Goosen Grabs BellSouth Lead
The South African, whose only victory on American soil came in last year's U.S. Open, shot a 4-under-par 68 in the third round of the BellSouth Classic to take a two-stroke lead over Mickelson.
Goosen launched a streak of five birdies in six holes by sinking a 20-foot putt at No. 9, one of the toughest tests on the TPC at Sugarloaf. He signed for the lowest score of the day, one of just 10 players who broke into the 60s.
Three days of sunny skies and steady breezes turned the greens rock-hard, mimicking conditions that will be the norm at Augusta National next weekend.
Mickelson found out just how tricky those greens can be, four-putting the 13th to rekindle memories of a similar debacle at The Players Championship.
'If you get on the wrong side of the flag, anything can happen - no matter how good your short game is,' said Goosen, who knows a thing or two about missing short putts. 'I'm a little surprised he's not higher.'
Still, Mickelson was in contention for the 21st victory of his career, more than any active player except Tiger Woods.
Goosen had bogeys at 16 and 18, finishing with a 14-under 202. Mickelson was at 204 after shooting a third-round 71.
'The greens are very difficult,' Lefty said. 'I made countless 4- to 6-footers for par. Obviously, I missed one at 13, but I hit a lot of good shots. For the most part, I thought I played well.'
After making the turn with a two-stroke lead over Goosen, Mickelson found himself tied when he walked away from the par-5 10th.
Goosen birdied the hole, while Mickelson came up a club short with his second shot - winding up in the front bunker.
Mickelson chunked his sand wedge - barely clearing the lip of the bunker - and left the ensuing chip 12 feet from the flag. He missed the putt for just his third bogey of the tournament, knowing this was a hole where he should have done no worse that par.
Then came the meltdown at 13, the shortest par-4 on the course at 310 yards. Playing in the group ahead of Mickelson, Goosen came through with another birdie, leaving his tee shot just off the green, chipping to 19 feet and sinking the putt.
Mickelson drove onto the green for the second time in three days, but it did him no good. His first putt, downhill from about 50 feet away, stopped short and left a testy 3-footer.
The birdie attempt slid 6 feet past the hole, and the comebacker missed, too. Mickelson finally tapped in and walked off the green shaking his head.
Flash back to The Players two weeks ago. Mickelson knocked himself out of contention by five-putting the 10th green for a quadruple-bogey 8. The middle three putts were from 5 feet - and two of those were rush jobs.
Mickelson said this situation was different.
'I don't think this did nearly as much damage as the Players,' he said. 'People are going to make bogeys out there. I'm still right there atop the leaderboard. To be 12 under, I think that's some pretty good playing.'
Goosen has made a bunch of long putts - just as he did last year at the U.S. Open before his infamous 18-inch miss on the 72nd hole left him tied with Mark Brooks.
Goosen recovered to win an 18-hole playoff the following day, the biggest victory of his career.
The somber South African began his surge to the BellSouth lead at No. 9, a 465-yard hole that surrendered only 10 birdies all day. He sank a 25-footer for birdie at the 12th, then another 20-footer at 13.
'I'm pretty happy where I am,' Goosen said. 'I've not been playing well this week at all. But I've been putting great, and that's why I am where I am.'
Steve Elkington, who led after the first round and was tied with Mickelson heading into Saturday, struggled to a 73 in the difficult conditions.
The Australian was still in contention for his first victory since 1999, four strokes back at 206 in a tie with Mike Weir.
Thomas Bjorn, who entered the BellSouth hoping to improve his game for the Masters, shot a 69 and was alone in third at 205.
News, Notes and Numbers
*Colin Montgomerie had the second hole-in-one of the tournament, using an 8-iron to sink his tee shot on the 172-yard 16th.
*Jesper Parnevik made a hole-in-one Friday on the eighth, but not much has gone right for the Swede since then. He's 7-over since holing out, including a third-round 76 that knocked him out of contention.
*The most surprising player in the field? That's easy. Zach Johnson, a regular on the Hooters Tour, was at 208 - tied for eighth - playing in just his second PGA Tour event. Johnson had to qualify on Monday just to earn a spot in the field.
Full-field scores from the BellSouth Classic
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.
How The Open cut line is determined
Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.
The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:
• After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.
• There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.
• There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.
The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.
The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major
Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:
What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.
What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.
How old is it?
It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.
Where is it played?
There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.
Where will it be played this year?
At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.
Who has won The Open on that course?
Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).
Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?
Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.
Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?
This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.
Who has won this event the most?
Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.
What about the Morrises?
Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.
Have players from any particular country dominated?
In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.
Who is this year's defending champion?
That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.
What is the trophy called?
The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).
Which Opens have been the most memorable?
Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.
When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?
Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.