterday,” Glover said. “But I’m happy to grind out even par.”

It was the first time Glover has put together consecutive rounds at par or better.

Clarke got into trouble on No. 4 when he missed the green to the right, his chip didn’t get up the slope and he wound up missing a 4-foot putt to take double bogey. Then came the long eagle, a birdie on the next hole and a back nine that featured three bogeys, three birdies and three pars.

“It was a little bit more adventurous today,” Clarke said. “There was some good and some not-so-good. But overall, 68 is very pleasing.”

Equally pleasing was the ovation Clarke received on just about every green. He was runner-up in the Open at Royal Troon in 1997, and tied for third at Royal Lytham in 2001. Still strong are the memories from The Ryder Cup in Ireland five years ago, when he played a month after his wife died of cancer and went 3-0 at The K Club.

“The support I’ve had the first two days has been fantastic,” Clarke said. “The shouting and roaring, it’s been a while, but it’s been very enjoyable, and it’s definitely helped.”

There figures to be plenty more noise this weekend. The only mystery is for whom.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


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Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm