Cruise Control

By Associated PressJune 4, 2011, 10:23 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – Steve Stricker went from doing everything right to having just about everything go wrong as his lead was cut in half over the final five holes Saturday at the Memorial.

The good news for Stricker is that he had a six-shot lead at one point, and his 3-under 69 at Muirfield Village still kept him three shots clear of Jonathan Byrd going into the final round.

Stricker holed out for eagle from 113 yards on the second hole, made another eagle with a 3-iron into 6 feet on the par-5 fifth and looked as though he might run away from the field when he rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-3 eighth.

But he missed three putts inside 7 feet – one of them for par – over the final five holes, and his tee shot on the 18th landed in the middle of a sand-filled divot, sending his approach beyond the green in thick rough. Stricker chipped out to 3 feet to escape with par and leave himself some decent vibes going into Sunday.

He was at 12-under 204 as he goes for his 10th career victory.

Byrd made birdie on the 18th hole for a 69 that will put him in the final group Sunday with a chance to win for the second time this year. Thanks to the late fade by Stricker, several others have a chance that at one time didn’t look possible.

Matt Kuchar, who made six birdies in his opening nine holes, had a 68 despite two bogeys in his last four holes. He was four shots behind, along with Brandt Jobe, who shot a 69.

Rory McIlroy couldn’t get the clean round he wanted. The 22-year-old from Northern Ireland, making a rare PGA Tour appearance, chopped up the par-3 fourth hole for a double bogey, hit into the water on the par-5 11th for a bogey and was falling back until he rallied with an eagle putt on the 15th. He wound up with a 71 and was five shots behind, along with Mark Wilson (66) and former PGA champion Shaun Micheel (67).

Luke Donald, in his debut as the No. 1 player in the world, was trying to make a charge on the back nine until he made two careless bogeys and had to settled for a 73. Donald was at 4-under 212, eight shots out of the lead. About the only thing Donald can likely achieve Sunday is to go for his 10th straight finish in the top 10. Donald was tied for 17th.

Phil Mickelson shot a 72 and was 10 shots behind, which he attributed mainly to his putting.

An amazing start gave Stricker strokes to burn toward the end of his round.

After an 8-footer to save par from a bunker on the opening hole, Stricker had 113 yards on No. 2. He reached into his pocket for a tee to clean out a chunk of dirt in his 53-degree wedge, set up over the ball and hit a perfect shot that spun into the cup for an eagle. Three holes later, he hit 3-iron over the water with just enough draw to catch the ridge and settled 6 feet away for another eagle.

Going back to the second round, it was his third eagle in seven holes. And he became only the 13th player on the PGA Tour since 1983 to make an eagle on a par 3, par 4 and par 5 in the same tournament.

He had it going so well that his lone bogey on the front nine came on a shot that was about a yard away from being an easy birdie, his wedge just hopping into a buried lie beyond the green instead of rolling down the ridge. But he answered with an 8-foot birdie on the seventh, and a 25-foot birdie on the eighth to go out in 31.

Staked to a five-shot lead on the back nine, however, Stricker began looking tentative. He missed a 4-foot birdie putt on the 14th, chopped up the par-5 15th and made bogey, then looked as though he would save par from a bunker on the 16th until missing another 4-foot putt. And with a chance to steady himself, he caught the lip on a 6-foot birdie on the 17th.

He wasn’t alone in fading.

Kuchar made six birdies on the front nine and went out in 31 to try to stay in range of Stricker. But he also took bogey on the 15th, then went long on the 18th and missed a 6-foot par putt to fall back.

“A little disheartening,” Kuchar said. “Stricker was matching me shot-for-shot out there. I felt like I really had it going, and a little disappointing to drop a couple coming in. But it’s a tough golf course.”

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Kisner doubles 18, defends not laying up

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 6:42 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It was only fitting that Jean Van de Velde was there working as an on-course reporter on Friday as Kevin Kisner struggled his way up Carnoustie’s 18th fairway.

Rolling along with a two-stroke lead, Kisner’s 8-iron approach shot from an awkward lie in the rough from 160 yards squirted right and bounced into Barry Burn, the winding creek where Van de Velde’s title chances at the 1999 Open Championship began to erode.

Unlike Van de Velde, who made a triple bogey-7 and lost The Open in a playoff, Kisner’s double bogey only cost him the solo lead and he still has 36 holes to make his closing miscue a distant memory. That’s probably why the 34-year-old seemed at ease with his plight.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“It just came out like a high flop shot to the right. It was weird. I don't know if it caught something or what happened,” said Kisner, who was tied with Zach Johnson and Zander Lombard at 6 under par. “You never know out of that grass. It was in a different grass than usual. It was wet, green grass instead of the brown grass. So I hadn't really played from that too much.”

Like most in this week’s field Kisner also understands that rounds on what is widely considered the most difficult major championship venue can quickly unravel even with the most innocent of mistakes.

“To play 35 holes without a double I thought was pretty good,” he said. “I've kept the ball in play, done everything I wanted to do all the way up into that hole. Just one of those things that came out completely different than we expected. I'll live with that more than chipping out and laying up from 20 feet.”

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Wind, not rain more a weekend factor at Open

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:39 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – After a half-day of rain in Round 2 of the 147th Open Championship, the weekend offers a much drier forecast.

Saturday at Carnoustie is projected to be mostly cloudy with a high of 62 degrees and only a 20 percent chance of rain.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Sunday calls for much warmer conditions, with temperatures rising upwards of 73 degrees under mostly cloudy skies.

Wind might be the only element the players have to factor in over the final 36 holes. While the winds will be relatively calm on Saturday, expected around 10-15 mph, they could increase to 25 mph in the final round.

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Van Rooyen holes putt after ball-marker ruling

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Erik van Rooyen was surveying his 10-footer for par, trying to get a feel for the putt, when his putter slipped out of his hand and dropped onto his ball marker.

The question, then, was whether that accident caused his coin to move.

The rules official looked at various camera angles but none showed definitively whether his coin moved. The ruling was made to continue from where his coin was now positioned, with no penalty.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

This was part of the recent rules changes, ensuring there is no penalty if the ball or ball maker is accidently moved by the player. The little-used rule drew attention in 2010, when Ian Poulter accidentally dropped his ball on his marker in Dubai and wound up losing more than $400,000 in bonus and prize money.

After the delay to sort out his ruling Friday, van Rooyen steadied himself and made the putt for par, capping a day in which he shot even-par 71 and kept himself in the mix at The Open. He was at 4-under 138, just two shots off the clubhouse lead.

“I wanted to get going and get this 10-footer to save par, but I think having maybe just a couple minutes to calm me down, and then I actually got a different read when I sat down and looked at it again,” he said. “Good putt. Happy to finish that way.”

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Lyle birdies last hole in likely his final Open start

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:32 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – If this was Sandy Lyle’s final Open appearance, he went out in style.

Playing on the final year of his automatic age exemption, the 60-year-old Scot buried a 30-foot birdie on the last hole. He missed the cut after shooting 9-over 151 over two rounds.

“I was very light-footed,” he said. “I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. To make birdie was extra special.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Lyle, who also won the 1988 Masters, has missed the cut in his last eight majors, dating to 2014. He hasn’t been competitive in The Open since 1998, when he tied for 19th.

To continue playing in The Open, Lyle needed to finish in the top 10 here at Carnoustie. He’d earn a future exemption by winning the Senior British Open.

“More punishment,” he said.