Lewis gets 'mad,' shoots 63 in bid for Olympic gold

By Jay CoffinAugust 18, 2016, 7:12 pm

RIO DE JANEIRO – Happy. Mad. Grumpy. Whatever works.

Stacy Lewis arrived at the Olympics with lowered expectations. That’s a difficult thing for one of the fiercest competitors in the game to admit. But she was exhausted from playing six weeks in a row, then took a two-week break, got married and didn’t prepare for the Games as much as she would’ve liked.

Those expectations were tempered; until she stepped on the first tee.

Expectations began to increase with every step during Wednesday’s first round. Lewis was relatively pleased with an opening 70, but promptly bolted to the practice range because something in her swing just didn’t feel right. She didn’t find what she was looking for.

Lewis, 31, returned Thursday looking for more answers on the range and, again, came up empty. She stormed to the first tee “mad” because she didn’t know what was in front of her. New husband Gerrod Chadwell told Golf Channel that his bride was “grumpy.”

Nearly five hours later, Lewis had made 11 birdies and signed for a sensational 8-under 63 to take the lead. An hour thereafter, Inbee Park topped her total mark and took the top spot by a shot.

“Something seemed to click and I got some more confidence as the day went on,” Lewis said. “I think the putts going in definitely helps. Any time you see some putts go in, it frees up the swing a little more. But I don’t know. I didn’t expect this today at all.”

VIDEO: Highlights from Lewis' 11-birdie, 8-under 63 in Round 2

Olympic golf coverage: Articles, photos and videos

Lewis’ putting was lethal. Sure, she hit the ball much closer to the hole than she did the previous day, but she drained six putts longer than 10 feet, including one from 20 and another from 28 feet. The icing came when she struggled off the tee and found herself 199 yards from the hole for her third shot on the par-5 home hole. She carved a hybrid to within 4 feet and made birdie.

Here’s the kicker: Lewis made a carless bogey on the seventh hole and a made double bogey on the par-3 14th when she three-putted from 30 feet. But she rebounded with four consecutive birdies to end her round.

“Sometimes when I get mad I get more focused,” she said, bluntly.

The only thing that went wrong for Lewis on this record-setting day was that she wore a sleeveless shirt. Her shoulders, white at the beginning of the day, were beet red by the end of it.

“I never go sleeveless,” she quipped. “Apparently I should.”

Until the last month, Lewis had been frustrated because she hasn’t collected a victory in over two years. In fact, since her last victory in June 2014 (NW Arkansas Championship) Lewis has 11 runner-up finishes and 27 top-10s, four of those coming in her last four events.

The former world No. 1 has won 11 LPGA events and two majors during her career but was desperate to break out of her winless funk. So, two months ago, on her way to the Portland Classic, she watched video of her victories, wanting to see if there was anything different between past and present. One of the obvious things she noticed was in the setup of her putting.

“I don’t know what it was, but just watching those videos really helped me,” she said, also noting that those videos showed her that she hit a lot of bad shots and still won big tournaments.

Lewis hasn’t finished worse than seventh since she did her homework.

Now she finds herself in contention halfway through the Olympics, a tournament Lewis floundered on playing until she realized that not playing would be a humungous mistake.

Good decision.

Lewis is gaining confidence with every waking moment. She began the week happy, turned mad and grumpy for spurts, and then was satisfied after putting the finishing touches on a 63 as she’s searching for an elusive victory.

 “It’s definitely not 100 percent,” Lewis said. “There are some swings out there today I’d like to have over again. But I feel like I know what I need to do. I’m going in the right direction.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

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?

Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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