Heat Wave May Lead to Low Scores

By Associated PressJuly 18, 2006, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship HOYLAKE, England -- Tim Herron sauntered around the putting green in front of the Royal Liverpool clubhouse, soaking up a glorious day and marveling at what he had seen out on the course.
 
They were sunbathing over there, he said, motioning off into the distance with his club.
 
Sunbathing? At the British Open?
 
Indeed.
 
During Tuesdays practice round at this historic course along the Irish Sea, the temperature was climbing into the 80s beneath a brilliant blue sky, with nary a cloud to be had.
 
Royal Liverpool
Clear skies and warm weather greeted players at the beginning of the week.
There were no fearsome gusts whipping in off the water, just a refreshing breeze. Instead of bundling up in sweaters and jackets, most fans milled around the links wearing shorts and T-shirts.
 
If conditions stay anything close to this through the weekend, Tiger Woods record 19-under score while winning at St. Andrews six years ago could be in jeopardy.
 
Obviously, it can be done, said Woods, who won again at St. Andrews last year while using five more strokes. As we all know, it all depends on the weather. We played St. Andrews in 2000 with no wind. It can spring up at any time, you just never know. But if not, the guys are going to be making plenty of birdies.
 
The mound behind the 13th green was an especially popular spot for soaking up some rays. One young fan removed his shirt, used it to cover his face, sprawled out on the trampled-down grass and actually dozed off while getting a tan. He wasnt bothered in the least by Rich Beem and Peter Lonard, yukking it up below as they came through the par-3 hole.
 
With the carnage at Winged Foot still fresh on their minds, the guys taking part in the years third major wouldnt mind a catching a break from the notoriously fickle English weather.
 
I dont care whether it blows or not, Jim Furyk said. As long as its in the 70s, there wont be any complaining from me. I just hate it when its 59 degrees and raining.
 
For the practice rounds, at least, he didnt have any worries.
 
The country was in the grips of a heat wave that was expected to push the temperature at Royal Liverpool into the mid-80s, though it was expected to cool off a bit by the time the first real shot was struck on Thursday.
 
This being Britain, theres always the threat of showers rearing up at any time, though meteorologists said it didnt seem that likely before the weekend. But rest assured, everyone will be keeping an eye on the forecast.
 
More than any other major, this event is defined by its weather.
 
The ancient courses that make up the British Open rotation'and Royal Liverpool, back in the mix after a 39-year absence, is certainly no exception'rely on cold rain and blustery winds to ward off todays big hitters. When conditions are benign, the shorter, wider layouts are there for the taking.
 
After the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, this is a pleasant sight, said Mark Calcavecchia, who won the British in 1989. I think its going to be a nice week of weather and unless it gets really windy, youre going to see some really good scores out there.
 
That certainly wasnt the case at the last major, when Geoff Ogilvys 5-over-par score was good enough to give the Aussie his first major title.
 
While Winged Foot was defined by failure'Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie both making double bogeys on the 72nd hole, Furyk missing a short putt that could have forced a playoff, Tiger Woods missing the cut'this tournament could produce the sort of gaudy scores normally associated with less-glamorous events named after banks, phone companies and farming equipment.
 
If conditions stay anything close to what they were on Monday, its going to take an awfully good number to claim the claret jug. Maybe not as low as Tiger Woods winning score at St. Andrews in 2000 (a 19-under 269), but certainly along the lines of his 14-under victory at the birthplace of golf a year ago.
 
Its playing short and playing fast, Calcavecchia said after his practice round. On a day like today, you would have seen a lot of low scores.
 
In a tournament that already has produced such unlikely major champions as Ben Curtis, Paul Lawrie and Todd Hamilton, the un-British-like weather could expand the field of contenders and possibly pave the way for another surprise winner.
 
Everybody is saying how nice the weather is, but we play in nice weather most weeks in the USA, Calcavecchia said. I would almost like to see it 20 degrees colder and really windy. I really would.
 
Then again, Royal Liverpool presents a different sort of challenge for todays golfers, many of whom werent even born (Woods and Phil Mickelson among them) when this course last hosted the British Open.
 
Several golfers simply walked the course on Monday, getting an idea of all the nooks and crannies before they attempt to hit a shot. For some of those who did swing away, the steep learning curve was apparent.
 
Japanese golfer Yasuharu Imano, whos paired with Mickelson and Northern Irelands Darren Clarke for the first two rounds, stepped gingerly down the steep incline beside the 14th green to get an idea of what he might face after an errant shot.
 
Imano took a mighty whack with his putter but didnt come close to clearing the ridge, the ball settling back at his feet while the smattering of fans groaned. Another swing. Same result. More moans.
 
Finally, on his third attempt, Imano got the ball to stay on the green. Then he turned the wrong way to head to the next hole, finally locating the proper path with the help of a marshal.
 
Curtis, just a month removed from his first victory since that improbable British Open triumph at Royal St. Georges in 2003, isnt so sure that scores will dip all that low, even if the sunny weather holds out.
 
Everybody talks about how St. Georges was nice (weather) and should have been ideal scoring, said Curtis, who captured the claret jug with a 1-under score. But the course played really tough. This is fairly similar and I think by Thursday, itll get tougher.
 
Related Links:
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    Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

    ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

    The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

    Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

    ''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

    The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.


    Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship


    Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

    Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

    ''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

    Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

    Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

    First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.

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    Henley will try to put heat on Casey in final round

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:55 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – While it will be a tall task for anyone to catch Paul Casey at the Travelers Championship, the man who will start the round most within reach of the Englishman is Russell Henley.

    Henley was in the penultimate group at TPC River Highlands on Saturday, but he’ll now anchor things during the final round as he looks to overcome a four-shot deficit behind Casey. After a 3-under 67, Henley sits at 12 under through 54 holes and one shot clear of the three players tied for third.

    Henley closed his third round with a run of five straight pars, then became the beneficiary of a pair of late bogeys from Brian Harman that left Henley alone in second place.


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    “Could have made a couple more putts, but to end with two up-and-downs like that was nice,” Henley said. “I felt a little bit weird over the shots coming in, put me in some bad spots. But it was nice to have the short game to back me up.”

    Henley has won three times on Tour, most recently at the 2017 Houston Open, and he cracked the top 25 at both the Masters and U.S. Open. But with Casey riding a wave of confidence and coming off an 8-under 62 that marked the best round of the week, he knows he’ll have his work cut out for him in order to nab trophy No. 4.

    “I think I can shoot a low number on this course. You’ve got to make the putts,” Henley said. “I’m definitely hitting it well enough, and if I can get a couple putts to fall, that would be good. But I can’t control what he’s doing. I can just try to keep playing solid.”

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    Back from back injury, Casey eyeing another win

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:36 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Given his four-shot cushion at the Travelers Championship and his recent victory at the Valspar Championship, it’s easy to forget that Paul Casey hit the disabled list in between.

    Casey had to withdraw from The Players Championship because of a bad back, becoming the only player in the top 50 in the world rankings to miss the PGA Tour’s flagship event. He flew back to England to get treatment, and Casey admitted that his T-20 finish at last month’s BMW PGA Championship came while he was still on the mend.

    “I wasn’t 100 percent fit with the back injury, which was L-4, L-5, S-1 (vertebrae) all out of place,” Casey said. “Big inflammation, nerve pain down the leg and up the back. I didn’t know what was going on.”


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    Thanks in large part to a combination of MRIs, back adjustments and anti-inflammatories, Casey finally turned the corner. His T-16 finish at last week’s U.S. Open was the first event for which he felt fully healthy since before the Players, and he’s on the cusp of a second title since March after successfully battling through the injury.

    “We thought we were fixing it, but we weren’t. We were kind of hitting the effects rather than the cause,” Casey said. “Eventually we figured out the cause, which was structural.”

    Casey started the third round at TPC River Highlands two shots off the lead, but he’s now four clear of Russell Henley after firing an 8-under 62 that marked the low round of the week.

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    Bubba thinks he'll need a Sunday 60 to scare Casey

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:15 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Perhaps moreso than at most PGA Tour venues, a low score is never really out of reach at TPC River Highlands. Positioned as a welcome change of pace after the U.S. Open, the Travelers Championship offers a lush layout that often pushes the balance much closer to reward than risk.

    This is where Jim Furyk shot a 58 on the par-70 layout two years ago – and he didn’t even win that week. So even though Paul Casey enters the final round with a commanding four-shot lead, there’s still plenty of hope for the chase pack that something special could be in store.

    Count Bubba Watson among the group who still believe the title is up for grabs – even if it might require a Herculean effort, even by his standards.


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    Watson has won the Travelers twice, including in a 2015 playoff over Casey. But starting the final round in a large tie for sixth at 10 under, six shots behind Casey, he estimates that he’ll need to flirt with golf’s magic number to give the Englishman something to worry about.

    “My 7 under yesterday, I need to do better than that. I’m going to have to get to like 10 [under],” Watson said. “The only beauty is, getting out in front, you have a chance to put a number up and maybe scare them. But to scare them, you’re going to have to shoot 10 under at worst, where I’m at anyway.”

    Watson started the third round three shots off the lead, and he made an early move with birdies on Nos. 1 and 2 en route to an outward 32. The southpaw couldn’t sustain that momentum, as bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 turned a potential 65 into a relatively disappointing 67.

    “Bad decision on the par-3, and then a very tough tee shot for me on 17, and it just creeped into the bunker,” Watson said. “Just, that’s golf. You have mistakes every once in a while.”