Chopra Grabs Two Shot Lead at Buick Open

By Associated PressJune 28, 2008, 4:00 pm
2006 Buick OpenGRAND BLANC, Mich. -- Daniel Chopras tendency to be wild off the tee and accurate from the rough led Todd Hamiltons caddie to give him a nickname at the Buick Open.
 
Youre Rambo, he said.
 
Rambo?
 
Yeah, youre lethal from the trees Chopra recalled the caddie saying.
 
Now, he has another moniker: Buick Open third-round leader.
 
Chopra shot a 4-under 68 on Saturday to reach 16 under at Warwick Hills and take a two-shot lead into the final round. He made a 15-foot putt for birdie on the last hole after Dudley Hart bogeyed it to earn a cushion.
 
It makes my job a little easier, but not a lot, Chopra said.
 
Hart (70), Bubba Watson (68) and Woody Austin (69) were 14 under.
 
Luckily, none of the leaders went low, Austin said. So there wasnt a big separation.
 
Second-round leader Bo Van Pelt (73) was another shot back along with Kenny Perry (67), the highest-ranked player in a lackluster field that includes just three of the top 30 players in the world.
 
Chopra said any of the 10 players who are 12 under or better have a chance to win at Warwick Hills, one of the easier courses on the PGA Tour.
 
Its going to be an absolute shootout, he predicted.
 
Defending champion Brian Bateman, who missed the cut, is the only 54-hole leader at the Buick Open who did not go on to win in the last seven years.
 
Since winning the PGA TOUR's season-opening event and tying for 32nd the next week, Chopra hasnt fared better than a tie for 33rd and hes missed six cuts.
 
Treading water, he explained.
 
If the 34-year-old Swede, who sports a belt buckle shaped like his countrys flag, can hold off the wave of challengers Sunday he will move a step closer to playing in the Ryder Cup.
 
Im one of the players now that has a great opportunity to get in, he said.
 
Chopra was alone atop the leaderboard for the first time at the ninth hole when Hart had his first bogey of the tournament.
 
Hart pulled back into a tie with Chopra with a birdie at 16, where he got off to a good start with a 308-yard drive in the middle of the fairway. An errant drive set up trouble at 18, though, and he wouldve had to make a 31-foot putt just to stay within a stroke.
 
He has won twice on the PGA TOUR, with the last victory coming in 2000 at the Honda Classic. His highlight this year was in February, when he had a third-place finish at Pebble Beach.
 
Hart missed the last seven months of the 2007 season after a softball-sized tumor was discovered in his wifes lung. She had the tumor and two-thirds of her lung removed last May, but it turned out to be a benign mass. He returned to the tour this year under a family medical exemption and has already made enough money to regain his card.
 
Watsons career-best finish is a tie for second at the 2007 Houston Open and hes coming off a season-best sixth at the Travelers Championship.
 
Austin won his first of three titles at the 1995 Buick Open and his last was at the 2007 Stanford St. Jude Championship. He has been in the top 10 twice this season.
 
Chopra was wild off the tee Saturday'hitting just three of 14 fairways' but responded well enough to hit 13 of 18 greens.
 
I have a good imagination and can hit trundlers and cuts and hooks and find ways to get it on the green, he said. As long as you give me a swing and some kind of a gap, Im pretty good at finding it.
 
This golf course allows you to do that. It relaxes me a little bit off the tee so that I can go ahead and hit it. If I miss, I can use my skill to recover.
 
When he didnt land an approach, such as at No. 4'when his second shot rolled off the green and was almost buried under a camping chair'his touch was sharp enough to help him scramble for par.
 
His creativity also helped him during the second round when he hit a shot from both knees off the lip of a greenside bunker, setting up a gimme for par and another nickname from caddies.
 
They said, `Well, maybe we should start calling you Dorf, Chopra recalled. That was funny, too.
 
I said, `Well, I think I like Rambo better.
 
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    Casey in line to make Ryder Cup after Travelers T-2

    By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 10:30 am

    Despite coughing up a four-shot lead at the Travelers Championship, England's Paul Casey moved into a qualifying position to make his return to the Ryder Cup this fall in Paris.

    Casey struggled Sunday at TPC River Highlands, shooting a 72 as Bubba Watson raced to victory with a 63. But a four-way share of second place was still good enough to lift Casey into fourth place among those not already qualified on the World Points list, with the top four Europeans from that list in August punching their tickets to Le Golf National.

    Casey has played in three Ryder Cups before, but none since 2008. After renouncing his European Tour membership a few years ago, he reinstated it for the 2018 season in order to be eligible to return to the biennial matches.

    Here's a look at the updated standings for Europe, with the top four players from each points list ultimately joining four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn:

    European Points

    1. Tyrrell Hatton

    2. Justin Rose

    3. Tommy Fleetwood

    4. Francesco Molinari

    ---

    5. Thorbjorn Olesen

    6. Matthew Fitzpatrick

    World Points

    1. Jon Rahm

    2. Rory McIlroy

    3. Alex Noren

    4. Paul Casey

    ---

    5. Matthew Fitzpatrick

    6. Ian Poulter

    On the American side of the ledger, Watson jumped two spots to fifth with his third win of the year and seemingly locked up his spot on the squad, while Bryson DeChambeau moved inside the top eight with a top-10 finish in Connecticut.

    Here's a look at the latest U.S. standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship earning automatic bids:

    1. Brooks Koepka

    2. Dustin Johnson

    3. Patrick Reed

    4. Justin Thomas

    5. Bubba Watson

    6. Jordan Spieth

    7. Rickie Fowler

    8. Bryson DeChambeau

    ---

    9. Webb Simpson

    10. Phil Mickelson

    11. Matt Kuchar

    12. Brian Harman

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    Watson cracks top 15 in world with Travelers win

    By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 10:15 am

    After his third win in the last five months, Bubba Watson is back on the cusp of the upper echelon in the world rankings.

    Watson started the year ranked No. 89 in the world, but after a three-shot victory at the Travelers Championship the southpaw moved up seven spots to No. 13 in the latest rankings. It marks his best position since a missed cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February 2017.

    Watson stayed one spot behind Paul Casey, who was one of four runners-up in Connecticut and rose one position to 12th as a result. Beau Hossler's T-2 finish helped him jump 24 spots to No. 64, while J.B. Holmes went from 93rd to 75th with the same result. Stewart Cink, who grabbed a share of second with a final-round 62, went from No. 149 to No. 95 and is back inside the top 100 in the world rankings for the first time since September 2011.


    Updated Official World Golf Ranking


    Matt Wallace, who won the BMW International Open on the European Tour, went from 91st to 66th.

    There was only one change among the top 10 in the rankings, as an idle Jon Rahm moved past Jordan Spieth at No. 5 despite Spieth's T-42 finish at TPC River Highlands. At No. 6, Spieth is at his lowest point in the rankings since before last summer's victories at Travelers and The Open.

    Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Rahm. Spieth slid to No. 6, with Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

    Poised to return to competition this week at the Quicken Loans National, Tiger Woods fell three spots to No. 82 in the latest rankings.

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    After Further Review: Spieth needs a break

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 25, 2018, 1:11 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On Jordan Spieth's much-needed break ...

    Jordan Spieth is heading for a break, and that’s probably a good thing.

    Spieth just wrapped a run of six events in seven weeks that featured largely underwhelming results. A third-place finish at the Masters that stemmed from a nearly-historic final round deflects attention away from the fact that Spieth has yet to enter a final round this year less than six shots off the lead.

    A return to his home state didn’t work, nor did a fight against par at Shinnecock or a title defense outside Hartford where everything went so well a year ago. His putting woes appear to have bottomed out, as Spieth finished 21st in putting at Travelers, but now the alignment issue that plagued his putting appears to have bled into other parts of his game.

    So heading into another title defense next month at Carnoustie, Spieth plans to take some time off and re-evaluate. Given how fast things turned around last summer, that might prove to be just what he needs. - Will Gray


    On the difference between this week and last week ...

    There wasn’t a single outraged tweet, not a lone voice of descent on social media following Bubba Watson’s victory at the Travelers Championship, a 17-under par masterpiece that included a closing loop of 30.

    Nobody declared that golf was broken, no one proclaimed the royal and ancient game a victim of technology and the age of uber athletes. The only response was appreciation for what Watson, a bomber in the truest form, was able to accomplish.

    At 6,840 yards, TPC River Highlands was built for fun, not speed. Without wild weather or ill-advised hole locations and greens baked to extinction, this is what the best players in the game do, and yet no one seemed outraged. Weird. - Rex Hoggard


    On the emergence of another LPGA phenom ...

    Add another young star to the favorites list heading to the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Kemper Lakes outside Chicago next week.

    Nasa Hataoka, the 19-year-old Japanese standout who needed her rookie season last year to acclimate to the LPGA, broke through for her first LPGA title Sunday at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

    This wasn’t a surprise to LPGA followers. Hataoka won the Japan Women’s Open when she was 17, the first amateur to win a major on the Japan LPGA Tour, and she has been trending up this year.

    Her tie for 10th at the U.S. Women’s Open three weeks ago was her fourth consecutive top-10 finish. She won going away in Arkansas, beating a deep field that included the top nine in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. She outplayed world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn and No. 3 Lexi Thompson on Sunday. - Randall Mell

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    Bubba waiting for Furyk's text about Ryder Cup

    By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 12:39 am

    CROMWELL, Conn. – After winning his third PGA Tour title in the span of five months, Bubba Watson is now waiting by his phone.

    Watson’s victory at the Travelers Championship, his third at TPC River Highlands since 2010, accompanies recent victories at both the Genesis Open and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play from earlier this year. It also moved the southpaw from No. 7 to No. 5 in the latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically.

    After serving as an assistant captain at Hazeltine despite ranking No. 7 in the world at the time, Watson made it clear that he hopes to have removed any doubt about returning to the role of player when the biennial matches head to Paris this fall.


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    “It still says in my phone that (U.S. captain) Jim (Furyk) hasn’t texted me yet. So I’d really like for him to say I’m going to pick you no matter what,” Watson said. “The motivation is I’ve never won a Ryder Cup, so making the Ryder Cup team and trying to win a Ryder Cup as a player would be another tournament victory to me. It would be a major championship to me just because I’ve never done it, been a part of it.”

    Watson turns 40 in November, and while he reiterated that his playing career might not extend too far into the future as he looks to spend more time at home with son Caleb and daughter Dakota, he’s also hoping to make an Olympic return in Tokyo in 2020 after representing the U.S. in Rio two years ago.

    “Talking about the Olympics coming up, that’s motivating me,” he said. “It was the best experience of my life to watch all the other events, and then the golf tournament got in the way. I’d love to do it again. I’d love to watch all the events and then have to play golf as well.”