Goosen leads Mickelson closing in on No 1

By Associated PressAugust 6, 2010, 10:53 pm

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AKRON, Ohio – Phil Mickelson is closing in on No. 1.

The first step is to make up a one-shot deficit against Retief Goosen, the 36-hole leader Friday at the Bridgestone Invitational. Looking more inevitable is Mickelson finally supplanting Tiger Woods atop the world ranking.

Goosen turned bogey into birdie by chipping in from 25 yards off the green at No. 4, sending him on his way to a 4-under 66 that gave him a one-shot lead over Mickelson and Justin Leonard (66) going into the weekend at Firestone.

Even as Goosen led another assault on par in soft conditions, Woods continued to look as ordinary as ever. The seven-time champion at Firestone hit only three fairways and stumbled to a 2-over 72 – the first time he has ever had consecutive rounds over par at this tournament – that put him 13 shots out of the lead, and five players removed from last place.

Woods had no intention of speaking to reporters, instead walking to his car and driving away.

He has been No. 1 in the world since the week before the 2005 U.S. Open, but would lose his top ranking if Mickelson were to finish in fourth place alone and Woods – who is tied for 72nd – finishes out of the top 44.

“Obviously, it would be cool,” Mickelson said. “It would be something I would love to do, being regarded as No. 1 according to the ranking. And I know that I’ve got a great opportunity this week. I know that I’m playing well, and this is my best opportunity.”

But he still has 36 holes in front of him on a course that has rewarded good shots with low scores.

Despite a bogey on the final hole, Goosen was at 7-under 133 as he tries to win his first World Golf Championship. It doesn’t figure to be easy, not so much because of Firestone, rather the number of players chasing him.

Sixteen players were separated by four shots going into the weekend.

That includes Bubba Watson (71) in the group at 5-under 135, Adam Scott (70), Lucas Glover (66) and Paul Casey (68) at 136, and Rory McIlroy (69) and Dustin Johnson (65) in the group at 137.

“Every part of your game needs to be good here, driving especially,” Goosen said. “You need to hit it on the fairway, otherwise you’re struggling.”

As Woods and Mickelson showed, that depends.

Woods, who started on the back nine, didn’t hit a fairway until the 17th hole, and it got so bad on the 14th hole that his drive landed in a bunker on the 13th hole. He still scrambled for par and was even on the front nine, but too many errant shots caught up with him.

Mickelson wasn’t much better – he hit only six fairways – but he made the most of his chances.

“I didn’t play great today. I was a little off,” Mickelson said. “I hit some bad shots, and I was able to salvage a lot of pars today.”

But he had a three-hole stretch of not making any pars, which is what makes Lefty so entertaining. His tee shot on the 14th went into the same bunker on the wrong hole that Woods visited earlier, only Mickelson tried to take it over the trees and clipped some branches. When he finally got around the green, he missed a 5-footer and took double bogey.

Mickelson followed with a 4-iron into 20 feet for birdie, and a 12-foot birdie on the 16th.

Even his last two pars were not typical. He drove it so far right on the 17th that before leaving the tee, Mickelson reached into his bag for a glove and signed his name with a frown and the words, “Sorry.” He figured he had hit a fan, and he was right.

“The hazards of following me,” Mickelson told him.

He got up and down for par with a deft chip over the bunker, then saved par on the 18th with a long bunker shot by the green that caught the top of the hill perfectly and rolled to within tap-in range.

Mickelson won at Firestone in 1996 when it was the old World Series of Golf, and he had an excellent chance in 2008 when Woods had the year off with knee surgery.

Woods has never finished worse than fourth at Firestone, which is certain to change.

He was hitting smother-hooks on the range and took that to the golf course, where only his short game kept the score from getting out of hand. Even so, Woods will be finished with his third round Saturday some two hours before the leaders tee off.

That means the world’s No. 1 player – for the next two days, anyway – will go to the PGA Championship needing to play his best of the year to make the Ryder Cup team. And he might not last very long in the four-tournament playoff system on the PGA Tour after that.

At least he’ll be back on Saturday.

That won’t be the case for Lee Westwood, the world’s No. 3 player who was paired with Woods for two days. Westwood has been battling soreness in his left ankle for the last month, and it finally reached a point where he withdrew Friday from the Bridgestone Invitational, and from the PGA Championship next week.

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Davies headlines field at Senior LPGA at French Lick

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 14, 2018, 10:40 pm

Laura Davies will be looking to win her second senior major championship this year when she tees it up in Monday’s start of the Senior LPGA Championship at French Lick Resort in Indiana.

Davies, who won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open in July, will join a field that includes fellow World Golf Hall of Famer Jan Stephenson, who was announced last week with Peggy Kirk Bell as the Hall’s newest members. Hall of Famers Juli Inkster and Hollis Stacy are also in the 54-hole event.

Trish Johnson is back to defend her title after winning the inaugural Senior LPGA Championship a year ago. Brandi Burton, Jane Geddes, Helen Alfredsson and Liselotte Neumann are also in the field of 81 players who will compete for a $600,000 purse, with $90,000 going to the winner.

Golf Channel will televise all three rounds live from 4-6 p.m. ET on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

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Langer (65) wins regular-season finale by six

By Associated PressOctober 14, 2018, 10:07 pm

CARY, N.C. – Bernhard Langer ran away with the SAS Championship on Sunday to take the points lead into the PGA Tour Champions' Charles Schwab Cup playoffs

Langer shot a bogey-free 7-under 65 for a six-stroke victory in the regular-season finale.

''I just played very solid all day long,'' Langer said. ''Putted well, hit the ball where I was looking and did everything exceptionally well.''

The 61-year-old German star has 38 victories on the 50-and-over tour, also winning this year near Houston. He has a record four victories after turning 60.

''I don't have anything to prove, but I still have golf,'' Langer said. ''I still want to improve my own game. I still want to play to the best Bernhard Langer can play. I don't think I need to prove anything, but I love competing, I love winning or being in the hunt. As long as I can do that, I think you're going to see me out here.''

Langer finished with a tournament-record 22-under 194 total at Prestonwood Country Club, the tree-lined layout softened by heavy rain Thursday from Hurricane Michael. He opened with a 62 on Friday to match Gene Sauers and Tom Lehman for the lead, and had a 67 on Saturday to remain atop the leaderboard with Sauers.


Full-field scores from the SAS Championship


''The 10 under was amazing,'' Langer said. ''I couldn't believe there were two other guys who shot 10 under.''

The four-time Charles Schwab Cup winner also won at Prestonwood in 2012.

''It's always fun to go back to where you've won before because you feel like you know how to play the course and you're somewhat comfortable and that's certainly the case here,'' Langer said. ''I've been probably 50, 70 times now around this golf course and I know how to play every hole.''

Scott Parel was second, closing with a double bogey for a 65.

''Bernhard is just in his own world this week,'' Parel said.

Jerry Kelly had a 68 to finish third at 15 under, and Lehman followed at 13 under after a 71.

Sauers shot a 75 to tie for fifth with Miguel Angel Jimenez (68) at 12 under.

The top 72 players in the Schwab Cup standings qualified for the playoffs, the three-event series that begins next week with the Dominion Energy Charity Classic in Richmond, Va. Dan Forsman tied for 56th to jump from 74th to 72nd, edging John Huston for the final spot by $932. Huston tied for 46th.

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Pepperell captures British Masters, eyes Augusta

By Associated PressOctober 14, 2018, 5:29 pm

WALTON HEATH, England -- Eddie Pepperell won his second European Tour title with a two-shot victory at the British Masters on Sunday and likely secured the even bigger prize of a place in next year's Masters at Augusta National.

The Englishman shot an even-par 72 and held off his playing partner, Sweden's Alexander Bjork (71), as the pair went to the 72nd hole at a wet and windy Walton Heath with Pepperell just a stroke in front.

Pepperell finished on 9-under 279.

Herbert Lucas (69) and Jordan Smith (73) were tied for third, another two shots behind Bjork.

English pair Sam Horsfield (69) and Tom Lewis (70) along with American Julian Suri (74) tied for fifth, one shot in front of tournament host Justin Rose (70).

The victory takes Pepperell into the world's top 35 and almost certainly secures a first appearance at Augusta in 2019. The top 50 at the end of the year are guaranteed a place in the first major of the year in April.

Ryder Cup star Tommy Fleetwood (72) finished 2 under in a seven-way tie for ninth.


Full-field scores from the British Masters


A top-two finish on Sunday would have seen Rose reach the top of the world rankings for the second time this season, the 38-year-old having spent two weeks as No. 1 in September

Pepperell was ranked outside the top 500 as recently as May last year, but won the Qatar Masters in February and followed a runner-up finish in the Scottish Open with a tie for sixth in the British Open seven days later, carding a closing 67 at Carnoustie despite saying he had a hangover.

His three-shot overnight lead was down to a single stroke on Sunday when Bjork covered the front nine in 34 and Pepperell three-putted the ninth, the same hole where he enjoyed a spectacular hole-in-one on Thursday.

However, the 27-year-old Pepperell promptly holed his second shot to the 10th from 122 yards for an eagle to move three clear and a par save from off the green on the 14th looked to have sealed the win.

There was still time for some late drama, though, as Pepperell dropped shots on Nos. 15 and 16 to see his lead cut to a single shot, but Bjork bogeyed the 18th after driving into the heather and Pepperell saved par from a greenside bunker.

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Disappointed Sharma fades to T-10 at CIMB

By Will GrayOctober 14, 2018, 1:46 pm

For the second time this year, India's Shubankhar Sharma watched an opportunity for a breakthrough win turn into a learning experience.

Sharma burst onto the scene in March, taking a two-shot lead into the final round of the WGC-Mexico Championship only to fade to a tie for ninth. It was a similar story Sunday at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, where Sharma started the final round in a three-way tie for the lead but struggled to an even-par 72 that dropped him into a tie for 10th.

"Disappointing, not really happy with the way I finished," Sharma told reporters.


Full-field scores from CIMB Classic

CIMB Classic: Articles, photos and videos


The 22-year-old was 1 over for his first six holes, but he battled back with four straight birdies on Nos. 7-10 to get within three shots of eventual winner Marc Leishman. But his tee shot at the par-3 11th found the water, leading to the first of three straight bogeys that ended any hopes of victory.

"That was probably one of the worst swings of the day," Sharma said. "That 11th hole I think killed the momentum for me. A par there would have gone a long way, and I probably could have made more birdies after that."

Sharma remained optimistic this spring following his final-round fade in Mexico, and he retained a positive mindset despite a rough afternoon as he eyes upcoming starts at both the CJ Cup in South Korea and the WGC-HSBC Champions in China.

"Great experience. Very, very good to have two top-10s on the PGA Tour, so that's a good way of looking at it," he said. "Also, it pushes me to keep playing well. I feel like I have it in me to win out there on the PGA Tour, and I've given myself two opportunities. Game is in a decent place now."