Crane still on top at St. Jude; play stopped again

By Associated PressJune 8, 2014, 12:44 am

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Ben Crane has waited so long to contend for another PGA Tour title that being patient through weather delays is no problem at all.

Staying atop the leaderboard into the third round helps.

Crane went more than 28 hours between competitive shots because of weather delays, and he was at 13 under with a four-stroke lead through six holes Saturday when another storm stopped play again at the St. Jude Classic.

''What an opportunity I have,'' Crane said. ''Certainly at the beginning of the week I never thought I would have been here, so I'll just try to go home, relax, get some food in me and sleep as fast as I can because we got to come back out at 7 a.m. and restart tomorrow.''

Troy Merritt, a group ahead of Crane, was at 9 under, with playing partner Peter Malnati at 8 under. Billy Horschel, Retief Goosen and Camilo Villegas were 7 under on their front nines.

Phil Mickelson, who hasn't won in 19 straight events dating to the British Open, had pars on each of his first nine holes and was at 5 under. He's one of many players using the event to tune up for the U.S. Open next week at Pinehurst.

Play stopped at 6:49 p.m. with officials hoping to have the leaders tee off for the final round by 9:10 a.m. Sunday, if they can avoid a fog delay like the one that delayed the start of play for an hour Saturday morning.

A storm Thursday forced 60 players to wrap up the first round Friday, and only 32 finished the second before two delays, the second for a thunderstorm that left water standing in fairways, bunkers and cart paths. The third round finally started at 3 p.m. with threesomes going off both tees. At least fans got to stick around all of Saturday afternoon after being sent home early the past two days.


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Crane didn't tee off until 4:50 p.m. Saturday after finishing up his second round at 12:18 p.m. Friday.

But this is Crane's 300th career PGA Tour start, even though his last win was in 2011 at the McGladrey Classic. Crane said he can't remember playing with a lead this late in a tournament, it's been so long.

He is putting well here this week, and he birdied his first hole to go to 13 under for the tournament as he rolled in a nearly 19-footer on the par-4 first. After hitting his approach into the rough behind the green on No. 2, Crane made a 12-footer to save par.

''Those are kind of critical putts right now, kind of keep the momentum going,'' Crane said.

Merritt, who did not make a start on tour in 2012 or 2013 and missed his first six cuts this year, is the closest to Crane.

''Anything can happen on the final day when we've seen six-shot leads falter on the last day,'' Merritt said. ''If you can stay within a couple shots, that would be great. Anything can happen on Sunday on the PGA Tour.''

Mickelson tied for 49th last week in the Memorial following a visit from FBI agents and lingering questions about an insider-trading investigation. He never teed off at all Friday with the horn blowing for the second time with him at the No. 1 tee.

He said he couldn't hit his irons close enough or his putts in his second round. He started bogey-birdie-bogey-birdie, though he birdied Nos. 14 and 15 to get to 5 under. He rolled in a 16-footer to save par on the par-5 16th and wasn't happy at missing a birdie opportunity with the pin at the front of the green.

''I had a chance to get up and down,'' Mickelson said. ''I think if I had birdied 16 I might have gotten one more with a little bit of momentum. ... I'm certainly not that far back, but I do need to get off to a quick start. I got to get a good front nine here this third round and get off to a fast start.''

Divots: Local favorite John Daly was among 71 making the cut at even par. Defending champ Harris English missed the cut along with Patrick Reed, Lee Westwood and David Toms, a two-time champ here. ... David Duval withdrew after seven holes in his second round. He was at 7 over for the tournament. He was the 10th to withdraw since this event started.

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Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.

Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.

Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.


Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


"I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."

Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:

Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.

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Immelman misses Open bid via OWGR tiebreaker

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:25 pm

A resurgent performance at the Scottish Open gave Trevor Immelman his first top-10 finish in more than four years, but it left him short of a return to The Open by the slimmest of margins.

The former Masters champ turned back the clock this week at Gullane Golf Club, carding four straight rounds of 68 or better. That run included a 5-under 65 in the final round, which gave him a tie for third and left him five shots behind winner Brandon Stone. It was his first worldwide top-10 since a T-10 finish at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.

There were three spots available into The Open for players not otherwise exempt, and for a brief moment it appeared Immelman, 38, might sneak the third and final invite.


Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


But with Stone and runner-up Eddie Pepperell both not qualified, that left the final spot to be decided between Immelman and Sweden's Jens Dantorp who, like Immelman, tied for third at 15 under.

As has been the case with other stops along the Open Qualifying Series, the tiebreaker to determine invites is the players' standing in the Official World Golf Rankings entering the week. Dantorp is currently No. 322 in the world, but with Immelman ranked No. 1380 the Swede got the nod.

This will mark Dantorp's first-ever major championship appearance. Immelman, who hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2013 Masters, was looking to return to The Open for 10th time and first since a missed cut at Royal Lytham six years ago. He will instead work the week at Carnoustie as part of Golf Channel and NBC's coverage of The Open.

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Stone (60) wins Scottish Open, invite to Carnoustie

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:06 pm

There's never a bad time to shoot a 60, but Brandon Stone certainly picked an opportune moment to do so.

Facing a jammed leaderboard in the final round of the Scottish Open, Stone fired a 10-under 60 to leave a stacked field in his wake and win the biggest tournament of his career. His 20-under 260 total left him four shots clear of Eddie Pepperell and five shots in front of a group that tied for third.

Stone had a mid-range birdie putt on No. 18 that would have given him the first 59 in European Tour history. But even after missing the putt on the left, Stone tapped in to close out a stellar round that included eight birdies, nine pars and an eagle. It's his third career European Tour title but first since the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December 2016.


Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


Stone started the day three shots behind overnight leader Jens Dantorp, but he made an early move with three birdies over his first five holes and five over his first 10. Stone added a birdie on the par-3 12th, then took command with a three-hole run from Nos. 14-16 that included two birdies and an eagle.

The eye-popping score from the 25-year-old South African was even more surprising considering his lack of form entering the week. Stone is currently ranked No. 371 in the world and had missed four of his last seven worldwide cuts without finishing better than T-60.

Stone was not yet qualified for The Open, and as a result of his performance at Gullane Golf Club he will tee it up next week at Carnoustie. Stone headlined a group of three Open qualifiers, as Pepperell and Dantorp (T-3) also earned invites by virtue of their performance this week. The final spot in the Open will go to the top finisher not otherwise qualified from the John Deere Classic.

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Daly (knee) replaced by Bradley in Open field

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 12:13 pm

Former champion John Daly has withdrawn from The Open because of a right knee injury and will be replaced in the field at Carnoustie by another major winner, Keegan Bradley.

Daly, 52, defeated Costantino Rocca in a memorable playoff to win the claret jug at St. Andrews in 1995. His lingering knee pain led him to request a cart during last month's U.S. Senior Open, and when that request was denied he subsequently withdrew from the tournament.

Daly then received treatment on the knee and played in a PGA Tour event last week at The Greenbrier without the use of a cart, missing the cut with rounds of 77-67. But on the eve of the season's third major, he posted to Twitter that his pain remains "unbearable" and that a second request for a cart was turned down:

This will be just the second time since 2000 that Daly has missed The Open, having also sat out the 2013 event at Muirfield. He last made the cut in 2012, when he tied for 81st at Royal Lytham. He could still have a few more chances to improve upon that record, given that past Open champions remain fully exempt until age 60.

Taking his place will be Bradley, who was first alternate based on his world ranking. Bradley missed the event last year but recorded three top-20 finishes in five appearances from 2012-16, including a T-18 finish two years ago at Royal Troon.

The next three alternates, in order, are Spain's Adrian Otaegui and Americans Aaron Wise and J.B. Holmes.