Bradley's Byron Nelson lead down to one

By Associated PressMay 18, 2013, 11:07 pm

IRVING, Texas – Keegan Bradley still hasn't gotten things right on the 18th hole at the Byron Nelson Championship, even when finally going left.

The bogeys on the closing hole at TPC Four Seasons haven't cost him the lead yet.

Bradley overcame consecutive bogeys early and bogeyed No. 18 for the third round in a row Saturday to finish with a 2-under 68 that kept him in the lead.

''(Sunday) is the day. Right down the middle,'' Bradley said about that last hole. '''I'm due!''

Bradley's 13-under 197 total gave him a one-stroke lead over Sang-Moon Bae, who had his third consecutive 66. Tom Gillis was two strokes back after a 67.

After going way right off the tee at No. 18 the first two rounds, Bradley smashed his drive Saturday down the left side toward the water. The ball stayed dry, but settled behind a large rock and he had to punch back into the fairway. His approach settled on the front edge of the green and he almost saved par – the ball rolled just over the lip of the cup.

''I thought I made the putt, which would have been exciting,'' he said. ''But 5 on that hole from where I hit it off the tee is a pretty good score.''


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On Sunday, Bradley will be trying to win at TPC Four Seasons for the second time in three years. He could also become the Nelson's first wire-to-wire winner since Tom Watson led alone at the end of all four rounds in 1980.

''Should be easier than having to come from behind,'' he said. ''I have felt comfortable out there, haven't felt nervous. I feel like I put the time in, I feel like this is where I should be when I play well is near the lead or in the lead.''

Bradley got his first PGA Tour victory as a rookie at the Nelson two years ago. He followed that by winning the PGA Championship later that season and the World Golf Championship-Bridgestone Invitational in 2012. The nephew of LPGA great Pat Bradley came from behind on the final day for all of those wins.

After following his opening course-record 60 with a 69 on Friday, Bradley started the third round with a three-stroke lead. He stayed alone at top of the leaderboard throughout.

Scott Piercy's 66 matched Bae and three others for the best round on a breezy Texas day. Piercy was fourth at 10 under, two strokes ahead of Gary Woodland (68), Harris English (68), John Huh (69) and 2011 Masters champ Charl Schwartzel (69).

When 83 players made the cut of even par, there were threesomes instead of traditional twosomes for the third round. That put Bradley in the same group with Bae and Gillis, who started the round tied for second place.

A secondary cut trimmed the field to 72 players for the final round, when Bradley plays with Bae in the final group. Gillis is paired with Piercy.

''Keegan is playing pretty good, but you got to play 'em all, see how it shakes out,'' said Gillis, who missed the cuts in his previous five tournaments.

Gillis was the last player in the field with a bogey Saturday, when he three-putted from 20 feet at the 203-yard 17th. He got that stroke right back when he blasted out of a greenside bunker for an unexpected birdie at No. 18.

''Makes dinner taste better, that's for sure,'' Gillis said.

Bradley first got to 12 under with a 13-foot birdie at the 505-yard third hole and saved par at the next hole after driving into a fairway bunker.

His consecutive bogeys came when he two-putted for bogey after missing the green at the par-3 fifth and then drove into the rough at No. 6. But after a long wait to tee off at the 542-yard seventh hole, Bradley got to the green in two and two-putted from 14 feet for a birdie.

When Bradley's drive at No. 11 settled just a few inches above the top edge of a bunker, it looked like he might have some trouble. But he hit his approach shot onto the green, 34 feet from the cup, and sank the birdie putt to get to 13 under. He blasted within 12 feet from a greenside bunker at the par-5 16th hole for birdie.

Bae, the 26-year-old South Korean who has 11 international victories but none on the PGA Tour, was quickly within a stroke of the lead after birdies on the first two holes. He made a 9-footer on the first and curled in a 32-foot birdie putt at the 223-yard second hole.

A 12-footer for birdie at the eighth hole got Bae to 10 under, again only a stroke back. But Bradley made a 14-foot birdie putt to close out the front nine and made the turn with a two-stroke lead over Bae and Gillis, who also made a birdie from 14 feet at the ninth hole to get to 10 under.

''Only play just my game,'' Bae said when asked how difficult it will be trying to overtake Bradley. ''Nobody knows.''

Notes: English twice had three birdies in a row, including approaches of 5-6 feet on holes 11-13 to get to 10 under right after missing a 3-foot par putt at No. 10. ... Huh, the 2012 PGA Tour rookie of the year, had an eagle 2 at the 14th hole when he holed a shot from 162 yards. ... Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera missed the green at the par-3 fifth hole, but chipped in from 27 feet for his second consecutive birdie to make up for the double-bogey 6 at No. 3. He finished with 11 consecutive pars in a 70 that left him seven strokes off the lead.


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Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.


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Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.

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Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

The Monday morning headline will be …

REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.



Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.



Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.



What will be the winning score?

HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

“It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”


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McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

“Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.