Express Delivery Estes Leads by Four
Estes followed a career-tying 61 with a second-round 5-under-par 66 en route to taking a comfortable four-shot lead into the weekend in Germantown, Tenn.
Estes stands at 15-under-par. Scott McCarron (65), Brent Schwarzrock (67) and Jesper Parnevik (64) are all tied for second place at 11-under.
2001 U.S. Ryder Cup captain Curtis Strange is five shots off the lead. The 46-year-old two-time U.S. Open winner has carded rounds of 65-67 this week. Hes in search of his first top-10 finish since 1997.
Estes is running on physical fumes. The 35-year-old Texan qualified for the upcoming U.S. Open on Tuesday, playing 36 holes in the process; and entered this weeks event with low expectations ' expectations that were greatly enhanced by an opening 61.
Still, sleep has been an afterthought to golf. Following his Thursday play, Estes was escorted from one interview to another. He said he finally ate around 9:00 p.m., and then had to get up at 4:40 a.m. for his 7:30 tee time Friday morning.
After a nap and a late tee time tomorrow, Ill finally be caught up (on my sleep), Estes said.
Its been seven years since Estes won an event. He shot 62 in the first round and eventually recorded his maiden victory in the 1994 Texas Open. He took those positive memories with him to the TPC at Southwind on Friday.
I was thinking about the Texas Open, when I opened in 62 in 94; and then I was able to come back in round two with a 65, to really post a good 36-hole score to set myself up for the weekend, said Estes, who won that event in wire-to-wire fashion.
Driving is one of the reasons Estes has yet to find the winners circle again. He ranked 78th in driving distance in 1994; hes yet to crack the top-100 since.
However, Estes may have found his secret weapon in 2001. Hes back to 73rd in driving distance, averaging 276.5 yards per pop.
Its a Cleveland driver, Quad Pro. It will be available in November, so you cant get one yet, but Ive got one of the few, Estes stated.
Ive had to kind of find my own specs, and I think theres still a lot of guys out here really struggling with the driver.
You just cant hit a hook-faced driver, and all of these titanium drivers are designed for (high) handicapped players. They are not designed for the good player and the professional.
I think some of them are finally beginning to realize that, some of the players and the reps, and hopefully the technicians, also.
Friday, Estes got his round off to a solid start by getting up and down from the bunker on the par-4 10th, his first hole of the day.
I didnt want to bogey the first hole after shooting 10-under yesterday, he said.
After a birdie at the par-3 11th, Estes stalled with seven straight pars.
Upon making the turn, Estes birdied four of his first five holes before recording his first bogey of the tournament at the par-4 6th.
Estes quickly recovered by sinking a 20-foot birdie putt at the par-4 7th to move to 15-under for the tournament.
Knowing the past history of this tournament at this course, you know, you have to keep going, said Estes in primary reference to John Cooks winning total of 26-under-par 258 in 1996.
Phil Mickelson is one player who wont be around for the weekend. The left-hander notched rounds of 70-71 to miss his first cut since February.
Full-field scores from the FedEx St. Jude Classic
Watch: Daly makes an ace at the Chubb Classic
John Daly won't walk from the Chubb Classic with the trophy, but he certainly deserves recogition for his Sunday scorecard, which came complete with a hole-in-one.
Daly aced the 154-yard par-3 16th on the Talon Course at TwinEagles, when his ball carried the froont bunker and tracked right to the hole.
Two holes later, Daly signed for a final-round 67 that included four birdies, three bogeys and two eagles, which both in the span of four holes on the back nine.
Gustafson shares stuttering success video
Sophie Gustafson shared a breakthrough Sunday morning on YouTube.
Gustafson, a five-time LPGA winner and 16-time Ladies European Tour winner, shared her news in a 4-minute and 15-second video.
She did so without stuttering.
And that’s the nature of her breakthrough, something she is sharing in hopes that it will help others who stutter.
“I’m certainly not perfect, and the next time you see me, I am going to stutter, there is no question about that,” she says in the video. “But I am excited, because I am going in the right direction, and I believe I have found the solution that works for me.”
For someone who has struggled with stuttering all of her life, Gustafson has touched so many with her ability to communicate. She has entertained her legion of Twitter followers with her sense of humor. She also has written articles.
Back in 2011, Gustafson touched Golf Channel viewers when she opened up about her stuttering in an interview that was aired during the Solheim Cup. Her courage in sharing her challenges was recognized the following year, when the Golf Writers Association of American presented her its Ben Hogan Award, an honor bestowed to someone who has persevered through physical ailment. She also won the LPGA’s Heather Farr Perseverance Award that year.
Gustafson, 44, left the game as a player three years ago to become Beth Allen’s full-time caddie on the Ladies European Tour. She explains in the YouTube video that she is making her breakthrough with the help of Steve Gill, a team member with Tony Robbins’ life and business strategy group.
Gustafson said Gill led her to breathing, meditation and incantation exercises that have helped her since they began working together eight months ago.
“If you know anyone who stutters, tell them to breathe in and then speak,” Gustafson said. “I tried it the other way for 44 years, and it's just not working.”
J.Y. Ko wins her first start as an official LPGA member
Make way for Jin Young Ko.
The South Koreans keep delivering one new star after another to the LPGA ranks, and they aren’t going to disappoint this year.
Ko made some history Sunday winning the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, closing with a 3-under-par 69 to claim a wire-to-wire victory. She became the first player in 67 years to win her LPGA debut as a tour member. Beverly Hanson (1951) is the only other player to do so.
Hyejin Choi, an 18-year-old who just turned pro, is yet another emerging South Korean star looking to crack the LPGA ranks. She finished second Sunday, three shots back after closing with a 67. She played on a sponsor exemption. She is already No. 11 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings and likely to move up when the newest rankings are released. Had Choi won Sunday, she could have claimed LPGA membership for the rest of this season.
Ko, 22, moved herself into early position to try to follow in Sung Hyun Park’s footsteps. Park won the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards last year. She joined Nancy Lopez as the only players to do so. Lopez did it in 1978. Park shared the Player of the Year honor with So Yeon Ryu.
Ko said winning the Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year Award is a goal, but she didn’t come into the year setting her sights on Player of the Year.
“I haven’t thought about that yet,” she said.
Ko finished at 14 under overall.
It was a good week for rookies. Australia’s Hannah Green (69) finished third.
Ko claimed LPGA membership this year based on her victory as a non-member at the KEB Hana Bank Championship in South Korea last fall. She’s already a star in South Korea, having won 10 times on the Korean LPGA Tour. She is No. 20 in the world and, like Choi, poised to move up when the newest world rankings are released.
Former world No. 1 Lydia Ko closed with an even par 72, finishing tied for 19th in her 2018 debut. She is in next week’s field at the Honda LPGA Thailand.
Luiten takes title at inaugural Oman Open
MUSCAT, Oman - Joost Luiten of the Netherlands won the inaugural Oman Open on Sunday to break a title drought of nearly 17 months.
The 32-year-old Dutchman shot a 4-under 68 to finish on 16-under 272, two shots ahead of his friend, England's Chris Wood (69).
It was Luiten's sixth European Tour title and the first since the 2016 KLM Open.
Frenchman Julien Guerrier (71) virtually assured that he would not have to go to qualifying school for the 12th time with a third-place finish after a 13-under 275.
Luiten started with three birdies in his first four holes, but bogeys on the seventh and eighth set him back. On the back nine, he made three birdies, including a key one on the 16th, where he made a 30-foot putt.
''It feels great. I didn't know what to expect when I came here but to play a course like this which is in great condition - it's a great technical golf course as well - it was beyond my expectation and to hold the trophy is even better,'' said Luiten, who is expected to rise to No. 65 in the new rankings on Monday.
''I had a great start, that's what I was hoping for. I hit some nice ones in close and rolled in a couple of nice putts and that gets you in the right position, where you want to be.
''Unfortunately, I had a couple of bogeys as well on the front nine, but I recovered from that with a couple of nice birdies on the back nine and it was a good battle with Woody.''
Playing one group ahead, England's Wood was right in the mix and tied with Luiten at 15-under when their fortunes went in opposite directions almost at the same time. On the 17th hole, Wood drove his tee shot into the hazard left and could do no more than chip his ball out for a bogey. Luiten, meanwhile, drained his 30-footer birdie putt on the 16th for a two-shot swing.
Recovering his form after a series of disappointments, Wood was let down by the loss and said: ''It's golf isn't it? You are never happy.
''I played poorly for six or eight months. Would have never thought I would have put myself into contention. And when you do, you feel gutted when you don't win. I am pretty down really, but in the grand scheme of things, when I reflect after a couple of days, I will think it is a big step in the right direction.''
Luiten's win also got him into the top 10 in the Race to Dubai, securing him a start at the WGC-Mexico Championship in two weeks.
Frenchman Alexander Levy (70), who was hoping to finish in the top five to push into the top 10 in the Race to Dubai and grab the WGC-Mexico spot himself, did manage a joint fourth place at 11 under, but Luiten's victory kept him 11th.
The European Tour next moves to Doha for the Qatar Masters starting on Thursday.