Strange on Cusp of First Champions Victory

By Sports NetworkAugust 5, 2006, 4:00 pm
2005 3M ChampionshipBLAINE, Minn. -- Curtis Strange posted a 6-under 66 on Saturday to grab the second-round lead of the 3M Championship. He stands at 10-under- par 134 and is three ahead in his quest for a first Champions Tour title.
Strange is winless since joining the elder circuit at the beginning of last year. In fact, he has not won an official event since his second U.S. Open victory in a row in 1989.
'It's the same old same old - you go play golf,' said Strange. 'I'm afforded the opportunity to make a mistake or two because I have the lead. I don't want to do that.'
Champions Tour rookie David Edwards shot a 4-under 68 and is alone in second place at 7-under-par 137. He is also in search of his maiden win on the 50-and-over tour.
Morris Hatalsky fired a 6-under 66 on Saturday and is tied for third place with Craig Stadler, who carded a 5-under 67 in round two. The pair is knotted at minus-6.
Strange wasted little time in breaking into red figures as he birdied the first. He recorded another birdie at four, but dropped a shot at the par-3 eighth.
The two-time U.S. Open winner holed a tricky 5-footer for par on the 10th. He rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt at the 11th, then hit a spectacular approach at the 14th when his 9-iron stopped 2 feet from the stick. He kicked that birdie putt in to tie for the lead at minus-7.
He narrowly missed a 20-foot birdie try at No. 15, then caught fire.
Strange found the fairway at the 16th and hit his approach to 5 feet. He converted that birdie putt to grab the lead, then padded his advantage with 25-foot birdie putt at the par-3 17th.
At the par-5 closing hole, Strange found the fairway off the tee, then reached the green in two. He hit a poor putt from 60 feet that left him with 7 feet for birdie. He drained that putt and now has a three-shot lead with one round to go, an unfamiliar spot as Strange has never owned the lead with one round to play.
'I'm playing well and making a few putts,' acknowledged Strange. 'There's no tricks to it. I'm going to try to play as aggressively as I can play.'
Former Major League Baseball pitcher Rick Rhoden fired a 5-under 67 on Saturday. He is tied for fifth place with D.A. Weibring (69), Bruce Fleisher (69), Hale Irwin (70), two-time winner this season Brad Bryant (70) and leading money winner and last week's Senior British Open champion Loren Roberts (71). That group is knotted at 5-under-par 139.
Overnight leader Andy Bean struggled in the second round. He only managed a one-over 73 and is now in a group tied for 11th place at 4-under-par 140.
Defending champion Tom Purtzer, who was one shot off the lead at the start of round, played poorly on Saturday. He carded a 2-over-par 74 and is tied for 24th at minus-2.
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  • Simpson WDs from RSM, tweets his father is ill

    By Rex HoggardNovember 18, 2017, 10:45 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Following rounds of 67-68, Webb Simpson was in 12th place entering the weekend at the RSM Classic before he withdrew prior to Saturday’s third round.

    On Saturday afternoon, Simpson tweeted that he withdrew due to an illness in his family.

    “Thanks to [Davis Love III] for being such a great tournament host. I [withdrew] due to my dad being sick and living his last days,” Simpson posted on Twitter on Saturday afternoon.

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    Simpson’s father, Sam, caddied for his son during amateur events, and Webb Simpson started playing golf after following his father to the course on family vacations to North Carolina.

    “My dad is probably the kindest man I know. He’s always been the guy who knew everyone, everyone knew him, everyone wanted to be around him,” Simpson said in a 2015 interview with David Feherty. “He taught me the game. He’s always been one of those dads who loved to be active with their kids.”

    Before play began on Thursday, Luke Donald withdrew after being hospitalized with chest pain. Tests indicated the Englishman’s heart was fine and he returned home to undergo more tests.

    New old putter helps Kirk (64) jump into contention

    By Rex HoggardNovember 18, 2017, 10:43 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Chris Kirk’s ball-striking has been nearly flawless this fall. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for his putting.

    In four events this season, Kirk ranks 143rd in strokes gained: putting, but his fortunes have changed this week, thanks at least in part to a return to something familiar.

    Kirk switched to an older style of putter similar to the one he used on the Tour in 2010 to earn his PGA Tour card.

    “It's nice to be back in contention again,” said Kirk, who is alone in second place, three strokes behind front-runner Austin Cook. “It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow.”

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    Kirk is 25th in strokes gained: putting this week and has converted several crucial putts, including a 30-footer for birdie at the 17th hole on his way to a third-round 64.

    His putting is similar to 2013 when he won the RSM Classic, and his improved play on the greens has given the 32-year-old confidence going into Sunday’s final round.

    “I'll probably be relatively comfortable in that situation, and thankfully I've been there before,” Kirk said. “It's still not easy by any means, but hopefully I'll be able to group together a bunch of good shots and see what it gives me.”

    Rookie Cook (66) handling RSM like a pro

    By Rex HoggardNovember 18, 2017, 10:24 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Of all the impressive statistics Austin Cook has put up this week at the RSM Classic – he is first in strokes gained: tee to green, strokes gained: approach to the green and scrambling – the one number that stands out is 49.

    That’s how many holes Cook went this week without a bogey or worse, a moment that prompted his caddie, Kip Henley, to joke, “The dream is over.”

    That loss of momentum at the 14th hole didn’t last long, with the PGA Tour rookie making birdie at the next hole on his way to a third-round 66 and a three-stroke lead.

    “Bouncing back from any bogey with a birdie is nice and helps get the number right back. Being my only bogey of the week so far, it was really nice to be able to get that back on the next hole,” said Cook, who leads Chris Kirk at 18 under par. “Going into tomorrow with a three-shot lead instead of a two-shot lead I think is crucial.”

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    Although this is the first time Cook has held a 54-hole lead on the Tour, in fact it’s just his fourth start as a Tour member, he has experienced Sunday pressure before. In 2015, he began the final round at the Shell Houston Open one stroke off the lead held by Jordan Spieth.

    “Back then my game was good as well, but mentally I've grown a lot and matured a lot and been able to kind of just let small things on the golf course roll off my shoulder instead of getting tied up in one little small mistake,” said Cook, who closed with a 75 at the ’15 Shell Houston Open to tie for 11th.

    Park collapses; leaderboard chaos at CME

    By Nick MentaNovember 18, 2017, 8:47 pm

    Sung-Hyun Park started the day with a three-shot lead and slowly gave it all back over the course of a 3-over 75, leaving the CME Group Tour Championship and a host of season-long prizes up for grabs in Naples. Here’s where things stand through 54 holes at the LPGA finale, where Michelle Wie, Ariya Jutanugarn, Suzann Pettersen and Kim Kaufman share the lead.

    Leaderboard: Kaufman (-10), Wie (-10), Jutanugarn (-10), Pettersen (-10), Stacy Lewis (-9), Karine Icher (-9), Austin Ernst (-9), Lexi Thompson (-9), Jessica Korda (-9), Pernilla Lindberg (-9)

    What it means: It wasn’t the Saturday she wanted, but Park, who already wrapped up the Rookie of the Year Award, is still in position for the sweep of all sweeps. With a victory Sunday, she would claim the CME Group Tour Championship, the Race to CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and the money title, as she ascends to No. 1 in the Rolex world ranking. Meanwhile, Thompson, too, could take the $1 million and Player of the Year. As those two battle for season-long prizes, a host of other notable names – Wie, Jutanugarn, Pettersen, Korda, Lewis and Charley Hull (-8) – will fight for the Tour Championship.

    Round of the day: Kaufman made four birdies on each side in a bogey-free 8 under-par 64. A lesser-known name on a stacked leaderboard, she seeks her first LPGA victory.

    Best of the rest: Amy Yang will start the final round two behind after a 7-under 65. The three-time LPGA Tour winner could pick up her second title of the season after taking the Honda LPGA Thailand in February.

    Biggest disappointment: On a day that featured plenty of low scores from plenty of big names, Lydia Ko dropped 11 spots down the leaderboard into a tie for 23rd with a Saturday 72. The former world No. 1 needed two birdies in her last five holes to fight her way back to even par. Winless this season, she’ll start Sunday four back, at 6 under.

    Shot of the day: I.K. Kim aced the par-3 12th from 171 yards when her ball landed on the front of the green and tracked all the way to the hole.

    Kim, oddly enough, signed her name to a scorecard that featured a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. It was all part of a 1-under 71.