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.'

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After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 3:17 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...

Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner

On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...

Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.

After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.

Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.

A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray

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Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 3:06 am

PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.

At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.

“The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”

Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.

Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.

“Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

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Davies impresses, but there's no catching Park

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 2:40 am

PHOENIX – Inbee Park won the tournament.

Laura Davies won the day.

It was a fitting script for the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on Sunday, where nostalgia stirs the desert air in such a special way.

Two of the game’s all-time best, LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park and World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies, put on a show with the tour’s three living founders applauding them in the end.

Park and Davies made an event all about honoring the tour’s past while investing in its future something to savor in the moment. Founders Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Marlene Hagge Vossler cheered them both.

For Park, there was meaningful affirmation in her 18th LPGA title.

In seven months away from the LPGA, healing up a bad back, Park confessed she wondered if she should retire. This was just her second start back. She won feeling no lingering effects from her injury.

“I was trying to figure out if I was still good enough to win,” Park said of her long break back home in South Korea. “This proved to me I can win and play some pain-free golf.”

At 54, Davies kept peeling away the years Sunday, one sweet swing after another. She did so after shaking some serious nerves hitting her first tee shot.

“It’s about as nervous as I’ve ever felt,” Davies said. “I swear I nearly shanked it.”

Davies has won 45 Ladies European Tour events and 20 LPGA titles, but she was almost 17 years removed from her last LPGA title. Still, she reached back to those times when she used to rule the game and chipped in for eagle at the second hole to steady herself.

“It calmed me down, and I really enjoyed the day,” Davies said.

With birdies at the ninth and 10th holes, Davies pulled from three shots down at day’s start to within one of Park, sending a buzz through all the fans who came out to root for the popular Englishwoman.

“People were loving it,” said Tanya Paterson, Davies’ caddie. “We kept hearing, `Laura, we love you.’ It was special for Laura, showing she can still compete.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Davies relished giving all the young players today, who never saw how dominant she once was, some flashes from her great past.

“Yesterday, after I had that 63, a lot of the younger girls came up and said, `Oh, great playing today,”’ Davies said. “It was nice, I suppose, to have that. I still am a decent player, and I actually used to be really good at it. Maybe that did give them a glimpse into what it used to be like.”

She also relished showing certain fans something.

“Now, people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

Davies was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996, when she won two of her four major championships. She was emboldened by the way she stood up to Sunday pressure again.

In the end, though, there was no catching Park, who continues to amaze with her ability to win coming back from long breaks after injuries.

Park, 29, comes back yet again looking like the player who reigned at world No. 1 for 92 weeks, won three consecutive major championships in 2013 and won the Olympic gold medal two years ago.

“The reason that I am competing and playing is because I want to win and because I want to contend in golf tournaments,” Park said.

After Davies and Marina Alex mounted runs to move within one shot, Park pulled away, closing ferociously. She made four birdies in a row starting at the 12th and won by five shots. Her famed putting stroke heated up, reminding today’s players how nobody can demoralize a field more with a flat stick.

“I just felt like nothing has dropped on the front nine,” Park said. “I was just thinking to myself, `They have to drop at some point.’ And they just started dropping, dropping, dropping.”

Yet again, Park showed her ability to win after long breaks.

In Rio de Janeiro two years ago, Park the Olympic gold medal in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year, in just her second start upon returning.

“I'm really happy to have a win early in the season,” Park said. “That just takes so much pressure off me.”

And puts it on the rest of the tour if she takes her best form to the year’s first major at the ANA Inspiration in two weeks.



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Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill

By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:20 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.

The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?

“Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”

And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.

After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.

“Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”