Emotional Olazabal lauds Ballesteros spirit

By Associated PressMay 7, 2011, 4:24 pm

European TourTERRASSA, Spain – Jose Maria Olazabal played through tears Saturday, overcome by grief following the death of his close friend and former Ryder Cup partner Seve Ballesteros.

Olazabal, who teamed with Ballesteros as the most successful pairing in Ryder Cup history, broke down as players honored Ballesteros with a minute’s silence at the Spanish Open, hours after the 54-year-old golf great died of brain cancer.

Olazabal and fellow Spanish player Miguel Angel Jimenez both wept during the somber silence, the pair comforting each other with a long embrace. They then went out and played the third round as best they could.

“I just played the most difficult round of my life. It was very tough to make it to the first tee and hit the first drive,” said Olazabal, who shot a 3-over 75.

“I didn’t doubt about playing today. The last thing he would have wanted would have been for me not to play. I don’t think there will ever be another player like him. There can be others that are very good, but none will have his charisma.”

The 45-year-old Olazabal, a two-time Masters champion, choked up while answering reporters’ questions about Ballesteros.

“Obviously, he has been present all the time,” he said. “Our relationship was so close. I always felt privileged for all the moments that we shared together, and there have been many. Even though I knew what the situation was, when the moment arrives you are never sufficiently prepared.”

Playing partner Colin Montgomerie said Olazabal was “in floods of tears most of the day. He has lost an older brother almost.”

“It was very difficult to get too much out of Jose Maria—he was very tearful and filling up. You could see in his eyes the great loss he feels and they’ve been a great support for each other. He did well to play at all today,” said Montgomerie, who partnered with Ballesteros in a number of Ryder Cups. “It was his brother, really. It was a very, very sad day for him.”

Olazabal lauded the strength and “fighting spirit” of the five-time major champion, who he knew was ailing after their last meeting April 16.

“He wasn’t well but he was lucid. We spoke about a lot of things and memories of the Ryder Cup,” he said.

Olazabal sported a small black wreath on his baseball cap that many other players and club staff wore on their lapels to honor a player who won a record 50 times on the European Tour.

Flag pins were kept at half staff on a day with an overcast sky and chill in the air. One fan embraced Olazabal as he made his way to the clubhouse.

Olazabal, who will captain the European Ryder Cup team across the Atlantic in Medinah next year to become the second Spanish captain after Ballesteros, recalled his first meeting with an idol turned friend nearly 30 years ago.

“I was an amateur and he called me to play a charity match. He surprised me very much and I was very excited about it,” Olazabal said. “I have lived so many moments with him so it’s hard to pick just one but, without a doubt, the moments of the Ryder Cup, especially ’97.”

That was the year Ballesteros captained Europe to victory on Spanish soil at Valderrama, a special moment for Jimenez.

“I was his assistant; it was a very special week. Seve’s passion for the Ryder Cup was one of a kind,” said Jimenez, who raced from the 18th hole to reach the minute’s silence in time. “The thing that really stands about him is his determination, his tenacity and his passion for everything that he did.”

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Four top finishers in Japan qualify for The Open

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:19 am

IBARAKI, Japan – Shota Akiyoshi of Japan shot a 2-under-par 70 on Sunday to win the Mizuno Open and qualify for The 147th Open.

Akiyoshi offset three bogeys with five birdies at the Royal Golf Club in Ibaraki, Japan, to finish 1 under overall and secure his first ever tournament win on the Japan Golf Tour.

Michael Hendry of New Zealand and Japanese golfers Masahiro Kawamura and Masanori Kobayashi were tied for second one stroke off the pace to also qualify for The Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, from July 19-22.

Hendry, who led the tournament coming into the final round, came close to forcing a playoff with Akiyoshi but dropped a shot with a bogey on the final hole when he needed a par to draw level.

Hendry will make his second appearance at The Open after qualifying at the Mizuno Open for the second year in a row.

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."