PGA capping off a tough year in the majors

By Associated PressAugust 9, 2008, 4:00 pm
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2008 US Open 81x90BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. ' Justin Leonard is among 11 players who have made the cut in all four majors this year, but he holds one dubious distinction among such a select group.
 
He is the only player who has never been under par after any round.
 
Leonard has been steady, although not spectacular. Going into the third round of the PGA Championship, he had played 14 rounds in the majors this year and was 30-over par. He has matched par only four times.
 
Welcome to the new world of majors.
 
Steve Flesch might have summed it up best Friday night after he battled for an even-par 70 that put him in the mix at Oakland Hills going into the weekend.
 
The only noise I heard was somebody getting hit by a golf ball. And they were grunts, he said. No birdie cheers.
 
For those who complained that Augusta National had taken the fun out of the Masters, that might be the major this year that produced the most birdies. Trevor Immelman won at 8-under 280 for a three-shot victory over Tiger Woods.
 
And that U.S. Open reputation as being the toughest test in golf? It very well could be the easiest. Woods shot 30 on his back nine of the second round, made two eagles over the final six holes in the third round and forced a playoff with Rocco Mediate at 1-under 283.
 
Padraig Harrington won the British Open ' survived might be the better choice of words ' at 3-over 283, but only after producing a 32 on his final nine holes at Royal Birkdale to pull away from Justin Rose.
 
J.B. Holmes was the sole survivor to par at Oakland Hills after 36 holes, at 1-under 139. Unless the PGA of America uses the tees from the club championship, empties the Detroit River onto the greens and borrows every lawn mower in Michigan to shrink the rough, no one expects the winner to be in red numbers.
 
This tournament is not going to be won by 1-under par, Sergio Garcia said.
 
If thats the case, it will be the first time since 1956 ' and the first time that all four majors were stroke play ' that a score of 280 or higher won every major.
 
So much for that theory of the PGA Championship being the one major that invited good scoring.
 
Its such a tough golf course that they dont need to trick it up, Robert Allenby said. The fairways are running 30 to 40 yards. The greens are like concrete. Its not enjoyable to play. Theyve taken an OK golf course and turned it into a lot of crap.
 
Like anything else, whether this is enjoyable depends on ones taste. Some people like to see the best players in the world struggle. Others would rather see superior skills on display.
 
What most would prefer is variety, and with scoring, that appears to be missing.
 
If we had it like this once a year, OK, Ben Curtis said. But it seems like we have this 15 times a year.
 
Before he arrived at Oakland Hills, but after seeing the course, Geoff Ogilvy was asked to rank the majors on degree of difficulty.
 
Nothing is ever going to get as tough as Royal Birkdale. You could put an asterisk next to it, he said, laughing at his double entendre. Some asked whether the claret jug deserved as asterisk because Tiger Woods wasnt there.
 
What made the British Open so beastly was relentless wind that topped 40 mph in the third round, along with healthy rough. Thick grass is not unusual on a links course; it depends entirely on whether the growing season was wet or dry. Wind is the primary defense.
 
Oakland Hills is tough. Any course with a nickname The Monster wont be mistaken for Indian Wells.
 
But the PGA of America only accentuated its toughest features with a series of peculiar decisions. The rough already is so dense that it doesnt need to cover shoelaces to be penal. Golf balls sink to the bottom, and the penalty is even more severe because workers have been dragging rakes through the grass away from the hole, making it stand even taller.
 
The rough is unavoidable because the fairways are tilted and firm, nearly impossible to hold. Phil Mickelson began his tournament with two good drives, both of which bounded off to the right and into the bunkers.
 
And after all that, players reach greens that have slopes so severe they at times have to putt sideways to get the ball curving toward the hole. The putting surfaces have been so firm and crusty that some players said they could see footprints.
 
Heres a scene from the 17th green on Friday ' Mike Weir fixed his pitch mark on the front of the green, then walked to the back of the green to find his ball nestled in thick rough. He had no chance. Later that day, with the pin on the shallow side to the right, Flesch posed over a 4-iron. It landed 10 yards short of the hole and wound up in the rough.
 
When youre playing a par 3, you should have a chance ' if you strike a good shot ' to get it somewhere within 15 feet, Flesch said. The only way to keep it on the green is to hit 75 feet away.
 
Such complaints have become common this year, maybe because all the major courses have become the same.
 
Hard.
 
Really, really hard.
 
We are not used to seeing this kind of major at a PGA Championship, Garcia said. But its still a major, so youve got to realize it and just keep playing hard. And hopefully, youll be there on Sunday.
 
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    Watch: Fathauer dunks one off flagstick for eagle

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 17, 2018, 7:45 pm

    The NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest will take place Saturday night in Los Angeles, but Derek Fathauer kicked things off a little early with this eagle in the third round of the Genesis Open.

    Playing his second shot on the par-4 third hole at Riviera Country Club, Fathauer dunked one off the flagstick and into the hole for an eagle-2:

    The shot got the the 32-year-old, in search of his first PGA Tour victory, under par for the round and into the mix early on Moving Day.

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    Luiten in three-way tie at Oman Open

    By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 4:17 pm

    MUSCAT, Oman - Joost Luiten showed a return to form after a mediocre 2017 as he moved into a three-way tie for the lead in the Oman Open on Saturday.

    The Dutchman shot a second straight 6-under 66 - the joint best score of the day - to move to 12-under 204. He was joined at the top by Matthew Southgate (69) and Frenchman Julien Guerrier (66) after the third round at the Greg Norman-designed Al Mouj Golf Club.

    England's Chris Wood (69), another man on the comeback trail, was in fourth place at 11 under, but it could have been a lot better if not for a bogey-bogey finish. Adrian Otaegui (66) was a shot behind Wood while pre-tournament favorite, France's Alexander Levy (67), was at 9 under.

    The 90th-ranked Luiten credited some hot iron play for his success after a cracked driver set him back last year when he had just two top-10 finishes the whole season.


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    ''I cracked my driver in my first tournament of the year in Abu Dhabi and it took me almost six months to get another one that I really liked. Once you are not driving the ball well, it puts pressure on other parts of your game,'' said the 32-year-old Luiten. ''My iron play did not get me into trouble at all today.''

    Southgate was quick off the block with three birdies in his first three holes. But the Englishman then made two bogeys and a double bogey in his next four holes, and a birdie on the ninth saw him make the turn at even-par.

    That forced him to think differently for the back nine and he was rewarded with three birdies.

    ''It was quite funny really,'' Southgate said. ''We birdied the ninth and I walked off and said to my caddie Gary ... 'We've just shot level par, so let's just pretend that we've made nine solid pars and that we haven't holed a putt and haven't made a birdie. Let's just start again on the 10th'.''

    The 32-year-old Guerrier started his round with a monster 48-foot birdie putt and had an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys.

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    J.Y. Ko increases lead; Lydia focuses on positives

    By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 3:33 pm

    ADELAIDE, Australia - Jin Young Ko continued her domination of the Women's Australian Open, shooting a 1-under 71 Saturday to increase her lead to four strokes after three rounds.

    The South Korean, who led after each of the opening two rounds of the LPGA tournament, had a three-round total of 11-under 205 at Kooyonga Golf Club.

    Australian golfer Hannah Green moved into second place after the round of the day, a 66.

    Green, 21, is seeking to become the first Australian to claim her national crown since Karrie Webb won the last of her five titles in 2014. Webb, who is playing a part-time schedule in 2018, missed the cut Friday by one stroke.

    Green birdied her first three holes on Saturday and then added two more on the eighth and ninth. Two more birdies followed on the back nine with her only dropped shot a bogey on the 17th.


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    "I was very pleased with my ball striking," Green said. "I have put myself in contention so I'm very happy with how things are panning out.

    "It was a real shame about Karrie missing the cut, but I know she has got different plans."

    South Korea's Hyejin Choi (70), was tied for third, five strokes behind. Australia's top-ranked golfer Minjee Lee was tied for fifth after a 69, six off the lead.

    Former No. 1 Lydia Ko shot a 71 and was eight strokes behind.

    "It's always nice to be able to start the season on a good note, and I've obviously got tomorrow," Lydia Ko said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to finish off on a high note."

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    Cantlay, McDowell, Saunders share lead at Riviera

    By Doug FergusonFebruary 17, 2018, 3:51 am

    LOS ANGELES - Tiger Woods waited 12 years to get back to Riviera and lasted only two days.

    Woods had three straight bogeys early on the back nine Friday and didn't play well enough to make up for his misses. He had a 5-over 76 and missed the cut in the Genesis Open for the first time in nine appearances as a pro.

    He was at 6-over 148, one shot worse than his PGA Tour debut as a 16-year-old at Riviera.

    ''I missed every tee shot left and I did not putt well, didn't feel very good on the greens,'' Woods said. ''And consequently, never made a run. I knew I had to make a run on that back nine, and I went the other way.''

    Patrick Cantlay ran off three straight birdies toward the end of his morning round, starting with a tap-in on the par-3 sixth when he missed a hole-in-one by a fraction of an inch, and shot a 69. He was tied with Graeme McDowell (66), the former U.S. Open champion who is trying to work his way back from a two-year slump.

    They were at 7-under 135.

    Sam Saunders also was at 7 under, making back-to-back birdies until it was too dark to continue. He had three holes remaining in his second round. Ryan Moore bogeyed his final hole for a 68 and was one shot behind at 136.

    Rory McIlroy overcame a few short misses on the front nine for a 69 and was at 2-under 140.


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    Cantlay was coming off a three-putt bogey when his tee shot at the par-3 sixth - the hole with a bunker in the middle of the green - landed above the flag and to the right, and then rolled back down the slope just over the right edge of the cup.

    ''I actually missed a little to the right, but it's a bowl back there so as long as you get the number right, it should be pretty close,'' Cantlay said.

    He followed with a short iron into 5 feet for birdie, a 15-foot birdie on the next hole and then a wild drive that led to a bogey on his final hole.

    McDowell has gone 59 starts worldwide since his last victory and has fallen out of the top 200 in the world. He had missed four straight cuts dating to late last year, though he felt he was hitting it well in practice. What helped was seeing some good scores.

    ''All I'm missing is a couple little numbers and a little bit of confidence,'' McDowell said.

    Defending champion Dustin Johnson shot a 69 and gets to stick around for the weekend. He was at 1-over 143. Bubba Watson, who won in 2014 and 2016, has fallen out of the top 200 in the world after a two-year drought. He shot a 70 and was at 4-under 138, and then headed for the NBA All-Star weekend to play in the celebrity game.