Duval Lehman earn trips to Bethpage

By Associated PressJune 8, 2009, 4:00 pm
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2009 U.S. OpenCOLUMBUS, Ohio ' David Duval is returning to the U.S. Open, while Danny Lee missed a shot at earning the spot he surrendered.
 
Duval, absent from the last two Opens, made the grade Monday in the 36-hole sectional qualifier at Brookside and The Lakes courses. The 121-player field included 61 PGA Tour players. Many were coming off four grueling days at the Memorial Tournament but figured it was worth it to get to play at Bethpage Black in two weeks.
 
You look at whats at the other side of it, said Duval, who hasnt won since the 2001 British Open. You dont have much of a chance to win if you dont tee it up on Thursday there.
 
Lee had earned an automatic U.S. Open berth last summer by becoming the youngest player to ever win the U.S. Amateur. But when he turned pro this spring, he was forced to give up his spot. He shot a 3-under 69 in the morning at the Lakes and then an even-par 72 at Brookside in the afternoon.
 
Asked if he was disappointed, the South Korean-born, New Zealand-raised 19-year-old said, A little bit, but thats golf. I need to practice harder and hopefully Ill do better.
 
Tom Lehman, who picked up $18,600 for finishing tied for 45th at Muirfield Village on Sunday, held up the packet given to each of the Open qualifiers and said, This is worth way more than the paycheck from yesterday at the Memorial.
 
Two amateurs were among the 17 players grabbing spots in the Open at the Columbus sectional. Kyle Stanley, a Clemson golfer who was second in the NCAA medalist race last week, shared medalist honors with pro George McNeil at 12-under 132. Stanley had 10 birdies and no bogeys in a 62 at The Lakes in the morning.
 
Make par and dont make any big numbers, Stanley said of his approach to the second 18. I knew I didnt have to really shoot a great number to get through.
 
Other qualifiers included Bo Van Pelt, James Kamte, Lucas Glover, Charl Schwartzel, all at 133; 1996 British Open champion Lehman, J.B. Holmes and Ryan Moore (134); and Matthew Bettencourt, John Mallinger, Oklahoma State collegian and amateur Rickie Fowler, Ben Crane, Craig Bowden and Ricky Barnes (135).
 
Nine players went to a playoff to decide the final Open slot, with James Nitties, John Senden and Dean Wilson birdieing the first hole. Nitties then birdied the second playoff hole, with Senden parring and Wilson making bogey. Senden will be the first alternate and Wilson the second out of the sectional.
 
A year ago, Rocco Mediate survived a playoff in Columbus to grab one of the last qualifying spots for the Open at Torrey Pines. Tiger Woods, battling a painful knee injury, had to hit a pressure-packed birdie putt on the 72nd hole to tie Mediate and force an 18-hole playoff. Woods then held off Mediate a day later in sudden death.
 
Van Pelt qualified for his third U.S. Open ' all of which have been in New York. He previously made the cut at both Shinnecock in 2004 and Winged Foot in 06.
 
Im a New York kind of guy, I guess, from Indiana by way of Oklahoma, the Richmond, Ind., native said with a laugh.
 
One of the best stories of the Open figures to be Kamte, a native of South Africa who had never been in the United States until two weeks ago. He received a sponsors exemption to play in the Memorial Tournament but missed the cut after rounds of 77 and 78.
 
He was excited to be headed for Bethpage Black after rounds of 68 at Brookside and 65 at The Lakes.
 
My second tournament, he said. Gosh, I cant believe it.
 
Among the notables missing out in qualifying were 1997 PGA Champion Davis Love III, two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen, two-time Masters winner Jose Maria Olazabal and NCAA medalist Matt Hill.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage -2009 US Open
  • Sectional Qualifying results
  • Bethpage Black Ballpark
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    Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

    Getty Images

    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.  

    @radiosarks on Twitter

    Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 1:36 pm

    A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.

    Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.

    Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.

    And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”

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    Rory looking for that carefree inner-child

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:28 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eleven years later, Rory McIlroy cringes at the photo: the yellow sweater with the deep V-neck, the chubby cheeks and the messy mop that curled under his cap.

    “You live and you learn,” he said Wednesday, offering a wry smile.

    The last time McIlroy played at a Carnoustie Open, in 2007, he earned the Silver Medal as the low amateur. He tied for 42nd, but the final result had mattered little. Grateful just to have a spot in the field, courtesy of his European Amateur title, he bounced along the fairways, soaking up every moment, and lingered behind the 18th green as one of his local heroes, Padraig Harrington, battled one of his favorite players, Sergio Garcia. Waiting for the trophy presentation, he passed the time playing with Padraig’s young son, Paddy. On Wednesday, McIlroy spotted Paddy, now 15, walking around Carnoustie with his three-time-major-winning father.

    “He’s massive now – he towers over me,” he said. “It’s so funny thinking back on that day.”

    But it’s also instructive. If there’s a lesson to be learned from ’07, it’s how carefree McIlroy approached and played that week. He was reminded again of that untroubled attitude while playing a practice round here with 23-year-old Jon Rahm, who stepped onto each tee, unsheathed his driver and bombed away with little regard for the wind or the bounce or the fescue. McIlroy smiled, because he remembers a time, not too long ago, that he’d attack a course with similar reckless abandon.


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “I just think, as you get older, you get a little more cautious in life,” said McIlroy, 29. “I think it’s only natural. There’s something nice about being young and being oblivious to some stuff. The more I can get into that mindset, the better I’ll play golf.”

    And so on the eve of this Open, as he approaches the four-year anniversary of his last major title, McIlroy finds himself searching for a way to channel that happy-go-lucky 18-year-old who was about to take the world by storm, to tap into the easygoing excellence that once defined his dominance.

    It’s been a year since he first hinted at what he’s been missing. Last year’s Open at Royal Birkdale was the final event of his long run with caddie J.P. Fitzgerald. The chief reason for the split, he said, had nothing to do with some of the questionable on-course decisions, but rather a desire to take ownership of him game, to be freed up alongside one of his best friends, Harry Diamond.

    That partnership has produced only one victory so far, and over the past few months, McIlroy has at times looked unsettled between the ropes. It’s difficult to compute, how someone with seemingly so much – a résumé with four majors, a robust bank account, a beautiful wife – can also appear disinterested and unmotivated.

    “I think sometimes I need to get back to that attitude where I play carefree and just happy to be here,” he said. “A golf tournament is where I feel the most comfortable. It’s where I feel like I can 100 percent be myself and express myself. Sometimes the pressure that’s put on the top guys to perform at such a level every week, it starts to weigh on you a little bit. The more I can be like that kid, the better.”

    It’s a decidedly different landscape from when the erstwhile Boy Wonder last won a major, in summer 2014. Jordan Spieth had won just a single Tour event, not three majors. Dustin Johnson wasn’t world No. 1 but merely a tantalizing tease, a long-hitting, fast-living physical freak who was just beginning a six-month break to address "personal challenges." Two-time U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka hadn’t even started playing in the States.  

    McIlroy’s greatest asset, both then and now, was his driving – he put on clinics at Congressional and Kiawah, Hoylake and Valhalla. He was a mainstay at or near the top of the strokes gained: tee to green rankings, but over the past few years, because of better technology, fitness and coaching, the gap between him and the rest of the field has shrunk.

    “I think at this stage players have caught up,” Harrington said. “There’s many players who drive the ball comparable and have certainly eaten into that advantage. Rory is well on pace to get into double digits with majors, but it has got harder. There’s no doubt there’s more players out there who are capable of having a big week and a big game for a major. It makes it tough.”

    It’s not as though McIlroy hasn’t had opportunities to add to his major haul; they’ve just been less frequent and against stronger competition. In the 13 majors since he last won, he’s either finished in the top 10 or missed the cut in 11 of them. This year, he played in the final group at the Masters, and was on the verge of completing the career Grand Slam, before a soul-crushing 74 on the last day. His U.S. Open bid was over after nine holes, after an opening 80 and a missed cut during which he declined to speak to reporters after both frustrating rounds.

    “I’m trying,” he said Wednesday. “I’m trying my best every time I tee it up, and it just hasn’t happened.”

    A year after saying that majors are the only events that will define the rest of his career, he recently shrugged off the doom and gloom surrounding his Grand Slam drought: “It doesn’t keep me up at night, thinking, If I never won another major, I can’t live with myself.”

    Eleven years ago, McIlroy never would have troubled himself with such trivial questions about his legacy. But perhaps a return to Carnoustie, to where his major career started, is just what he needs to unlock his greatness once again.