Bowditch cruises to Byron Nelson win

By Associated PressMay 31, 2015, 10:46 pm

IRVING, Texas – Steven Bowditch already had wedding photos from the 18th green at the home of the AT&T Byron Nelson.

Now there are plenty of images of the Australian holding a big trophy after winning in his adopted home.

Bowditch rode his best birdie binge on the PGA Tour to a 5-under 64 and a four-shot victory Sunday in the Nelson, making him two-for-Texas in career titles after winning the Texas Open in San Antonio last year.

A Dallas-area resident for 10 years, Bowditch had 27 birdies while becoming the seventh player to lead all four rounds of the event. Playing next to the resort hotel where he got married four years ago, the 31-year-old Bowditch finished at 18-under 259 on the rain-altered TPC Four Seasons layout.

''You know, taking photos on the green today was probably - wasn't probably, it's definitely the second best time I've had on that green - since we got married,'' Bowditch said in the interview room while wife Amanda watched from the back.

Charley Hoffman (65), Texan Jimmy Walker (66) and Scott Pinckney (66) tied for second at 14 under. Zach Johnson shot a 63 to finish alone in fifth at 13 under.


AT&T Byron Nelson Championship: Articles, videos and photos


Hometown favorite and Masters champion Jordan Spieth stayed at 7 under after an even-par 69.

Playing with Bowditch in the final group, Dustin Johnson briefly overtook him early in the round before making an 8 at the par-4 sixth. He finished at 11 under with a 69.

Before the highs of getting married and winning at the home of the Nelson, Bowditch endured the low of a suicide attempt at his Dallas home while battling depression in 2006, not long after he moved to the U.S.

''My personal life is my personal life,'' said Bowditch, who jumped 52 spots to No. 16 in FedEx Cup points and qualified for next year's Masters. ''It's closed doors and, you know, it's built me into the person I am today. Every win is special. This is just another one.''

A sunny day wrapped up two otherwise soggy weeks of golf in Dallas-Fort Worth starting with Colonial. A 5-inch overnight downpour after the first round of the Nelson turned one of its toughest holes - the par-4 14th - into a pitch-and-putt par 3 of barely 100 yards for the final three rounds.

While birdies were the norm after easy wedge shots from what might normally be a drop area in front of a greenside pond, Bowditch had to save par from about 12 feet to keep a three-shot lead, pumping his right fist after the ball dropped in.

The temporary tee box was about 20 yards farther back Sunday, and tour officials believe par of under 70 was a first according to records going back to 1983. The overall par total was 277.

Up by three at the spectator-friendly 17th, Bowditch leaned like he thought his tee shot on the par 3 might go in the water to the right of the green. Instead, the ball flew over the pin and landed safety on the back, and Bowditch raised his putter as the putt rolled in to punctuate the win.

''I was trying to hit it 30 feet left of the stick,'' Bowditch said. ''It was eyes closed and stomach to the floor a little bit.''

Spieth had an opening birdie but quickly gave it back at the par-3 2nd. He went in the water twice for bogeys on the back nine, including on 17 a day after he gave big galleries that followed him all week their biggest thrill by almost hitting the pin on the fly on the 198-yard hole.

After getting within three shots of the lead halfway through the tournament, Spieth never did threaten and ended his streak of second-place finishes in all three previous Texas events this year. The 21-year-old Dallas player tied for 30th five years after finishing 16th in his first tour event as a 16-year-old amateur.

''I really tried to soak it in today,'' Spieth said. ''I was getting frustrated this week just trying so hard, which is what I've done in past years as well. I don't know if that's going to stop in the future.''

Johnson birdied two of the first three holes even though he missed the first four greens, but the erratic start caught up with him at No. 6. Johnson went out of bounds to the right off the tee, then way left into tall grass off the rough with his second tee shot. It took him three swings to get out on his way to a quadruple bogey.

Walker, who won the Texas Open not far from home in March, also held the lead on the front nine but missed short putts for par on 11 and 12. He tried to make a late run with an eagle chip at the par-5 16th and a birdie on 17, but Bowditch answered with birdies on both holes.

''I had told myself going into 15, you know, birdie, eagle would be big,'' Walker said. ''But Steven played great today and hats off.''

To the groom.

Getty Images

Schauffele just fine being the underdog

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

Getty Images

Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Jordan Spieth: 7/4

Xander Schauffele: 5/1

Kevin Kisner: 11/2

Tiger Woods: 14/1

Francesco Molinari: 14/1

Rory McIlroy: 14/1

Kevin Chappell: 20/1

Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

Alex Noren: 25/1

Zach Johnson: 30/1

Justin Rose: 30/1

Matt Kuchar: 40/1

Webb Simpson: 50/1

Adam Scott: 80/1

Tony Finau: 80/1

Charley Hoffman: 100/1

Austin Cook: 100/1

Getty Images

Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

“This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

“I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

“I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

“We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

Getty Images

Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”