Rocca Takes Charge In Ireland

By Sports NetworkAugust 16, 2002, 4:00 pm
INISHOWEN, Ireland - Costantino Rocca of Italy carded a 3-under 69 Friday to take the 36-hole lead of the North West of Ireland Open at Ballyliffin Golf Club. He stands at 4-under-par 140 and owns a one shot lead over fellow countryman Massimo Florioli.
Frenchman Jean-Francois Lucquin shot a 5-under 67 to join Scotland's Andrew Coltart in a share of third place at 2-under-par 142. Coltart fired a 6-under 66 Friday to establish a new course record at Ballyliffin.
Gusting winds that greeted the players Thursday were significantly down during Friday's round, making scores lower.
Rocca did not get off to the start he was looking for when he missed a four-foot par save at the first but he was flawless the rest of the way. He collected a birdie at the par-3 fifth to make the turn at even-par 35.
Rocca, the winner of the inaugural North West of Ireland Open in 1999 at Galway Bay , birdied 11 and 13 to match Florioli in the lead at 3-under par. Rocca drained a 35-foot birdie putt at the 17th to take sole possession of the lead.
'I didn't putt very well today,' said Rocca, who was part of a five-way tie for first after Thursday's first round. 'Just holed a good putt on the 17th. But I missed quite a few chances.'
Rocca's last victory on the European Tour was at Galway in 1999 and the 45-year-old last owned a 36-hole lead on tour at the 1996 European Open.
'Leading is a nice place to be in,' said Rocca, who defeated a young Tiger Woods in the Sunday singles at the 1997 Ryder Cup. 'I don't think about the weekend. Just think about the way I am swinging now and keep my rhythm and try to make more birdies.'
Florioli broke out with two birdies in his first three holes and recorded another at 10 to get to 4-under par. He dropped shots at 13 and 15 to fall back into the pack but got one back when he birdied the par-4 16th for the second time in as many days.
'The weather was much better today,' said Florioli, who is playing in his third event on the European Tour this season. 'I made a couple of mistakes like on the 13th, bogeyed that for the second day running, but overall very pleased. I holed a long putt on the first and that got me off to a good start with a birdie.'
Coltart was flawless Friday with six birdies and no bogeys and the former Ryder Cupper is now in contention for his first title of 2002.
'I played well and didn't do anything wrong,' said Coltart, who currently ranks 76th on the Order of Merit. 'It was nice to go out and make a significant move out there and get really involved in the tournament.'
Allan Hogh and Jesus Maria Arruti, who were part of a group tied for the lead following Thursday's first round, shot matching 72s Friday to share fifth at minus one.
England's Mark Sanders and a pair of Swedes, Anders Forsbrand and Adam Mednick, are tied for seventh at even-par 144.
The 36-hole cut fell at 7-over-par 151 and 89 players advanced to the weekend.

Full-field scores from North West of Ireland Open
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Notah: Driver is Tiger's No. 1 pre-Masters concern

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 5:49 pm

Tiger Woods mounted a Sunday charge at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, sending shockwaves through Bay Hill when it looked as though he might finally claim PGA Tour victory No. 80.

But the charge came to an end at the par-5 16th, where Woods had missed wide-right three days in a row before going OB-left on Sunday en route to bogey.

Woods’ API performance featured just a handful of drivers each day, as firm and fast conditions allowed him to make frequent use of a 2-iron off the tee.

That strategy led to a second top-5 finish in as many weeks, but if Woods wants to win again, if he wants claim another major, he is going to sort out his issues with the big stick.

A guest Monday morning on the Dan Patrick Show, Golf Channel’s Notah Begay believes the driver will be a focus for Woods in his pre-Masters preparation.

“Project No. 1 over the next two weeks is going to be the driver. … Any time he has to turn a shot right to left with trouble on the left, he struggles a little bit,” Begay said.

“Off the sixth tee, off the ninth tee, there was some errant shots. And then we saw the really horrible tee shot yesterday at 16. He talked about in the post-round comments. He just didn’t commit to a shot, and the worst thing that a professional athlete can do to themselves to compromise performance is not commit.

“And so he made a terrible swing, and that’s the miss that is really difficult for him to recover from, because the majority of his misses are out to the right. So, when you eliminate one half of the golf course, you can really make your way around … a lot easier. When you have a two-way miss going, which sometimes creeps into his driver, it really makes it difficult to take out some of the trouble that you’re looking at when you’re standing on the tee box.

“So he has to focus in on trying to find some way to navigate Augusta National with the driver, because it’s a course that’s going to force you to hit driver.”

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McIlroy trails only Woods in Masters betting odds

By Will GrayMarch 19, 2018, 5:47 pm

After rallying for victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rory McIlroy is once again among the betting favorites for the upcoming Masters.

McIlroy was available at 16/1 at the Westage Las Vegas SuperBook last week, listed behind six other players. But after his three-shot win at Bay Hill, his odds were trimmed to 10/1 leaving him behind only betting favorite Tiger Woods.

Next month will mark McIlroy's fourth opportunity to close out the final leg of the career Grand Slam by slipping into a green jacket. Here's a look at the current betting odds, with the first round only 17 days away:

8/1: Tiger Woods

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas

14/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose

16/1: Jason Day, Jon Rahm

18/1: Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson

25/1: Paul Casey, Bubba Watson

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Tommy Fleetwood, Hideki Matsuyama

40/1: Henrik Stenson, Marc Leishman

50/1: Alex Noren

60/1: Matt Kuchar, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott, Tyrrell Hatton, Thomas Pieters

80/1: Branden Grace, Brian Harman, Tony Finau, Charley Hoffman, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Cantlay

100/1: Zach Johnson, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Webb Simpson, Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, Daniel Berger, Kevin Kisner

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NBC Sports' Final Round Coverage of Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard Scores Highest-Rated Overnight at Event in Six Years

By Golf Channel Public RelationsMarch 19, 2018, 5:42 pm

Arnold Palmer Invitational and Valspar Championship Post Two Highest-Rated Final Round PGA TOUR Telecasts (Non-Majors) on Any Broadcast Network since the 2015 Wyndham Championship

ORLANDO, Fla., March 19, 2018 – Record viewership of the PGA TOUR continued this weekend for NBC Sports Group at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. Sunday’s final round coverage on NBC (2-6:45 p.m. ET) delivered a 3.6 overnight rating, +136% vs. 2017 and the highest-rated final round at this event in six years. Combined with last week’s final round viewership at the Valspar Championship (5.1 overnight rating) these rank as the two highest-rated final round PGA TOUR telecasts (non-majors) on any broadcast network since the 2015 Wyndham Championship. Golf Channel’s Sunday final-round lead-in coverage earned a .97 overnight rating, the highest at this event in five years. Across NBC and Golf Channel’s coverage, more than 12 million minutes were streamed, +683% vs. 2017.


  • Sunday’s final round coverage on NBC peaked to a 4.89 from 5:15-5:30 p.m. ET.
  • Golf Channel’s lead-in coverage peaked to a 1.24 from 1:30-2 p.m. ET.


Saturday’s third round coverage earned a 2.29 overnight rating on NBC (2:30-6 p.m. ET), +92% vs. 2017 and the highest-rated at this event in five years. Golf Channel’s lead-in coverage (Noon-2:30 p.m. ET) earned a .95 overnight rating, +126% vs. 2017. Nearly 5.3 million minutes were streamed, +511% vs. 2017.


Friday’s second-round coverage on Golf Channel generated a .81 overnight rating, +153% vs. 2017 and the second highest-rated early round at this event on Golf Channel (2007-2018), just slightly behind the 2012 second round (.84). More the 4.2 million minutes were streamed on Golf Channel Digital, +682% vs. 2017.


Final numbers from Golf Channel’s opening round coverage on Thursday: .42 U.S. HH rating and 593,000 viewers, +56% vs. 2017 and the most-watched opening round at this event since 2011. More than 1.4 million minutes were streamed, +163% vs. 2017.


Four of the top-20 players in the world, Jon Rahm (No. 3), Tommy Fleetwood (No. 11), Tyrrell Hatton (No. 16) and Pat Perez (No. 19) are scheduled to join the live World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play Bracket Special tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET on Golf Channel. The 90-minute live primetime special will originate from Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt in Austin, Texas, and feature golf’s own version of a March bracket-style tournament selection format under the guidance of PGA TOUR competition officials.


NBC Sports Group will feature nearly 35 live hours of tournament coverage from the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. Golf Channel will carry live coverage of round robin matches Wednesday-Friday, March 21-23. On Saturday, March 24, Golf Channel will provide coverage of the Round of 16, followed by the Quarterfinals matches airing on NBC. On Sunday, March 25, Golf Channel will showcase the Semifinals matches, followed by the Championship and Consolation matches airing on NBC.


-NBC Sports Group-

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Love to play first Champions major at U.S. Senior Open

By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 4:00 pm

Davis Love III turned 50 in 2014, but he’s been a part-time participant on the PGA Tour Champions.

Since turning 50, Love – who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame last fall – has played 73 tournaments on the PGA Tour, but just nine on the over-50 circuit.

Although his competitive dance card might not be changing any time soon, Love is expanding his schedule, adding the U.S. Senior Open to his line up this year.

The U.S. Senior Open will be played June 28-July 1 at the Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The championship will be Love’s first senior major, and his third event this year on the Champions circuit; but he’s not prepared to leave the regular tour behind just yet.

“The Senior PGA is against Colonial [Fort Worth Invitational], again. I want to play Colonial. I love Colonial, I’d like to play there another time or two,” Love said. “But the timing for the Senior Open worked out and it’s at the Broadmoor, which is really nice.”