Blanks' five-birdie finish leads Love by one at John Deere

By Associated PressJuly 8, 2011, 12:43 am

SILVIS, Ill. – His putting was miserable, he was missing cuts and every round was turning into a struggle.

Kris Blanks knew he was better than that so he made a change, focusing on the part of his game that was causing the most grief. He had to do something about his putting.

“I always equate a golfer to NASCAR. We’re always making tweaks,” Blanks said. “I just needed to do something to change it up and that’s what we did.”

Sometimes the tweaks don’t work.

This time, they did.

Blanks birdied his final five holes Thursday to finish with an 8-under-par 63 and grab the first-round lead at the John Deere Classic.

Blanks, who played the back nine first, rolled in a 25-foot putt on No. 5 to start his late run and capped it with an 11-footer to leave him alone at the top after Canadian rookie Matt McQuillan and veteran Davis Love III had held that spot much of the day with 64s.

“I hope I can keep it going,” Blanks said. “I’ve never made a cut here. I think this week I will – hopefully.”

Blanks, 38, is in his third year on the Tour and came in tied for 175th in putting. But after tinkering with his approach the previous night, he found what he needed and put himself in good position to reach the weekend.

“It was good to finally see some putts fall, which I’ve been struggling with all year,” said Blanks, who has missed the cut in 11 of 20 tournaments. “So that was definitely a positive. It’s just fun to make some putts.”

If Blanks was a surprise in the lead, seeing McQuillan near the top was even a bigger shock. McQuillan, who has missed 10 straight cuts this year, grew so discouraged with his game in 2005 that he spent two years tending bar in his hometown of Kingston, Ontario.

He then played a year on the Canadian Tour and two on the eGolf Tour before going to Q-School on what he called “a shot in the dark” and earning a spot on this year’s PGA Tour.

But he hasn’t made a cut since tying for 54th at the Sony Open in mid-January and has won just $12,705 on the year.

“It’s very difficult, and to stay positive and patient has been the key for me,” McQuillan said. “I’m out here playing with the best players in the world and on the best golf courses in the world.

“So it’s very tough to stay positive and patient. But I just figure I’m out here, I qualified to get out here, so I’m trying to have fun and make some birdies.”

Though no one approached the eye-popping numbers of last year’s first round, when Paul Goydos shot a 59 and Stricker had a 60, there were plenty of golfers bunched in the mid-60s. Goydos matched Stricker with a 66, as did Charles Howell III, Josh Teater, Lee Janzen, D.A. Points, Cameron Percy, Brendon De Jonge, Zach Johnson, Cameron Beckman, Chez Reavie and Jim Herman.

Goydos said conditions were completely different from a year ago, when rain left the course soft and vulnerable to low scores.

“It plays shorter, but it plays harder,” he said. “It’s hard to kind of squeeze your ball in there on some of the holes. Last year we were just shooting darts. The ball stopped where it landed. Today, you had to kind of bounce it in a little. It makes it more difficult.”

It wasn’t particularly difficult for Blanks, who spent time on the putting green Wednesday and a half-hour in front of the mirror in his hotel room later that evening trying to get everything right.

“The way I was stepping into the ball was creating my shoulders to be open, so I just changed my routine where I don’t go with it the same way,” Blanks said. “It was more awkward, but at this point, I kind of needed some awkwardness. If it felt comfortable, I was back to my older tendencies.”

After a bogey on No. 4 dropped him to 3 under, Blanks faced a 25-foot uphill putt on 5 and knocked it in. His confidence suddenly fired, he came back with a 14-footer for birdie on 6, rolled in birdie putts of 17 feet on each of the next two holes, then topped off his big day with a final birdie at No. 9.

“I thought my speed was real good all day,” he said. “I worked real hard yesterday afternoon and evening and went to a heavier putter to try to get the ball rolling.”

McQuillan recovered from a crazy bogey-eagle-bogey start to play near flawless golf the rest of the way – seven birdies without a bogey.

“Well, I figured I got my great stuff and bad stuff out early and then just tried to make some good swings,” he said.

His play Thursday left him with a much better feeling than he had when stepped away from the game six years ago. He welcomed the change at first because he needed something different. Eventually, it helped the former University of Georgia golfer realize what he really wanted to do.

“After about a year working, I realized golf wasn’t too bad,” he said.

Starting on the back nine, Love rolled in an 11-foot birdie putt on his first hole and went on to his best round of the year. He salvaged par on No. 17 by holing out from a greenside bunker and made a 13-foot putt for par on No. 8 after hitting into a bunker and then the rough.

“I putted well,” Love said. “Even the ones that didn’t go in, most of them I felt like I hit really good.”

Marino, who has two runner-up finishes this year, was even after three holes and a modest 2 under at the turn. But birdies on 10, 11, 12 and 13 put him in a position to challenge for the lead, a spot he would have held had he not missed a 9-footer for birdie at 14.

“Shooting 7 under the first day is awesome,” Marino said. “But it’s not going to get you anything come Sunday.”

David Toms (hip) and Robert Garrigus (back) withdrew from the tournament halfway through their rounds because of injuries. Toms said his injury will keep him out of next week’s British Open. George McNeill (76) and Scott Verplank (78) pulled out after finishing their rounds.

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Fisher becomes first in Euro Tour history to shoot 59

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 21, 2018, 11:29 am

There’s never been a sub-60 score on the European Tour, and Oliver Fisher almost went two strokes better Friday at the Portugal Masters.

Fisher’s 40-footer on the final green burned the edge, but he tapped in the short par putt to record the first 59 in tour history.   

“It feels great,” he said after getting sprayed with champagne. “It was in the back of my mind all day.”

It didn’t look like it.

The 287th-ranked player in the world, Fisher made 10 birdies, an eagle and seven pars during his magical round.

All of the other major pro tours have produced a 59 – nine times on the PGA Tour; once on the LPGA – but this was the first time that a player on the European Tour broke the sub-60 barrier. (There have been 19 rounds of 60.) Earlier this year, at the Scottish Open, Brandon Stone narrowly missed an 8-footer on the final green during the final round. This tournament has produced a few chances, as well, with both Scott Jamieson and Nicolas Colsaerts coming up just short over the past few years.

Fisher went out in 28 at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course, then made three birdies in a row to start the back nine. He tacked on another birdie on 15 to give himself a shot at history, then played the closing stretch in 1 under. On 16, he needed a 20-footer for par after leaving his tee shot well short of the flag. He two-putted for birdie on 17 and then coolly made par on the last, after his birdie try from 40 feet just missed on the left edge.

Two years ago, he arrived in Portugal needed a good result just to keep his card. He shot a final-round 64. 

On Friday, he made tour history.

“I kept that in the back of my mind, thinking things could be worse,” he said. 

To this point, Fisher had a forgettable season. Ranked 72nd in the Race to Dubai, he didn’t have a top-10 in a stroke-play event since late February. His last four results: MC-T71-MC-MC. He opened the Portugal Masters with a 71 and was in danger of missing the cut.

Now, improbably, he’s in position to score his second European Tour title, after capturing the 2011 Czech Open.

“I tried to enjoy it,” he said. “It’s not often that we get a chance to shoot a really low one.”

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Paisley (61) leads Web.com Tour Championship

By Associated PressSeptember 20, 2018, 11:56 pm

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Chris Paisley birdied four of the last five holes for a 10-under 61 and the first-round lead Thursday in the season-ending Web.com Tour Championship.

The South African Open winner in January for his first European Tour title, Paisley played the back nine first at Atlantic Beach Country Club, holing a bunker shot for an eagle on the par-5 18th. On the front nine, he birdied the par-3 fifth and finished with three straight birdies.

''I think just all around was really good,'' Paisley said. ''I hit it well off the tee, which gave me a lot of kind of short irons into the greens and opportunities. I hit a lot of really good iron shots close, and then a few other bonus kind of things happened where I holed the bunker shot on 18 and holed a long putt on No. 8.''

The 32-year-old Englishman missed the cuts in the first three Web.com Tour Finals events after getting into the series as a non-member PGA Tour with enough money to have placed in the top 200 in the FedEx Cup. The final card went for $40,625 last year, with Paisley needs to finish in a two-way tie for fourth or better to mathematically have a chance to secure one of the 25 PGA Tour at stake.


Full-field scores from the Web.com Tour Championship


''The nice thing was I won early in the year in Europe,'' said Paisley, a former University of Tennessee player. ''I've got the first two Final series events locked up, I think I'm in those. I'm not guaranteed to be in Dubai yet. But I just thought we have a house over here, my wife's American, my goal is to try to get on the PGA Tour, so it was a perfect opportunity to try and do it.''

Cameron Tringale and Canadian Ben Silverman were two strokes back at 63. Tringale is tied for 83rd in the PGA Tour card race with $2,660, and Silverman is tied for 85th at $2,600.

''I hit a lot of good shots and made some good putts,'' Silverman said. ''Actually, it could have been lower, but I'm not complaining. Missed a couple putts inside 6x feet, but I'm not complaining at all, it was a great round.''

Lucas Glover was at 64 with Ben Crane, Nicholas Lindheim, Matt Every, Trevor Cone, Denny McCarthy, Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez. Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez earned PGA Tour cards as top-25 finishers on the Web.com Tour regular-season money list, and McCarthy has made $75,793 in the first three Finals events to also wrap up a card. In the race for the 25 cards, Lindholm is 19th with $35,836, Every 30th with $25,733, Glover 40th with $17,212, and Cone 59th with $8,162

The series features the top 75 players from the Web.com regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and Paisley and other non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top-25 finishers on the Web.com regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. The other players are fighting for the 25 cards based on series earnings.

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McIlroy likely to join PGA Tour PAC next year

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:28 pm

ATLANTA – The upside of the PGA Tour’s sweeping changes to next year’s playoff finale, along with a host of other significant changes to the schedule, seems to be more engagement in circuit policy by top players.

Jordan Spieth served on the player advisory council this season and will begin his three-year term as one of four player directors on the policy board next year, and Justin Thomas also was on this year’s PAC.

Those meetings might become even more high profile next year.


Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“I'm not on the PAC. I'm probably going to join the PAC next year. Nice to sort of know what's going on and give your input and whatever,” Rory McIlroy said following his round on Thursday at the Tour Championship.

McIlroy said he spoke with Tour commissioner Jay Monahan about the transition to a strokes-based format for the Tour Championship starting next year. Given his take on Thursday to the media it must have been an interesting conversation.

“I like it for the FedExCup. I don't necessarily think it should be an official Tour win. I don't know how the World Ranking points are going to work,” said McIlroy, who is tied for fifth after a first-round 67 at East Lake. “There's a lot of stuff that still needs to be figured out. But in terms of deciding the FedExCup, I think it's good.”

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Thomas (67) happy to feel no pain in wrist

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:03 pm

ATLANTA – When Justin Thomas arrived at East Lake he didn’t have very high expectations.

After injuring his right wrist during the final round of the BMW Championship he spent last week in south Florida getting therapy after being diagnosed with a case of tendinitis and little else.

He said he didn’t hit a full shot last week and didn’t expect much out of his game at the finale, but was pleasantly surprised with his play following an opening 67 that left him tied for fifth place and two strokes off the lead. But most of all he was pleased that he didn’t feel any pain in his wrist.


Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“I thought that I may not be playing very well because of my preparation being able to hit as few balls as I have, but no, in terms of pain, it's not an issue,” he said.

Thomas explained that he tested the wrist earlier this week to be sure he was pain-free and conceded he considered not playing the Tour Championship in order to be as healthy as possible for next week’s Ryder Cup.

“If it would have hurt at all, I wouldn't have played,” said Thomas, who will be a rookie on this year’s U.S. team. “No. 1 most important part is my future and my career. I don't want to do anything that's going to put me out for a while. But to me, second most important is Ryder Cup. I would rather not play this week and play the Ryder Cup and be fresh and make sure I'm going to get as many points for the team as possible.”