Baird Seizes Lead After Day 2

By Associated PressMarch 28, 2008, 4:00 pm
2007 Zurich ClassicAVONDALE, La. -- Briny Baird really wanted to go fishing Monday. Thats his usual routine at the Zurich Classic, but bad weather kept him off the water.
 
Now good golf will keep him on dry land this weekend.
 
Baird shot a 3-under 69 on Friday in the second round to take a one-stroke lead over Peter Lonard (70) and Jay Williamson (69) at the TPC Louisiana.
 
It didnt feel quite as good as probably the scorecard will make out, Baird said. I didnt play as well today. My swing felt a little loose at times, but to get in with a 3 under, I was very pleased.
 
Baird birdied the final two holes. Good enough to keep him on the golf course this weekend rather than in a boat.
 
I screwed that up, Baird joked.
 
Bubba Watson, playing alongside Steve Elkington and Shigeki Maruyama, blamed Elkington for making noise while he was teeing off. The incident happened on the 10th tee and the trio left the course after the round without shaking hands.
 
I heard some movement, and who knows what it was, Watson said. I was just over the ball, and just trying to make the cut and trying to play better and not getting the right breaks. I was already mad for the day, and I just took it out on them, and I shouldnt have.
 
Tournament director Arvin Ginn said the incident was resolved quickly at the scoring area.
 
In the heat of the battle these players, theyre very high-keyed at this point in time, and nobody can say it any better than Bubba said it a little while ago, Ginn said. He gave a total apology to the media, total apology to the tournament, to the players, to anyone that might have seen or heard any part of it.
 
Watson said he felt he and Elkington settled the matter.
 
We hugged it out, Watson said. Everything is good. Hes not mad. Hes looking at me like a son basically because Im a lot younger than him. He just took me aside and said, Be stronger in what youre doing and make sure you dont do that.
 
Watson shot a 69 to finish at 2-under 142. Elkington (71) was in a group of players tied for sixth at 5 under.
 
Baird is making his 254th career start on the tour without a victory. His best finishes were a tie for second at the 2001 John Deere Classic, and ties for second at the 2003 Buick Open and 2004 Funai Classic.
 
Baird has made the cut in seven of nine tournaments this year. He hopes that has taught him how to handle weekend play.
 
If I go out there and can stay focused on what Im doing and play each shot, then thats the hardest part about this game, he said. You know, all that talk about its 90 percent mental, I think thats a load of you-know-what. I think its 99 percent mental.
 
Williamson'who played much of the last two seasons on the Nationwide Tour ' birdied the first hole and added birdies on No. 7, 11 and 15. A bogey on 12 prevented him from catching Baird.
 
Ive got to putt better, said Williamson, who iced his right shoulder after the round. Ive got to be more confident with my stroke.
 
Lonard followed up an opening 67 with the 70 on Friday. At one point, he was 10 under with a four-shot lead, but that was before bogeys on 15, 17 and 18.
 
The first one was just up against the face and I had to chip it out sideways, Lonard said. The one on 18 was about 80 to 100 yards off-line, so I suppose I deserve that one. Youve got to hit fairways, thats the name of the game.
 
Defending champ Nick Watney (67) was two strokes back at 6 under.
 
I played a nice round to get back in the tournament, Watney said. Hopefully Ill keep it going on the weekend.
 
Eighty-one players made the cut at even-par 144. Under the tours revised cut policy, the field will be cut to the low 70 players and ties after the third round.
 
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    Kim cruises to first win, final Open invite at Deere

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 9:38 pm

    Following the best week of his professional career, Michael Kim is both a winner on the PGA Tour and the 156th and final player to earn a tee time next week at The Open.

    Kim entered the final round of the John Deere Classic with a five-shot lead, and the former Cal standout removed any lingering doubt about the tournament's outcome with birdies on each of his first three holes. He cruised from there, shooting a bogey-free 66 to finish the week at 27 under and win by eight shots over Francesco Molinari, Joel Dahmen, Sam Ryder and Bronson Burgoon.

    It equals the tournament scoring record and ties for the largest margin of victory on Tour this season, matching Dustin Johnson's eight-shot romp at Kapalua in January and Molinari's margin two weeks ago at the Quicken Loans National.

    "Just super thankful," Kim said. "It's been a tough first half of the year. But to be able to finish it out in style like this means a lot."

    Kim, 25, received the Haskins Award as the nation's top collegiate player back in 2013, but his ascent to the professional ranks has been slow. He had only one top-10 finish in 83 starts on Tour entering the week, tying for third at the Safeway Open in October 2016, and had missed the cut each of the last three weeks.

    But the pieces all came together at TPC Deere Run, where Kim opened with 63 and held a three-shot lead after 36 holes. His advantage was trimmed to a single shot during a rain-delayed third round, but Kim returned to the course late Saturday and closed with four straight birdies on Nos. 15-18 to build a five-shot cushion and inch closer to his maiden victory.

    As the top finisher among the top five not otherwise exempt, Kim earned the final spot at Carnoustie as part of the Open Qualifying Series. It will be his first major championship appearance since earning low amateur honors with a T-17 finish at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, and he is also now exempt for the PGA Championship and next year's Masters.

    The last player to earn the final Open spot at the Deere and make the cut the following week was Brian Harman, who captured his first career win at TPC Deere Run in 2014 and went on to tie for 26th at Royal Liverpool.

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    Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

    Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.

    Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.

    Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.


    Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


    "I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."

    Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:

    Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.

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    Immelman misses Open bid via OWGR tiebreaker

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:25 pm

    A resurgent performance at the Scottish Open gave Trevor Immelman his first top-10 finish in more than four years, but it left him short of a return to The Open by the slimmest of margins.

    The former Masters champ turned back the clock this week at Gullane Golf Club, carding four straight rounds of 68 or better. That run included a 5-under 65 in the final round, which gave him a tie for third and left him five shots behind winner Brandon Stone. It was his first worldwide top-10 since a T-10 finish at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.

    There were three spots available into The Open for players not otherwise exempt, and for a brief moment it appeared Immelman, 38, might sneak the third and final invite.


    Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


    But with Stone and runner-up Eddie Pepperell both not qualified, that left the final spot to be decided between Immelman and Sweden's Jens Dantorp who, like Immelman, tied for third at 15 under.

    As has been the case with other stops along the Open Qualifying Series, the tiebreaker to determine invites is the players' standing in the Official World Golf Rankings entering the week. Dantorp is currently No. 322 in the world, but with Immelman ranked No. 1380 the Swede got the nod.

    This will mark Dantorp's first-ever major championship appearance. Immelman, who hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2013 Masters, was looking to return to The Open for 10th time and first since a missed cut at Royal Lytham six years ago. He will instead work the week at Carnoustie as part of Golf Channel and NBC's coverage of The Open.

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    Stone (60) wins Scottish Open, invite to Carnoustie

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:06 pm

    There's never a bad time to shoot a 60, but Brandon Stone certainly picked an opportune moment to do so.

    Facing a jammed leaderboard in the final round of the Scottish Open, Stone fired a 10-under 60 to leave a stacked field in his wake and win the biggest tournament of his career. His 20-under 260 total left him four shots clear of Eddie Pepperell and five shots in front of a group that tied for third.

    Stone had a mid-range birdie putt on No. 18 that would have given him the first 59 in European Tour history. But even after missing the putt on the left, Stone tapped in to close out a stellar round that included eight birdies, nine pars and an eagle. It's his third career European Tour title but first since the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December 2016.


    Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


    Stone started the day three shots behind overnight leader Jens Dantorp, but he made an early move with three birdies over his first five holes and five over his first 10. Stone added a birdie on the par-3 12th, then took command with a three-hole run from Nos. 14-16 that included two birdies and an eagle.

    The eye-popping score from the 25-year-old South African was even more surprising considering his lack of form entering the week. Stone is currently ranked No. 371 in the world and had missed four of his last seven worldwide cuts without finishing better than T-60.

    Stone was not yet qualified for The Open, and as a result of his performance at Gullane Golf Club he will tee it up next week at Carnoustie. Stone headlined a group of three Open qualifiers, as Pepperell and Dantorp (T-3) also earned invites by virtue of their performance this week. The final spot in the Open will go to the top finisher not otherwise qualified from the John Deere Classic.