Harrington Europes best chance for victory

By Associated PressAugust 6, 2008, 4:00 pm
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2008 US Open 81x90BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. ' Padraig Harrington is Europes best hope to end a 78-year wait for a winner at the PGA Championship.
 
Ever since Scotlands Tommy Armour beat Gene Sarazen 1-up to win the 1930 tournament (then following a match-play format) fans across the pond have had little to cheer about in the last major championship of the season.
 
Its the same old question arises every time, Englishman Ian Poulter said when asked why the drought has lasted so long.
 
Padraig Harrington
Padraig Harrington practices Tuesday at Oakland Hills. (Getty Images)
But there are several reasons why that losing streak might finally come to an end.
 
First, Harrington has won two of the last five major titles and that may be enough to stamp him as the man to beat when the PGA Championship gets under way Thursday at Oakland Hills in suburban Detroit.
 
Second, with Tiger Woods still recovering from season-ending knee surgery, few other players have taken advantage by playing consistently well.
 
Third, the storied old Donald Ross layout has hosted many major, international tournaments, but the last one provides a scrapbook of sweet memories for the Euros.
 
The European team captured the 2004 Ryder Cup by a landslide 18 1/2 -9 1/2 margin. They danced on the 18th green, sprayed champagne on each other and reveled in victory.
 
And now almost all of them feel that, since theyve won collectively on the course, why shouldnt one of them do it again?
 
There are plenty of holdovers from that team who might break the jinx, but Harrington tops the list based on his performance at Carnoustie in 2007 and at Royal Birkdale last month.
 
Harrington doesnt shy away from such talk.
 
Will I be ready? I think I will be ready, Harrington said Tuesday. Im reasonably confident that I can get my game
 
in shape come Thursday. It is a tough golf course, which suits me. (But) Im pretty comfortable with the test ahead.
 
Like his teammates, he still smiles whenever he thinks back to the last time he played a competitive round at Oakland Hills.
 
Yeah, I have good memories of this golf course, he said.
 
But Harrington isnt the only Euro who figures to contend.
 
Sergio Garcia, of course, is tabbed by many as best player in the world to have never won a major. He played well for the Euros in 2004. He also has a history of playing well in the PGA Championship, finishing second to Woods in that memorable breakout tournament in 1999 at Medinah.
 
Now he is buoyed by warm recollections of what happened four years ago at Oakland Hills.
 
It was a great week, he said of the Ryder victory. I remember obviously beating Phil (Mickelson) on Sunday (3-2 in singles). That was nice. The whole week itself was unforgettable.
 
Poulter, who has been solid in this years majors, might again be a factor. He played just two Ryder Cup matches in 2004 but for a then-28-year-old playing in his first international team competition, it was a magical time.
 
It was nice to go on the practice ground today. You could kind of picture the way the stands were, where all the signs were, all of that, he said. Obviously those happy memories are around this golf course.
 
The 156-player field also includes several other members of that European team, any of whom have enough game'and enough happy memories'to grab the title, including Darren Clarke, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Paul Casey and Lee Westwood.
 
Casey believes with no Tiger prowling Oakland Hills, its anybodys tournament.
 
Theres probably 20 or 30 guys here who are very, very capable of winning it'maybe even more, he said. Weve seen in the past a lot of guys come from out of the field. Where you are in the world rankings doesnt necessarily mean anything nowadays. Guys are so good.
 
Westwood is coming off a strong finish at the Bridgestone last week and likes how hes playing.
 
You look at my record, when I get on a roll I tend to stay on that roll for a good while, he said. And when I win, I win a few tournaments in a block.
 
Should he win this weekend, Westwoods statement could portend a particularly bleak autumn for members of the U.S. team.
 
After all, the Ryder Cup matches at Valhalla are just around the corner.
 
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    Ciganda, S.Y. Kim share lead in Shanghai

    By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 9:28 am

    SHANGHAI - Carlota Ciganda of Spain shot a 5-under 67 Saturday to share the lead with Sei Young Kim after the third round of the LPGA Shanghai.

    Ciganda carded her fifth birdie of the day on the par-4 18th to finish tied with overnight leader Kim at 11-under 205. Kim shot a 71 with four bogeys and five birdies.

    Ciganda is attempting to win her third LPGA title and first since the 2016 season, when she won two tournaments in a one-month span. Kim is chasing her eighth career LPGA win and second title of the 2018 season.

    ''I want to win because I didn't win last year,'' Ciganda said. ''I love playing in Asia. It's good for long hitters, playing quite long, so I'm quite comfortable.''


    Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai


    Angel Yin also birdied the final hole for a 68 and was a further stroke back with Brittany Altomare (69), Danielle Kang (71) and Ariya Jutanugarn (71).

    Yin and Altomare have yet to break through for their first LPGA win. A win in Shanghai would make either player the ninth first-time winner of the 2018 season, which would tie 2016 for the third highest number of first-time winners in a season in LPGA history.

    ''I love competing,'' Yin said. ''That's why I'm playing, right? I'm excited to be in contention again going into Sunday.''

    Local favorite Yu Liu was seventh after offsetting a lone bogey with four birdies for a 69.

    Paula Creamer also shot a 69 and shared eighth at 8 under with Minjee Lee (70) and Bronte Law (71).

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

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    Koepka's pursuers have no illusions about catching him

    By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:50 am

    Ahead by four, wielding his driver like Thor's hammer, Brooks Koepka is 18 holes from his third victory in five months and his first ascent to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking.

    The tournament isn't over. No one is handing him the trophy and updating the OWGR website just yet. But it will likely take some combination of a meltdown and low round from someone in the chase pack to prevent a Koepka coronation Sunday in South Korea.

    Thirteen under for the week, the three-time major champion will start the final round four shots ahead of his playing partners, Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, and five ahead of six more players at minus-8.

    As is his nature, Poulter figures to be undaunted. The 42-year-old is fresh off a Sunday singles victory over Dustin Johnson at the Ryder Cup and in the midst of a career renaissance, having broken a five-year winless drought earlier this year. In one sense, it's Europe vs. the United States again, but this isn't match play, and Koepka, a guy who doesn't need a head start, has spotted himself a four-shot advantage.


    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


    "Tomorrow I'm going to need to make a few birdies. Obviously Brooks is in cruise control right now and obviously going to need a shoot a low one," Poulter conceded. "Do what I'm doing, just enjoy [it]. Obviously try and make as many birdies as I can and see how close we get."

    Perez, in the group at 8 under par, isn't giving up, but like Poulter, he's aware of the reality of his situation.

    "We're chasing Brooks, who of course obviously is playing phenomenally," he said. "A lot of the long hitters now when they get in contention, they hit that driver and they're really hard to catch. I'm not worried about it too much. It's going to be harder for me tomorrow than him, so I'm going to try and go out and just do my thing, hit some shots, hopefully hit some close and make some putts and we'll see. I don't expect him to come backwards, but hopefully I can try to go catch him."

    Gary Woodland, also 8 under par, summed up the predicament best when he alluded to Koepka's perhaps advantageously aloof demeanor.

    "You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can," he said. "You know, Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much, and he's playing so good, so you're going to have to go out and post a number."

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    Koepka has his chance 'to earn' his way to No. 1

    By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:09 am

    There won't need to be any wonky math involved. He won't have to settle for finally reaching the the top via some kind of mathematical reset while he's sitting at home on the couch (or more likely working out in the gym).

    No, Brooks Koepka on Sunday in South Korea will have a chance to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking the way every player would most want to - with a victory.

    On the strength of a bogey-free round of 5-under 67 Saturday, Koepka will enter the final round of the CJ Cup four clear of Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, with six more players five behind.

    The tournament is Koepka's to lose, and so too is the No. 1 ranking. So long as Justin Thomas doesn't somehow defend his title from 12 shots back, Koepka can supplant Dustin Johnson atop the rankings with a win or a solo second-place finish.


    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


    "It was something I wanted to do. I always wanted to become World No. 1 in a week that I was playing," Koepka said Saturday. "I thought like I could really earn it and not have a week off where it just so happens that you bump up. No, it would be very special, and to do it here would be nice and hopefully get to world No. 1 and cap it off with a win, I don't think there would be much better."

    It would be a fitting end to this breakthrough year for Koepka, who successfully defended his U.S. Open title and then added his third major victory at the PGA Championship en route to claiming the PGA Tour's Player of the Year Award. Oddly enough, considering his status a three-time major winner and an impending No. 1, this would be Koepka's fifth Tour victory but only his second in a non-major; his only regular Tour win to date was his first, at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

    "My confidence has always been pretty high," Koepka said. "Anytime you can win three majors you're going to be feeling pretty good about yourself. To do what I've done over the last two years has been special, but I'm looking to build on that."

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    Koepka ahead by four, with No. 1 ranking in his grasp

    By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 5:48 am

    Following a closing birdie and a third-round 67 at Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka will take a four-shot lead over Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy into final round of the CJ Cup. Here's how Koepka separated himself from the field in South Korea.

    Leaderboard: Koepka (-13), Piercy (-9), Poulter (-9), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-8), Cameron Smith (-8), Jaime Lovemark (-8), Pat Perez (-8), Gary Woodland (-8), Chez Reavie (-8)

    What it means: Koepka is in search of his fifth PGA Tour victory and – believe it or not – only his second non-major. The three-time major champion’s only other win came all the way back in February 2015, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One off the lead to start the day, Koepka opened with eight straight pars and birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to take the outright lead at 10 under par. He added three more circles at 14, 17 and 18 to close out a bogey-free round of 5 under and go ahead by ahead by four. He'll be chased on Sunday by Piercy, a four-time PGA Tour winner who won the Zurich Classic earlier this year alongside Billy Horschel, and by Poulter, who ended a five-year worldwide winless drought back in April and is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, with a Sunday singles victory over current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Speaking of which, unless Justin Thomas finds a way to win this tournament from 12 back, Koepka will for the first time ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win or a solo second-place finish.

    Round of the day: After contending last week at the CIMB, Shubankhar Sharma rebounded from opening rounds of 74 and 75 with a nine-birdie, 8-under 64 to move up 45 spots into a tie for 26th through 54 holes.

    Best of the rest: Four players – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ted Potter Jr., Jason Day and Brendan Steele – shot 7-under 65 Saturday. Day played his first four holes in 2 over and his final 14 in 9 under.

    Biggest disappointment: The only previous winner of this event, world No. 4 Justin Thomas entered the week with a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking with a successful title defense. But rounds of 73-70-72 have him 1 under for the week. Thomas played his back nine in 1 over Saturday with six pars, a birdie, a quadruple bogey and a closing eagle.

    Shot of the day: Koepka flying his tee shot 330 yards to the front edge of the green at the par-4 14th and going on to two-putt for birdie.