Notes Seve Returns Early Exit for Faxon

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2006, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship HOYLAKE, England -- Three-time champion Seve Ballesteros returned to the British Open for the first time in five years on Thursday and was relieved to walk off with a 2-over 74.
 
After 10 years without making the cut in a major, Ballesteros feared he might not break 80.
 
Even more pleasing than his score was being joined by his 15-year-old son, Baldomero, who is his caddie this week.
 
To walk on the fairways in the Open with my son was fantastic and I played a little bit better than I expected. I didnt have much confidence, said the Spaniard, whose last round in a major was an 85 at the Masters three years ago.
 
Troubled by persistent back injuries and a horrendous slump Ballesteros hasnt been competitive since his last victory in the 1995 Spanish Open. Although he started with a bogey and collected three more, he made back-to-back birdies on the par-3 ninth and par-5 10th.
 
Playing in the Open there is a lot of pressure and I was nervous, obviously, mainly because I have not competed for a long time and the practice days didnt make me feel very optimistic, he said.
 
But I played with the heart as always and 74 is a good round.
 
EARLY EXITS
Jesper Parnevik and Brad Faxon mingled outside the Royal Liverpool clubhouse at dawn Thursday morning, looking like two guys who were the first to arrive with hopes of getting a tee time.
 
Thats exactly what was on the line at the British Open, and both left disappointed.
 
They were the first two alternates, needing players to withdraw to get one of the 156 spots in the field. After waiting for nearly 11 hours until the last group went off, they packed their bags and headed home.
 
Parnevik interrupted a vacation in Sweden when he learned he was first alternate. Faxon was sixth in line, but figuring the others wouldnt show up, he flew Monday from Rhode Island and took his chances.
 
I thought hed still get in, Faxon said of Parnevik. I think he did, too.
 
Faxon warmed up in the morning, then headed to the range again to take a nap in the Titleist trailer. His only hopes of players pulling out were Fred Couples and Bernhard Langer because of their bad backs. There were doubts about Seve Ballesteros, but he went off early and shot 74.
 
Compounding the disappointment for Faxon was finding a flight home Friday.
 
Everything is sold out, he said. Im going to have to check around with other airports.
 
Faxon recalled being first alternate in the 1986 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, and two guys who were injured tried to play and later withdrew. He wound up going to the Providence Classic, which he won.
 
Maybe this will bode well, he said. Something good will come out of this.
 
Faxon lost his chance to play first by having a pedestrian year that caused him to slip in the rankings. Then, the U.S. qualifier was washed out, and he didnt get a chance to qualify.
 
He likes the idea of the British Open expanding its criteria to get a stronger, more diverse field. But he questioned criteria that allows the top finishers from the last three PGA TOUR events to qualify'Hunter Mahan (tied for second in Hartford), Mathew Goggin (tied for second at the Western Open) and John Deere Classic winner John Senden.
 
I still dont think the qualifying procedure is perfect, he said. Why doesnt winning a tournament get you in, but finishing fourth does?
 
Faxon won the Buick Championship at Hartford last year.
 
FASHION STATEMENT
About the only distraction Seve Ballesteros faced Thursday was playing with Ian Poulter of England, who wore bright red pants with sequins down each side and a logo of the claret jug on each leg.
 
Ballesteros, ever the traditionalist, wore a white shirt with dark pants.
 
Something different, Ballesteros said. He looks to me like a Spanish matador. But he should not be in red, because the bull always goes for red.
 
Poulter certainly didnt find red numbers on the scoreboard. He wound up one shot behind Ballesteros, at 3-over 75. And the gallery didnt think much of his wardrobe, either.
 
Oh my God, look at what hes wearing! a female fan blurted out as Poulter walked toward the third green. Isnt that ridiculous? Elvis lives!
 
RETURN ON THE INVESTMENT
Fred Couples is a fan of Royal Liverpool, and he couldnt figure out why the R&A waited 39 years to bring the British Open back to the course. Someone told him the layoff was due mainly to the infrastructure.
 
I guess so, Couples said. I mean, Im paying 14,000 pounds for my house this week, so they must have known we were coming. They had a few years to prepare for this week.
 
EASY TARGET
Tom Lehman is getting plenty of attention this week, and not because this is the 10-year anniversary of his British Open victory.
 
This is a Ryder Cup year. He is the U.S. captain.
 
Thats almost all I hear about, Lehman said after a 68.
 
Nearly every person over here is saying, We wish you luck this week, but not in September. Thats been the standard comment Im getting -- 100 a day, 200 a day or maybe more.
 
Lehman talked earlier this year about playing his way onto the U.S. team'there hasnt been a playing captain since Arnold Palmer in 1963. But he has largely given up on that though, although a victory this week would easily put him into the top 10.
 
If Im in contention, its because Im playing well. Its not Ryder Cup related, I can assure you, Lehman said.
 
He would prefer to see Americans atop the leaderboard to earn points for the team, although that didnt happen Thursday. The top American was Tiger Woods, who already is assured a spot on the team.
 
CLARKES DETOUR
Darren Clarke stepped up to the fourth tee box, and pulled out his putter.
 
Huh?
 
When Clarke yanked his second shot at the third hole far left of the green, the ball wound up on the tee for the next hole. He considered chipping toward the flag, then decided the putter was the best way to get through a patch of beaten-down rough between the tee and the green.
 
Only one problem: there was a red power chord running between the two holes. So he pulled that out of the way, and finally got down to a most unusual putt.
 
Unfortunately for Clarke, he didnt swing hard enough to get the ball through the rough, up a ridge and onto the green. He wound up making bogey, one of his few mistakes on the way to a 3-under 69 that left him only three shots off the lead.
 
DIVOTS
Tom Lehman and Graeme McDowell were the only players who did not make a bogey in the first round. ... U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy birdied the last hole for a 1-under 71. ... Davis Love III is 11th in the U.S. Ryder Cup standings and sure didnt do himself any favors Thursday, opening with a 75 that could send him home early for the second straight major. ... Jarrod Lyle, diagnosed with leukemia seven years ago, shot 74.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - 135th Open Championship
  • Course Tour - Royal Liverpool
  • Full Coverage - 135th Open Championship
     
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  • Day finishes strong, leads Aussie Open by one

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 25, 2017, 6:12 am

    Jason Day birdied three of his final five holes to take a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand in Sydney:

    Leaderboard: Day (-10), Lucas Herbert (-9), Jonas Blixt (-7), Matt Jones (-7), Cameron Smith (-6), Rhein Gibson (-5), Anthony Quayle (-5)

    What it means: Day has a great shot at his first victory – in his final start – in 2017. It’s been a frustrating campaign for Day, who has dropped to 12th in the Official World Golf Ranking. A win this week, in his native Open, would be a huge boost as he embarks on the 2018 season.


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Round of the day: Day’s 2-under 69 wasn’t the lowest of the day, but it was the most important. Day parred his first 13 holes before birdies on Nos. 14 and 15. He bogeyed the 17th, but finished with a birdie at the par-5 18th for the outright lead.

    Best of the rest: Blixt’s 66 put him in position to win. Meanwhile, Japanese amateur Takumi Kanaya shot the low round of the day, a 6-under 65, to reach 4 under for the tournament.

    Biggest disappointment: No one really blew it on Saturday, but Jordan Spieth was unable to make a move. His 1-under 70 has him eight shots off the lead. Herbert managed an even-par 71 but he had a two-stroke lead until an errant tee shot at the par-3 11th. Speaking of which …

    Shot of the day: Not every Shot of the Day is a great shot. Herbert made a long birdie putt on the eighth and was two clear of the field through 10 holes. But he hit his tee shot long at the 11th and was not able to find it. He had to re-tee, made double bogey and lost his advantage. He’s now chasing a major champion in the final round.

    Spieth stalls on Moving Day at Australian Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 25, 2017, 4:30 am

    Moving Day? Not so much for Jordan Spieth in Round 3 of the Emirates Australian Open.

    Spieth, the defending champion and also a winner in 2014, continued to struggle with his putter, shooting 1-under 70 on Saturday at the Australian Golf Club in Sydney.

    “I was leaving them short yesterday and today it was kind of misreading, over-reading. I missed a lot of putts on the high side – playing wind or more break,” he said. “I just really haven’t found a nice marriage between line and speed to get the ball rolling.”


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    The world No. 2 started the day eight off the pace and was unable to make a charge. He had three birdies and two bogeys, including a 4 at the par-5 finishing hole.

    Spieth praised his ball-striking in the wind-swept conditions, but lamented his putting, which has hampered him throughout the week.

    “Ball-striking’s been fantastic. Just gotta get the putts to go,” he said.

    Spieth, who is scheduled to compete in next week’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, is still holding out hope for a third title in four years at this event. He fired a brilliant 63 in very windy conditions to prevail in ’14.

    “Tomorrow is forecasted as even windier than today so you can still make up a lot of ground,” he said. “A few years ago I shot a final round that was a nice comeback and anything like that tomorrow can still even be enough to possibly get the job done.”

    South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

    By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

    South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

    Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

    Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

    Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

    So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

    Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

    The fourball results:

    LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

    LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

    LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

    KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

    LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

    LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

    NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.

     

    Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

    By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

    In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

    Made Cut

    The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

    Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

    “I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

    Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

    Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

    This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

    Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

    Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

    The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

    Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

    Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

    The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

    First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

    “You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

    A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

    “The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

    For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

    Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

    “I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “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.”

    Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

    “Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

    Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

    Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.


    Missed Cut

    Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

    Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

    “That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

    Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

    While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.