Clarke puts McIlroy in shade after Round 1 of British

By Associated PressJuly 14, 2011, 6:17 pm

SANDWICH, England – Once the face of golf in Northern Ireland, Darren Clarke has become the forgotten man.

First it was Graeme McDowell winning the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach last year. Then another compatriot, Rory McIlroy, captured the same major at Congressional 12 months on.

At the British Open on Thursday, it was Clarke’s chance to shine.

Boosted by regular practice back home on the Royal Portrush links course, the 42-year-old Ulsterman shot a patient 2-under 68 to leave himself tied for seventh on the opening day at Royal St. George’s.

“I enjoy any time I get back on links,” Clarke said. “It’s the biggest and best tournament in the world – why wouldn’t I enjoy it? It’s the only major that’s played on the turf the game started on.”

Fortune shone on Clarke, though.

While McIlroy battled his way through tough winds and occasional rain to card a 1 over in the morning, Clarke made hay in still, ever-brightening conditions, picking up shots on Nos. 10 and 14 before parring his way home.

Patience, a characteristic Clarke readily acknowledges isn’t his forte, was his watchword. Clearly his catch-up with renowned sports psychologist Bob Rotella on Wednesday did him good.

“I can’t tell you what he said – I paid him a lot of money,” Clarke said. “We just talked about things. He knows me inside out and we’ve known each other for a very long time. I was lucky.”

Clarke has never won a major – the closest he’s come is at the British Open when he tied for second at Royal Troon in 1997 and tied for third at Lytham in 2003 – but he does have pedigree.

In 2000, he went head to head with Tiger Woods in the Accenture World Match Play final and outplayed the then-No. 1 4 and 3, earning a $1 million first prize and the biggest payday of his career. Three years later, he won the NEC Invitational at Firestone Country Club. He has 11 more wins on the European Tour, the latest coming at the Iberdrola Open in Majorca in May.

With the gray hair has come problems with the putter. He rectified that on Thursday.

“My tee to green has been very good recently but my putting’s been poor. Today, it was very good,” Clarke said.

“It’s only the first round but I played very nicely. My ball flight was pretty much under control all day and that’s what you’ve got to do to do well on links.”

After 13 years living in London, he lives back in Northern Ireland, regularly playing at the Portrush course that hosted the British Open in 1951.

“I moved back last summer so I’m playing my golf at Royal Portrush all the time. I feel very comfortable,” he said.

“This one (at Royal St. George’s) is particularly difficult because of the undulation of the fairways and the demands it puts on you with your second shot. It’s a real, real tough course. You’ve got to stay patient, which hasn’t always been one of my strong points. But that’s what the Open and playing on links is all about.”

Getty Images

Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.

Getty Images

Wie takes shot at LPGA dress code in crop top

By Grill Room TeamDecember 10, 2017, 5:33 pm

The new LPGA dress code got mixed reviews when it was announced in July, and Michelle Wie is taking full advantage of her offseason with no restrictions.

The 28-year-old former U.S. Women's Open champion is keeping her game sharp while back in her home state of Hawaii, but couldn't help taking a shot at the rules while doing it, posting a photo to Instagram of her playing golf in a crop top with the caption, "Offseason = No dress code fine."

Offseason = No dress code fines #croptopdroptop

A post shared by Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) on

Wie isn't the first to voice her displeasure with the rules. Lexi Thompson posted a similar photo and caption to Instagram shortly after the policy was announced.

Lexi, Finau 3 back going into final QBE round

By Associated PressDecember 9, 2017, 11:58 pm

NAPLES, Fla. - Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry shot an 8-under 64 in modified alternate shot and shared the lead Saturday with Steve Stricker and Sean O'Hair going into the final round of the QBE Shootout.

McDowell (Northern Ireland) and Lowry (Ireland), the only international players among the 12 teams at Tiburon Golf Club, began to erase a five-shot deficit with an eagle and birdie on the opening two holes and they dropped only one shot all day in blustery conditions.

Stricker and O'Hair started the back nine with a pair of bogeys, rallied with three straight birdies and then dropped one last shot from the bunker on the 17th.

The teams were tied at 18-under 126.

Lexi Thompson, the lone LPGA player in the field, teamed with Tony Finau for a 66 that put them in the hunt going into the final round. Thompson and Finau were three shots behind.

McDowell and Lowry tied for ninth in the World Cup last year. They grew up playing Irish junior golf and appreciate the difficulty of alternate shot, even the modified version when both players hit tee shots.

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

''To go out and shoot 8 under in that format in these conditions today, I think it speaks volumes about the fact we're both playing pretty well,'' McDowell said. ''We both had an opportunity to hit some good shots out there today and make some good putts, and it gives you a little bit of momentum going in there tomorrow.''

The format for the final round is better ball.

Stricker and O'Hair have each won the QBE Shootout, but not as partners.

Stricker, captain of the winning American team at the Presidents Cup, said he couldn't get comfortable and put O'Hair in some tough spots.

''We should have probably been two or three shots better than what we were,'' Stricker said. ''Sean played another good round of golf and made some great putts in there to keep us going, but all in all, we're in good shape.''

Keegan Bradley and Brendan Steele shot 70 and were two shots out of the lead.

Defending champions Matt Kuchar and Harris English had a 72 and were tied for last place with Zach Johnson and Charley Hoffman, who shot 70. They were nine shots out of the lead.