Amateur wins cause for celebration and questions

By Associated PressMay 19, 2009, 4:00 pm
IRVING, Texas ' So much about Shane Lowrys victory in the Irish Open was surprising.
 
The burly, 22-year-old Irishman was only the 16th-ranked amateur in the world, hopeful of making the Walker Cup team, when he teed it up for the first time on the European Tour. His 62 in the third round matched the lowest score ever by an amateur on the tour. His playoff victory moved him up to No. 168 in the world, 14 spots better than Colin Montgomerie.
 
That Lowry won a European Tour event as an amateur?
 
Not so surprising.
 
As much as his victory in the wind and rain on the links of County Louth was cause for celebration, it raised questions about how the strength and depth of fields on the European Tour.
 
Lowry became the third amateur in the last two years to win on the European Tour. He joins Pablo Martin, who won the Portugal Open in 2007 a week before the Masters; and 18-year-old Danny Lee, who captured the Johnnie Walker Classic in Australia three months ago to become Europes youngest champion in history.
 
That raises questions when compared with the PGA Tour, which is going on its 19th consecutive year without an amateur winner.
 
The last amateur champion in America was Phil Mickelson in 1991.
 
On this Tour, a lot of it has to do with the depth of the fields, said Scott Verplank, who preceded Lefty when he won the 1985 Western Amateur as a junior at Oklahoma State. Not to take a sideswipe at the European Tour, but I think theres something to that.
 
Mickelson was a junior at Arizona State when he won the Northern Telecom Open in Tucson, Ariz., making an 8-foot birdie on the final hole for a one-stroke victory over Tom Purtzer and Bob Tway.
 
Its not so much that Mickelson was the last amateur to win a regular PGA Tour event.
 
No amateur has even come close.
 
A year after Mickelsons feat, David Duval was a 20-year-old junior at Georgia Tech when he had a two-shot lead over Tom Kite going into the final round of the BellSouth Classic in Atlanta. He closed with a 79.
 
I was naive and young and didnt know what it was entirely about, Duval recalled Tuesday morning. I just knew I was playing well. I remember that I got asked if I thought I could beat Tom Kite, and I said, I dont know. Ive beaten him so far. I got in trouble for that one for being arrogant. But I was beating him. Was that a bad answer?
 
Ty Tryon was 16 when he spent more time chasing the leaders than the cut line at the 2001 Honda Classic, eventually tying for 39th. Most recently, Tadd Fujikawa was 16 when he entered the final round of the Sony Open six shots out of the lead and tied for 20th.
 
The Nationwide Tour has been around 20 years with only one amateur winner ' Daniel Summerhays in 2007.
 
Theres a lot of good, young kids coming along, Verplank said. That it happens three times in Europe over the last couple of years, you could construe that as another show of strength of our tournaments compared with everyone elses. But thats nothing against the amateur players. The best amateurs from around the world are as good as the best in the United States.
 
He certainly had no qualms with whom Lowry beat ' Padraig Harrington, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood were among those who teed it up in the Irish Open, the highest-rated tournament in golf last week.
 
Likewise, Lee beat a group of players in Australia that included Westwood, Anthony Kim, Camilo Villegas and Ian Poulter.
 
Verplank and Mickelson were among the best amateurs when they won as amateurs. Martin and Lee have a similar pedigree.
 
Martin first showed his stuff at age 17 when he was the 54-hole leader at the Spanish Open. He played at Oklahoma State and was named the top college golfer by winning the Jack Nicklaus Award and Fred Haskins Award.
 
Lee was born in South Korea and groomed for golf in New Zealand. After supplanting Tiger Woods as the youngest U.S. Amateur champion, he made his PGA Tour debut in Greensboro and shot four rounds in the 60s to tie for 20th.
 
Lowry might have been the most unheralded of the three, although he was well-known in European golf circles. The Irishman now has to decide whether to stay amateur and compete at the Walker Cup, or cash in by turning pro.
 
Verplank and Mickelson both returned to college and won an NCAA title in their senior seasons.
 
But times have changed. The money wasnt what it is now.
 
Martin has not had a top 10 since he turned pro and now is No. 527 in the world. Lee has missed four cuts in the six times he has played since winning in Australia.
 
Perhaps Lowry should consider what Mickelson told The New York Times a few days after he won as an amateur.
 
It was unbelievable to me how, as soon as the tournament was over, everybody was hurrying to catch a flight for Hawaii, Mickelson said. I was so drained and so tired. There was no way I would have been able to play this week. Thats why right now I dont feel that Im ready to turn pro and play every day, week after week.
 

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    Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

    By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

    NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

    Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

    The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

    Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

    Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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    Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

    Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

    Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

    Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

    4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

    4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

    4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

    4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

    4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

    5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

    5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

    5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

    5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

    5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

    6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

    6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

    6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

    6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

    6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

    6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

    7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

    7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

    7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

    7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

    7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

    7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

    8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

    8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

    8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

    8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

    8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

    8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

    9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

    9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

    9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

    9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

    9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

    10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

    10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

    10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

    10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

    10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

    10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

    11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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    Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

    He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

    “There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

    Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

    “I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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    Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

    Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

    Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

    “I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

    Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

    “It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

    More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

    “I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”