Blake Still On Top in Milwaukee

By Sports NetworkJuly 11, 2003, 4:00 pm
MILWAUKEE, Wisconson -- Jay Don Blake carded a 2-under 68 Friday in windy conditions to hold on to his one-stroke lead after two rounds of the Greater Milwaukee Open. Blake is 8-under-par 132 at the midway point.
 
Wisconsin native Jerry Kelly and Brett Quigley each shot 3-under 67 Friday to move to 7-under-par 133. They share second place with Patrick Sheehan, who posted a 5-under 65.
 
The second round was completed despite a 98-minute rain delay that quickly flooded the course. Most of the delay was actually due to cleanup after torrential rain fell for about 15 minutes.
 
Blake started on the front side at Brown Deer Park Golf Course. He began quickly with a birdie at the first. Blake notched two more birdies on the front side at the sixth and ninth.
 
Around the turn, he struggled to a bogey at No. 10. He atoned for that error two holes later as he birdied the par-4 12th. Blake cruised to the house with five straight pars, but three-putted for bogey at the last which dropped his lead to one shot.
 
'The winds were blowing the ball all over the place,' said Blake, who completed his round before the rain came. 'It was a little frustrating to end the round that way after playing pretty solid all day long.'
 
Kelly used a stroke of luck during the rain delay to help his round. He approached tour officials during the delay to notify them that his putter-head had come loose. Officials allowed him to change putters for the remainder of the round. Lucky for him, Kelly had accidently left a spare putter in his car, otherwise he would have been in real trouble.
 
'I don't know what happened,' said Kelly of his first putter. 'I'm walking to the practice greens getting ready to practice and the next thing I know the thing is turning in my hands. I was going to take the second one out of my bag when I got to Madison. I forgot and it ends up coming with me to Milwaukee. That was pure luck right there.'
 
Kelly rolled in two birdies on the front side before dropping a shot at the eighth. Around the turn, he used the new putter to birdie the 11th and 14th to grab a share of second. He is looking to become the first Wisconsin native to win this tournament.
 
'I really didn't think I was going to putt well. It didn't look good,' Kelly said. 'But I've been stroking so well this week, I've got such good rhythm and good technique right now that all I had to do was set that thing right where I wanted it to.'
 
Quigley moved up the leaderboard with four birdies and two bogeys on the front nine. On the back side, his birdie at No. 15 moved him into a share second.
 
Sheehan began the day four shots off the pace. He posted three birdies and one bogey on the back side, his first nine. On the front side, he ran off three consecutive birdies from the sixth to climb the leaderboard.
 
Heath Slocum fired the round of the day with a 7-under 63 to move to 5-under-par 135 after two rounds. He is tied for fifth place with Loren Roberts, Joey Sindelar, Tommy Armour III, Joel Edwards, Stephen Allan and Shigeki Maruyama.
 
The cut line fell at 2-over-par 142 with 81 surviving to play on the weekend.
 
Jeff Sluman, the 2002 champion, struggled to rounds of 72-76 to miss the cut at 8-over-par 148.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage -- Greater Milwaukee Open
  • Greater Milwaukee Open Leaderboard
  • Getty Images

    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

    Getty Images

    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

    Getty Images

    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.

    Enrique Berardi/LAAC

    Ortiz leads LAAC through 54; Niemann, Gana one back

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 8:15 pm

    Mexico's Alvaro Ortiz shot a 1-under 70 Monday to take the 54-hole lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship in Chile.

    At 4 under for the week, he leads by one over over Argentina's Jaime Lopez Rivarola, Chile's Toto Gana and Joaquin Niemann, and Guatemala's Dnaiel Gurtner.

    Ortiz is the younger brother of three-time Web.com winner Carlos. Alvaro, a senior at Arkansas, finished tied for third at the LAAC in 2016 and lost in a three-way playoff last year that included Niemann and Gana, the champion.

    Ortiz shared the 54-hole lead with Gana last year and they will once again play in the final group on Tuesday, along with Gurtner, a redshirt junior at TCU.

    “Literally, I've been thinking about [winning] all year long," Ortiz said Monday. "Yes, I am a very emotional player, but tomorrow I want to go out calm and with a lot of patience. I don't want the emotions to get the better of me. What I've learned this past year, especially in the tournaments I’ve played for my university, is that I have become more mature and that I have learned how to control myself on the inside on the golf course.”

    In the group behind, Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who is poised to turn professional, unless of course he walks away with the title.

    “I feel a lot of motivation at the moment, especially because I am the only player in the field that shot seven under (during the second round), and I am actually just one shot off the lead," he said. "So I believe that tomorrow I can shoot another very low round."

    Tuesday's winner will earn an invitation to this year's Masters and exemptions into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open, and final qualifying for The Open.