Europeans Trying to Find Their Way

By Associated PressJuly 19, 2006, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship HOYLAKE, England -- The lengthening list of American winners at the British Open hurts the Europeans a little more each year.
Now they're convinced the pain will go away.
Darren Clarke
Ireland's Darren Clarke is one player hoping to end Europe's major drought.
From Sergio Garcia to Colin Montgomerie, Luke Donald to David Howell, Europe has its best chance in years to win golf's oldest major.
'We do have a lot of good European players right now,' Donald said. 'There's no question we're good enough to win a major.'
Paul Lawrie's victory at Carnoustie in 1999 is the only European triumph in 13 years, and that is an embarrassment bearing in mind the team's Ryder Cup successes over the Americans during that stretch.
Americans have won the Open nine times in the past 11 years, with only Lawrie and South Africa's Ernie Els (2002) breaking that streak. To add to the gloom, Lawrie's victory was the last by a European at any of the majors.
'It's frustrating to us, all the Europeans who feel like they should be winning that haven't won,' Donald said. 'I can't really answer why we haven't won a major for a while.
'You would have thought it suited our games, especially the British players who were brought up on this kind of golf course. But it hasn't worked out that way.'
Montgomerie, Padraig Harrington, Thomas Levet, Thomas Bjorn, Sergio Garcia and Ian Woosnam all were close to winning majors during the last five years. Some lost in playoffs, others by one stroke, and Woosnam's title chance went because he was penalized for having too many clubs in his bag.
Still looking for his first major, Montgomerie has been a runner-up five times, including last year's Open behind Tiger Woods at St. Andrew's and a tie for second behind surprise Australian winner Geoff Ogilvy at last month's U.S. Open at Winged Foot.
'To think that no European has won a major since 1999 is something that we're not very proud of here in Europe,' Montgomerie said. 'We'd like to change that as soon as possible.
'Why, I don't know. Lee Westwood was the only Englishman in the top 100 four or five years ago. Now there's got to be 20 Englishmen in the top 200.
'If we (Europeans) win one, we might win four or five in a row.'
Monty is probably the leading British challenger, although Donald, Howell, Darren Clarke, Paul Casey and Ian Poulter are also among the homegrown contenders.
Harrington is the leading Irish hope and Garcia, although his season has been patchy, produced four consistent rounds to finish in a tie for ninth at last week's Scottish Open.
That was won by Sweden's Johan Edfors, who captured his third title in four months to give himself a chance at a place on Europe's Ryder Cup team.
Casey isn't so convinced that the British Open favors European players.
'I'm not actually sure what favors a European player any more. We play all over the world now, so guys are used to playing in any type of condition, any type of golf course,' he said.
'I think the only think that increases the odds is the fact that we have got a lot of good young players and the old guys haven't really gone anywhere either.'
Winner of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles a month ago, Casey has returned to form at the right time after only three top-10 finishes during 2005. He now feels that he and several more Europeans are among the leading contenders here.
'They may have a few majors left in them, like the Montys and the Harringtons,' Casey said.
'Obviously, David (Howell) and Luke (Donald) would be my two picks from the younger guys. They've played some spectacular golf, better golf than I have over the past few years.
'And I think it's only a matter of time, with a bit of luck.'
Related Links:
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  • Full Coverage - 135th Open Championship
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    Kang 'going with the flow,' one back of A. Jutanugarn

    By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 9:43 am

    SHANGHAI – Ariya Jutanugarn shot a 6-under 66 to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Buick LPGA Shanghai tournament on Thursday.

    The Thai player had six birdies in a bogey-free round, including three straight on Nos. 4, 5, and 6.

    ''I always have so much fun when I play in Asia,'' said Jutanugarm, who added her key was ''just not to expect anything. Just go out have fun and enjoy everything.''

    Sei Young Kim and Danielle Kang (both 67) were one shot back, with six other players only two shots off the lead.

    Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai

    The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

    Kang credited her improved play to new coach Butch Harmon.

    ''We just kind of simplify the game a lot,'' the American said. ''Just trying to calm it down and get back to how I used to play. Just more feel golf. Thinking less mechanics and going with the flow.''

    Kang tied for third last week at the KEB Hana Bank championship in Incheon, South Korea.

    ''Today's round went very smooth,'' Kang said. ''Coming off very good momentum after last week, and I've been hitting the ball really well, playing great. I've just been trusting my game and just keep giving myself birdie chances. They kept rolling in.''

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    Sharpshooting Reavie (68) leads tough CJ Cup

    By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 9:34 am

    JEJU ISLAND, South Korea – Chez Reavie overcame cool, windy conditions for a 4-under 68 and a one-stroke lead after the first round of the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges on Thursday.

    In the breezy conditions, the back nine of the course posed the most difficulty, but the 36-year-old American made two birdies and negotiated it in 35 after starting on the 10th tee, and then picked up three shots on his final nine.

    Danny Willett and Si Woo Kim shot 69 while the large group at 70, and tied for fourth, included Ian PoulterNick Watney and Michael Kim.

    Brooks Koepka, playing in his first tournament since being voted PGA Tour Player of the Year, shot 71 and was in a group three strokes behind and tied for 11th, which included Paul Casey and Hideki Matsuyama.

    Jason Dufner and Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Defending champion Justin Thomas had a 73, as did Jason Day, Ernie Els and J.B. Holmes.

    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

    Marc Leishman, who won last week's CIMB Classic in Malaysia, and Adam Scott had 75s.

    Reavie's only PGA Tour win came at the 2008 Canadian Open, and he finished second in back-to-back starts last year in Phoenix and Pebble Beach, losing at Phoenix in a playoff.

    ''It was a great day, I hit the ball really well,'' Reavie said of Thursday's round. ''The wind was blowing really hard all day long so you had to really start the ball well and keep it out of the wind. Luckily, I was able to do that.''

    Despite the windy conditions, Reavie found all 14 fairways off the tee and hit 15 out of 18 greens in regulation, which he felt was the key to a good score.

    ''It's tough because once you get above the hole with this wind, it's really hard to chip it close,'' he said. ''The more greens you can hit, the better and that was key to my game.''

    Willett, who has struggled with injuries and form since winning the 2016 Masters and has dropped to No. 342 in the world, made five birdies and two bogeys in his 69. Willett has just one top-five finish since finishing second in the Italian Open in September 2016.

    Having committed to play on the PGA Tour by taking up membership this season, Willet said it was important to make a quick start to the season.

    ''I've done two tours for a couple of years, and it's very difficult,'' Willett said. ''We committed to play on the PGA Tour, to play predominantly over here this year and next. It's nice to kind of get in and get some points early if you can.''

    The second of three PGA Tour events in three weeks in Asia has a 78-player field and no cut. Only 19 players broke par on Thursday.

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    Koepka takes edge over Thomas in race for world No. 1

    By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 5:50 am

    Brooks Koepka got the inside track against Justin Thomas in their head-to-head battle this week for world No. 1.

    Koepka shot 1-under 71 on Thursday at the CJ Cup, while Thomas shot 1-over 73.

    Chez Reavie leads after 18 holes at Nine Bridges in Juju Island, South Korea, following a 4-under 68.

    Koepka, currently world No. 3, needs to win this week or finish solo second [without Thomas winning] in order to reach the top spot in the rankings for the first time in his career. Thomas, currently No. 4, must win to reclaim the position he surrendered in June.

    One week after 26 under par proved victorious in Malaysia, birdies weren’t as aplenty to begin the second leg of the PGA Tour’s Asian swing.

    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

    In chilly, windy conditions, Koepka and Thomas set out alongside one another – with Sungjae Im (73) as the third – on the 10th hole. Koepka bogeyed his first hole of the day on his way to turning in even-par 36. Thomas was one worse, with two bogeys and a birdie.

    On their second nine, Koepka was steady with two birdies and a bogey to reach red figures for the day.

    "I felt like I played good. I hit some good shots, missed a couple putts early and kind put myself in a little bit of trouble on the back nine, my front, but rallied pretty nicely," Koepka said. "I felt like I found a bit of rhythm. But it's a difficult day, anything under par, level par is a good score out there today. I'm pleased with it."

    Thomas, however, had two birdies and a double bogey on his inward half. The double came at the par-4 fourth, where he four-putted. He nearly made up those two strokes on his final hole, the par-5 ninth, when a wild approach shot [as you can see below] traversed the contours of the green and settled 6 feet from the hole. But Thomas missed the short eagle putt and settled for birdie.

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    Watch: Thomas' approach takes wild ride on CJ Cup green

    By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 5:17 am

    Two over par with one hole to play in Round 1 of the CJ Cup, Justin Thomas eyed an eagle at the par-5 ninth [his 18th].

    And he nearly got it, thanks to his ball beautifully navigating the curves of the green.

    Thomas hit a big draw for his second shot and his ball raced up the green's surface, towards the back, where it caught the top of ridge and funneled down to within 6 feet of the hole.

    Unfortunately for Thomas, the defending champion, he missed the eagle putt and settled for birdie and a 1-over 73.