Bryant Steals the Show at Memorial

By Sports NetworkJune 5, 2005, 4:00 pm
DUBLIN, Ohio -- Bart Bryant posted a 4-under 68 Sunday to out-last Fred Couples and win The Memorial.
Bryant completed the event at 16-under-par 272. For Bryant, it was his second win on the PGA Tour. His other win came at the 2004 Texas Open.
Bart Bryant
Bart Bryant reacts to his par-saving putt on the final hole.
'This was huge. To go ahead and win this year the first time I was in contention is a bonus,' Bryant said. 'It is just a real honor to win here at Jack Nicklaus' tournament.'
Fred Couples, the 1998 Memorial winner, carded a final-round 69 to finish alone in second at minus-15.
Tiger Woods, a three-time Memorial winner, matched Bryant's 68 to move into a tie for third at 12-under-par 276. He was joined there by Bo Van Pelt and Jeff Sluman, who held at least a share of the lead after each of the first three rounds at Muirfield Village Golf Club.
Bryant, one of four leaders entering the round, had an up-and-down front nine. He birdied the second to take a one-stroke lead. He tripped to a bogey at the next though to fall one behind Sluman and Couples.
The 42-year-old Bryant grabbed a piece of the lead with a birdie on five. He stumbled to a bogey at the next though. He joined Couples atop the leaderboard again with a birdie on No. 7.
Bryant again dropped one back with a bogey on the eighth. After a pair of pars, the New Mexico State graduate moved to 13 under with a birdie on No. 11. With that, he tied Richard Green in the lead. Bryant sank a birdie try on 14 to again tie Couples for the lead.
After a Couples birdie, Bryant matched him with a birdie on 15. He rolled in a birdie attempt at 16, his third straight, to move one stroke clear of the field.
Bryant's drive at 18 found a hazard left of the fairway. He took a penalty drop, then knocked his third shot to 12 feet. He sank that putt for his par to remain one shot clear of Couples, who was in the fairway behind him. Couples was unable to catch him however.
'I feel really good. I'm very blessed to win here, my second win,' said Bryant, who earned $990,000 for the win. 'It'll be able to validate what I did last year.
'But to win against a quality field like this on a great, great golf course, I said it before and I'll say it again, but as a PGA Tour player, to walk off the 18th green and have Mr. Nicklaus waiting to shake your hand and congratulate you is beyond comprehension at this point, it's really cool.'
Couples opened with a birdie on the second to tie Sluman for first place. He tripped to a bogey on No. 5, but managed to retain a piece of the lead. The former Houston Cougar slipped back to 11 under with a bogey on eight.
The 45-year-old responded with a birdie on No. 9 to get back within one of the leader. Couples joined Bryant and Green at 13 under with a birdie on the 11th. He came right back with a birdie on 12 to move one clear of the field.
Couples dropped in back-to-back birdie putts from the 14th to stay one ahead of Bryant. The 1992 Masters champion faltered to a bogey on 16 though to fall one back of Bryant.
Couples parred the 17th after hitting his second to the green from an awkward stance on the side of a fairway bunker. He two-putted for par. Couples' drive on 18 split the fairway.
He needed to birdie that hole to force a playoff though. He knocked his second long and left of the pin. He blasted his third out of thick rough, but it rolled by the hole. Couples drained his par putt to finish one back.
Woods traded a birdie for a bogey from the second. He later ran off three straight birdies from the fifth to jump to 11 under and get within two of the lead.
His run stopped with a double bogey on No. 9 though. Woods dropped in a birdie on the 11th and made it two in a row with a birdie at 12.
Woods fell three behind the leaders after a bogey on 14. He tried to get back into contention with birdies on 15 and 17, but fell short. With the tie for third, he will remain No. 2 in the world behind Vijay Singh, who missed the cut here. If Woods had finished alone in third, he would have overtaken the Fijian.
Jonathan Kaye and Nick O'Hern shared sixth place at 11-under-par 277. Lucas Glover, Green, K.J. Choi, Jim Furyk and David Toms were one stroke further back at minus-10.
Ernie Els, the 2004 champion, was never a factor this week. He eagled the par-5 15th in the final round, but bogeyed the last two holes to close an even-par round of 72. He finished at even-par 288 in a tie for 45th.
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    Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders

    By Randy SmithMarch 18, 2018, 2:45 am

    PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.

    She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.

    Her confidence is high.

    “Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”

    Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.

    Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.

    “One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.

    “I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”

    Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.

    “I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”

    That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.

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    Returning Park grabs 54-hole Founders lead

    By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 2:09 am

    PHOENIX – In the long shadows falling across Wildfire Golf Club late Saturday afternoon, Inbee Park conceded she was tempted to walk away from the game last year.

    While healing a bad back, she was tempted to put her clubs away for good and look for a second chapter for her life.

    But then . . .

    “Looking at the girls playing on TV, you think you want to be out there” Park said. “Really, I couldn't make my mind up when I was taking that break, but as soon as I'm back here, I just feel like this is where I belong.”

    In just her second start after seven months away from the LPGA, Park is playing like she never left.

    She’s atop a leaderboard at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, looking like that’s exactly where she belongs.

    With a 9-under-par 63 Saturday, Park seized the lead going into the final round.

    At 14 under overall, she’s one shot ahead of Mariajo Uribe (67), two ahead of Ariya Jutanugarn (68) and three ahead of 54-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies (63) and Chella Choi (66).

    Park’s back with a hot putter.

    That’s not good news for the rest of the tour. Nobody can demoralize a field with a flat stick like Park. She’s one of the best putters the women’s game has ever seen, and on the front nine Saturday she looked as good as she ever has.

    “The front nine was scary,” said her caddie, Brad Beecher, who was on Park’s bag for her long run at world No. 1, her run of three consecutive major championship victories in 2013 and her gold medal victory at the Olympics two years ago.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “The front nine was great . . . like 2013,” Park said.

    Park started her round on fire, going birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie. She was 6 under through five holes. She holed a wedge from 98 yards at the third hole, making the turn having taken just 10 putts. Yeah, she said, she was thinking about shooting 59.

    “But I'm still really happy with my round today,” she said.

    Park isn’t getting ahead of herself, even with this lead. She said her game isn’t quite where she wants it with the ANA Inspiration, the year’s first major championship, just two weeks away, but a victory Sunday should go a long way toward getting her there.

    Park is only 29. LPGA pros haven’t forgotten what it was like when she was dominating, when she won 14 times between 2013 and ’15.

    They haven’t forgotten how she can come back from long layoffs with an uncanny ability to pick up right where she left off.

    Park won the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year in just her second start. She left the tour again in the summer with an aching back.

    “I feel like Inbee could take off a whole year or two years and come back and win every week,” said Brittany Lincicome, who is four shots behind Park. “Her game is just so consistent. She doesn't do anything flashy, but her putting is flashy.

    “She literally walks them in. It's incredible, like you know it's going in when she hits it. It's not the most orthodox looking stroke, but she can repeat it.”

    Park may not play as full a schedule as she has in the past, Beecher said, but he believes she can thrive with limited starts.

    “I think it helps her get that fight back, to get that hunger back,” Beecher said. “She knows she can play 15 events a year and still compete. There aren’t a lot of players who can do that.”

    Park enjoyed her time away last year, and how it re-energized her.

    “When I was taking the long break, I was just thinking, `I can do this life as well,’” Park said. “But I'm glad I came back out here. Obviously, days like today, that's the reason I'm playing golf.”

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    Joh on St. Patrick's ace: Go broke buying green beers

    By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 12:57 am

    PHOENIX – Tiffany Joh was thrilled making a run into contention to win her first LPGA title Saturday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she comically cracked that her hole-in-one might have been ill-timed.

    It came on St. Patrick’s Day.

    “This is like the worst holiday to be making a hole-in-one on,” Joh said. “You'll go broke buying everyone green beers.”

    Joh aced the fifth hole with a 5-iron from 166 yards on her way to an 8-under-par 64. It left her four shots behind the leader, Inbee Park (63).

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    One of the more colorful players on tour, Joh said she made the most of her hole-in-one celebration with playing partner Jane Park.

    “First I ran and tackled Jane, then I high-fived like every single person walking to the green,” Joh said.

    Joh may be the LPGA’s resident comedian, but she faced a serious challenge on tour last year.  Fourteen months ago, she had surgery to remove a malignant melanoma. She won the LPGA’s Heather Farr Perseverance Award for the way she handled her comeback.

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    Davies, 54, still thinks she can win, dreams of HOF

    By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 12:22 am

    PHOENIX – Laura Davies limped around Wildfire Golf Club Saturday with an ache radiating from her left Achilles up into her calf muscle at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    “Every step is just misery,” Davies said after. “It’s just getting older. Don’t get old.”

    She’s 54, but she played the third round as if she were 32 again.

    That’s how old she was when she was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year and won two major championships.

    With every sweet swing Saturday, Davies peeled back the years, turning back the clock.

    Rolling in a 6-foot birdie at the 17th, Davies moved into a tie for the lead with Inbee Park, a lead that wouldn’t last long with so many players still on the course when she finished. Still, with a 9-under-par 63, Davies moved into contention to try to become the oldest winner in LPGA history.

    Davies has won 20 LPGA titles, 45 Ladies European Tour titles, but she hasn’t won an LPGA event in 17 years, since taking the Wegmans Rochester International.

    Can she can surpass the mark Beth Daniel set winning at 46?

    “I still think I can win,” Davies said. “This just backs that up for me. Other people, I don’t know, they’re always asking me now when I’m going to retire. I always say I’m still playing good golf, and now here’s the proof of it.”

    Davies knows it will take a special day with the kind of final-round pressure building that she hasn’t experienced in awhile.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “The pressure will be a lot more tomorrow,” she said. “We'll see, won’t sleep that well tonight. The good news is that I’ll probably be four or five behind by the end of the day, so the pressure won’t be there as much.”

    Davies acknowledged confidence is harder to garner, as disappointments and missed cuts pile up, but she’s holding on to her belief she can still win.

    “I said to my caddie, `Jeez, I haven't been on top of the leaderboard for a long time,’” Davies said. “That's nice, obviously, but you’ve got to stay there. That's the biggest challenge.”

    About that aching left leg, Davies was asked if it could prevent her from challenging on Sunday.

    “I’ll crawl around if I have to,” she said.

    Saturday’s 63 was Davies’ lowest round in an LPGA event since she shot 63 at the Wendy’s Championship a dozen years ago.

    While Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in ’01. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

    Davies said she still dreams about qualifying.

    “You never know,” she said.