Notes Painful cut for big names Amateur hour

By Associated PressJune 20, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 U.S. OpenFARMINGDALE, N.Y. ' Sixty players ' the lowest number possible ' made the 36-hole cut for the U.S. Open on Saturday, with 11 players one stroke away from being able to play the final two rounds at Bethpage Black.
Peter Tomasulo, who missed the cut at Torrey Pines last year in his first Open by two strokes, was among those who missed this year by one.
Tomasulo shot a 3-over 73 in the first round and lost three more strokes to par in the second round before a run of four straight birdies starting at No. 1, his 10th hole of the day, had him at 2 over. However, the 27-year-old, who has made the cut in three of 14 PGA Tour events this year, bogeyed three of his last five holes to drop to 5 over.
Nathan Tyler, a second-year pro playing in his first Open, was in the final group on the course and needed a birdie on the par-4 18th to make the cut. He drove the ball in the fairway but pulled his second shot into high, heavy grass near a greenside bunker. He didnt advance the ball with his first swing, knocked it into the bunker with his second and then holed out from the sand for a bogey 5, missing the cut by two strokes.
There were plenty of big names heading home, too, including former major champions Padraig Harrington, Ernie Els, David Toms, Justin Leonard and Michael Campbell.
Toms, Rory Sabbatini, Luke Donald and Miguel Angel Jimenez were at 5 over, one stroke better than Brian Gay, who won the St. Jude Classic last week, and Leonard.
Harrington, the reigning British Open and PGA Championship winner, finished at 12 over, while Ernie Els, the 1994 and 1997 U.S. Open champion, missed the cut for just the third time in 17 Open appearances, finishing at 15 over, one shot better than Campbell, the 2005 Open champion.
Paul Casey, ranked No. 3 in the world, was 10 over.
Harrington shot consecutive 76s to miss the cut in a major for the first time since the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont. The British Open and PGA champion hasnt broken 70 on the PGA Tour since a first-round 69 in the Masters.
Such is life. Cant do anything about it now, Harrington said.
Hes having trouble consistently fading his shots.
I dont have any shape at the moment, the Irishman said. When youre not playing well, its not easy to play with no shape. Thats something for me to look into. Ive only got half the fairway to look at because I dont know which way its going to go.

WESTWOOD HO!: Lee Westwood was third in last years Open, his third top 10 finish in nine appearances.
One of the players stuck with the label of best not to have won a major, Westwood started this Open inauspiciously with a 2-over 72, then jumped into a tie for seventh after 36 holes with a 66.
Westwood had six birdies, including three in a row to start the second round, and two bogeys to move up the leaderboard and into contention.
Ive always wanted to win a major, but you can only do what you think is the right thing. I can only do what I think is the right thing for Lee Westwood to win one of those, he said. Ive been doing that, and last year gave me a good chance ' came up one shot out of the playoff, but gave me a lot of confidence.

AMATEUR HOUR: Nick Taylor led the three amateurs who made the cut by tying a record that was last matched in 1971.
Taylor, a rising senior at the University of Washington and the 2009 Pac-10 player of the year, shot a 5-under 65 at Bethpage Black on Saturday, the third time an amateur shot a round that low in an Open.
Taylors 138 total left him six strokes off the lead of Ricky Barnes and had him as low man among the 14 amateurs in the field. Drew Weaver of Virginia Tech was at 141 after a second-round 72 and Kyle Stanley, the NCAA Division I runner-up this year from Clemson, shot a second-round 74 to make the cut on the number at 4 over.
James McHale shot a 6-under 65 at St. Louis Country Club in 1947, and James Simons had a 5-under 65 at Merion Golf Club in 1971.
Its a good feeling to be able to make the cut and play the weekend, Taylor said. You know, Im a couple under par, and tomorrow I have really no expectations, so just go out and play as well as I can and not have any pressure for the most part.

DOUBLE DIP: Ricky Barnes, the leader after 36 holes, is trying to become the 12th golfer to win the U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur titles, a list that includes some of the sports greatest names.
Bobby Jones won four Opens ' all as an amateur ' and five Amateurs, while Jack Nicklaus won four Opens and two Amateurs and Tiger Woods won three Amateurs to go with his three Opens. Others who have the career double include Francis Ouimet, Arnold Palmer, Gene Littler and Jerry Pate.
Only two players won both titles the same year, Charles Evans Jr. in 1916 and Jones in 1930.

HERES MUD: The topic of having to play a golf ball with mud on it has been a hot one since the rain started falling Thursday morning.
Graeme McDowell, who started the third round at 1-over 141, has one of the better philosophies about the subject.
Theres mud and theres wet and theres stuff on your golf ball from time to time, he said Saturday. Like I say, youve just got to club up a little bit and hope the ball stays on the planet.

JONES WITHDRAWS: Matthew Jones was the only player in the field of 156 to withdraw before the cut was made.
Jones, a native of Australia playing in his first Open, withdrew Saturday morning because of a back injury.
A former All-America at Arizona State, Jones shot an opening-round 78 and was 2 over through nine holes in his second round when play was suspended Friday night because of darkness.
Related Links:
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    Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders

    By Randy SmithMarch 18, 2018, 2:45 am

    PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.

    She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.

    Her confidence is high.

    “Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”

    Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.

    Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.

    “One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.

    “I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”

    Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.

    “I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”

    That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.

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    Returning Park grabs 54-hole Founders lead

    By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 2:09 am

    PHOENIX – In the long shadows falling across Wildfire Golf Club late Saturday afternoon, Inbee Park conceded she was tempted to walk away from the game last year.

    While healing a bad back, she was tempted to put her clubs away for good and look for a second chapter for her life.

    But then . . .

    “Looking at the girls playing on TV, you think you want to be out there” Park said. “Really, I couldn't make my mind up when I was taking that break, but as soon as I'm back here, I just feel like this is where I belong.”

    In just her second start after seven months away from the LPGA, Park is playing like she never left.

    She’s atop a leaderboard at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, looking like that’s exactly where she belongs.

    With a 9-under-par 63 Saturday, Park seized the lead going into the final round.

    At 14 under overall, she’s one shot ahead of Mariajo Uribe (67), two ahead of Ariya Jutanugarn (68) and three ahead of 54-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies (63) and Chella Choi (66).

    Park’s back with a hot putter.

    That’s not good news for the rest of the tour. Nobody can demoralize a field with a flat stick like Park. She’s one of the best putters the women’s game has ever seen, and on the front nine Saturday she looked as good as she ever has.

    “The front nine was scary,” said her caddie, Brad Beecher, who was on Park’s bag for her long run at world No. 1, her run of three consecutive major championship victories in 2013 and her gold medal victory at the Olympics two years ago.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “The front nine was great . . . like 2013,” Park said.

    Park started her round on fire, going birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie. She was 6 under through five holes. She holed a wedge from 98 yards at the third hole, making the turn having taken just 10 putts. Yeah, she said, she was thinking about shooting 59.

    “But I'm still really happy with my round today,” she said.

    Park isn’t getting ahead of herself, even with this lead. She said her game isn’t quite where she wants it with the ANA Inspiration, the year’s first major championship, just two weeks away, but a victory Sunday should go a long way toward getting her there.

    Park is only 29. LPGA pros haven’t forgotten what it was like when she was dominating, when she won 14 times between 2013 and ’15.

    They haven’t forgotten how she can come back from long layoffs with an uncanny ability to pick up right where she left off.

    Park won the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year in just her second start. She left the tour again in the summer with an aching back.

    “I feel like Inbee could take off a whole year or two years and come back and win every week,” said Brittany Lincicome, who is four shots behind Park. “Her game is just so consistent. She doesn't do anything flashy, but her putting is flashy.

    “She literally walks them in. It's incredible, like you know it's going in when she hits it. It's not the most orthodox looking stroke, but she can repeat it.”

    Park may not play as full a schedule as she has in the past, Beecher said, but he believes she can thrive with limited starts.

    “I think it helps her get that fight back, to get that hunger back,” Beecher said. “She knows she can play 15 events a year and still compete. There aren’t a lot of players who can do that.”

    Park enjoyed her time away last year, and how it re-energized her.

    “When I was taking the long break, I was just thinking, `I can do this life as well,’” Park said. “But I'm glad I came back out here. Obviously, days like today, that's the reason I'm playing golf.”

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    Joh on St. Patrick's ace: Go broke buying green beers

    By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 12:57 am

    PHOENIX – Tiffany Joh was thrilled making a run into contention to win her first LPGA title Saturday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she comically cracked that her hole-in-one might have been ill-timed.

    It came on St. Patrick’s Day.

    “This is like the worst holiday to be making a hole-in-one on,” Joh said. “You'll go broke buying everyone green beers.”

    Joh aced the fifth hole with a 5-iron from 166 yards on her way to an 8-under-par 64. It left her four shots behind the leader, Inbee Park (63).

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    One of the more colorful players on tour, Joh said she made the most of her hole-in-one celebration with playing partner Jane Park.

    “First I ran and tackled Jane, then I high-fived like every single person walking to the green,” Joh said.

    Joh may be the LPGA’s resident comedian, but she faced a serious challenge on tour last year.  Fourteen months ago, she had surgery to remove a malignant melanoma. She won the LPGA’s Heather Farr Perseverance Award for the way she handled her comeback.

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    Davies, 54, still thinks she can win, dreams of HOF

    By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 12:22 am

    PHOENIX – Laura Davies limped around Wildfire Golf Club Saturday with an ache radiating from her left Achilles up into her calf muscle at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    “Every step is just misery,” Davies said after. “It’s just getting older. Don’t get old.”

    She’s 54, but she played the third round as if she were 32 again.

    That’s how old she was when she was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year and won two major championships.

    With every sweet swing Saturday, Davies peeled back the years, turning back the clock.

    Rolling in a 6-foot birdie at the 17th, Davies moved into a tie for the lead with Inbee Park, a lead that wouldn’t last long with so many players still on the course when she finished. Still, with a 9-under-par 63, Davies moved into contention to try to become the oldest winner in LPGA history.

    Davies has won 20 LPGA titles, 45 Ladies European Tour titles, but she hasn’t won an LPGA event in 17 years, since taking the Wegmans Rochester International.

    Can she can surpass the mark Beth Daniel set winning at 46?

    “I still think I can win,” Davies said. “This just backs that up for me. Other people, I don’t know, they’re always asking me now when I’m going to retire. I always say I’m still playing good golf, and now here’s the proof of it.”

    Davies knows it will take a special day with the kind of final-round pressure building that she hasn’t experienced in awhile.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “The pressure will be a lot more tomorrow,” she said. “We'll see, won’t sleep that well tonight. The good news is that I’ll probably be four or five behind by the end of the day, so the pressure won’t be there as much.”

    Davies acknowledged confidence is harder to garner, as disappointments and missed cuts pile up, but she’s holding on to her belief she can still win.

    “I said to my caddie, `Jeez, I haven't been on top of the leaderboard for a long time,’” Davies said. “That's nice, obviously, but you’ve got to stay there. That's the biggest challenge.”

    About that aching left leg, Davies was asked if it could prevent her from challenging on Sunday.

    “I’ll crawl around if I have to,” she said.

    Saturday’s 63 was Davies’ lowest round in an LPGA event since she shot 63 at the Wendy’s Championship a dozen years ago.

    While Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in ’01. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

    Davies said she still dreams about qualifying.

    “You never know,” she said.