Royal Rumble Set for Sunday at Troon

By Sports NetworkJuly 17, 2004, 4:00 pm
TROON, Scotland -- Todd Hamilton shot a 4-under 67 Saturday at Royal Troon Golf Club to move into the lead after three rounds of the 133rd British Open Championship. Hamilton's 54-hole total of 8-under- par 205 left him one shot clear of Ernie Els, the 2002 Open champion at Muirfield.
Two-time U.S. Open winner Retief Goosen posted a 68 to join Thomas Levet and reigning Masters champion Phil Mickelson in a tie for third at 6-under-par 207.
Barry Lane was one shot further back at 5-under-par 208. Tiger Woods followed, after a round of 68 left him alongside Scott Verplank in a tie for seventh at 4-under-par 209.
Hamilton traveled the world for the first 17 years of his career, becoming a multiple winner in Japan before finding success on the PGA Tour earlier this season with a victory at The Honda Classic.
The 38-year-old played alongside Els on Saturday. While both have competed around the globe, Els has been to greater heights in the world of golf. But in the third round, Hamilton surpassed his playing partner to take the lead heading into the final round of a major championship.
'To be honest, I never even considered contending or not even too much playing in the majors,' said Hamilton. 'I just tried to improve on my golf game in Japan, tried to become more patient with my game, improve on the things that I needed to do and somehow get to the U.S. tour. I really didn't look at the majors as an ultimate goal. My goal was to get on the PGA Tour. It took me quite a long time.'
Hamilton parred his first three holes before reaching the green at the par-5 fourth in two. Hamilton missed his eagle try, but ran home his birdie putt to get to 5 under. At the par-4 sixth, Hamilton's birdie putt curled into the hole and he was on his way up the leaderboard.
He added a birdie at the eighth to keep pace with Levet, who was coasting at 9 under after a solid front nine. After Levet three-putted for a double-bogey at the 11th, Hamilton found himself in a tie for the lead at the British Open.
Hamilton was steady on the difficult holes on the inward half, safely hitting greens and lagging long putts close to the hole for easy pars. At the par-4 13th, Hamilton knocked his tee shot inside 3 feet for his fourth birdie of the day to take the outright lead at 8 under.
Lane joined Hamilton in the lead with a birdie at the 15th, but the veteran Englishman found trouble with a double-bogey at the 17th to fall back to minus-6.
Hamilton's tee shot to the 17th rolled off the green into the rough, but he got up-and-down for a par. He then parred the last as the wind began to pick up down the stretch to secure the 54-hole lead with a chance to follow in the footsteps of Ben Curtis and become the second straight first-time major winner at the British Open.
'I don't see why it couldn't happen again,' Hamilton said. 'I'm sure at the start of the week you wouldn't think something like that could happen.'
While Hamilton will assume the roll of front runner on Sunday, he has a leaderboard packed with some of the biggest names in the sport biting at his heels, including the man who will be his playing partner for the second straight day at Troon.
'It's a pretty good leaderboard, isn't it?' said Hamilton. 'Names you would expect at a major championship.'
Els, who survived a four-way playoff to win the British Open in 2002, dropped his approach inside 7 feet for a birdie at the opening hole. He then played his second shot to 6 feet at the sixth to move within one of the lead.
His tee shot to the difficult par-3 eighth found a bunker and Els was unable to save par. Els dropped another shot with a bogey at the 11th to fall back to minus-4.
With plenty of major experience at his side, Els persisted and hit his second to 5 feet for a birdie at the 13th. Els then drained a 13-foot putt for a birdie at the 15th and two-putted for a birdie at the 16th to again move within one of the top spot at 7-under-par 206 after a round of 68.
'Going into the final round you need to be patient, have confidence and have staying power because you know that not everything is going to go your way,' said Els. 'The course gives and it takes so you just have to hit your shots and try your best.'
Mickelson came close to winning the U.S. Open last month and now the left-hander once again finds himself in contention at a major.
He hit a bad drive in the mist at the first that actually found the rough on the 18th hole. Mickelson played a remarkable shot that landed within 6 feet of the cup and what could have been a disaster turned into an early birdie.
Mickelson, who has never finished in the top-10 at the British Open, added a birdie at the very next hole and dropped his approach inside 6 feet at the par-4 seventh for another birdie to grab a share of the lead at minus-6.
The 34-year-old was unable to pick up a birdie the rest of the way and parred his remaining holes for a 68.
'It is nice not to give shots back,' said Mickelson. 'It doesn't feel like they've been overly difficult pars.'
Goosen, who knocked off Mickelson at Shinnecock thanks to a superb putting display, had a fruitful start despite a pair of bogeys on the front nine.
The South African birdied three of his first six holes and ran home a 15-foot putt for a birdie at the ninth to make the turn at 5 under. Goosen mixed two birdies and a bogey on the back nine to finish two shots off the pace.
Levet began the day one behind Skip Kendall, but the Frenchman soon moved into the lead a birdie at the third and back-to-back birdies from the fifth that lifted him to 9 under.
The 35-year-old struggled on the back side, however, with a double-bogey at the 11th and a bogey at the 16th to complete a round of 71.
After two straight birdies starting at the 12th, Lane hit his second shot to 7 feet and rolled in the putt to match Hamilton at 8 under. He also found trouble down the stretch, however, with a double-bogey at the 17th and a bogey at the last to finish three shots off the pace.
Woods made a charge early as a squall came across from the Firth of Clyde and settled in over Troon. The top player in the game birdied his first two holes and reached the green in two en route to a birdie at the par-5 fourth.
'It was a good start,' said Woods. 'I just tried to take advantage of that front nine.'
The 28-year-old then converted a 10-foot putt for a birdie at the seventh and saved par at the eighth to keep his momentum. Woods picked up a clutch par save at the 10th, but the top player in the struggled to a bogey at the 12th to fall four shots back.
Local favorite Colin Montgomerie managed a 1-over 72 to join Kendall and Mike Weir in a tie for ninth at 3-under-par 210. Nick Price, the 1994 champion at Turnberry, was one shot further back along with Lee Westwood and K.J. Choi at 2-under-par 211.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - 133rd Open Championship
  • TV Airtimes

  • British Open Photo Gallery

  • Full Coverage - 133rd Open Championship
  • Getty Images

    McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

    By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

    One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

    McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

    It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

    McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

    Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

    Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

    Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

    The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

    The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

    Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

    The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

    A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

    Getty Images

    Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

    Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

    Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

    South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

    Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

    The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



    Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

    By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

    It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

    Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

    Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

    "We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

    Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

    Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

    Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.