Lewis the Marathon Man

By Sports NetworkSeptember 21, 2003, 4:00 pm
FARMINGTON, Pa. -- J.L. Lewis fired a course-record 10-under 62 Sunday to win the 84 Lumber Classic of Pennsylvania by two strokes. Lewis, who trailed the leader by seven shots entering the final round, finished the event at 22-under-par 266.
'I'm elated. When I started this tournament, I had aspirations of doing well, but I didn't know it was going to be this good,' said Lewis, who picks up $720,000 for the win. 'I'm sure glad we came. The course is in as good of condition as it could be in. I had fun out there today.'
Frank Lickliter II posted a 6-under 66 to share second place with Stuart Appleby and Tim Petrovic, who both notched 5-under 67s in the final round. That trio finished at 20-under-par 268.
The third and fourth rounds were both completed on Sunday. No golf was played Friday after Hurricane Isabel drenched the Mystic Rock Course at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort & Spa and rendered it unplayable.
Lewis, who shared second place last week at the John Deere Classic, posted a 4-under 68 in the third round to move to minus-12. He quickly caught fire on his second 18 holes. He rolled home a birdie on the second and followed with an eagle on the fourth, when he holed a sand-wedge from the fairway.
The 43-year-old came right back to birdie No. 5 to get to 16 under. He birdied the ninth to close out his first nine at 5 under.
Around the turn, Lewis kept climbing the leaderboard. He birdied the par-5 11th and followed with another at the next that got him to 19 under and gave him a share of the lead.
'I was just out there thinking, you've got to get to at least 20 or 21 under to have a chance,' said Lewis, who picks up his second PGA Tour victory. 'The greens are soft and it seems like guys seemed to make more birdies at the end.'
Lickliter, playing ahead of Lewis, birdied the 17th to become the first player to minus-20. Lewis quickly followed suit as he birdied the 13th.
Lewis rolled home a birdie try on No. 14, his fourth straight birdie, to take a one-stroke lead. However, that lead was short lived as Lewis bogeyed the next hole. He atoned for that mistake with a birdie on the 16th.
Lewis dropped his second shot on the green at the 18th. He rolled home the birdie putt for a course record and also gave him the tournament scoring record of 22 under. Robert Allenby had owned the previous record of 19-under- par 269, which he set when the event was played at Laurel Valley Country Club.
'I think training and just experience are important to winning,' said Lewis, who became the ninth player over the age of 40 to win on the PGA Tour this season. 'I've been through a lot of these tournaments and you have to control your nerves. If you get yourself a chance to win, that's what it comes down to. I think the older players have done more of it.'
Lickliter birdied four holes on the front nine, including three straight from the seventh. He drained a birdie on No. 13, but dropped a stroke two holes later. He responded to that mistake by sinking back-to-back birdies from the 16th to get to minus-20. However, he only managed a par four at the last.
'The last six holes, I'm thinking, 'Okay, let's see how many birdies I can make in the last six holes,'' said Lickliter. 'I ended up making a bogey in there but it would not have mattered. I was just thinking, somehow, get in on a roll. I was trying to make four or five birdies over the last six holes, but I only made two.'
Appleby entered the final round tied for third. He converted birdies on the second, eighth and 10th to climb to minus-18. He faltered to a bogey on the 13th, but came back to birdie three consecutive holes to gain a share of second place.
Petrovic started the final round alongside Appleby at minus-15. He rolled in birdies on three of his first five holes for a quick start, but he dropped a shot at the ninth. On the back nine, he birdied the 13th before closing with back-to-back birdies from the 17th.
Cameron Beckman, who led by two strokes entering the final round, struggled to a 2-over 74 in the final round. He shared fifth place with Rocco Mediate and Jesper Parnevik at 17-under-par 271. Craig Barlow and Robert Damron were one stroke further back at minus-16.
Chris DiMarco, who won this event in 2000, shared 10th place with Shigeki Maruyama and Rory Sabbatini at 15-under-par 273.
Related Links:
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  • Photo by Enrique Berardi/LAAC

    Top-ranked amateur Niemann one back at LAAC in Chile

    By Nick MentaJanuary 21, 2018, 8:44 pm

    Argentina’s Jaime Lopez Rivarola leads the Latin America Amateur Championship at 5 under par following a round of 3-under 68 Saturday in Chile.

    The former Georgia Bulldog is now 36 holes from what would be a return trip to Augusta National but his first Masters.

    "The truth is that I crossed off on my bucket list playing Augusta [National], because I happened to play there," Rivarola said. "I've played every year with my university. But playing in the Masters is a completely different thing. I have been to the Masters, and I've watched the players play during the practice rounds. But [competing would be] a completely different thing."

    He is followed on the leaderboard by the three players who competed in the playoff that decided last year’s LAAC in Panama: Joaquin Niemann (-4), Toto Gana (-4), and Alvaro Ortiz (-3).

    Click here for full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship

    Chile’s Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who currently holds conditional status on the Web.com Tour and is poised to begin his career as a professional, unless of course he takes the title this week. After a disappointing 74 in Round 1, Niemann was 10 shots better in Round 2, rocketing up the leaderboard with a 7-under 64.

    “Today, I had a completely different mentality, and that's usually what happens in my case," Niemann said. "When I shoot a bad round, the following day I have extra motivation. I realize and I feel that I have to play my best golf. The key to being a good golfer is to find those thoughts and to transfer them into good golf."

    Niemann’s fellow Chilean and best friend Gana is the defending champion who missed the cut at the Masters last year and is now a freshman at Lynn University. His second-round 70 was a roller coaster, complete with six birdies, three eagles and a double.

    Mexico’s Ortiz, the brother of three-time Web.com Tour winner Carlos, was 6 under for the week before three back-nine bogeys dropped him off the pace.

    Two past champions, Matias Dominguez and Paul Chaplet, sit 5 over and 7 over, respectively.

    The winner of the Latin America Amateur Championship earns an invite to this year’s Masters. He is also exempt into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open sectional qualifying, and Open Championship final qualifying.

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    McIlroy gets back on track

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

    There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

    He is well ahead of schedule.

    Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

    “Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

    To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

    And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

    Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

    “I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

    The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

    The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

    But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

    Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

    Everything in his life is lined up.

    Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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    Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

    Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

    Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

    There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.

    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

    Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

    The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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    Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

    Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

    It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

    While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.