English Hopes Rest on Lane

By Associated PressJuly 17, 2004, 4:00 pm
TROON, Scotland -- Barry Lane was tied for the lead with two holes to play in the third round of the British Open, and in position to make a run at England's first victory at golf's oldest championship in more than a decade.
 
Three dropped shots later, Lane trudged off the 18th green in sixth place.
 
A journeyman player whose victory at the British Masters in May was his first in nine years, Lane was tied with Todd Hamilton when he left the 16th. He was just ahead of Masters winner Phil Mickelson and U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, with Ernie Els and Tiger Woods not far behind.
 
After his double bogey at the par-3 17th and bogey 5 on the final hole, he was behind Els, Mickelson and Goosen and just one stroke ahead of Woods.
 
'Yesterday I finished 2-3. Today I finished 5-5,' Lane said. 'A five shot difference.'
 
Three-time British Open winner Nick Faldo picked up England's last victory in 1992 at Muirfield. An Englishman hasn't won at Troon since Arthur Havers did so in 1923.
 
'The thing is, you hit one bad shot. It was 17, I just pulled it,' Lane lamented. 'It must have pitched just on the bank and gone left. I had a very, very tough chip just to get onto the green. I just hit it too far up the bank and it obviously went over the green. End of story.
 
'Then, at the last hole, I just pulled a 6-iron a little bit, the wind was a bit stronger off the left and it went into the bunker.'
 
Lane's shot from the sand wound up 12 feet from the flag and he missed the putt to finish with three 5s. There was nothing in Lane's record to suggest he would be a threat at Royal Troon.
 
In 12 British Opens, he had missed the cut six times and his best finish was 13th at Royal St. George 11 years ago.
 
His victory at the British Masters came 10 years after his last European Tour victory, although he won the Andersen Consulting World Championship in 1995.
 
After two rounds at Troon, Lane was two strokes behind leader Skip Kendall in a tie for third place, only to fall back after a bogey 5 on the second hole.
 
But he picked up strokes at the sixth and eighth to reach the turn in 35 before charging into a share of the lead with three birdies between the 12th and 15th.
 
As he climbed to the top of the leaderboard, English fans following his round began to build up the noise level. It's not something he's used to, especially in Scotland.
 
'The crowds have been unbelievable,' he said. 'You get cheered. You get clapped onto every tee, cheered onto every green. Everyone is shouting your name.
 
'A couple of guys had had a few beers, they were chanting 'Barry Lane' on the way round. The atmosphere is fantastic.
 
'You have to try and enjoy it, but it is difficult because you're out there trying hard.'
 
On Sunday, he will have to try harder.
 
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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. 

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    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.