Notes Stricker Stalls Some Major Moments

By Associated PressJuly 22, 2007, 4:00 pm
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland -- Steve Stricker is known as one of the better putters on the PGA TOUR.
 
Playing in the final group of a major for the first time, his favorite club let him down. Big time.
 
Three shots off the lead and paired with front-running Sergio Garcia, Stricker never mounted a serious challenge at the British Open on Sunday. The American might have if not for three short misses on the front side -- a 2-footer for birdie at No. 3, a 4-footer for birdie at No. 6, and a 5-footer to save par at the ninth.
 
'I hit it fine, but I didn't get it in the hole,' Stricker said. 'I was a little hesitant with the putting and it showed. I would've liked to have see what would've happened if I'd made a couple of birdie putts early on.'
 
He didn't, making the turn with a 1-over 37 and settling for a 3-over 74 -- 10 strokes worse than his 64 in the third round, the lowest score ever for an Open played at Carnoustie.
 
Stricker wound up with a 3-under 281, four shots back in a tie for eighth. Garcia lost to Padraig Harrington in a playoff.
 
'It was a great experience,' Stricker said. 'You can't pay for an experience like that, playing in the last group of a major.'
 
But, he added, 'Overall, it's disappointing.'
 
MAJOR MOMENTS
Hunter Mahan had only played in five majors going into this season. Now he can count on playing all four of them next year for the first time in his career.
 
Mahan made the cut on the number, then had the best weekend at Carnoustie. He shots rounds of 69-65 to move into a tie for sixth, and the top 15 are automatically exempt for next year's Open.
 
Mahan qualified for the Masters by winning the Travelers Championship in Hartford last month, a victory that also gets him into the PGA Championship. A month ago, he tied for 15th in the U.S. Open to ensure a trip to Torrey Pines next year.
 
'I felt I could play here,' Mahan said. 'I kept plodding along and found my swing. It's been neat this week. There's been an electric atmosphere.'
 
Now he'll get to experience all four majors in 2008.
 
Mahan wasn't the only one who claimed somewhat of a consolation prize.
 
Richard Green matched the course record for a British Open with a 64, and by tying for fourth, he'll get into the Masters. Andres Romero also can count on his first trip to Augusta National after finishing third.
 
Others who will be invited to Royal Birkdale next year by virtue of a top 15 in the British Open include Paul Broadhurst and Pelle Edberg.
 
KEEP YOUR DAY JOB
Ben Curtis plays golf for a living, and he plays it well overseas. He won the 2003 British Open with a strong final round, and used a big finish Sunday to tie for eighth, four shots back.
 
His second job is selling the National Football League to fans who might not be that familiar with American football.
 
Curtis, who has a deal with the NFL, wore the colors of the Miami Dolphins in the final round, and also wore the colors of the New York Giants during the week.
 
It wasn't coincidence, since the two teams play a regular season football game this year in London.
 
The light colors of the Dolphins weren't a great match for a gray rainy day with mud lurking everywhere.
 
'Unfortunately today, I wore the Dolphins and it had to be the worst day,' Curtis said. 'It was just quite funny.'
 
It wasn't a bad day for Curtis, though, who shot a 65 for only his second top 10 of the year. He was happy with both that and the fact he played well again in a championship he has won.
 
'I think the last three years have been a little disappointing for me here,' he said. 'This year I just -- the main goal was to make the cut, and then after that you obviously want to play well to try to get in contention.'
 
DROUGHT BREAKER
Before Padraig Harrington and Sergio Garcia settled the British Open with a playoff, Miguel Angel Jimenez knew that one winner already had been decided.
 
Europe.
 
The continent broke its eight-year drought in the major championships Sunday, when an Irishman (Harrington) defeated a Spaniard (Garcia) in the four-hole playoff.
 
'Jimenez came to me on the first hole of the playoff and said, 'We've got a European winner,'' said Harrington, who became Europe's first major winner since Scotland's Paul Lawrie won the '99 Open, also at Carnoustie.
 
'I hope it has a very positive impact,' the winner added.
 
Europe has dominated the U.S. in the most important team competition, Ryder Cup, but Americans held the upper hand in the major championships.
 
Before the Open, Nick Faldo suggested that European players were too chummy with each other on their own tour and lacked the killer instinct to close out big events.
 
With the claret jug beside him, Harrington scoffed at that suggestion.
 
'I am a very competitive person inside,' he said. 'But I'm always a believer that ... you can be a nice guy and win. It's a nice thing to aspire to.'
 
EASY BEING GREEN
Richard Green splashed some early color across the final-round leaderboard with six birdies and an eagle en route to a 64 that tied the best British Open score ever at Carnoustie.
 
He could have tied the tournament record with a par at the 18th hole, but made his only bogey of the day.
 
'I was as focused as I ever was in a golf tournament,' he said afterward. 'In situations where I've won before, it was equal to today.'
 
The round propelled the Australian to a fourth-place finish and ensured a return trip to next year's tournament. But Green, who matched Steve Stricker's 64 from a day earlier, thinks he might have gone even lower if he hadn't played in the morning's steady rain.
 
'I don't normally play that well in waterproofs, wet gear,' he said. 'It's obviously a demanding enough game as it is, let alone restricting yourself.'
 
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    Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 11:14 pm

    John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.

    The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.

    That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.

    He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.

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    Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

    Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

    Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

    In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

    Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

    “I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

    Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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    Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

    In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


    Made Cut

    Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

    Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

    “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. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “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.”

    September can’t get here quick enough.

    Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

    There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

    In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

    “I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

    The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

    Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

    Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

    The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

    The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

    “My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


    Missed Cut

    Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

    After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

    It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

    Tweet of the week:

    It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

    The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.