Harrington tries to win another claret jug

By Associated PressJuly 19, 2008, 4:00 pm
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Open ChampionshipSOUTHPORT, England -- Padraig Harrington might have come up with a new practice routine for the majors.
1. Play the front nine. Once should be enough.
2. Just walk the course after that, chatting leisurely with the guy whos getting some real work in.
3. Stop off at the greens for a little chipping and putting.
A bit unorthodox? Sure. But Harrington has no complaints about the way it worked for him at this British Open.
At least I didnt tire myself out, he said with that nasal-tinged brogue of his.
On Sunday, Harrington will be playing in the final group of a tournament he didnt even know hed be healthy enough to play just a few days ago. Hell have to overcome a two-shot deficit to Greg Norman to take home the claret jug for another year, but just consider where this plucky Irishman was on the eve of the first round.
Last weekend, Harrington hurt his right wrist doing an exercise that was supposed to strengthen it. He took Monday off, then played nine holes Tuesday before it started bothering him. He came out Wednesday intent getting in a round, but that lasted just three swings.
The rest of the time, he just walked along with Woody Austin, studying the course but mostly just laughing and sharing stories in between Austins shots. Harringtons caddie lugged a putter and a handful of wedges, the only clubs his boss felt comfortable swinging.
Less than 24 hours before his tee time, Harrington walked down the 18th fairway with three reporters in tow, admitting he wasnt sure if he was healthy enough to play. Certainly, if this was just about any other event, he would have packed it in right there.
But this is the Open, and hes the defending champion.
So, the next morning, Harrington reported to the first tee at his appointed time, gritted his teeth and headed out to shoot a most respectable 74 in miserable conditions.
The wrist was sore, but it held up.
Now, hes not even thinking about it.
The wrist seems to be fine. No problems with it, Harrington said Saturday after a 2-over 72 in fierce winds left him deadlocked with K.J. Choi, only Norman above them on the scoreboard. I will continue to have treatment and continue to look after it, but Im confident in it at this stage.
Harrington was certainly in his element, playing a links course in winds that gusted to nearly 50 mph. If it wants to howl like that on Sunday, well, he wont be complaining.
Id look forward to that challenge, he said. It would probably give me my best chance of winning.
Hes certainly got the mental toughness to win again. Just remember how Harrington pulled himself together a year ago, just when it appeared he had thrown away his first major title by knocking not one, but two balls into the Barry Burn on the 72nd hole at Carnoustie.
A nifty pitch and putt gave Harrington a double-bogey. A 10-foot miss by Sergio Garcia gave the Irishman another chance. He took advantage of it in the playoff.
Now, trying to become the first European in more than a century to repeat as Open champion, Harrington approached the third round with that same sort of single-mindedness, so necessary when youre playing in such difficult conditions. He didnt worry about anyone else. He didnt fret about the weather. All he did was think about his next shot.
I never saw a leaderboard, he said. I kept my head down and didnt look at it once. I had no idea how the leaders were doing.
Harrington bogeyed the second hole, missing a 10-foot putt, but got a much-needed break at No. 5, holing out a chip from 45 yards. At the seventh, he stuck a 5-iron to 6 feet and rolled in the putt for another birdie. A three-putt bogey at the next hole sent him around the turn even for the round.
No complaints there.
But peril lurked everywhere, and it caught up with Harrington on the back side. He three-putted again from 30 feet to bogey the 11th. He powered his tee shot over the green at the par-3 12th, forcing him to chip off the side of a steep mound. The ball barely reached the green, and he three-putted again for a double-whammy.
But Harrington, biting his lower lip as he always does, simply plodded on. He knew the only par 5s on the course were coming up, and he took advantage of both. A 10-foot birdie went down at 15. A two-putt from 40 feet took another stroke off the score at 17. He couldve had three birdies in a row, but a 15-footer wouldnt fall on 16.
Now, its on to the final group of the final round, a pairing with Norman thats one of the ages.
The 53-year-old Shark has a chance to become the oldest major winner in golf history. Harrington, 17 years his junior, will be the one trying to ruin the fairy tale.
When hes interested, Greg Norman can really play, Harrington said. Its really a question for a lot of guys later on in their careers, their interests move on, their goals in life change. But Greg seems to be back thinking about it this week, and hes well capable of putting it together as hes shown in the first three rounds.
I dont think anybody, Harrington added, should expect anything but good play from him tomorrow.
Or from the guy trying to chase him down.
Even if his practice routine is a bit unconventional.
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    Davies a fitting winner of inaugural USGA championship

    By Randall MellJuly 15, 2018, 11:26 pm

    Laura Davies confessed she did not sleep well on a five-shot lead Saturday night at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open.

    It’s all you needed to know about what this inaugural event meant to the women who were part of the history being made at Chicago Golf Club.

    The week was more than a parade of memories the game’s greats created playing in the USGA’s long-awaited showcase for women ages 50 and beyond.

    The week was more than nostalgic. 

    It was a chance to make another meaningful mark on the game.

    In the end, Davies relished seeing the mark she made in her runaway, 10-shot victory. She could see it in the familiar etchings on the trophy she hoisted.

    “I get my name on it first,” Davies said. “This championship will be played for many years, and there will only be one first winner. Obviously, quite a proud moment for me to win that.”

    Really, all 120 players in the field made their marks at Chicago Golf Club. They were all pioneers of sorts this past week.

    “It was very emotional seeing the USGA signs, because I've had such a long history, since my teens, playing in USGA championships,” said Amy Alcott, whose Hall of Fame career included the 1980 U.S. Women’s Open title. “I thought the week just came off beautifully. The USGA did a great job. It was just so classy how everything was done, this inaugural event, and how was it presented.”

    Davies was thankful for what the USGA added to the women’s game, and she wasn’t alone. Gratefulness was the theme of the week.

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    The men have been competing in the U.S. Senior Open since 1980, and now the women have their equal opportunity to do the same.

    “It was just great to be a part of the first,” three-time U.S. Women’s Open winner Hollis Stacy said. “The USGA did a great job of having it at such a great golf course. It's just been very memorable.”

    Trish Johnson, who is English, like Davies, finished third, 12 shots back, but she left with a heart overflowing.

    “Magnificent,” said Johnson, a three-time LPGA and 19-time LET winner. “Honestly, it's one of the best, most enjoyable weeks I've ever played in in any tournament anywhere.”

    She played in the final group with Davies and runner-up Juli Inkster.

    “Even this morning, just waiting to come out here, I thought, `God, not often do I actually think how lucky I am to do what I do,’” Johnson said.

    At 54, Davies still plays the LPGA and LET regularly. She has now won 85 titles around the world, 20 of them LPGA titles, four of them majors, 45 of them LET titles.

    With every swing this past week, she peeled back the years, turned back the clock, made fans and peers remember what she means to the women’s game.

    This wasn’t the first time Davies made her mark in a USGA event. When she won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1987, she became just the second player from Europe to win the title, the first in 20 years. She opened a new door for internationals. The following year, Sweden’s Liselotte Neumann won the title.

    “A lot of young Europeans and Asians decided that it wasn't just an American sport,” Davies said. “At that stage, it had been dominated, wholeheartedly, by all the names we all love, Lopez, Bradley, Daniel, Sheehan.”

    Davies gave the rest of the world her name to love, her path to follow.

    “It certainly made a lot of foreign girls think that they could take the Americans on,” Davies said.

    In golf, it’s long been held that you can judge the stature of an event by the names on the trophy. Davies helps gives the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open the monumental start it deserved.

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    Suwannapura beats Lincicome in playoff for first win

    By Associated PressJuly 15, 2018, 10:49 pm

    SYLVANIA, Ohio - Thidapa Suwannapura won her first LPGA event on Sunday, closing with a 6-under 65 and birdieing the first playoff hole to defeat Brittany Lincicome at the Marathon Classic.

    The 25-year-old Thai player is the sixth first-time winner on tour this year. Her previous best finish in 120 starts was seventh at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.

    Suwannapura picked up three strokes over her final two holes, making eagle on the par-5 17th and closing with a birdie on the par-5 18th at Highland Meadows to finish at 14-under 270.

    In the playoff, Suwannapura converted a short birdie putt after Lincicome hit her second shot into a water hazard and scrambled for par.

    Lincicome shot 67. She had a chance to win in regulation, but her birdie putt from about 10 feet did a nearly 360-degree turn around the edge of the cup and stayed out. Next up for the big-hitting Lincicome: a start against the men at the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship.

    Third-round leader Brooke Henderson led by two shots after six holes, but struggled the rest of the way. Back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes dropped her out of the lead. The 20-year-old Canadian finished with a 2-under 69, one shot out of the playoff.

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    Kim cruises to first win, final Open invite at Deere

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 9:38 pm

    Following the best week of his professional career, Michael Kim is both a winner on the PGA Tour and the 156th and final player to earn a tee time next week at The Open.

    Kim entered the final round of the John Deere Classic with a five-shot lead, and the former Cal standout removed any lingering doubt about the tournament's outcome with birdies on each of his first three holes. He cruised from there, shooting a bogey-free 66 to finish the week at 27 under and win by eight shots over Francesco Molinari, Joel Dahmen, Sam Ryder and Bronson Burgoon.

    It equals the tournament scoring record and ties for the largest margin of victory on Tour this season, matching Dustin Johnson's eight-shot romp at Kapalua in January and Molinari's margin two weeks ago at the Quicken Loans National.

    "Just super thankful," Kim said. "It's been a tough first half of the year. But to be able to finish it out in style like this means a lot."

    Kim, 25, received the Haskins Award as the nation's top collegiate player back in 2013, but his ascent to the professional ranks has been slow. He had only one top-10 finish in 83 starts on Tour entering the week, tying for third at the Safeway Open in October 2016, and had missed the cut each of the last three weeks.

    But the pieces all came together at TPC Deere Run, where Kim opened with 63 and held a three-shot lead after 36 holes. His advantage was trimmed to a single shot during a rain-delayed third round, but Kim returned to the course late Saturday and closed with four straight birdies on Nos. 15-18 to build a five-shot cushion and inch closer to his maiden victory.

    As the top finisher among the top five not otherwise exempt, Kim earned the final spot at Carnoustie as part of the Open Qualifying Series. It will be his first major championship appearance since earning low amateur honors with a T-17 finish at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, and he is also now exempt for the PGA Championship and next year's Masters.

    The last player to earn the final Open spot at the Deere and make the cut the following week was Brian Harman, who captured his first career win at TPC Deere Run in 2014 and went on to tie for 26th at Royal Liverpool.

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    Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

    Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.

    Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.

    Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.

    Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

    "I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."

    Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:

    Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.