Despite lackluster 72, McIlroy still in contention

By Associated PressJune 9, 2012, 10:20 pm

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Davis Love III thinks he's playing as well as he did earlier this year before pulling a rib muscle at Bay Hill. Now the U.S. Ryder Cup captain is eager to see just how much he might do.

Love III shot his third straight 2-under 68 on Saturday to join Nick O'Hern and John Merrick atop the leaderboard at the windy St. Jude Classic. Asked what his first PGA Tour win since 2008 would mean, the 48-year-old Love had a quick answer.

''Be a lot of Ryder Cup points,'' Love said.

With a win, Love is projected to jump from 63 into the top 30 in the Ryder Cup standings. Love started off this year excited about how he was playing before injuries slowed him down. He wound up not playing at all for about six weeks after withdrawing on the final day at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in late March before returning at The Players Championship.

Love tied for 16th at the Memorial last week, then played 36 holes in Columbus, Ohio, to qualify for his 23rd U.S. Open. He committed late to play in Memphis, making sure he was healthy enough to use this event as a final tune-up.

Love had three birdies and only one bogey Saturday to match O'Hern and Merrick at 6- under 204, the highest 54-hole lead on Tour this year. O'Hern had a 67, and Merrick shot 69. The man with 20 career PGA wins said obviously there's a lot of pressure and he wants to win. He has only two wins since winning four times in 2003.

''Is it a big huge deal in my career that I have to win this week? No. But when you get up there at the top ... the old feeling kicks in. You concentrate better, you focus better and my routines of the day were coming down those last four, five holes. And I missed a couple putts, but I felt like I was right in like old times ... focused and playing and enjoying it,'' Love said.

''So it would mean a lot to win for sure. Anytime you win out here is important. But it's fun to be in it.''

Rory McIlroy, who will try to defend his U.S. Open title next week at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, had a one-stroke lead when he teed off. He shot a 2-over 72 in a round that featured six bogeys and four birdies to drop in a tie at 5 under.

Dustin Johnson, making his second start after a 2 1/2-month layoff recovering from back pain, also was in the group at 5 under after a 67 that included a bogey on No. 18. J.B. Holmes was in that knot atop the leaderboard going to No. 18, but hit his tee shot into a bunker and three-putted for a double bogey to finish at 4 under.

Conditions got tougher Saturday as the greens firmed up at the TPC Southwind course along with the wind picking up through the day and gusting up to 23 mph at times. PGA Tour officials already have pushed up tee times Sunday morning and will use threesomes off both tees hoping to squeeze in the final round before thunderstorms expected in the afternoon.

''This course is sneaky,'' said Merrick, who had one bogey and two birdies. ''Once the wind starts blowing, the greens get firmer. You don't need to make a ton of birdies. You need to play smart and make a bunch of pars, kind of grind it out, you can move up the leaderboard.''

O'Hern, from Australia, is comfortable playing in the wind. He birdied Nos. 14, 15 and 16 to join the lead pack after he started hitting the ball harder, and now he has a share of the 54-hole lead for the first time in his career.

''Once I realized that, I just started hitting the ball harder and get some speed up I started hitting the ball well again,'' O'Hern said.

It was a wild day with eight players having at least a share of the lead at some point starting with McIlroy, who teed off with six just a stroke behind. McIlroy bogeyed two of his first five holes to fall off the pace. He tied Kevin Stadler at 7 under only to bogey No. 9 and fall back again.

Love took advantage of his experience to keep his ball out of the rough, giving himself better chances to score. He said he only hit driver a couple times, instead using his 3-wood or irons for strong tee shots leaving him plenty of wedge shots in hitting 14 of 18 greens.

''I got the right club a bunch,'' Love said. ''It was nice to drive it where I could hit sand wedges in. I tore up four golf balls in the front nine hitting 60-degree wedges.''

Love birdied No. 6 after hitting a wedge from 94 yards to 5 feet for his first. He rolled in a 10-footer for birdie on the par-3 11th, and he grabbed a piece of the lead with a 3-foot birdie putt on the par-5 No. 16.

Stadler birdied three of his first six holes and had a 3-stroke lead when he got to 9 under through eight. But he hit his approach on the par-4 ninth into the water fronting the green and bogeyed Nos. 14 and 15. He finished with a 71 and was tied at 5 under.

The leaderboard just kept changing up and down.

When Stadler hit into the water fronting the green at the par-3 No. 14, he wound up with a bogey dropping him into a four-way tie 6 under for the lead. Love made that a five-way tie when he birdied No. 16 just as Stadler yanked his tee shot on No. 15 so left past a cart path he had to take a drop and a penalty stroke on his way to a second straight bogey.

''Couldn't tell if it was hurting or helping,'' Stadler said of wind that made picking the right club challenging. ''It was tough.''

Kevin Kisner had a piece of the lead when he tried chipping onto the green with his third shot on the par-4 17th only to see the ball go only a few feet. That led to bogey.

Divots: Love's best finish in Memphis is a tie for fourth in 2005. This is his 10th start in this event. ... Love has had at least a share of the 54-hole lead 23 times, winning eight of those. The last was in 2003 at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. ... O'Hern has yet to win on Tour, and this is his 166th career start. Only six players have made Memphis their first Tour win, with Harrison Frazar doing it last year. ... Keegan Bradley's 7-under total through three rounds at the Northern Trust Open in February had been the highest leading mark prior to this week.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."