DJ leads delayed Open Championship; Spieth 5 back

By Doug FergusonJuly 18, 2015, 8:27 pm

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland - For all the debate over whether the British Open should have started Saturday, Dustin Johnson only cared about the finish.

A second round that lasted nearly 39 hours because of rain one day and a raging wind the next finally ended with Johnson driving the 18th green and taking two putts from 150 feet for birdie and a 3-under 69.

That gave him a one-shot lead over Danny Willett of England, who for the second straight year did not hit a single shot in the British Open on Saturday. Last year it was because he missed the cut. This time it was because he finished his second round Friday.

Even a championship with 155 years of history can deliver a strange twist.

And there were plenty on the Old Course. Brooks Koepka refused to play when his ball wouldn't stay still on the 11th green. Jordan Spieth three-putted five times in one round. Tiger Woods posted his highest 36-hole in the British Open.

Rarest of all is that the wind delay that lasted more than 10 hours forced the first Monday finish in 27 years at the British Open.

Not so peculiar was Johnson atop the leaderboard at 10-under 134.

Paul Lawrie, the 46-year-old Scot who won a crazy Open at Carnoustie in 1999, played bogey-free over the final 14 holes for a 70 and was two shots behind. Louis Oosthuizen (70) and Jason Day (71) joined the large group at 7-under 137 that included Adam Scott and Zach Johnson, who finished Friday.


Full-field scores: 144th Open Championship


Spieth, going after the third leg of the Grand Slam, shot 72 and was five behind.

One month after a three-putt from 12 feet cost him a shot at the U.S. Open, Johnson walked the Old Course with a swagger. He did enough damage Friday that even a couple of bogeys didn't get him off track, and he showed in the short time he played Saturday he could handle the wind.

"Every aspect of your game is challenged," Johnson said.

As gusts began to top 40 mph when the second round resumed in the morning, Johnson chose to chip up the steep slope at the front of the par-5 14th green. He didn't hit quite hard enough. And then, the player with a reputation of being in too much of a hurry at the majors made the mistake of taking his time. An inch away from placing his coin behind the ball to mark it, a gust moved his ball and it picked up enough momentum to roll off the green and cause Spieth to jump out of the way.

Three putts later, Johnson had his second bogey of the week. One hole later, the R&A realized it was too windy to continue.

Johnson returned nearly 11 hours later, made two solid pars and finished with his birdie. It was the fourth time in the last six rounds at the majors that he has had at least a share of lead, though not when it mattered - at the end.

This might be his best chance yet.

Spieth three-putted for par on the 14th hole and swiped his putter in disgust at leaving two of those putts short. He had another three-putt from about 90 feet on the 17th hole. But he stayed in the game by driving the 18th green for a birdie.

"I believe I'm still in contention. I still believe I can win this tournament," Spieth said.

But after spending two days playing alongside Johnson, he also realized a third straight major will require some help.

"I need a really solid round tomorrow because Dustin is not letting up," Spieth said. "Dustin is going to shoot a good round tomorrow with less wind, and I'm going to need to shoot a great round to really give myself a chance."

The second round didn't finish Friday because a burst of heavy rain flooded the course. That was nothing compared with the gusts off the Eden Estuary, and the R&A knew it was going to be on the edge to play. R&A officials said they spent an hour on the 11th green - the most exposed part of the golf course - to make sure golf balls weren't moving. And then it started, and Koepka's ball wouldn't stay put.

He took nearly 30 minutes to hit one putt. He kept marking his golf ball and protesting with a rules official and finally said he wouldn't play when his ball moved a couple of inches on three occasions. A few holes ahead, Oosthuizen putted up to 3 feet on the 13th. A gust blew it a few feet away and, as the South African laughed at the absurdity, it moved about 8 feet away.

About that time, play was halted and didn't resume until 6 p.m.

It was the third straight time that an Open at St. Andrews was halted by wind - 2010 for the British Open and 2013 for the Women's British Open. The fullest grandstand was behind the driving range as players kept trying to stay loose in case the wind subsided, and it finally did.

Ultimately, what mattered was the finish.

Just not for Woods. He never had a realistic chance of making the cut. Needing mostly birdies, he resumed his round with three straight bogeys and shot 75 to finish his two rounds at 7-over 151. That was his highest 36-hole ever in the British Open, one month after his highest 36-hole total ever (156) to miss the cut in the U.S. Open.

Willett, meanwhile, also came to the golf course to practice.

"We had it yesterday, but they've had an extremely long day today," Willett said. "It's not ideal for the guys."

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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x