Clarke out, as McIlroy, McDowell survive Irish Open cut

By Associated PressJuly 29, 2011, 12:16 pm

KILLARNEY, Ireland – Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke crashed out of the Irish Open, but his fellow countrymen Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell both comfortably made the cut after Friday’s second round.

Germany’s Marcel Siem seized the lead thanks to a stunning 16th-hole eagle on the 519-yard (474-meter) par 5, followed by a 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th, as dusk approached at Killarney. The unheralded Siem, who has won a lone European Tour tournament seven years ago, carded a second consecutive 66 to move to 10-under.

India’s Jeev Milkha Singh, the first-round leader after his 63, could only manage a 70 on Friday and shared second place – one stroke back – with Denmark’s Soeren Hansen after his 66. Spain’s Ignacio Garrido was alone in fourth on 8 under after a 65.

 But the approximately 20,000 fans who filled the fairways were there to cheer Ireland’s stars from both sides of the border – several of whom either crashed out or flirted with an early exit.

Reigning U.S. Open champ McIlroy bagged three straight birdies from the 14th to 16th holes to break a long run of lackluster par play and finish with a 68 for a 4-under total of 138.

When asked if he’s confident of pulling off a win Sunday, the 22-year-old phenomenon from the Belfast suburb of Holywood was emphatic.

“I do, yeah,” he said. “If I get off to a good start tomorrow and post a number, then I feel I can give myself a good chance.”

However, McIlroy couldn’t quite let go of his sudden feud with U.S. golf commentator and former European pro, Jay Townsend, who on Thursday ticked off McIlroy by criticizing both him and his caddy, J.P. Fitzgerald.

After Townsend called McIlroy’s opening-day tactics “silly” and Fitzgerald’s management “shocking,” McIlroy sent him a message on Twitter calling Townsend “a failed golfer” who should “shut up.”

McIlroy said Friday that he had talked to his parents and manager about toning down his emotions, but was sticking by his harsh words for Townsend.

“I don’t really have any respect for the man,” he said of Townsend, who has been offering live fairway commentary for Irish broadcasters RTE.

“I have to stand up for J.P. because he’s the best man that I think I can have on my bag,” McIlroy said. “He’s taken me from 200th in the world to major champion and now fourth in the world.”

When asked whether he agreed with some commentators’ views that he was behaving like a spoiled brat, McIlroy played it safe.

“Well, I’m an only child. If that means I’m spoiled, I don’t know,” he said.

Townsend said he tried Friday to talk directly to McIlroy, through his manager, but was rebuffed.

McDowell, a fellow Ulsterman who won the U.S. Open last year, rapidly erased his opening-day tally of 1-over par by birdying the first two holes with precise approach shots. That “set the tone for the day,” he said.

He scored four more birdies in a 66 to join McIlroy on 4 under par.

But Clarke dropped four shots in the last eight holes to slump to 72 and 1-over par, just two weeks after the 42-year-old won his first major at the British Open. His final putt for par on the 18th stopped barely an inch short.

“I was trying, trying, trying and couldn’t get anything going. I couldn’t buy a putt,” Clarke said with a serene smile.

Clarke, who sparked lengthy debate in Ireland over his post-British Open boozing, arrived in Killarney sporting a hacking cough and sniffly cold that he attributed to “self-inflicted man flu’.”

However, Clarke said he didn’t regret a single pint or all-night party since his breakthrough victory in Sandwich.

“I’m not physically tired, no. Just mentally tired,” he said.

Ireland’s out-of-form Padraig Harrington also missed the cut after finishing 3 over. He appeared visibly distressed as putt after putt rolled narrowly left or right.

Harrington, who won three majors in 2008 and 2009 but has struggled since, said his back-to-back double bogey and bogey on the 6th and 7th holes “knocked the stuffing out of me.”

The Dubliner said his putting was only barely off. “It was a good day on the greens,” he insisted. “They didn’t drop, but they’ll drop someday.”

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."

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Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."