Open Championship

By Mercer BaggsJuly 18, 2003, 4:00 pm
SANDWICH, England -- This one couldnt be more wide-open. The 132nd Open Championship is fully up for grabs after two rounds at Royal St. Georges.
 
Twenty-six players are within five strokes of the lead, held by Davis Love III.
 
Love is the only player under par through 36 holes. Hes at 1-under-par 141 following a 1-over 72 Friday afternoon.
 
The list of challengers is as eclectic as the fairway bounces are unpredictable.
 
Thomas Bjorn, who had a quadruple-bogey 8 in the first round when he received a two-stroke penalty after slamming his club in a bunker, is tied with S.K. Ho for second place at 1-over-par 143. Bjorn shot 70; Ho had a 73.
 
Last years playoff loser Thomas Levet (73), Sergio Garcia (72), PGA Tour rookie Ben Curtis (72), Kenny Perry (70), overnight leader Hennie Otto (76), Scotlands Alastair Forsyth (70) and Paraguayan Marco Ruiz (71) are all three back.
 
Players seesawed up and down the leaderboard Friday.
 
Love had the best chance to create some distance between he and the field. He took a three-shot lead, at 4-under, but was unable to sustain the progression. Love bogeyed three of his final seven holes.
 
All in all, I guess its a good day, said Love, who is looking to add to his three wins this season. Too many 5s, obviously, on the card on the back nine, but it just got tougher and tougher. The wind never let up, and the greens got firmer and faster as we went along.
 
And some of the hardest pin placements Ive ever seen, he added. Ive never seen pins so hard.
 
Love was one of several players to complain about the difficulty of the pin locations in Round 2.
 
They were the toughest pin positions I have ever seen in this tournament, said U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk, who shot 78 to miss the cut with a 10-over total. The pin placements were in some particularly awkward and difficult positions. They set them up on the side of humps and on top of humps.
 
'I would just assume the pin placements would be tougher (over the weekend), and I think par will still be a great score,' said Perry, who has won three times in his last four starts, and is competing in just his second Open Championship.
 
Seventy-five players made the cut, which fell at 8-over-par 150.
 
Those still in contention include Tiger Woods (72) and Vijay Singh (70) at 3-over, and defending champion Ernie Els (68), 1994 winner Nick Price (72) and Phil Mickelson (72) at 4-over.
 
Els started the day 10 off the lead after an opening 78, but cut his deficit in half thanks to a little encouragement from his daughter, Samantha.
 
My little girl gave me a little pat last night and wished me good luck this morning. I guess it worked, said Els, who shot the low round of the day.
 
While Els experienced a 10-shot difference between his first two rounds, so too did Greg Norman. The winner the last time the Open was contested at Royal St. Georges, in 1993, Norman fell from one shot off the lead after a 69 to nearer the cutline after a 79.
 
'Anybody who made the cut right now has a chance to win this golf tournament,' said Norman. 'All you have to do is shoot a pair of 67s and that puts you at even par, and even par is a shoe-in to win this golf tournament given the way the conditions are.'
 
It could have been better for Love, but it could have been much worse were it not for a couple of good bounces.
 
Loves tee shot on the par-5 14th was headed out of bounds right until it struck a post and kicked back into play ' by two feet.
 
I dont know how that happened, Love said. Were all going to get crazy bounces in this championship.
 
He made par there, as he did at the last. Love missed the green left and then pitched his third shot on the par-4 18th some 20 feet right of the hole. It got the perfect kick and took the proper break, grazing the edge of the cup.
 
It was reminiscent of the final round in the 1999 Masters, when Love pitched in on the par-3 16th after deliberately aiming away from the hole.
 
It took a lot of nerve for me to hit it up there, he said. Again, youve got to play the bounces. And it bounced good for me.
 
Unlike the U.S. Open, where a European-born player hasnt won since Tony Jacklin in 1970, Americans have almost sipped exclusively from the Claret Jug in recent years. Yanks have claimed six of the last eight titles.
 
And there have been 12 different winners over the last 12 years.
 
Both facts hold well for Love, who has experienced major woes over the past two-and-a-half seasons. The 1997 PGA Champion has but one top-10 finish (T7, 2001 U.S. Open) in his last 10 major championship starts.
 
This is the first time he has held the 36-hole lead in a major. He has done so 25 times on the PGA Tour, but has only won on three of those occassions.
 
Woods won eight majors in an 11-championship stretch, but is 0 for his last 4.
 
Unlike Thursday, he didnt lose a ball in Round 2. He just had a problem getting it in the hole at the par-4 12th.
 
After making three birdies over his first seven holes to get within one of the lead, at 1-under, he dropped a shot at the par-4 ninth. He then three-putted from two feet at 12 for double bogey, and bogeyed 17.
 
I thought I played good enough to score a little lower than I did, said Woods. But I will take it because I am right there in the hunt and Im only four shots back, and if I play a good solid round tomorrow, I should be right where I want to be.
 
If you finish under par you will most probably win this tournament.
 
Related Links:
  • 132nd Open Championship Home
  • Open Championship Leaderboard
  • More Open Championship News
  • Getty Images

    J. Korda leads M. Jutanugarn by four in Thailand

    By Associated PressFebruary 24, 2018, 3:00 pm

    CHONBURI, Thailand - Jessica Korda kept an eye on her younger sister while firing a 4-under 68 in the third round of the LPGA Thailand on Saturday to lead Moriya Jutanugarn by four strokes.

    A day after a course-record 62 at Siam Country Club, Korda fought back from a bogey on the front nine with five birdies to finish on 20-under 196 overall. The American was on the 18th hole when concerns over lightning suspended play for 30 minutes before play resumed.

    ''(I) was playing really well at the end of the season, but I haven't been in this (leading) position. Being back, it just takes you a little bit of time,'' said the 24-year-old Korda, who won her fifth and last title at the LPGA Malaysia in 2015.

    Her 19-year-old sister Nelly Korda (65) is eight shots off the lead.


    Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand


    ''I'm definitely a leaderboard watcher. I love seeing her name up there,'' said Jessica Korda, who was playing her first tournament since jaw surgery.

    Propelled by eight birdies and an eagle on the par-4 No. 14, with three bogeys, Moriya signed off with a 65 and a total of 16-under 200.

    ''Everybody has the chance to win as all the top players are here this week,'' said Moriya, who has a chance to become the first Thai winner in her home tournament.

    Australian Minjee Lee (68) is third on 15-under 201, followed by former top-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn (65) on 202. Lexi Thompson (69), the 2016 champion, is a stroke further back. Michelle Wie (69) is tied for sixth.

    Brittany Lincicome was in second place after the second round, four shots behind Jessica Korda, but the American dropped down the board and is tied for ninth after a 73.

    Getty Images

    The Tiger comeback just got real on Friday

    By Randall MellFebruary 24, 2018, 1:11 am

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Slow play was a big storyline on the PGA Tour’s West Coast swing, but not so much anymore.

    Not with Tiger Woods speeding things up Friday at the Honda Classic.

    Not with Woods thumping the gas pedal around PGA National’s Champion Course, suddenly looking as if he is racing way ahead of schedule in his return to the game.

    The narrative wondrously started to turn here.

    It turned from wondering at week’s start if Woods could make the cut here, after missing it last week at the Genesis Open. His game was too wild for Riviera, where a second-round 76 left him looking lost with the Masters just six weeks away.

    It turned in head-spinning fashion Friday with Woods climbing the leaderboard in tough conditions to get himself into weekend contention with a 1-over-par 71.

    He is just four shots off the lead.

    “I’d be shocked if he’s not there Sunday with a chance to win,” said Brandt Snedeker, who played alongside Woods in the first two rounds. “He’s close to playing some really, really good golf.”

    Just a few short months ago, so many of us were wondering if Woods was close to washed up.

    “He’s only going to improve,” Snedeker said. “The more time he has, as the weather gets warmer, he’ll feel better and be able to practice more.”

    Snedeker has had a front-row seat for this speedy Tiger turnaround. He played the third round with Woods at the Farmers Insurance Open last month. That was Woods’ first PGA Tour start in a year.


    Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

    Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


    How much improvement did Snedeker see from that Torrey Pines experience?

    “It was kind of what I expected – significantly improved,” Snedeker said. “His iron game is way better. His driver is way better. I don’t’ see it going backward from here.”

    This was the hope packed into Friday’s new narrative.

    “I’m right there in the ballgame,” Woods said. “I really played well today. I played well all day today.”

    Tiger sent a jolt through PGA National when his name hit the top 10 of the leaderboard. He didn’t do it with a charge. He did it battling a brutish course in wintry, blustery winds, on “scratchy” and “dicey” greens that made par a good score.

    When Woods holed a 25-foot putt at the ninth to move into red numbers at 1 under overall and within three shots of the lead, a roar shook across the Champion Course.

    “It got a little loud, which was cool to see,” Snedeker said. “It’s great to have that energy and vibe back.”

    Woods sent fans scampering to get into position, blasting a 361-yard drive at the 10th, cutting the corner. He had them buzzing when he stuck his approach to 9 feet for another birdie chance to get within two of the lead.

    “I thought if he makes it, this place will go nuts, and he could get it going like he used to,” Snedeker said.

    Woods missed, but with the leaders falling back to him on this grueling day, he stuck his approach at the 12th to 10 feet to give himself a chance to move within a shot of the lead.

    It’s another putt that could have turned PGA National upside down, but Woods missed that.

    “It really is hard to make birdies,” he said. “At least I found it hard. It was hard to get the ball close, even if the ball is in the fairway, it's still very difficult to get the ball close, with the wind blowing as hard as it is. It’s hard to make putts out here.”

    Patton Kizzire, a two-time PGA Tour winner who won just last month at the Sony Open, could attest to how tough the test at Honda has become. He played alongside Woods this week for the first time in his career. He shot 78 Friday and missed the cut.

    Kizzire had a close-up look at what suddenly seems possible for Woods again.

    “He’s figuring it out,” Kizzire said. “He hit some nice shots and rolled in some nice putts. It was pretty impressive.”

    Woods could not hide his excitement in getting himself in the weekend hunt, but his expectations remain tempered in this comeback. He knows the daily referendums his game is subject to, how we can all make the highs too high and the lows too low.

    “We’ve got a long way to go,” Woods said.

    Woods lost a tee shot in a bush at the second hole and made bogey. He hit his tee shot in the water at the 15th and made double bogey. He three-putted the 16th to make bogey. He knows this course can derail a player’s plans in a hurry, but he knows his game is quickly coming around.

    “I’m right there where I can win a golf tournament,” Woods said. “Four back on this golf course with 36 holes to go, I mean, anybody can win this golf tournament right now. It’s wide open.’”

    Woods hit his shot of the day at the 17th to right his game after the struggles at the 15th and 16th. He did so in front of the Goslings Bear Trap Party Pavilion, cutting a 5-iron to 12 feet. It was the hardest hole on the course Friday, with nearly one of every three players rinsing a shot in the water there. Woods made birdie there to ignite an explosion of cheers.  He got a standing ovation.

    “I was telling you guys, I love Riviera, I just don't play well there,” Woods said. “So here we are, we're back at a golf course I know and I play well here.”

    So here we are, on the precipice of something special again?

    Woods seems in a hurry to find out.

    Getty Images

    List, Lovemark lead; Tiger four back at Honda

    By Associated PressFebruary 24, 2018, 12:41 am

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Even with a tee shot into the water for another double bogey, Tiger Woods could see the big picture in the Honda Classic.

    He was four shots out of the lead going into the weekend.

    Luke List delivered a round not many others found possible in such difficult conditions Friday, a 4-under 66 that gave him a share of the lead with Jamie Lovemark (69). They were at 3-under 137, the highest score to lead at the halfway point of the Honda Classic since it moved to PGA National in 2007.

    So bunched were the scores that Woods was four shots out of the lead and four shots from last place among the 76 players who made the cut at 5-over 145. More importantly, he only had 13 players in front of him.

    ''This is a difficult golf course right now,'' Woods said. ''Making pars is a good thing. I've done that, and I'm right there with a chance.''

    And he has plenty of company.


    Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

    Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


    Tommy Fleetwood, who won the Race to Dubai on the European Tour last year, scratched out a 68 and was one shot out of the lead along with Webb Simpson (72), Russell Henley (70) and Rory Sabbatini (69).

    Justin Thomas and Daniel Berger each shot 72 and were in a large group at 139. They were among only 10 players remaining under par.

    Fleetwood laughed when asked the last time he was at 2 under after 36 holes and only one shot out of the lead.

    ''Maybe some junior event,'' he said. ''It's good, though. These are the toughest test in golf. Generally, one of the best players prevail at the end of weeks like this. Weeks like this challenge you to the ultimate level. Whether you shoot two 80s or you lead after two rounds, you can see what you need to do and see where your game is. Because this is as hard as it's ever going to get for you.''

    The difficulty was primarily from the wind, which blew just as hard in the morning when List shot his 66 as it did in the afternoon. More aggravating to the players are the greens, which are old and bare, firm and crusty. It's a recipe for not making many putts.

    Defending champion Rickie Fowler had six bogeys on his front nine and shot 77 to miss the cut.

    ''It's unfortunate that the greens have changed this much in a year,'' Fowler said. ''They typically get slick and quick on the weekend because they dry out, but at least there's some sort of surface. But like I said, everyone's playing the same greens.''

    It looked as though List was playing a different course when he went out with a bogey-free 32 on the back nine, added a pair of birdies on the front nine and then dropped his only shot when he caught an awkward lie in the bunker on the par-3 seventh.

    ''It's very relentless,'' List said. ''There's not really too many easy holes, but if you hit fairways and go from there, you can make a few birdies out there.''

    List and Lovemark, both Californians, have never won on the PGA Tour. This is the third time List has had at least a share of the 36-hole lead, most recently in South Korea at the CJ Cup, where he shot 76-72 on the weekend.

    ''It's kind of irrelevant because there's going to be 30 guys within a couple shots of the lead,'' List said. ''It's going to be that type of week.''

    He was exaggerating – there were 11 players within three shots of the lead.

    And there was another guy four shots behind.

    Woods brought big energy to a Friday afternoon that already was hopping before he overcame a sluggish start and holed a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 9 to make the turn at 1 under for his round, and leaving him two shots out of the lead. Everyone knew it just from listening to the roars.

    Woods had his chances, twice missing birdie putts from inside 10 feet at Nos. 10 and 12, sandwiched around a 12-foot par save. His round appeared to come undone when he found the water on the 15th and made double bogey for the second straight day.

    Then, he hit out of a fairway bunker, over the water and onto the green at the dangerous 16th hole and faced a 65-foot putt. He misread the speed and the line, so badly that it was similar to a car driving from Chicago to Denver and winding up in Phoenix. A bogey dropped him to 2 over.

    The big moment was the 17th hole, 184 waters into the wind and over water. That's where Rory McIlroy made triple bogey earlier in the day that ruined his otherwise solid round of 72, leaving him seven behind. Making it even tougher for Woods is the Brandt Snedeker hit 5-iron before him to about 6 feet. Woods got to the tee and the wind died, meaning 5-iron was too much and 6-iron wouldn't clear the water.

    He went with the 5-iron.

    ''I started that thing pretty far left and hit a pretty big cut in there because I had just too much stick,'' Wood said.

    It landed 12 feet below the hole for a birdie putt.

    Thomas made 17 pars and a double bogey when he three-putted from 6 feet on No. 16. He felt the same way as Woods.

    ''I'm in a good spot – really good spot – going into this week,'' Thomas said.

    Getty Images

    Woods to play with Dufner (12:10 p.m.) in third round

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 24, 2018, 12:10 am

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods will play alongside Jason Dufner in the third round of the Honda Classic.

    Woods and Dufner, both at 1-over 141, four shots back, will tee off at 12:10 p.m. ET Saturday at PGA National. They’re in the 10th-to-last group.


    Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

    Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


    Co-leaders Luke List and Jamie Lovemark will go at 1:40 p.m.

    Some of the other late pairings include Justin Thomas and Daniel Berger, who will be playing together for the third consecutive day, at 1 p.m.; Louis Oosthuizen and Thomas Pieters (1:10 p.m.); and Webb Simpson and Russell Henley, in the penultimate group at 1:30 p.m.