DiMarco Finds Himself on A Major Cusp

By Associated PressJune 14, 2005, 4:00 pm
PINEHURST, N.C. -- Hes still on the outside looking in, and still in search of the major championship the best players need to put a definitive stamp on a successful career.
 
But while Chris DiMarco is waiting, at least give him this: For the first 72 holes of the last two major championships, nobody has played better or shot a lower score than him. Not Tiger Woods. Not Vijay Singh. And not any of the other so-called Big Five who loom as the top contenders at the U.S. Open this week.
 
Instead of the Wanamaker Trophy and a green jacket, though, DiMarco has received two second-place checks, two heartbreaking losses in playoffs and, at least in some minds, the newly bestowed title of Best Player To Never Win A Major.
 
Obviously, the positives are that I basically tied for the win, DiMarco said Tuesday, trying to keep a good spin on his runner-up finishes at the Masters in April and the PGA Championship last summer.
 
All I can take out of that is that when Im coming down the stretch, Im putting myself in position to win the tournament.
 
Anyone who finishes in a tie for the win has come agonizingly close, and the details of DiMarcos last two close calls make them even more painful.
 
At Augusta, he overcame a two-shot deficit to Woods with two holes left to force the playoff. But things wouldve been different had DiMarcos chip from the front of the 18th green in regulation gone into the cup instead of rolling around and spinning out.
 
A couple days after the Masters, it was tough, he said. I relived that chip in my head, knowing that could have gone in and could have changed everything.
 
At Whistling Straits, DiMarco forced a three-way playoff with Singh and Justin Leonard by being the only player in the last nine groups to break par. He just missed an 18-foot birdie putt on No. 18 that wouldve given him the win.
 
There is such a fine line out there, he said.
 
DiMarco has been walking it for a while, now.
 
The 36-year-old University of Florida graduate has been in the top 10 in the Masters three times and finished ninth at the U.S. Open last year. He has led at the end of a round at Augusta five times in five years. Those strong finishes have helped him climb to No. 8 in the World Rankings, which puts him only slightly behind No. 6 Sergio Garcia and No. 7 Adam Scott in the category of best players to have never won a major.
 
Possibly remembering the drama from Augusta, USGA officials paired DiMarco with Woods and Luke Donald in the first two rounds Thursday and Friday'yet another sign for DiMarco that hes among the elite.
 
Five years ago, in the gallery, that kind of pairing would have been widely known as Tiger and the guy in the orange shirt, DiMarco said. But now, lots of people know who he is.
 
Including Woods.
 
It was a great match to go head-to-head like that and we separated ourselves so we didnt have to worry about anybody else, Woods said. Its very rare that you have an opportunity to do that, and that was one of those opportunities.
 
DiMarco is one of those rare top players who doesnt distinguish himself off the tee box, either when it comes to driving distance (he ranks 149th) or accuracy (93rd). What he is, though, is a grinder'gritty is often used to describe him'and he makes that awkward claw-like putting grip work to get in contention more often than not.
 
This tournament, returning to Pinehurst No. 2 after a successful trip in 1999, will almost certainly be won by someone with a top-notch short game. It will take someone with the imagination to find different ways onto these heavily sloped, turtleback greens, whether its bump and run with a fairway wood, using the putter off the green or flipping wedges high enough to land and not move.
 
On Tuesday, several players complained about the chewed-up fringes around the greens, the result of slow growth during a cooler-than-usual spring and the USGAs decision to plant sod around the slopes of the putting surfaces.
 
Theres also thick rough'heavy grass the players said was more difficult than at the last trip here.
 
Temperatures were in the mid-90s Tuesday, and Phil Mickelson said if it stays hot and dry quite a bit over par would be the score I would anticipate winning.
 
If DiMarco is in the mix, hell have the confidence of having been as good or better than everyone in the field for 72 holes of major-championship pressure. Twice.
 
And if theres another playoff ... it will be of the 18-hole variety instead of the three-hole showdown at the PGA or sudden-death at the Masters.
 
Can I take that right now? DiMarco said. I like the 18-hole playoff. Thats the way it should be. If you play 72 holes and finish even, you should get 18 more to see if you can beat that guy.
 
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - 105th U.S. Open

  • Tee Times - U.S. Open

  • Photo Gallery from Pinehurst

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    Levy wins Trophee Hassan for fifth European Tour title

    By Associated PressApril 22, 2018, 6:32 pm

    RABAT, Morocco - Alexander Levy finished with a 2-under 70 Sunday to win the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco by a shot from overnight leader Alvaro Quiros.

    One off the lead overnight, Levy made two of his four birdies in his first five holes to hit the front and stayed ahead for the rest of the final day at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam course.

    It was the 27-year-old Frenchman's fifth European Tour victory and he will take winning form to Beijing next week when he defends his China Open title.

    Levy ended 8-under 280 overall, one ahead of Spain's Quiros, who closed with a second straight 72.


    Full-field scores from the Trophee Hassan II


    With his chasers pushing hard, Levy kept his cool after dropping a shot on No. 16. He birdied the short, par-3 No. 17 and made par at the last.

    Quiros birdied his last two holes to make sure of second place outright. He needed an eagle on No. 18 to force a playoff.

    A group of four players finished in a tie for third, including Italy's Andrea Pavan, who finished with a brilliant 6-under 66. Swedish pair Joakim Lagergren (70) and Alexander Bjork (70) and Finland's Mikko Ilonen (72) also shared third.

    Levy had three other top 10 finishes in his five previous events this season and moved up to ninth on the European Tour's Race to Dubai points list.

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    (Not that) Jutanugarn shares lead with (not that) Ko

    By Associated PressApril 22, 2018, 1:58 am

    LOS ANGELES - A player eager for her first win and a rookie top the leaderboard at the HUGEL-JTBC LA Open. Lurking two shots back is a Hall of Famer.

    Winless Moriya Jutanugarn overcame a poor start and birdied the 18th for a hard-earned 1-under 70 to tie rookie Jin Young Ko at 9 under on Saturday at Wilshire Country Club.

    Ko shot a 66 in her bid to become the year's first two-time LPGA winner. She won the Women's Australian Open in February, her first victory as an official tour member after a successful run on the Korean LPGA circuit.

    ''I'm ready for win or top 10, so maybe tomorrow I will really focus on shot by shot,'' said Ko, who added an exclamation point to her golf bag for each of her wins on the KLPGA. ''I won 11 times, so if I win tomorrow, maybe I change to 12. I need more, I need every time motivation.''

    Jutanugarn is trying to match younger sister Ariya as a tour champion. Seven-time winner Ariya was tied for 27th after a 72 in the third round.

    Usually when one of the Thai sisters is in the lead, the other will watch when her round is finished.

    ''If she's not too lazy, she is probably going to come out,'' Moriya said about Ariya.

    Playing in an all-Korean threesome, Hall of Famer Inbee Park was two shots back in third after a 69. Her birdie putt for a share of the lead on 18 slid just by the hole. The group drew a large contingent of Korean fans.


    Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


    ''I kind of started off a little bad. I was able to come back strong, so I'm really happy with that,'' Park said. ''I left a few putts out there. The greens around this golf course are just really tough. You just don't know what's going to happen.''

    Moriya Jutanugarn's round included a double bogey on the par-4 first hole and a bogey on the par-4 sixth. She eagled the par-4 14th after holing out from the fairway 93 feet away. The ball took once bounce and went in, eliciting a stunned look from Jutanugarn before she high-fived her caddie.

    ''Today was kind of a pretty rough day for me with not a very good start and like trying to come back,'' Jutanugarn said. ''I just try to play my game and be patient out there I think is the key.''

    Jutanugarn, the second-round leader, read the break perfectly on a long putt to make birdie on 18 and share the lead with Ko.

    Playing two groups ahead of Jutanugarn, Caroline Inglis also eagled the 14th from 180 yards. She briefly jumped up and down and smiled after three bogeys and a double bogey. She shot a 69 and was four shots back in a tie for sixth with Minjee Lee.

    ''It was like one bounce and then it like trickled in,'' Inglis said.

    Aditi Ashok eagled 14 early in the round.

    Ko did some scrambling of her own. Her ball found a sandy hazard on the 17th with a scoreboard and a winding creek in between her and the green 190 yards away. Her approach landed just off the green and she made par. Her round included six birdies and a bogey on 16.

    Eun-Hee Ji (70) and American Marina Alex (72) were tied for fourth at 6 under.

    Top-ranked Shanshan Feng shot a 70 and was in a six-way tie for 12th at 2 under.

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    Defending champs Singh, Franco take senior lead

    By Associated PressApril 22, 2018, 12:15 am

    RIDGEDALE, Mo. - Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco took the third-round lead Saturday in the windy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

    Singh and Franco shot a 7-under 47 in wind gusting to 20 mph on the Top of the Rock par-3 course to get to 19-under 145, a stroke ahead of the teams of David Toms-Steve Flesch and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett.

    ''It was a tough day,'' Singh said. ''The wind was swirling, have to get the club right and we made some putts. Carlos played really well on the back nine and I played really well on the front nine, so we ham-and-egged it a little.''

    Toms and Flesch also shot 47, and Broadhurst and Triplett had a 33 on the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course.

    ''We just paired well together,'' Toms said. ''I don't think either one of us played great. We picked each other up out there.''

    Wind and rain is expected Sunday when the teams finish at Top of the Rock, again playing the front nine in alternate shot and the back nine in better ball.

    ''Make as many birdies as possible and see what happens,'' Singh said. ''That's all we can do.''

    Singh and Franco are trying to become the first to successfully defend a title since Jim Colbert and Andy North in 2001. Singh won the Toshiba Classic in March for his first individual senior title.


    Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf


    Flesch won the Mitsubishi Electric Classic last week in Georgia for his first senior victory.

    Tom Lehman and Bernhard Langer had a 34 at Mountain Top to join Spanish stars Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jose Maria Olazabal at 17 under. Jimenez and Olazabal had a 33 at Mountain Top.

    ''It's great for me to be able to play with him as a team member,'' Olazabal said. ''We do have great memories from the Ryder Cup and other events, and it's always a great pleasure to play with a great player and a friend.''

    Langer took the final-round forecast in stride.

    ''We've done it hundreds of times before and we'll probably do it again,'' Langer said. ''We'll make the best of it. We both have a good attitude. We're known to play in all sorts of weather and I just look forward to playing one more day with my partner here.''

    Wisconsin neighbors Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly were 16 under after a 48 at Top of the Rock.

    John Daly and Michael Allen, the second-round leaders after a 46 at Top of the Rock, had a 37 at Mountain Top to drop into a tie for seventh at 15 under.

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    Landry shares Valero lead, eyes first career win

    By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 11:15 pm

    After coming up just short of a breakthrough win earlier this season, Andrew Landry has another chance to earn his maiden victory at the Valero Texas Open.

    Landry came within inches of winning the CareerBuilder Challenge in January, ultimately losing to Jon Rahm in a four-hole playoff. He struggled to find form in the wake of his close call, missing the cut in each of his four starts following his runner-up finish in Palm Springs.

    But Landry took some time off to welcome his first child, Brooks, last month and he made it to the weekend in his first start back last week at the RBC Heritage, where he finished T-42. He made a move up the standings Saturday at TPC San Antonio with a bogey-free 67, and at 13 under shares the lead with Zach Johnson heading into the final round.

    "I just did everything really good," Landry told reporters. "I was staying patient and just trying to make a bunch of pars. This golf course can come up and bite you in a heartbeat, and I had a couple bad putts that I didn't really make. I'm happy with it, it's a good 5-under round. Gets me in the final group tomorrow and we'll see what happens."


    Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

    Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos


    Landry started the day one shot off the pace and in the final group with Johnson and Ryan Moore, and at one point he took sole possession of the lead after birdies on three of his first six holes. Now he'll have another chance in the day's final tee time where he's grouped with Johnson and Trey Mullinax, who sits one shot back after firing a course-record 62 in the third round.

    For Landry, it's another opportunity to break into the winner's circle, and it's one for which he feels prepared after coming so close three months ago.

    "I mean, I don't want to go too deep into it because I don't want to sound cocky or anything, but I just believe in myself. There's no other explanation for it," Landry said. "You can totally get out here and play with Zach Johnson, Ryan Moore, two top players in the world, and you can go out there and fold under pressure or you can learn a lot.

    "Zach's always been a role model to me the way he plays golf, I feel like we have very similar games, and it's just going to be fun tomorrow getting to play with him again."