Snedeker ties Open record, leads Scott, Woods

By Doug FergusonJuly 20, 2012, 6:10 pm

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England – Brandt Snedeker plays fast and talks even faster, and he was on a roll Friday in the British Open. He raced up the leaderboard with five birdies in a seven-hole stretch, tied the 36-hole record for a major championship and looked like he was bent on running away from the field at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

Not so fast.

Along came Adam Scott, playing cautiously and picking his spots for three birdies on the back nine to pull within one shot. Not far behind was Tiger Woods, sticking to a conservative game plan and delivering a dramatic finish by holing out from the bunker to set off a wild cheer from 6,000 spectators crammed into the bleachers.

As the second round ended, this Open was just getting started.

On another benign day when the only concern was pools forming in the bottom of pot bunkers from overnight rain, Snedeker became the latest player to match the course record at Royal Lytham with a 6-under 64 that gave him a one-shot lead.

He has yet to make a bogey over 36 holes, the first player to go bogey-free in the opening two rounds of a major since Woods won at St. Andrews in 2000. Snedeker's 10-under 130 tied the 36-hole record set by Nick Faldo in 1992 when he won the Open at Muirfield, and it broke by four shots the 36-hole record at Lytham.

Even more amazing? Snedeker hasn't hit into any of the 205 bunkers in two days.

'No bogeys around here is getting some good breaks and playing some pretty good golf,' Snedeker said. 'My mantra all week has been to get the ball on the greens as fast as possible. Once I'm on there, I have a pretty good hand for the speed of the greens. Just going to try and keep doing that over the weekend.'

Snedeker has never made the cut in three previous trips to the British Open, though this brand of golf is nothing new. As a rookie on the PGA Tour in 2007, he was 10 under through 10 holes on the North Course at Torrey Pines before having to settle for a 61. He picked up his third win there this year by rallying from a seven-shot deficit on the last day.

'Brandt is a momentum-type guy, once he gets going and starting making putts and hitting shots,' said Mark Calcavecchia, another player who doesn't waste time. 'He plays quick and he's got the quick tempo and he putts quick. And they go in quick. That's awesome golf.'

What does that get him?

'A whole lot of nothing,' Snedeker said. 'We've got 36 more holes to go. A lot can happen.'

And that was before Scott, the 32-year-old Australian, began making his steady move up the leaderboard. He bogeyed the third hole for the second straight day, and then turned it around by smashing a 3-wood that bounced off a hillock to the right of the green on the par-5 seventh hole and set up a two-putt birdie. Scott opened the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then hit two beautiful shots to 8 feet for another birdie on the 18th and a 67.

Scott, who had a 64 on Thursday, has never been in such good shape at a major going into the weekend.

'Why I've played good this week is kind of a culmination of everything I've done over the last couple of years,' Scott said. 'I feel like this is the path I've been going down, and just happens to have happened here that I've put myself in good position after two days at a major.'

Much like Snedeker, though, he didn't read much more into it.

'I think you look at the names that are five and six shots back, and it means even less,' he said.

The biggest name was Woods.

Woods mapped out a strategy for navigating the bunkers of Royal Lytham, and not even a change in the weather - only a breath of wind - will take him away from that. He has hit driver only three times this week. On the par-5 11th, where several players hit driver for a chance to go for the green in two, Woods laid back with an iron. He pulled it into the rough, and it cost him. Woods had to get up-and-down from behind the green for a bogey.

That was his lone mistake, however. He holed an 18-foot birdie on the 16th hole, and then fooled by what little wind there was on the 18th, recovered by holing out from the greenside bunker with a shot that rolled into the cup for his second straight 67 and a 6-under 134.

'It wasn't as hard as it may have looked,' Woods said. 'Because I was on the upslope, I could take out that steepness coming off the bunker and land the ball on the flat. So just threw it up there, and I played about a cup outside the left and it landed on my spot and rolled to the right.'

Woods will find out if his record in the majors still means anything. This was the eighth time he has opened a major with two rounds in the 60s, and he went on to win on the seven previous occasions - including all three of his Open titles.

He will be in the penultimate group with Thorbjorn Olesen, a 22-year-old Dane who won for the first time this year on the European Tour. He closed with two birdies, knowing that the last one would give him a 66 and a chance to meet Woods on a Saturday afternoon at golf's oldest championship.

'That was amazing,' Olesen said. 'He's been my idol in so many years. So it's fantastic to have a chance to play with him. And I'm certainly looking forward to it.'

The rest of the field would love nothing more than for the wind to show up.

The forecast, which cannot be trusted in these parts, is for mostly sunny skies and perhaps enough wind to fly a kite on the shoreline of the Irish Sea. The blustery conditions are to arrive Sunday, which would make all those bunkers and the high grass even tougher to avoid and possibly allow others to get into the mix.

Paul Lawrie, who came from 10 shots behind on the final day at Carnoustie in 1999 to win the claret jug, overcame two double bogeys to salvage a 71 and was in the group at 4-under 136 that included Graeme McDowell (69), Matt Kuchar (67), Jason Dufner (66) and Thomas Aiken (68).

'The forecasts I've seen so far have all been wrong,' Kuchar said. 'So I don't put a whole lot of stock in what's coming. I think all of us would like to see some more British Open-like conditions. I think everybody would like to have a little bit more wind just to test us a little bit more out here.'

Ernie Els squandered some chances by missing a few short putts on the back nine, though he still carved out a 70 and was at 137.

Luke Donald's day stated early, and not just with his tee time. His caddie, John McLaren, called to say his pregnant wife was due any minute. No matter. He used Gareth Lord - almost on the bag at Disney last year when Donald won to capture the PGA Tour money title - and he had a 68 to join the list at 2-under 138.

Rory McIlroy bought a hotel room and gave some spending cash to the 16-year-old who was hit in the head by his errant tee shot on Thursday. The teenager watched on Friday as McIlroy only hurt himself. He took two shots to get out of a bunker on the par-3 ninth for a double bogey, had to play sideways out of a water-filled bunker on the 17th and wound up with a 75 to fall 12 shots behind.

The cut was at 3-over 143 - the 13-shot separation speaks to how well Snedeker played. Phil Mickelson never had a chance, taking three double bogeys for a 78 to end his streak of 18 consecutive cuts in the majors that dates to Carnoustie five years ago.

Tom Watson, 62, extended his record as the oldest player to make the cut in the Open by holing a 35-foot birdie putt on the final hole.

It was a fitting end to the day.

Snedeker idolized Watson growing up, and he has just enough freckles under that strawberry-blond mop to resemble the five-time Open champion. He has learned to accept the odd bounces and embrace the Open beyond the links, hanging out in the pubs and appreciating the locals' love of golf.

As for their games? Snedeker doesn't hit the ball on the button the way Watson does - not many do.

'I would love to be like him,' Snedeker said. 'We both make pretty quick decisions. There's no hold-back in either one of our swings. He's one of the best ball strikers of all time. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination. But I think we both hole a lot of putts. Tom in his prime holed a lot of 25- and 30-footers. And when I'm playing well, I tend to do that a lot, too.'

Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.


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“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

How does she feel?

“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.


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Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”

You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:17 am

NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:

Race to the CME Globe

Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.

Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.

The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.

Ariya Jutanugarn is tied for the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.

Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.

So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Brooke Henderson are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.

Rolex Player of the Year

The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.

Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.

Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.

Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.

It’s simple math.

The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.

1st - 30 points

2nd – 12 points

3rd – 9 points

4th – 7 points

5th – 6 points

6th – 5 points

7rd – 4 points

8th – 3 points

9th – 2 points

10th – 1 point

Vare Trophy

Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.

Money-winning title

Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.

Rolex world No. 1 ranking

World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.

Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.

At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.

Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island

By Associated PressNovember 19, 2017, 12:28 am

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.

Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.

''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''

Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.

''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''

Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.

''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''


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J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.

''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour.

''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the Web.com more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''

He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.

''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''

Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.

''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''