Jerry Kelly ups lead to three at Zurich Classic

By Associated PressApril 25, 2009, 4:00 pm
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2007 Zurich ClassicAVONDALE, La. ' Jerry Kelly just wants to have fun.
 
Of course, even in New Orleans where he loves the great food and hot music, walking off with his third PGA Tour victory and the $1.1 million payday the Zurich Classic would provide would certainly up the fun factor.
 
David Toms
Local favorite David Toms shot even par and is now five back. (Getty Images)
Im going to try to have fun and see what happens, Kelly said after shooting a bogey-free 3-under 69 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes. Thats the key to my success when I come to a place like this. I have fun outside the ropes and inside the ropes.
 
Kelly, the 42-year-old Wisconsin player who won his two PGA Tour titles in 2002, has previously held or shared a three-shot lead after 54 holes six times in his career. Only one of those leads has led to a win ' the 2002 Sony Open. But this year 13 of the 16 players who have been up by three going into the final round have won.
 
You know, Ive got a swing thats not new, but it hasnt really been tested as much as Id like to have it tested, said Kelly, who made two birdies on the front nine and one on the back. Thats because I havent played well in the last few years.
 
His only goal Saturday was to be comfortable, said Kelly, who withdrew from the Verizon Heritage last week because of the flu and a dislocated rib that caused severe back pain. Im not going to force shots.
 
When he got into trouble Saturday, Kelly said he played smart. He credited that, and an improved, but not perfect swing with his spot at the top of the leaderboard.
 
Kelly had a 13-under 203 total at TPC Louisiana. He opened with rounds of 68 and 68.
 
Steve Marino made the strongest move of the day, using eight birdies to offset two bogeys and a double bogey. Marino moved to 11 under before a bogey on the par-5 18th dropped him to 10 under, still good enough to give him sole possession of second place.
 
It came out real hot and went over the green, said Marino, who finished with a 68. Thats the last place you want to be. I ended up making six. But I played well all day, and I look forward to more.
 
Marinos best finish was a second last year at the Mayakoba Golf Classic.
 
Five players ' Rod Pampling (68), Aaron Watkins (69), Charles Howell III (70), John Rollins (71) and Charlie Wi (71) ' were tied for third at 9 under. Howell and Wi moved to 10 under, but both bogeyed No. 17.
 
Pampling got in trouble on 12 with a double bogey.
 
Trust me, I wasnt very happy, Pampling said. You know, hitting a 5-wood and the ball plugs, youre never too happy after that. But Id been playing good. I hadnt made too many mistakes.
 
The tough Pete Dye-designed course, pin placement, and swirling wind that was made unpredictable by trees on the course, all contributed to problems, players said.
 
Its very difficult with the wind conditions, said Wi, who had the first-round lead. Especially on 17, you get it next to the water. And you make mistakes there.
 
David Toms (72) was 8 under along with Jeff Overton (68), Joe Ogilvie (69), Roland Thatcher (70), Rory Sabbatini (71), Kevin Stadler (71) and John Merrick (72).
 
I wasnt making birdies and I got kind of behind, Toms said. I needed to make some shots and play smart and play the golf course like you have to.
 
Stadler, who finished with a triple bogey, gained entry into the tournament as a Monday qualifier when he shot a 66 at the Bridges Golf Club in Bay St. Louis, Miss. Stadler is a conditional player after finishing 145th on last years money list.
 
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    Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.  

    @radiosarks on Twitter

    Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 1:36 pm

    A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.

    Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.

    Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.

    And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”

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    Rory looking for that carefree inner-child

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:28 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eleven years later, Rory McIlroy cringes at the photo: the yellow sweater with the deep V-neck, the chubby cheeks and the messy mop that curled under his cap.

    “You live and you learn,” he said Wednesday, offering a wry smile.

    The last time McIlroy played at a Carnoustie Open, in 2007, he earned the Silver Medal as the low amateur. He tied for 42nd, but the final result had mattered little. Grateful just to have a spot in the field, courtesy of his European Amateur title, he bounced along the fairways, soaking up every moment, and lingered behind the 18th green as one of his local heroes, Padraig Harrington, battled one of his favorite players, Sergio Garcia. Waiting for the trophy presentation, he passed the time playing with Padraig’s young son, Paddy. On Wednesday, McIlroy spotted Paddy, now 15, walking around Carnoustie with his three-time-major-winning father.

    “He’s massive now – he towers over me,” he said. “It’s so funny thinking back on that day.”

    But it’s also instructive. If there’s a lesson to be learned from ’07, it’s how carefree McIlroy approached and played that week. He was reminded again of that untroubled attitude while playing a practice round here with 23-year-old Jon Rahm, who stepped onto each tee, unsheathed his driver and bombed away with little regard for the wind or the bounce or the fescue. McIlroy smiled, because he remembers a time, not too long ago, that he’d attack a course with similar reckless abandon.


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “I just think, as you get older, you get a little more cautious in life,” said McIlroy, 29. “I think it’s only natural. There’s something nice about being young and being oblivious to some stuff. The more I can get into that mindset, the better I’ll play golf.”

    And so on the eve of this Open, as he approaches the four-year anniversary of his last major title, McIlroy finds himself searching for a way to channel that happy-go-lucky 18-year-old who was about to take the world by storm, to tap into the easygoing excellence that once defined his dominance.

    It’s been a year since he first hinted at what he’s been missing. Last year’s Open at Royal Birkdale was the final event of his long run with caddie J.P. Fitzgerald. The chief reason for the split, he said, had nothing to do with some of the questionable on-course decisions, but rather a desire to take ownership of him game, to be freed up alongside one of his best friends, Harry Diamond.

    That partnership has produced only one victory so far, and over the past few months, McIlroy has at times looked unsettled between the ropes. It’s difficult to compute, how someone with seemingly so much – a résumé with four majors, a robust bank account, a beautiful wife – can also appear disinterested and unmotivated.

    “I think sometimes I need to get back to that attitude where I play carefree and just happy to be here,” he said. “A golf tournament is where I feel the most comfortable. It’s where I feel like I can 100 percent be myself and express myself. Sometimes the pressure that’s put on the top guys to perform at such a level every week, it starts to weigh on you a little bit. The more I can be like that kid, the better.”

    It’s a decidedly different landscape from when the erstwhile Boy Wonder last won a major, in summer 2014. Jordan Spieth had won just a single Tour event, not three majors. Dustin Johnson wasn’t world No. 1 but merely a tantalizing tease, a long-hitting, fast-living physical freak who was just beginning a six-month break to address "personal challenges." Two-time U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka hadn’t even started playing in the States.  

    McIlroy’s greatest asset, both then and now, was his driving – he put on clinics at Congressional and Kiawah, Hoylake and Valhalla. He was a mainstay at or near the top of the strokes gained: tee to green rankings, but over the past few years, because of better technology, fitness and coaching, the gap between him and the rest of the field has shrunk.

    “I think at this stage players have caught up,” Harrington said. “There’s many players who drive the ball comparable and have certainly eaten into that advantage. Rory is well on pace to get into double digits with majors, but it has got harder. There’s no doubt there’s more players out there who are capable of having a big week and a big game for a major. It makes it tough.”

    It’s not as though McIlroy hasn’t had opportunities to add to his major haul; they’ve just been less frequent and against stronger competition. In the 13 majors since he last won, he’s either finished in the top 10 or missed the cut in 11 of them. This year, he played in the final group at the Masters, and was on the verge of completing the career Grand Slam, before a soul-crushing 74 on the last day. His U.S. Open bid was over after nine holes, after an opening 80 and a missed cut during which he declined to speak to reporters after both frustrating rounds.

    “I’m trying,” he said Wednesday. “I’m trying my best every time I tee it up, and it just hasn’t happened.”

    A year after saying that majors are the only events that will define the rest of his career, he recently shrugged off the doom and gloom surrounding his Grand Slam drought: “It doesn’t keep me up at night, thinking, If I never won another major, I can’t live with myself.”

    Eleven years ago, McIlroy never would have troubled himself with such trivial questions about his legacy. But perhaps a return to Carnoustie, to where his major career started, is just what he needs to unlock his greatness once again.