Bowditch (62) leads Byron Nelson; Spieth 7 back

By Associated PressMay 29, 2015, 12:46 am

IRVING, Texas - Steven Bowditch considers the AT&T Byron Nelson his home tournament - just maybe not to the extent Jordan Spieth does.

The Australian matched his low round on the PGA Tour with an 8-under 62 on Thursday to take a two-shot lead over another Texan, Jimmy Walker. Spieth was seven shots back in his first round as Masters champion in the event that gave the Dallas player his start as a 16-year-old amateur in 2010.

Bowditch, who moved to the Dallas area 10 years ago, has made the cut just once at the Nelson - in his debut in 2011, when he tied for 60th after a third-round 80. He didn't make it to the weekend each of the past three years at TPC Four Seasons.

The 31-year-old missed the cut last week at Colonial in Fort Worth, which is a little farther from his home in the suburb of Flower Mound and he says doesn't have quite the "hometown" draw as the Nelson for Bowditch's family and friends.

"It's starting to feel that way, to be honest. Starting to get a lot more ticket requests," said Bowditch, whose only PGA Tour win was the 2014 Texas Open in San Antonio. "You always want to play well, but I guess it is a little more special when you have everyone around that only get to see you play golf once a year."


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The Nelson had the hometown feel for Spieth the moment he stepped to the 10th tee as a high school junior five years ago, when he tied for 16th as the sixth-youngest player to make the cut in a PGA Tour event. He returned as a rising star after his win at Augusta, frequently tipping his cap to large galleries that even cheered as he walked onto greens.

"It feels different when I tee off now versus when I was out there then," said Spieth, who has finished second at all three Texas events this year, including Colonial. "Obviously, off the course I prepare hard for this and would like to play well and get in contention. But when I'm inside the ropes, it's just another week. Back then, it was the biggest tournament I've ever played in."

James Hahn and Dallas resident Ryan Palmer shared third at 65, and 2011 Nelson champion Keegan Bradley was in the group 66. Danny Lee aced the par-3 17th with a 5-iron from 190 yards and was tied for ninth at 67.

Defending champion Brendon Todd, playing a group ahead of Spieth, had just one birdie and shot 72.

Despite an opening birdie, the 21-year-old Spieth couldn't get the warm greetings to escalate on a mostly sunny but soggy course that has absorbed about a foot of rain in less than three weeks. Players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairways.

Spieth didn't give himself many good chances for birdie, and let a couple get away in the last three holes by missing short putts while playing with Justin Thomas, his friend and opponent in the 2012 NCAA team final when Spieth led Texas over Alabama. Thomas opened with an even-par 70.

A grim-faced Spieth tossed his putter toward his bag after not even catching the lip from 8 feet on 16, but was generally upbeat after the round.

"I just didn't give myself enough looks inside of 15 feet today," said Spieth, who won the Valspar Championship about a month before the Masters. "That's the only reason I'm at 1 (under) and not better. I felt comfortable driving the ball and striking it."

Bowditch made three putts of 24 feet or longer while shooting a 30 on the front nine and had the last of eight birdies in a bogey-free round with a 6-foot putt after a long bunker shot at the par-5 16th. His previous best round at the Nelson was a second-round 65 that helped him make his only cut four years ago.

"Probably my best putting in the way of longer putts made," said Bowditch, whose other 62 was in the final round of the 2011 Viking Classic in Mississippi. "I typically don't make a lot of longer putts."

Walker, who picked up his second win of the year in March not far from home at the Texas Open, birdied four of his last five holes. All of the putts were inside 10 feet.

"I'm a Texas guy and lived here a long time, so yeah, winning in Texas is cool," said Walker, a five-time winner who is second to Spieth in FedEx Cup points. "It was a nice finish. Good iron shots."

Hahn, also starting on No. 10, was 6 under with six holes to play but had a pair of bogeys before a finishing birdie.

 

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Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'

By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 3:35 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following his victory two weeks ago at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Kevin Na said his second triumph on the PGA Tour was the most rewarding of his career.

Although he declined to go into details as to why the victory was so gratifying at The Greenbrier, as he completed his practice round on Tuesday at the Open Championship, Na shed some light on how difficult the last few years have been.

“I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, 'I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, 'He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.' I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Na, who made headlines for his struggles to begin his backswing when he found himself in the lead at the 2012 Players Championship, said he asked other players who had gone through similar bouts with the game’s most dreaded ailment how they were able to get through it.

“It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”

The payoff, however, has steadily arrived this season. Na said he’d been confident with his game this season following a runner-up showing at the Genesis Open and a fourth-place finish at the Fort Worth Invitational, and he felt he was close to a breakthrough. But being able to finish a tournament like he did at The Greenbrier, where he won by five strokes, was particularly rewarding.

“All good now,” he smiled. “I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”

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Koepka still has chip on his chiseled shoulder

By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 3:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brooks Koepka prepared more for this Open than last year's.

He picked up his clubs three times.

That’s three more than last summer, when the only shots he hit between the summer Opens was during a commercial shoot for Michelob Ultra at TPC Sawgrass. He still tied for sixth at The Open a month later.

This time, Koepka kept his commitment to play the Travelers, then hit balls three times between the final round in Hartford and this past Sunday, when he first arrived here at Carnoustie.

Not that he was concerned, of course.

Koepka’s been playing golf for nearly 20 years. He wasn’t about to forget to how to swing a club after a few weeks off.

“It was pretty much the same thing,” he said Tuesday, during his pre-tournament news conference. “I shared it with one of my best friends, my family, and it was pretty much the same routine. It was fun. We enjoyed it. But I’m excited to get back inside the ropes and start playing again. I think you need to enjoy it any time you win and really embrace it and think about what you’ve done.”

At Shinnecock Hills, Koepka became the first player in nearly 30 years to repeat as U.S. Open champion – a major title that helped him shed his undeserved reputation as just another 20-something talent who relies solely on his awesome power. In fact, he takes immense pride in his improved short game and putting inside 8 feet.

“I can take advantage of long golf courses,” he said, “but I enjoy plotting my way around probably - more than the bombers’ golf courses - where you’ve got to think, be cautious sometimes, and fire at the center of the greens. You’ve got to be very disciplined, and that’s the kind of golf I enjoy.”

Which is why Koepka once again fancies his chances here on the type of links that helped launch his career.

Koepka was out of options domestically after he failed to reach the final stage of Q-School in 2012. So he packed his bags and headed overseas, going on a tear on the European Challenge Tour (Europe’s equivalent of the Web.com circuit) and earning four titles, including one here in Scotland. That experience was the most fun and beneficial part of his career, when he learned to win, be self-sufficient and play in different conditions.


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“There’s certain steps, and I embraced it,” Koepka said. “I think that’s where a lot of guys go wrong. You are where you are, and you have to make the best of it instead of just putting your head down and being like, 'Well, I should be on the PGA Tour.' Well, guess what? You’re not. So you’ve got to suck it up wherever you are, make the best of it, and keep plugging away and trying to win everything you can because, eventually, if you’re good enough, you will get out here.”

Koepka has proved that he’s plenty good enough, of course: He’s a combined 20 under in the majors since the beginning of 2017, the best of any player during that span. But he still searches long and hard for a chip to put on his chiseled shoulder.

In his presser after winning at Shinnecock, Koepka said that he sometimes feels disrespected and forgotten, at least compared to his more-ballyhooed peers. It didn’t necessarily bother him – he prefers to stay out of the spotlight anyway, eschewing a media tour after each of his Open titles – but it clearly tweaked him enough for him to admit it publicly.

That feeling didn’t subside after he went back to back at the Open, either. On U.S. Open Sunday, ESPN’s Instagram page didn’t showcase a victorious Koepka, but rather a video of New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. dunking a basketball.

“He’s like 6-foot-2. He’s got hops – we all know that – and he’s got hands. So what’s impressive about that?” Koepka said. “But I always try to find something where I feel like I’m the underdog and put that little chip on my shoulder. Even if you’re No. 1, you’ve got to find a way to keep going and keep that little chip on.

“I think I’ve done a good job of that. I need to continue doing that, because once you’re satisfied, you’re only going to go downhill. You try to find something to get better and better, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Now 28, Koepka has a goal of how many majors he’d like to win before his career is over, but he wasn’t about to share it.

Still, he was adamant about one thing: “Right now I’m focused on winning. That’s the only thing I’ve got in my mind. Second place just isn’t good enough. I finished second a lot, and I’m just tired of it. Once you win, it kind of propels you. You have this mindset where you just want to keep winning. It breeds confidence, but you want to have that feeling of gratification: I finally did this. How cool is this?”

So cool that Koepka can’t wait to win another one.

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Despite results, Thomas loves links golf

By Jay CoffinJuly 17, 2018, 2:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Despite poor results in two previous Open Championships, Justin Thomas contends that he has what it takes to be a good links player. In fact, he believes that he is a good links player.

Two years ago at Royal Troon, Thomas shot 77 in the second round to tie for 53rd place. He was on the wrong side of the draw that week that essentially eliminated anyone from contention who played late Friday afternoon.

Last year at Royal Birkdale, Thomas made a quintuple-bogey 9 on the par-4 sixth hole in the second round and missed the cut by two shots.


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I feel like I’ve played more than two Opens, but I haven’t had any success here,” Thomas said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I feel like I am a good links player, although I don’t really have the results to show.”

Although he didn’t mention it as a reason for success this week, Thomas is a much different player now than he was two years ago, having ascended to the No. 1 position in the world for a few weeks and now resting comfortably in the second spot.

He also believes a high golf IQ, and the ability to shape different shots into and with the wind are something that will help him in The Open over the next 20 years.

“I truly enjoy the creativity,” Thomas said. “It presents a lot of different strategies, how you want to play it, if you want to be aggressive, if you want to be conservative, if you want to attack some holes, wait on certain winds, whatever it might be. It definitely causes you to think.

“With it being as firm as it is, it definitely adds a whole other variable to it.”

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Reed's major record now a highlight, not hindrance

By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 2:46 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The narrative surrounding Patrick Reed used to be that he could play well in the Ryder Cup but not the majors.

So much for that.

Reed didn’t record a top-10 in his first 15 starts in a major, but he took the next step in his career by tying for second at the 2017 PGA Championship. He followed that up with a breakthrough victory at the Masters, then finished fourth at the U.S. Open after a closing 68.

He’s the only player with three consecutive top-4s in the majors.

What’s the difference now?


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“The biggest thing is I treat them like they’re normal events,” he said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I’ve always gone into majors and put too much pressure on myself, having to go play well, having to do this or that. Now I go in there and try to play golf and keep in the mindset of, Hey, it’s just another day on the golf course. Let’s just go play.

“I’ve been able to stay in that mindset the past three, and I’ve played pretty well in all three of them.”

Reed’s record in the year’s third major has been hit or miss – a pair of top-20s and two missed cuts – but he says he’s a better links player now than when he began his career. It took the native Texan a while to embrace the creativity required here and also to comprehend the absurd distances he can hit the ball with the proper wind, conditions and bounce.

“I’m sort of accepting it,” he said. “I’ve gotten a little more comfortable with doing it. It’s come a little bit easier, especially down the stretch in tournament play.”