Yang, Lewis set for Sunday showdown after tight Rd. 3

By Randall MellJuly 12, 2015, 12:43 am

LANCASTER, Pa. – As busy as he was Saturday in the middle of a moving stage they call the U.S. Women’s Open, Travis Wilson enjoyed the show.

While Stacy Lewis and Amy Yang didn’t make a lot of birdie putts storming their way around Lancaster Country Club, they took turns hurling golf shots like thunderbolts at flagsticks to the delight of the giant galleries jockeying for position to see. They put on a ball-striking exhibition.

Wilson is Lewis’ long-time caddie.

“Listening to the way it was out there, the back and forth, two great golfers going at it,” Wilson said. “There was no letup in either one.”

Yang and Lewis couldn’t shake each other in the third round. Yang shot a 1-under-par 69, giving her three consecutive rounds in the 60s to move to 8-under 202, one stroke shy the 54-hole U.S. Women’s Open record. Lewis matched her with a 69. She also matched Yang with three consecutive rounds in the 60s to stay three shots back going into the final round.

With Yang and Lewis paired together again in the final round, this might already be a two-woman event.

In Gee Chun (68) is four shots back. Shiho Oyama (71) is five back.

If history’s any indicator, nobody else has a chance on Sunday. In the 69-year history of the U.S. Women’s Open, nobody has come from six shots or more behind in the final round to win. Lewis almost did it last year, charging from six back with a 66 at Pinehurst, but she ultimately finished second to Michelle Wie by two shots.

“I think it’s is playing even harder than Pinehurst was last year,” Lewis said. “It's a little bit comparable to the Kraft Nabisco in 2011, when I was playing with Yani Tseng, where the two of us kind of separated ourselves from the field. It kind of became a two-man show there at the end. It's similar to that.”

U.S. Women’s Open: Articles, photos and videos

Lewis came from two behind Tseng at Kraft to win the first of her two major championships.

“I think I've always played better coming from behind,” Lewis said. “So I like where I am going into tomorrow.”

Yang and Lewis are both looking to script better finishes than they endured last year Pinehurst. They were both within reach of the Harton S. Semple Trophy on Sunday, only to see Wie hoisting it in the end.

Yang, 25, was tied with Wie for the lead going into the final round but shot 74. Yang, who has won seven times around the world, twice in LPGA events, keeps showing she has a game built for the U.S. Women’s Open. She just hasn’t been able to win one. She has finished among the top 10 in four of the last five U.S. Women’s Open. This marks the third time Yang has played in a final Sunday pairing in one. She was with Na Yeon Choi in 2012 when Choi won at Blackwolf Run. Yang believes those experiences will prove valuable Sunday.

“It was good experience, the last two,” Yang said. “I’ll go out there and just do my best.”

Yang and Lewis got off to a dizzying start, taking turns on different ends of two-shot swings over the first two holes. Yang opened with a birdie, Lewis with a bogey. Lewis followed with a birdie at the second hole and Yang bogeyed.

There was another two-shot swing at the 14th with Lewis going from four shots back to within two.

All the while, nobody else back in the pack made a move at them.

“I was watching the leaderboards today, waiting for someone to jump up there,” Lewis said. “It just never happened.”

Lewis, 30, ranks second for the week hitting greens in regulation (44/54). Only Chun has hit more. Yang is right behind Lewis, having hit one less green in regulation.

“I felt like I hit some great shots that put a lot of pressure on her,” Lewis said. “And then she just would respond and hit it right in there with me.

“There were multiple times today that it was iffy who was away. We were hitting shots on top of each other. In a sense, it's frustrating, because you're trying to get closer but you really can't get any closer. But it's also what you want to see. I think it's great golf.”

Yang’s caddie, David Poitevent, was also on the bag at last year’s U.S. Women’s Open.

“We started poorly last year, 4 over after four holes, but one of the things I really like about Amy is her attitude,” Poitevent said. “She has a great attitude. She doesn’t get frustrated. She bounces back. She can handle adversity.”

As good as Lewis has been the last year, she has endured her own share of adversity in a year of almosts. She hasn’t won in more than a year, but she has battled into Sunday contention countless times, recording six second-place finishes and two thirds since her last victory. She lost the year’s first major in a playoff with Brittany Lincicome at the ANA Inspiration.

Lewis feels good about her swing, and so does Yang. It bodes well for another shot-making show.

“I expect more of it tomorrow,” Lewis said.

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.