Holmes muscles his way up the leaderboard

By Associated PressAugust 8, 2008, 4:00 pm
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2008 US Open 81x90BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. ' J.B. Holmes always knew he could hit the golf ball a long way.
 
J.B. Holmes
J.B. Holmes waves to the crowd during Round 2. (Getty Images)
He made his high school team in Kentucky when he was in the third grade. He was hitting 300-yard tee shots at age 13, and when he went to the Masters in 1998 as a senior in high school to watch Tiger Woods for the first time, it wasnt the least bit overwhelming.
 
I realized the pros dont hit it any further than I do, Holmes said.
 
His monster length proved to be more than enough for Oakland Hills on Friday.
 
With a black glove on his hand and a scowl on his face, Holmes hammered one tee shot after another'one of them he estimated at about 400 yards'and kept most of them in the short grass, leading to a 2-under 68 for a one-shot lead in the PGA Championship.
 
Holmes was at 1-under 139, the only player to break par over two rounds on a course known as The Monster. It was the first time since 1972'at Oakland Hills, not so coincidentally'that only one player was under par through 36 holes of the PGA Championship.
 
When I hit my driver like I did today, this is an easy sport, Holmes said.
 
It sure didnt feel easy to anyone else.
 
Sergio Garcia four-putted the 17th green late in the second round just as he was trying to catch Holmes, and instead dropped to a 73 and was three shots behind. Phil Mickelson struggled with a few bad drives, a few poor chips and not many putts, making three bogeys over the final five holes for a 73 that left him four shots behind.
 
Colin Montgomerie found nothing easy about Oakland Hills. He had to play his best golf over the closing holes to avoid his worst score as a professional, salvaging an 84 to match his worst score ever in a major.
 
The final major is so hard that Garcia predicted no one would be under par when it was time to hoist the trophy.
 
I dont think its going to be won by 1 under par, Garcia said. I just need to make sure that I stay around where I am and maybe a little closer to par. Thats going to have a chance on Sunday.
 
Ben Curtis, who on Thursday said only one player would like Oakland Hills by the end of the week, got along just fine Friday with a 67, matching Justin Rose with the best score of the tournament and leaving both of them one shot behind at even-par 140.
 
Its the kind of round Ive been looking for to get myself back on the leaderboard and feeling the good vibes, Rose said.
 
They were joined by Charlie Wi, a 36-year-old who has played on just about every tour, but never in a major championship until this week. He made his debut with back-to-back 70s and will play in the final group Saturday with Holmes.
 
Former PGA champion David Toms (69) and Henrik Stenson of Sweden (70) were at 1-over 141. The group at 142 included Garcia, former U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera (72) and Sean OHair, who steadied himself after a double bogey on his opening hole and shot 73.
 
For the second straight day, only six players broke par.
 
When I got here on Tuesday, I called home and I said, This is the hardest golf course Ive ever played, Wi said. If I were to play here every day, I dont know if I would enjoy it. Its a very difficult golf course.
 
Wi might see a different course while playing with Holmes.
 
The 26-year-old from Kentucky put his Paul Bunyan length on display during a morning of blue skies. Its a wonder some of his tee shots didnt leave contrails.
 
He leads the field in driving distance at 338 yards, and that doesnt include a mammoth tee shot on the 501-yard 14th that left him only a wedge to the green, where he made a 25-foot putt for his third straight birdie.
 
Holmes reached the 529-yard second hole with a wedge for a two-putt birdie from 12 feet, and he got home in two on the 593-yard 12th with an 8-iron. A stiff breeze was at his back on that 217-yard shot.
 
He hit driver on all but four holes.
 
Im not that aggressive if Im not hitting my driver good, Holmes said. If Im hitting bad shots with it, you dont hit it as much. You hit it right where youve looked? Whale away.
 
If youre hitting where youre aiming it every time, youre hitting good.
 
There were some comparisons to another young player from the South who hit it a country mile and overwhelmed Crooked Stick in 1991 to win the PGA Championship. But thats about the only resemblance to John Daly.
 
Holmes is not the ninth alternate, rather a two-time winner on the PGA Tour who might have secured a spot on the Ryder Cup team to be held next month at Valhalla in Kentucky, a course he knows better than anyone on tour. He lives clean and plays hard. His swing is compact, the power generated by his lower body.
 
My senior year of high school, I went out and watched Tiger, Holmes said, referring to a trip to the 1998 Masters. A lot of the players, they said hit the ball really long. And they did. I was like, Thats not much farther than me, if at all.
 
But length isnt everything, especially on the wild greens of Oakland Hills. Holmes lost two shots off his lead on the closing holes, with a poor chip on the 15th and a three-putt from across the long green on the par-3 17th.
 
Curtis played his final 15 holes without a bogey and is the only major champion at par or better, even if some still think his victory at Royal St. Georges in 2003 at the British Open was a fluke. He has won twice more on tour since then.
 
I know I can win another one, he said. Its just a matter of taking care of the opportunities that Im given. Theres weeks where you can play your best and not win, and theres weeks where you can kind of stumble your way in and win.
 
The stumbling belonged to Mickelson and Garcia, although the Spaniard chalked it up to one bad hole'or four bad putts'and bristled when it was suggested that the back nine was a struggle.
 
No, it wasnt. It wasnt at all, said Garcia, considered the best player without a major. Unfortunately, things didnt happen for me on the back nine. Its very difficult and this is a major.
 
Mickelson is perplexed by the raking of grass toward the tee, which makes it stand firm and led to some poor chips. But he remained optimistic, and should be. Twenty players were separated by four shots going into the weekend.
 
Theres a lot of golf left out here, and the golf course is very difficult, he said. So I think that it wont be overly difficult if you play well to make up some ground.
 
The cut was at 148, the highest since the gnarly rough of Oak Hill in 2003. Among the victims were Vijay Singh, who was coming off his first World Golf Championship last week; and Woody Austin and Hunter Mahan, who were Nos. 9 and 10 in the U.S. Ryder Cup standings.
 
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    M. Jutanugarn finally joins sister in LPGA winner's circle

    By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 1:42 am

    LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn won the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open by two shots for her first victory in six years on the LPGA Tour, joining sister Ariya as the second siblings to win on the tour.

    The 23-year-old from Thailand shot a 3-under 68 for a 12-under 272 total Sunday at Wilshire Country Club in the tour's return to Los Angeles after a 13-year absence.

    Jutanugarn won in her 156th start after three career runner-up finishes, including at the Honda LPGA Thailand in February. She had 21 top-10 finishes before winning.

    Seven-time winner Ariya tied for 24th after a 70. She joined the predominantly Asian crowd to follow her older sister's final holes, crying as Moriya two-putted to close out the win.

    Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam were the first sisters to win on the LPGA Tour.

    Hall of Famer Inbee Park shot a 68 to tie for second with Jin Young Ko (70).

    Park had opportunities, but she wasn't able to put pressure on Jutanugarn playing in the final threesome. However, Park will return to No. 1 in the world when the rankings come out Monday, knocking off top-ranked Shenshen Fang, who tied for 12th.


    Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


    Jutanugarn began the final round with a two-shot lead and never wavered in fulfilling the potential she first displayed as the LPGA Rookie of the Year in 2013. After a birdie at the second hole, she reeled off nine consecutive pars before sinking birdie putts at 12 and 13.

    She overcame a tee shot that narrowly missed going out of bounds for another birdie at 15 to lead by three.

    Jutanugarn ran into trouble on the par-4 16th. Her approach landed on the green and rolled off it, stopping inches from dropping into a bunker. Her chip shot ran well past the hole and her par putt just missed catching the edge of the cup. That left her with a short putt for bogey, her first in her previous 28 holes, trimming her lead to two shots.

    Ko's tee shot on 18 landed about 4 feet from the hole, giving her a chance to cut Jutanugarn's lead to one shot with the Thai facing a long birdie attempt.

    But Ko missed, leaving Jutanugarn room to maneuver. Her birdie putt came up a couple feet short, but she calmly parred the hole to win. Ariya rushed onto the green and joined others in emptying water bottles on her sister before they embraced.

    So Yeon Ryu (68) finished fourth at 7 under. American Emma Talley (67) and Eun-Hee Ji (71) tied for fifth at 6 under, making Ji one of four South Koreans to place in the top five.

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    After Further Review: Tour players embracing new ideas

    By Golf Channel DigitalApril 23, 2018, 1:26 am

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

    On players embracing new ideas on the PGA Tour ...

    PGA Tour players are trying to tell commissioner Jay Monahan something: They like new.

    In the second year of the two-man team format at the Zurich Classic, 10 of the top 14 players in the world have signed up, including all four reigning major champions. It’s the first time all four have been in the same field since the Tour Championship. If the laid-back event offered world-ranking points – it doesn’t, and that’s part of the appeal – the winner would have received 62 points. That’s the same as the Genesis Open.

    Sure, some sponsor obligations are involved in boosting the field here, but there’s no other way to look at this: Today’s PGA Tour players are not only willing to play events that are a departure from the 72-hole, stroke-play norm. They’re encouraging it. - Ryan Lavner


    On Moriya Jutanugarn's breakthrough win ...

    As much love as there is between the Jutanugarn sisters, it couldn’t have been easy for Moriya, watching her baby sister, Ariya, soar past her as one of the LPGA’s dominant stars the last few years. Mo, though, never betrayed an inkling of frustration or envy.

    That’s what made Mo’s breakthrough LPGA victory Sunday at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open especially meaningful for everyone who has admired Mo’s devotion to her sister. Mo was always a fixture, waiting in the wings to celebrate whenever Ariya hoisted a trophy.

    So emotions were high late Sunday, with Ariya waiting in the wings this time, with Ariya sobbing in Mo’s arms after the victory was secured. It was heartwarming for more than Apple, the mother who raised these talented, loving sisters. As always, Apple was there, too, soaking both her daughters in tears of joy. – Randall Mell


    On the tough scheduling decisions facing the PGA Tour ...

    According to multiple sources, officials at Colonial are poised to announce a new sponsorship agreement with Charles Schwab Corporation on Monday.

    While this is good news for the folks in Fort Worth, Texas, who were in danger of finding themselves on the wrong side of timing, there remain some tough decisions to be made in the next few weeks.

    If the PGA Tour’s plan is to end its season before Labor Day beginning in 2019, something must give. Currently, the Houston Open, a staple on Tour since 1946, and The National are without sponsors. When the music stops in a few weeks and the circuit announces the ’19 schedule, there’s a good chance one, or both, of those events will be the victims of bad timing. – Rex Hoggard

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    Triplett hole-out wins Legends of Golf playoff

    By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 12:12 am

    RIDGEDALE, Mo. - Kirk Triplett holed out from a bunker for birdie on the first playoff hole Sunday in the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf to lift himself and partner Paul Broadhurst past Bernhard Langer and Tom Lehman.

    ''Well, you're trying to make it, but you know realistically it doesn't go in very often,'' Triplett said. ''You're trying to give your partner a free run at it. You don't want to hit it up there 20 feet past or do something silly. I'm just trying to hit it the right distance and get it on the right line.''

    Langer and Lehman took it in stride.

    ''You kind of learn to expect it,'' Lehman said. ''These guys out here are so good and Kirk Triplett is a magician around the greens. The odds of making that shot are probably not good, but you certainly expect him to hit a great shot and he did and it went in.''

    Lehman and Langer missed birdie putts after Triplett holed out.

    ''I kind of felt like we both hit pretty good putts, misread them, both of them,'' Lehman said. ''I hit mine probably too hard and Bernhard's was too soft, but you have to hand it to the guys who hit the shot when they have to hit it.''


    Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf


    Broadhurst and Triplett closed with a 6-under 48 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course to match Langer and Lehman at 24 under. Langer and Lehman had a 47, playing the front nine in alternate shot and the back nine in better ball.

    The 56-year-old Triplett won his sixth PGA Tour Champions title.

    ''That's a big roller-coaster - three good shots and mine, right?'' Triplett said. ''I'm feeling a little dejected walking down that fairway there, a little sheepish. To knock it in it just reminds you, this game, you know, crazy stuff.''

    Broadhurst claimed his third senior victory.

    ''I don't get too emotional, but that was something special,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said.

    Spanish stars Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jose Maria Olazabal had a 48 to tie for third with 2017 winners Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco. Singh and Franco, the third-round leaders, shot 50.

    Mark Calcavecchia-Woody Austin (48), John Daly-Michael Allen (49), Steve Stricker-Jerry Kelly (50) and David Toms-Steve Flesch (52) tied for fifth at 20 under.

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    Mullinax (T-2) comes up short of maiden win

    By Will GrayApril 23, 2018, 12:06 am

    The Valero Texas Open saw an unheralded player break through to earn a maiden victory, but unfortunately for Trey Mullinax his day will have to wait.

    Mullinax started the final round within a shot of the lead, having fired a course-record 62 during the final round. He trailed Andrew Landry by one shot for much of the final round while racking up six birdies over his first 11 holes, but a pair of late miscues meant the former Alabama standout had to settle for a share of second place, two shots behind Landry.

    A final-round 69 marked a career-best finish for Mullinax, who is playing this season on conditional status and whose lone prior top-10 this season came after he Monday qualified for the Valspar Championship.

    "I know my game's there, I'm playing really well," Mullinax told reporters. "Give all credit to Andrew, he played really well today, rocksteady. He was putting great, hitting great shots."


    Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

    Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos


    Given time to reflect, the 26-year-old will likely look back on the final two holes where nerves appeared to get the best of him. Looking to put some pressure on Landry, Mullinax chunked his pitch on the short 17th hole into a greenside bunker, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on the course.

    Then Mullinax was unable to convert a 9-foot birdie putt on the final green, which would have forced Landry to make his 8-foot par putt to avoid a playoff. Afforded the luxury of two putts for the win, Landry rolled in his par save to cement a two-shot win.

    "Made a bad bogey on 17, but just you've got to hit some bad shots," Mullinax said. "Would have liked to have got the putt on 18 to fall to put a little bit of heat on him, but this experience that I'm gaining right now is just going to help me down the road."