Top three in world muddled in the middle after Round 1 at Congressional

By Associated PressJune 16, 2011, 8:14 pm

BETHESDA, Md. – World rankings proved to be worth only so much in the opening round at the U.S. Open.

The top-ranked trio of No. 1 Luke Donald, No. 2 Lee Westwood and No. 3 Martin Kaymer went out as a group and all failed to break par Thursday at Congressional Country Club. They finished a total of 10 over, collecting 17 bogeys and a double between them, with only 9 birdies.

Donald and Westwood, both Englishmen, shot 74 and 75. Kaymer, a German, finished with a 74.

“I think all three of us struggled a bit,” Donald said. “There were no fireworks. We didn’t get on a run and sometimes you need one or two guys to get on a run to get everyone going. It just didn’t happen.

“It was,” he added, “kind of a solemn group, I guess.”

The problem certainly wasn’t the start. Going off the 10th tee, both Donald and Kaymer made birdies, and the Englishman hit another 4-iron flush into the 11th green for a second straight birdie.

“I was loving the start,” Donald said. But his red numbers were quickly wiped out by what he called an “untidy” stretch that began with a 3-putt bogey from 40 feet on No. 13, then extended to bogeys on three of the next four holes and a double at No. 18.

“It wasn’t a matter of just I drove it poorly. It was I didn’t hit enough fairways and when I hit fairways, I was short-siding myself,” Donald said. “When I had those 6- to 8-footers to save some pars, I wasn’t making them. It was a struggle today.”

Westwood’s problems proved even more frustrating because of his certainty that the long and brutal Congressional course – softened up by a morning rain – offered good scoring opportunities.

“I’m quite surprised nobody has gone out this morning and shot 66,” Westwood said.

Asked whether the Open setup, with its fast greens, narrow fairways and graduated rough, heaped additional pressure on the players, Westwood replied, “Any course is a mental grind if you’re not sharp. The U.S. Open is no different. …

“I didn’t hit enough fairways. I didn’t hit enough good irons. My short game was pretty sharp actually. I just made too many mistakes.”

Kaymer blamed his problems on an inconsistent driver. He hit eight of 14 fairways, one better than either of his playing partners, but said an inability to take advantage of the course off the tee cost him all the way around.

“My short game kept me alive,” he said.

So did a good attitude.

“A little strange for me playing with five English guys,” laughed Kaymer, whose caddie, Christian Donald, is Luke’s brother. “But we all get along very well.”

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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.

Full-field scores from the Joburg Open

Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Sharma among three Open qualifiers at Joburg Open

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:16 pm

Shubhankar Sharma earned his first career European Tour win at the rain-delayed Joburg Open and punched his ticket to The Open in the process.

Sharma returned to Randpark Golf Club Monday morning after storms washed out much of the scheduled final day of play. Beginning the re-start with a four-shot lead, he hung on to win by three over South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen.

Both men can make travel plans for Carnoustie next summer, as this was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series with three spots available for players not otherwise exempt who finished inside the top 10. The final spot went to Shaun Norris, who tied for third with Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen but had a higher world ranking (No. 192) than Pulkkanen (No. 197) entering the week.

The Joburg Open was the final official European Tour event of the year. The next tournament in the Open Qualifying Series will be the SMBC Singapore Open in January, where four spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 6, Dustin Johnson

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:00 pm

Only Dustin Johnson could win four times in 2017 and it still feels as though he underachieved.

That’s unfair, perhaps, but it’s a testament to Johnson’s awesome ability – and his incredible run of form last spring – that observers can’t help but shake the feeling that his year could have been even better.

In February, he rose to the top of the world rankings for the first time, the culmination of a long, bizarre journey in which he often battled himself (through major blunders and, reportedly, drug-related suspensions) as much as his peers. Johnson’s blowout victory at Riviera was his first of three consecutive titles (including two WGCs), as he achieved Tiger-like levels of dominance and rolled into the Masters as the prohibitive favorite.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Expectations for this star-crossed talent are always different, and so the surprise wasn’t that he blew that major but that he didn’t even give himself a chance. In one of the biggest stunners of the year, Johnson’s manager announced on the eve of the first round that his client had suffered a back injury while slipping on a set of stairs in his rental house. Just like that, the year’s first major was thrown into chaos, with Johnson unable to play – the line of demarcation in his good-but-not-great year.

Though he added a playoff victory at the end of the season, Johnson failed to factor in any of the remaining three majors and was surprisingly inconsistent, perhaps because of swing compensations after the injury.

Would DJ have denied Sergio Garcia a green jacket? Would he have created even more separation at the top of the world rankings? Would he have defended his Player of the Year title? Unfortunately, we’ll never know.

In typical DJ fashion, he left us to ponder what could have been.

Johnson becomes world No. 1, starts season with three straight wins

Article: Johnson officially ascends to No. 1 for first time with Riviera win

DJ on reaching No. 1: 'It's been a long journey'

View from the top: How long will DJ stay at No. 1?

Article: DJ's star once again shines brightest at WGC-Mexico

DJ on win: 'Means a lot' with the pressure of No. 1

DJ breaks it down: How No. 1 won WGC-Mexico

Video: DJ withstands Rahm's rally to win WGC-Match Play final

DJ on beating Rahm: 'I didn't give him anything'

Johnson: 'I definitely didn't play my best today'

Johnson enters Masters as odds-on favorite, withdraws after falling down stairs

Article: After uneasy warmup, DJ withdraws from Masters

Article: Johnson installed as Masters betting favorite

Article: DJ injures back in fall, hopes to play Masters

DJ on Masters WD: 'Want to play ... it sucks'

DJ: 'I was playing the best golf of my career'

DJ welcomes second child with fiancée Paulina Gretzky

DJ, Paulina welcome baby boy before U.S. Open

It's a(nother) boy! DJ-Paulina's gender reveal

This and that: DJ and Paulina in 2017

DJ, Paulina make new music video on ski vacation

DJ, Paulina unwind with Bahamas vacay

DJ: 'Absolutely' no input on Paulina's social media

Watch: Paulina shows off pretty swing at TopGolf

Johnson adds fourth win of season, blows chance at fifth

As good as it gets: DJ-Outduels Spieth at Northern Trust

Johnson's HSBC collapse surprising, but not major

DJ beats Spieth in playoff to earn fourth win of year

Burr: 'For a great win there is an epic collapse'