Lowry leads U.S. Open with big names lurking

By Doug FergusonJune 19, 2016, 2:07 am

OAKMONT, Pa. – Shane Lowry kept his cool after a careless penalty and walked off Oakmont after a marathon Saturday with a two-shot lead in the U.S. Open.

Stalled by rain in the first round, the U.S. Open is nearly back on schedule and poised for a big finish.

Lowry, looking to give Irish golf its 10th major in the last 10 years, came within inches of his sixth birdie of the round on No. 14. He tapped in for par and headed back in when play was suspended by darkness.

He was at 5-under par and had to return Sunday morning to play the final four holes.

Two shots behind was 28-year-old Andrew Landry, in his first U.S. Open and playing like he knows how to cope with the toughest test in golf. Landry hasn't flinched, even after tumbling down the leaderboard in his second round, and playing alongside Dustin Johnson in the third round. He had five holes left.

Right behind was a trio of players who feel overdue to win their first major.


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That starts with Johnson, who had the 36-hole lead and started out like he wanted to run away from the field when he stuffed his approach to 5 feet below the hole for a birdie. But a chip that came back to his feet on No. 3 and led to double bogey stalled him, and Johnson started dropping shots.

He was at 2 under through 13 holes, still very much a factor as he tries to atone for his gaffe on the 18th hole at Chambers Bay last year in the U.S. Open. Also three shots back were Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia, who between them have played 142 majors without winning.

After two of the longest days, Sunday becomes somewhat of a sprint.

Jason Day began his big run early. The world's No. 1 player opened with a 76 and first had to worry about making the cut. He did, with one shot to spare, and then went on a tear of four birdies in five holes to start his third round. Day posted a 69 in the morning and a 66 in the afternoon and at one point was within in four shots of the lead.

He was at 1-over 211 and left the course six shots behind.

Defending champion Jordan Spieth looked as though he might join him when he ran off three straight birdies. But the 22-year-old Texan fell back with a double bogey on No. 2 (his 11th hole) and had to settle for a 70 and was nine shots behind Lowry.

''Come out tomorrow and try to pull a Johnny Miller,'' Spieth said.

Miller famously closed with a 63 at Oakmont to win the 1973 U.S. Open, which remains the greatest final round by a major champion. But the course was drenched that Sunday, and that won't be the case now.

Even though Oakmont absorbed nearly 3 inches of rain on the opening day and remain soft enough for shots to spin ever so slightly, it was clear the hot sun began to bake it out and it likely will be fierce as usual for the final round.

The leader in the clubhouse when the day ended was Branden Grace, who last year at Chambers Bay was tied for the lead until he hit 3-wood onto the train track and out-of-bounds for a double bogey that cost him. Good news for the South African: A train can be heard from Oakmont, but not hit.

Grace pieced together a 66 to reach 1-under 209, four shots behind Lowry.

Lowry picked up his biggest win last summer a few hours away at Firestone when he won the Bridgestone Invitational. Now he's primed for more Irish success. The run began with Padraig Harrington claiming three majors in 2007 and 2008, and has been carried by the Northern Ireland trio of Rory McIlroy (four majors), Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke.

''We all know that this course can jump up and bite you in a split second,'' Lowry said. ''So year, I'm two ahead with 22 holes left. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. These are the best golfers in the world behind me. I have to go out there and do what I've been doing all week. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow. This is exactly where you want to be. I've been beating myself up over the last six months trying to get in this position.

''I'm here now. I might as well enjoy it while I'm here.''

It wasn't so enjoyable earlier in the day when he was lining up a 30-foot birdie putt and nudged the ball with his putter. It moved ever so slightly, enough for Lowry to see, and he turned in disgust to call over an official, then held the putter behind his neck as if he wanted to snap it.

He took the one-shot penalty and then saved his mood with an 8-foot bogey putt.

''To hole that second putt was massive for me and massive for my whole day,'' Lowry said.

Some of the best players weren't around for the afternoon. McIlroy needed a par on the final hole to make the cut and took double bogey. Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Justin Rose also missed the cut.

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The Social: G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T.

By Jason CrookJanuary 23, 2018, 6:00 pm

Tom Brady compares himself to Tiger Woods, who coincidentally is returning to the PGA Tour this week, Jordan Spieth hangs out with some decent company and kids these days ruffle some feathers with their friendships.

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

Well, it’s finally Farmers Insurance Open week and Woods has been spotted practicing for his official return to the PGA Tour on Thursday.

Some thought this day might never come after a 2017 filled with mostly downs for the 14-time major champ.

But as he has taught the golf world time and time again, you just can't count Tiger out.

So even as Jon Rahm attempts to overtake Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world this week at Torrey Pines, all eyes will be on one of the greatest we've ever seen do it, even if that guy is ranked No. 647 in the world.

Speaking of greatness …

There’s not many who can just offhandedly compare themselves to Tiger, but if anyone gets a pass, it’s Tom Brady.

The 40-year-old New England Patriots quarterback led his team back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year despite playing the AFC title game with a cut on his throwing hand.

When asked about it after the Patriots come-from-behind victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady answered, “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”

So there you have it. A 40-year-old Brady is winning AFC Championships with his C game. Good luck, Eagles; you’re going to need it.

Also, if for some reason you wanted an update on Justin Thomas' life, it's still awesome:

Yeah, that's last year's PGA Tour Player of the Year hanging with Cy Young winner Cory Kluber in a suite at the Patriots game and teasing us with a possible #SB2K18 cameo.

Curtis Strange likes his competitive golf straight up, hold the friendliness.

This, according to Curtis Strange.

The two-time U.S. Open champ took to Twitter during the CareerBuilder Challenge to vent his frustration regarding the constant chit-chat and friendliness between Rahm and Andrew Landry:

This, of course, makes sense in theory. But good luck watching golf – or really any sport – from here on out. Sure there will be a few old school guys who buck the trend here and there, but for the most part, it’s really hard to share a private jet/dinners/vacations/(insert awesome thing here) with someone, and then completely turn off the friendship coming down the stretch of a big tournament.

Damn millennials. They ruin everything.

By now you've all seen that poor Philadelphia Eagles fan who lost his battle with a subway station pillar (from multiple angles), so instead here is a video of a man attempting to stand on an egg. Bet you can't guess how that goes.

Tony's gonna stand on an egg

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Seriously if you haven't seen the video of that Eagles fan, here's your last chance in this column. You'll be glad you did.

Jordan Spieth, Michael Phelps and Bryce Harper walk on to a golf course … there’s no punchline, that actually happened last week in Las Vegas.

Was the whole thing just a big advertisement for Spieth’s new Under Armour shoe? You bet.

But that doesn’t make the optics of three of the biggest superstar athletes on the planet teeing it up for a round any less awesome.

Off to the next. #Spieth2 #TEAMUA

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The trio has three major wins, five All Star Game appearances and 28 Olympic medals between them, and there they were over the weekend just fake laughing for the camera and driving around individual golf carts with their own personalized logos on them.

Just guys being dudes. Nothing better than that.

Matt Kuchar. Still good at golf. Still overly polite. This according to European Tour pro Eddie Pepperell who had the privilege of hitting on the range next to Kuuuuuch in Abu Dhabi last week.

That image is burned into your brain forever now, thanks Eddie. From now on when you think of Kuchar you're going to think of those Sketches ads and "oopsies."

Which, I suppose is better than a, "Did you get that?"

Blayne Barber's caddie, Cory Gilmer, collapsed and hit his head while at a restaurant at the Sony Open and has been mostly unconscious in the neurological intensive care unit ever since.

The outpouring of love and support from the golf community has been overwhelming on social media, and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with the mounting medical costs for Gilmer and his family.

Check out the link below for more info or to donate to a worthy cause:

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Top-ranked amateur wins LAAC, earns Masters invite

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 5:38 pm

Joaquin Niemann walked Augusta National Golf Club as a patron last year. He’ll be a competitor in 2018.

Niemann, the top-ranked amateur in the world, shot 8-under 63 Tuesday at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Santiago, Chile, to win the Latin America Amateur Championship.

And with the title, both redemption and an invitation to the Masters Tournament.


Full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship


Niemann finished runner-up in last year’s LAAC to fellow Chilean Toto Gana. He followed Gana around Augusta grounds, watching as his best friend played two rounds before missing the cut.

Niemann, who was going to turn professional had he not won this week, started the final round one back of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz. Niemann was sluggish from the start on Tuesday, but then drove the 313-yard, par-4 eighth and made the eagle putt. That sparked a run of five birdies over his next six holes.

Niemann was bogey-free in the final round and finished five shots clear of Ortiz, at 11 under.

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Judges Panel, Host Announced for Wilson Golf's "Driver vs. Driver 2," Premiering This Fall on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 23, 2018, 4:15 pm

‘Driver vs. Driver 2 Presented by Wilson Currently in Production; Sports Broadcaster Melanie Collins Returns to Host

Morning Drive: Driver vs. Driver 2 Judges Announced

Golf Channel and Wilson Golf announced today the panel of judges and host for the second season of Driver vs. Driver, the innovative television series that follows aspiring golf equipment designers as they compete for the opportunity to have their driver idea or concept transformed into the next great golf driver from Wilson. The show is currently in production and will premiere this fall.

Joining judge Tim Clarke, President of Wilson Golf, are two newcomers to the series: 9-time National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star and current NHL on NBC hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick – an avid golfer with a single digit handicap and a self-described golf equipment junkie; and PGA Professional, golf coach, equipment reviewer and social media influencer Rick Shiels.

“Golf is a big passion of mine, and personally I enjoy learning about new equipment and concepts,” said Roenick. “To be able to see this side of the business in how equipment is developed first-hand is fascinating. Being a part of the process in reviewing driver concepts and narrowing them down to an ultimate winning driver that will be sold across the country is a tremendous honor.” 

“Jeremy, as an avid golfer, and Rick, as a coach, equipment reviewer and golf professional, bring incredible, real world insights and different perspectives to the show and this process,” said Clarke. “I’m excited to work alongside these two judges to push the boundaries of innovation and bring a next-generation driver to golfers around the world.”

Sports broadcaster Melanie Collins returns as the host of Driver vs. Driver 2. Currently a sideline reporter for CBS Sports’ college football and basketball coverage, Collins hosted the inaugural season in 2016 and formerly co-hosted Golf Channel’s competition series, Big Break.

Production for Driver vs. Driver 2 began in the fall of 2017 and will continue through the summer, including this week at the PGA Merchandise Show. The series is being produced by Golf Channel, whose portfolio of original productions include interview series Feherty hosted by Emmy-nominated sports personality David Feherty, high-quality instruction shows School of Golf, Golf Channel Academy and Playing Lessons and a slate of award-winning films.

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Tiger Tracker: Farmers Insurance Open

By Tiger TrackerJanuary 23, 2018, 4:00 pm

Tiger Woods is competing in a full-field event for the first time in nearly a year. We're tracking him at this week's Farmers Insurance Open. (Note: Tweets read, in order, left to right)