Goosen Positioned for No 3 at No 2

By Associated PressJune 17, 2005, 4:00 pm
PINEHURST, N.C. -- One by one, Pinehurst No. 2 picked off anyone who tried to get hold of this U.S. Open.
 
Phil Mickelson tumbled out of contention with a 41 on his first nine holes. Tiger Woods was so angry he scuffed up a green with his putter. David Toms was alone in the lead until he dropped five shots in two holes, falling 16 spots down the leaderboard faster than he could say Donald Ross.
 
Retief Goosen
Retief Goosen is seeking his third U.S. Open victory in the last five years.
Olin Browne was trying to avoid a big number and wound up thrilled with a double bogey.
 
At the end of a punishing day filled with elation and agony, leave it to the most even-keeled guy in the game - defending champion Retief Goosen - to be atop the leaderboard and suddenly the favorite at the U.S. Open.
 
At least for now.
 
'I don't think you can really distance yourself at this event,' Goosen said. 'It's going to be a tough, grinding weekend out there, so it's just who is going to make the least mistakes.'
 
Friday might have been just a preview.
 
Goosen held it together despite two bogeys over his final five holes for an even-par 70, leaving him tied for the lead with Browne (71) and Jason Gore, who played the final 12 holes in 3 under par to shoot 67.
 
They were at 2-under 138, the highest 36-hole score to lead the U.S. Open since 1996 at Oakland Hills.
 
Only three other players were under par. Mark Hensby (68) and K.J. Choi (70) each birdied the final hole and were one shot behind, with a whole cast of contenders right behind them.
 
Vijay Singh, who has missed only six greens in two days, had another 70 and was at even-par 140, joined by Sergio Garcia (69), Michael Campbell (69) and Lee Westwood (72).
 
'I feel like I'm in great position right now,' Singh said. 'If I can go out there and figure out the pace of the green, come out strong tomorrow, we'll see what happens.'
 
Woods missed two birdie putts inside 12 feet on his final four holes, drew a mild reprimand from the USGA for his poor etiquette on the ninth green and shot 71 to finish in a large group at 141 that included former U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk and Adam Scott.
 
For one and all, the idea was not to make a move, but to stay put.
 
'Everybody is going to confront a catastrophe out here somewhere,' Browne said.
 
Goosen didn't look capable of one for most of the sunny afternoon, breezing along with two-putt pars and the occasional birdie. But even he wasn't immune to mistakes, missing the green on the fifth hole with a 9-iron to make bogey, and watching his ball trickle off the side of the seventh green and onto a sandy patch above the bunker. That gave him another bogey, and brought out the slightest sign of irritation, not to mention a pulse.
 
'If you don't hit the ball properly, you're in trouble,' Goosen said. 'I felt I could finish 4 or 5 under. With short irons like that, you shouldn't miss the green.'
 
Gore became the latest surprise atop the leaderboard at Pinehurst. At least Browne and Rocco Mediate, co-leaders after the first day, have won on the PGA Tour. Gore has only spent two seasons in the big leagues without so much as finishing in the top 10.
 
His only previous U.S. Open fame was being the leader at Olympic Club in 1998 - for one hole, and only because he was in the first group of the opening round.
 
'This is my second time I've led the U.S. Open. So, I'm quite comfortable now,' Gore said, showing the self-deprecating humor that might come in handy over the weekend.
 
For others, it was no joke.
 
Browne held it together nicely considering his debacle at the par-3 sixth. He went from the front bunker to the back bunker, then past the pin and down the slope off the green. After a safe chip to 25 feet, he holed the putt for double bogey.
 
'This course will whip your butt, plain and simple, every single shot,' Browne said.
 
Toms learned that over 12 excruciating shots on his last two holes. First, he hit into a bunker on No. 8 and barely got it to the green before three-putting for double bogey. Then, on the par-3 ninth, he went from a bunker over the green, took two shots with the putter to get 10 feet past the hole and two-putted for triple bogey.
 
'I played really well for the last couple days. I just had two bad holes,' Toms said.
 
Mickelson had a lot of them, although nothing worse than a bogey. Starting the day just two shots out of the lead and playing in the morning, when overcast skies and cooler conditions made Pinehurst more playable, Lefty only produced half of his short-game wizardry - he could chip, he just couldn't putt.
 
Mickelson's 77 was his highest score in the U.S. Open since a 79 the final day at Oakmont in 1994, and it left him eight shots out of the lead.
 
'It's a tough course to turn things around on because you just can't make birdies,' he said. 'The more you try to make birdies, the more bogeys you're going to make. I was just trying to salvage pars, and had a tough time doing it.'
 
Woods started strong with two birdies on the first four holes, but it wasn't long before he ran into problems with the pace of the greens - a three-putt on No. 6, and another one on the ninth, which ran some 12 feet by the cup. When the par putt came up short, he dragged his putter across the green and scuffed up the line.
 
Despite his tantrums and a few errant shots, he was only three shots behind.
 
'Days like today typify a U.S. Open,' he said. 'No one is going to run off with it.'
 
It was wild and wacky, typical of what can happen on the domed greens Donald Ross designed. In one bizarre sequence, Westwood holed a 30-foot putt from off the green. Kenny Perry was next, and his putt rolled back off the slope to his feet. Then he made the next one for par.
 
Expect that kind of topsy-turvy play over the next two days, when the U.S. Open figures to be up for grabs.
 
'I think Jack Nicklaus said it best,' Browne said. 'The Open chooses you, you don't choose it.'
 
Right now, Pinehurst isn't particularly fond of anyone.
 
Related links:
  • Leaderboard - 105th U.S. Open
  • Full Coverage - 105th U.S. Open

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    Garcia leads as Valderrama Masters extends to Monday

    By Will GrayOctober 21, 2021, 3:52 pm

    Weather continues to be the enemy at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, where Sergio Garcia remains in front as the tournament heads for a Monday finish.

    European Tour officials had already ceded the fact that 72 holes would not be completed this week in Spain, but players were not even able to finish 54 holes before another set of thunderstorms rolled in Sunday afternoon to once again halt play. Garcia remains in front at 10 under, having played seven holes of the third round in even par, while Lee Westwood is alone in second at 7 under.

    Officials had previously stated an intention to play at least 54 holes, even if that meant extending the tournament to Monday, given that this is the final chance for many players to earn Race to Dubai points in an effort to secure European Tour cards for 2019. Next week's WGC-HSBC Champions will be the final event of the regular season, followed by a three-event final series.


    Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


    Garcia, who won the tournament last year, started the third round with a four-shot lead over Ashley Chesters. He balanced one birdie with one bogey and remains in position for his first worldwide victory since the Asian Tour's Singapore Open in January.

    Westwood, who has his son Sam on the bag this week, made the biggest charge up the leaderboard with four birdies over his first eight holes. He'll have 10 holes to go when play resumes at 9:10 a.m. local time Monday as he looks to win for the first time since the 2015 Indonesian Masters.

    Shane Lowry and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano are tied for third at 6 under, four shots behind Garcia with 10 holes to play, while Chesters made two double bogeys over his first four holes to drop into a tie for sixth.

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    Austin wins Champions tour's playoff opener

    By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:35 pm

    RICHMOND, Va. -- Woody Austin knew Bernhard Langer was lurking throughout the final nine holes, and he did just enough to hold him off.

    Austin shot a 3-under 69 for a one-stroke victory Sunday in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

    Langer, the defending tournament champion and series points leader, made the turn one shot off the lead, but eight straight pars kept him from ever gaining a share of the lead. Austin's birdie from 6 feet on the closing hole allowed him to hang on for the victory.

    ''It seemed like he couldn't quite get it over the hump,'' Austin said about Langer, who also birdied No. 18. ''I'm not going to feel bad for the guy. The guy's kind of had things go his way for the last 12 years. Now he sees what it's like to have it happen.''

    The 54-year-old Austin finished with an 11-under total for three rounds at The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course. He won his fourth senior title and first since 2016, and said windy and cool conditions that made scoring difficult played to his advantage.

    ''I was happy to see it. I really enjoy a difficult test,'' he said. ''... I enjoy even par meaning something. That's my game.''

    Langer closed with a 70. The winner last week in North Carolina, the 61-year-old German star made consecutive birdies to finish the front nine, but had several birdie putts slide by on the back.


    Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


    ''I made a couple important ones and then I missed a couple important ones, especially the one on 16,'' Langer said. ''I hit three really good shots and had about a 6-footer, something like that, and I just didn't hit it hard enough. It broke away.''

    Austin dropped a stroke behind Jay Haas and Stephen Ames with a bogey on the par-3 14th. He got that back with a birdie from about 5 feet on the par-4 15th and then got some good fortune on the final hole when his firmly struck chip hit the flag and stopped about 6 feet away.

    ''I always say usually the person that wins gets a break on Sunday,'' he said. ''That was my break.''

    The 64-year-old Haas, the second-round leader after a 65, had a 74 to tie for third with Fran Quinn (69) and Kent Jones (70) at 9 under. Haas was bidding to become the oldest winner in the history of the tour for players 50 and older.

    ''Disappointed, for sure,'' Haas said. ''Not going to get many more opportunities like this, but it gives me hope, too, that I can still do it.''

    The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 move on to the Invesco QQQ Championship next week in Thousand Oaks, California, and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

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    After Further Review: American success stories

    By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 21, 2018, 8:35 pm

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the global nature of Koepka's rise to No. 1 ...

    Brooks Koepka is an American superstar, and a two-time winner of his national open. But his rise to world No. 1 in, of all places, South Korea, emphasizes the circuitous, global path he took to the top.

    After winning the CJ Cup by four shots, Koepka was quick to remind reporters that he made his first-ever start as a pro in Switzerland back in 2012. He cracked the top 500 for the first time with a win in Spain, and he broke into the top 100 after a good week in the Netherlands.

    Koepka languished on the developmental Challenge Tour for a year before earning a promotion to the European Tour, and he didn’t make a splash in the States until contending at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

    It’s a testament to Koepka’s adaptability and raw talent that he can handle the heights of Crans-Montana as well as the slopes of Shinnecock Hills or rough of Nine Bridges. And as the scene shifts to China next week, it highlights the global nature of today’s game – and the fact that the best in the world can rise to the occasion on any continent. - Will Gray


    On the resurgence of American women  ...

    American women are on a nice roll again. Danielle Kang’s victory Sunday at the Buick LPGA Shanghai was the third by an American over the last five events. Plus, Annie Park and Marina Alex, emerging American talents looking for their second victories this season, tied for second. So did American Brittany Altomare. Two years ago, Americans won just twice, their fewest victories in a single season in LPGA history. Overall, women from the United States have won seven times this season.

    The Americans are making their move with Stacy Lewis on maternity leave and with Lexi Thompson, the highest ranked American in the world, still looking for her first victory this year. Yes, the South Koreans have won nine times this season, but with four LPGA events remaining in 2018 the Americans actually have a chance to be the winningest nation in women’s golf this year. With all the grief they’ve received the last few years, that would be a significant feat. - Randall Mell

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    In Buick win, Kang overcame demons of mind and spirit

    By Randall MellOctober 21, 2018, 3:33 pm

    Danielle Kang beat three of the most formidable foes in golf Sunday to win the Buick LPGA Shanghai.

    Anxiety.

    Frustration.

    Anger.

    Kang overcame these demons of mind and spirit to win for the second time on tour, backing up her KPMG Women’s PGA Championship victory last year.

    “I’ve been going through a lot mentally,” Kang said.

    Kang birdied four of the last eight holes to close with a 3-under-par 69, coming from one shot back in the final round to win. At 13-under 275, she finished two shots ahead of a pack of seven players, including world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and former world No. 1 Lydia Ko (66).

    It hasn’t been easy for Kang trying to build on her major championship breakthrough last year. She started the fall Asian swing having missed three cuts in a row, five in her last six starts.

    “I had to go through swing changes,” Kang said. “I had the swing yips, the putting yips, everything possibly you could think of.

    “I was able to get over a lot of anxiety I was feeling when I was trying to hit a golf ball. This week I just kept trusting my golf game.”

    Through her swoon, Kang said she was struggling to get the club back, that she was getting mentally stuck to where she could not begin her takeaway. She sought out Butch Harmon, back at her Las Vegas home, for help. She said tying for third at the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week felt like a victory, though she was still battling her demons there.

    “Anxiety over tee balls,” Kang said. “People might wonder what I'm doing. I actually can't pull the trigger. It has nothing to do with the result. Having to get over that last week was incredible for me. Even on the first round, one shot took me, I think, four minutes.”

    Kang, who turned 26 on Saturday, broke through to win last year under swing coach David Leadbetter, but she began working with Harmon while struggling in the second half this year.


    Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


    “I was actually very frustrated, even yesterday,” Kang said. “Things just weren't going my way. The biggest thing that Butch tells me is to stay out of my own way. I just couldn't do that. If I had a short putt, I just kept doubting myself. I couldn't putt freely.”

    Kang said her anger and frustration built up again on the front nine Sunday. She made the turn at 1 over for the round. She said her caddie, Oliver Brett, helped her exorcise some anger. After the ninth hole, he pulled her aside.

    This is how Kang remembered the conversation:

    Brett: “Whatever you need to do to let your anger out and restart and refresh, you need to do that now.”

    Kang: “Cameras are everywhere. I just want to hit the bag really hard.”

    Brett: “Here's a wedge. Just smash it.”

    Kang did.

    “Honestly, I thank him for that,” Kang said. “He told me there are a lot birdies out there. I regrouped, and we pretended we started the round brand new on the 10th hole. Then things changed and momentum started going my way. I started hitting it closer and felt better over the putts.”

    Kang said the victory was all about finding a better place mentally.

    “I'm just so happy to be where I'm at today,” Kang said. “I'm just happy that I won.

    “More so than anything, I'm finally at a place where I'm peaceful and happy with my game, with my life . . . . I hope I win more. I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.”