Daly Kuchar Qualify for Masters
Kuchar, who was No. 210 in the world ranking at the start of the year and No. 147 just two weeks ago, shot up to No. 50 by winning the Honda Classic, just enough to earn another trip to Augusta National.
The Masters extended invitations Monday to players in the top 50 who were not already eligible. Others who qualified were John Daly and Rory Sabbatini.
That gives the Masters an expected field of 89 players.
Kuchar first played the Masters in 1998 as the U.S. Amateur champion and dazzled the galleries with his everlasting smile and strong game. He tied for 21st to earn another invitation, then tied for 14th at the U.S. Open.
His two-stroke victory in the Honda Classic, where he one-putted the last eight greens and closed with a 66, give him a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour and an unlikely spot in the field for the Masters, which will be played April 11-14.
Daly returns to the Masters after failing to qualifying last year for the first time since his breakthrough victory in the 1991 PGA Championship.
'You get into those tournaments and you think you're going to be in there for the rest of your life,' Daly said. 'I always said, 'Well, I've got next year, I've got next year.' That year runs out. And it was pretty tough.'
Daly started last year out of the top 500 and made an incredible rise to No. 51, narrowly missing an invitation that goes to the top 50 at the end of the 2001 season. His only goal this year was to get into the top 50 by Monday's deadline. He was at No. 43.
Daly tied for third in 1993, six strokes behind Bernhard Langer, although he has always felt the course was ideal for him because of his length. Golf's longest hitter the past 10 years, Daly has been playing a slight fade off the tee and is curious to see how his game will fit the vast renovations at Augusta, which include nearly 300 additional yards.
'I heard the golf course is even more perfect for me now, and it will be interesting to play Augusta with a cut,' Daly said.
Sabbatini finished at No. 45 and will play the Masters for the second straight year. He missed the cut last year.
The other criteria was top three on the PGA Tour money list after the Honda Classic. Brad Faxon, Chris DiMarco and Kevin Sutherland already had qualified. The only other way to get into the Masters is to win THE PLAYERS Championship next week.
The Masters changed its criteria three years ago, putting more emphasis on the world ranking and eliminating the previous qualification of winning a PGA Tour event.
Eight players who won PGA Tour events since last year's Masters did not get into the field -- Robert Damron, David Gossett, John Cook, Joel Edwards, Cameron Beckman, Matt Gogel, Len Mattiace and Ian Leggatt.
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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage
NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:
Friday, Day 2 (Times ET)
Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)
Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.
1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.
Fleetwood, with his fancy umbrella, fires 65 on Day 2
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tommy Fleetwood looked like an Open rookie when he set out on Friday under gray skies and a cold, steady rain.
Because the Englishman doesn’t have an equipment sponsor he made a quick turn through the merchandise tent for an umbrella – but at least he didn’t have to pay for it.
“We stole it,” he laughed when asked about his Open-brand umbrella. “We got one given for free, actually. We didn't steal it. We don't always carry an umbrella. So it just so happens this week that we've got a nice Open Championship [umbrella]. It looked quite nice, the yellow and the course.”
It was Fleetwood’s only rookie move on Day 2 at Carnoustie, posting a flawless 65 to move into an early tie for second place at 5 under par.
Fleetwood holds the competitive course record at Carnoustie, a 9-under 63 he shot last fall during the European Tour’s Dunhill Links Championship, but given Friday’s conditions and the difficulty of this course during The Open, his 65 on Friday might have been better.
“It's not a course record, but it's pretty good,” said Fleetwood, who was stroke behind leader Zach Johnson. “If you went out, you wouldn't really fancy being 6 under out there. So I think that's a good indication of how good it was.”
It was a dramatic turnaround for Fleetwood on Friday. He said he struggled with his ball-striking, specifically his tee shots, on Day 1, but he was able to turn things around with an hour-long session on the range following his opening round.
Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship
Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.
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McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.
McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.
But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.
“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.
“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.
“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”
McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.
“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”
McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.