Its Just Another US Open - Naturally

By George WhiteJune 15, 2001, 4:00 pm
TULSA, OKLA. - A South African is tied for the lead, and he doesnt even play in the U.S. full time. Tiger Woods is nine shots back, finishing the first two rounds at 5-over-par. Phil Mickelson had a hole-in-one and a chip-in for birdie, but could do no better by days end than 1-under.

Sounds like another U.S. Open, where the unlikely is sure to become the likely.
The South African, Retief Goosen, is tied with Mark Brooks and J.L. Lewis for the lead at Southern Hills Country Club at 4-under-par 136. The non-finishers will complete round 2 at 7 a.m. Saturday, then the cut will be made and the championship will get back on schedule by the afternoon, when the leaders go off somewhere around 3 p.m. Central time.
Brooks fired a 64 after opening with a 72 on the par-70 course. That is the low round of the championship, coming on a red-hot front side of 30.
Check out Mark Brooks' scorecard
I kept it in play and lag-putted pretty good, said the 1996 PGA champion. I hit a handful of weak iron shots, but generally they found pretty good places. And I only had two really difficult up-and-downs. Only two times was I off the green in trouble.
Free Video - Registration Required Brooks comments on his 2nd round
None of the three leaders has played particularly well this year. Goosen has missed three cuts in Europe in his last six starts, though he did tie for fifth in his last event, the Compass Group European Open. Brooks and Lewis have both had up-and-down years in the U.S. The two, both Texans, played together the first two rounds.
If youve got the lead with two or three holes to go, then maybe thats going to matter, said Lewis, downplaying the 36-hole lead. But right now, I dont think anybody is going to benefit themselves by looking at the leaderboard and trying to figure out what theyre going to do. Youve got to play one shot at a time.
Free Video - Registration Required Lewis comments on his 2nd round
In fourth place, just two shots out of the lead at 2-under-par, is a hot Sergio Garcia and Stewart Cink.
Woods was far down at 5-over, but he wasnt counting himself out.
Its a U.S. Open, and if you can get a good solid round, you get up on the leaderboard, he said. For example, what Brooksie is doing out there. You shoot 6-under and youre going to move up the board.
Thats what happens when you play a golf course thats set up this difficult. Thats the beauty of it. You play a good solid round, youre going to move up the board.
David Duval is another one whos lurking around the lead. He shot 70-69 and stands 1-under as he enters Round 3. He has rested for three weeks, which he says is most advantageous.
I decided to stay home and as much as anything, not hit balls, because I would have had plenty of time, ten days before, to come here, Duval said.
But actually, it was good for me to stay home and hit balls in the middle of the afternoon, when it was really hot. And through that time, I hit a lot of shots and worked on my alignment, and it really felt good this week. Ive been pleasantly surprised.
Fifty-six-year-old Hale Irwin started the morning tied with Goosen for the lead at 3-under, but he didnt tee off until late in the afternoon and by that time he had lost all his momentum. He bogeyed three of his first five holes and six of his first 12, and stands at 2-over after birdieing 18 for the second time.
The pace of play was very slow and I struggled to find a little momentum, he said But that is an excuse. I didnt hit my woods very well, didnt hit my irons very well, and didnt putt very well.
But if you had told me before the tournament that Id be 2-over ' thats where Id be if I shot 71 each day ' Id be ecstatic. If I can shoot what I did yesterday (67) over the next two, we might have a little fun.
I think the guys that teed off late on Thursday probably had the better end of the deal, said Jim Furyk, who was in at even-par 70 and played late Thursday, finishing up Friday morning. We got to play more holes with the good weather right now.
I could see where guys can get hot, and if youre playing well, the greens are so nice right now and holding. I can see a guy really playing well.
Goosen was sidelined with a broken right arm thanks to a skiing accident early in 1999, but has been rock-solid this week. He reached 6-under-par in the first round before stumbling with bogeys on the last two holes. The second round he shot even-par 70, unreeling 12 straight pars to start the round.
Free Video - Registration Required Goosen comments on his 2nd round
Obviously, Id like to come over here, but I'm in no rush, he said. If I do play well enough to get my card to play over here, then Ill consider it to play. I like Europe and I like the different things on the European Tour. I like it over here as well.
The weather is very nice. Its just like South Africa. But Im in no rush. If I do well enough to get here, Ill make a plan.
Full-field scores from the 101st U.S. Open
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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."

Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."

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Rahm (62) shoots career low round at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 10:33 pm

After a banner year in 2017, Jon Rahm found a way to add yet another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Rahm got off to a fast start at La Quinta Country Club, playing his first seven holes in 6 under en route to a 10-under 62. The score marked his career low on the PGA Tour by two shots and gave him an early lead in an event that utilizes a three-course rotation.

La Quinta was the site of Adam Hadwin's 59 during last year's event, and Rahm knew full well that a quick start opened the door to a memorably low score.

"Any time you have that going for you, you get thoughts come in your head, 60, maybe 59," Rahm told reporters. "I knew that if I kept playing good I was going to have more birdie opportunities, and I tried not to get ahead of myself and I was able to do it."

Rahm birdied his first two holes before an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole sparked him to an outward 30. He added four more birdies on the inward half without dropping a shot.

The Spaniard is the highest-ranked player in the field this week, and while many players opted for a two-week stint in Hawaii he instead came home for some practice after opening the new year with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That decision appears to have paid some early dividends as Rahm gets set to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Low scores were plentiful on all three courses during the opening round, and Rahm remained pleased with his effort even though he fell short of matching Hadwin's sub-60 score from a year ago.

"That's golf. You're not going to make every single putt, you're not going to hit every shot perfect," he said. "Overall, you've got to look at the bigger picture. I birdied the last hole, had a couple of great sand saves coming in, shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for."

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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''