Johnson outduels Dufner to win Crowne Plaza

By Associated PressMay 27, 2012, 10:43 pm

FORT WORTH, Texas – Zach Johnson was so caught up in the emotion of another Colonial title and a victory in honor of his caddie's late father that he forgot to properly remark his ball before his final putt.

Even with a two-stroke penalty, Johnson won by one over Jason Dufner and got to slip on the plaid jacket Sunday for his first victory since also winning at Hogan's Alley two years ago.

''There's a number of adjectives I'm calling myself right now. And lucky would be the biggest one,'' Johnson said. ''Blessed would be another one, humbled would be another one. It's an honor to put this jacket on once. ... I'm in shock I got it twice.''


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Johnson moved his original ball mark out of the line of Dufner's putt on the 18th green. But he never moved it back before his final 5-foot putt.

The penalty was assessed before he signed his scorecard, and Johnson's 12-under 268 total was enough to edge Dufner, who finally faltered and closed with a 74.

Johnson had already shared celebratory hugs and kisses with his two young sons and done a winner's television interview before caddie Damon Green, prompted by a rules official, asked the 2007 Masters champion if he had put his ball back in its original spot.

''First time it crossed my mind,'' Johnson said. ''It's not going to be the last time.''

The victory came 10 days after Green's 88-year old father died from stomach cancer. After Johnson's runner-up finish at The Players Championship two weeks ago, the caddie drove to Pensacola, Fla., to see his father. But Damon Green was ready to get back on the course this week.

''He wanted to be here, he felt like his dad wanted him to be here,'' Johnson about his caddie of 10 years. ''I think he's the one that deserves this one more than I do. His courage and certainly his strength to get through last week and then work, and work well this week, to stay focused somehow. That's really commendable.''

It is the eighth PGA Tour victory for Johnson, who won $1,152,000 even as his record streak of 15 consecutive under-par rounds at Colonial ended.

Tommy Gainey was a distant third at 7 under after a 67, a stroke better than Jim Furyk.

In what was essentially a match-play final round, Johnson took command at the 414-yard 15th hole. Dufner's approach hit the left side of that green then rolled into a ditch, leading to a triple bogey that put him four strokes back after Johnson's par.

Dufner's only two PGA Tour victories came in the previous four weeks, a stretch when he also got married.

After winning last week at the Byron Nelson Championship, he was trying to match Ben Hogan, his hero, as the only players to win both PGA Tour events in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in the same year. Hogan did it in 1946, when the tournaments weren't played in consecutive weeks.

''Pretty good run, today obviously a little disappointing to play that poorly and not kind of a chance there at the end,'' said Dufner, insisting fatigue didn't come into play. ''I feel pretty good actually. ... I just played really poorly today.''

There had already been four two-stroke swings between Dufner and Johnson before that fateful 15th hole.

Dufner drove into a fairway bunker before the shot that trickled over a ledge into the water. He then pitched his drop all the way over the green and missed a 4-foot putt for double bogey.

Johnson made par at the same hole where a day earlier his approach settled into a grassy clump only inches from going into that ditch. With his feet together to keep from falling over himself, Johnson's pitch from about 81 feet rolled only inches from the cup.

''I hit a terrible shot (Saturday), got lucky. Got a nice break,'' Johnson said. ''He didn't hit a great shot today. But he got a bad break. I don't know how else to explain it other than the fact that it's golf.''

Johnson had blown a two-stroke lead before going back ahead with his 9-foot birdie putt at the 445-yard 14th.

At the 616-yard 11th, a straight par 5, Johnson's drive hit a tree and ricocheted back into the middle of the fairway. He took advantage with an 18 1/2-foot birdie putt to get to 15 under.

Dufner wasn't as fortunate with his wayward drive, which settled under a tree. He had to punch a low shot around the branches before hitting his approach into a greenside bunker and two-putting from 23 feet for bogey.

But Dufner needed only one hole to get even again, with an 8-foot birdie at No. 12. Johnson hit his tee shot into a fairway bunker, then his first attempt out of there hit the lip and rebounded over and behind him before a bogey.

They were tied at 14 under going to the back nine after Dufner's double bogey at the 386-yard ninth hole, where his approach from 103 yards hit just short of the green and rolled back into the water.

After driving into a fairway bunker at the 382-yard second hole, Dufner three-putted from 28 feet for his first bogey on any of the first eight holes all week. Johnson made a 28-foot birdie putt to go in front by a stroke.

At No. 5, Dufner made an 8-footer for his third birdie of the week at the tight par 4 parallel to the Trinity River that is one of Colonial's toughest holes. Even after a frustrating tee shot into the rough at the sixth hole, Dufner regained the lead by rolling in a 34-foot birdie putt.

Johnson trailed by two strokes when his tee shot at the 188-yard eighth was way left before his short pitch shot missed the green and he bogeyed.

''What (Dufner) has done the last month is beyond impressive,'' Johnson said. ''I kind of feel like I somewhat unseated a king to me because he has been on top for four weeks.''

Divots: Hunter Mahan, No. 2 in the FedEx Cup standings behind Dufner, had three consecutive bogeys on the back nine and his only birdie in his round of 74 came on the last hole. He finished with a 282 total. ... Rickie Fowler, who in his previous two starts got his first PGA Tour win along with a runner-up finish at The Players Championship, shot a 69 and was in a group of five players tied for fifth at 275.

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Furyk remains coy about Ryder Cup picks

By Randall MellAugust 18, 2018, 9:01 pm

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk sounds like a man champing at the bit to officially fill out his American team and accelerate final plans for the matches in Paris next month.

With eight automatic qualifiers secured last Sunday, all that’s left are his four captain’s picks.

“At times it felt like it was dragging on,” Furyk told Amanda Balionis during CBS TV’s rain delay Saturday at the Wyndham Championship. “I’m excited to get to this point.”

But still in no hurry to commit to naming Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson as two of his captain’s picks.

“We have some great choices and certainly Tiger and Phil look like they are in great form,” Furyk said.

Furyk, when specifically asked about Tiger’s chances as a pick:

“He’s played great,” Furyk said. “I’m in such a great position right now with so many players playing well and so many great players to choose from. The difficult part is going to be, `How do we pluck four guys out of there?’ Certainly, Tiger is in great form and has put himself in a great position.”

And on Mickelson’s chances:

“Phil does provide a lot of veteran leadership,” Furyk said. “He hasn’t missed one of these in a long time. He’s had a good season, and he’s putting extremely well. I want to say he’s second in putting stats right now. All good stuff, and we’ll see how the next few weeks kind of play themselves out.”


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Furyk doesn’t have to make his first three picks official until Sept. 4, with the final pick to be named six days later. While Woods and Mickelson may be locks, Furyk won’t be rushed.

“There’s still time.” Furyk said. “We are in an exciting part. We have eight guys. I’m still talking to them, gathering some information. The vice captains have been talking a lot. It’s been fun seeing the banter and the texts going back and forth.

“We’ll see how the next few weeks play themselves out.”

Furyk, by the way, is in contention at the Wyndham Championship. He was tied for 11th, six shots off the lead when interviewed in the weather delay.

So, if he wins, would he resurrect talk of being a playing captain?

“The odds are about zero right now,” Furyk said. “Now that I’m kind of knee deep, and we’re getting that close to the Ryder Cup, I really don’t think it’s possible to do both, be a player and a captain. The duties would be too great. And my game, I haven’t played well the last couple years. I’ve been battling injuries and battling myself. I’m excited, I have been feeling a lot better here the last few months and I’ve started playing some good golf.”

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Aiken, Waring tied at Nordea; Olesen three back

By Associated PressAugust 18, 2018, 5:45 pm

MOLNDAL, Sweden – Paul Waring of England and Thomas Aiken of South Africa share the lead, three shots clear of their rivals, after the third round of the Nordea Masters on the European Tour on Saturday.

Waring was tied for first place with Scott Jamieson after the second round and shot a 1-under 69.

While Jamieson (75) slipped down the leaderboard, Aiken caught up Waring after shooting 67 - despite three straight bogeys from No. 15. He bounced back by making birdie at the last.

Thorbjorn Olesen (67) and Marc Warren (66) are tied for third.

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Koepka: 'Surreal' Woods waited to say congrats at PGA

By Randall MellAugust 18, 2018, 3:47 pm

Brooks Koepka was moved by the respect shown when Tiger Woods waited for a half hour at scoring last Sunday to congratulate Koepka for his PGA Championship victory at Bellerive.

While Koepka stands as an example of the new athletes Woods has attracted to the game, he laughs hearing people compare his body to an NFL player’s.

Those were among the observations Koepka shared Friday on "The Dan Patrick Show."

“That was surreal,” Koepka said of Woods waiting to congratulate him. “To hang around on 18, I wasn’t expecting it. It was probably the coolest gesture he could have done.”

Koepka credits Woods for drawing him to the game.

“He’s the reason I am playing,” Koepka said.

Koepka said playing with Woods in contention was a noisy experience that went beyond the roars Woods created making birdies in front of him.

“Even when he makes contact, you know what shot he’s hitting,” Koepka said. “That’s how loud people are.

“When they are putting [his score] up on the leaderboard, you hear it three holes away.”

About those NFL player comparisons, Koepka said his parents wouldn’t let him play football when he was growing up.

“I wasn’t big enough,” he said.

Koepka said he marveled meeting former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

“To be compared to them, it makes me laugh,” Koepka said. “I’m about the size of a cornerback, maybe a free safety.”

Koepka said he’s just over 6 feet tall and weighs 208 pounds.

“I saw Brian Urlacher give an interview,” Koepka said. “It was kind of funny. He said he was impressed at how big I wasn’t ... If I stand next to Justin Thomas, I’m going to look big. Golf doesn’t really have many big guys.”

Koepka told Patrick he is impressed at the athletes just now coming into golf.

“I see the young guys coming out of college,” Koepka said. “They are bombing it past me. They hit it so far, they are leaving me in the dust. It’s hard to think of, because I’ve been one of the longest hitters on tour.”

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McIlroy skipping first FedExCup playoff event

By Randall MellAugust 18, 2018, 3:19 pm

Rory McIlroy committed to playing the FedExCup Playoffs opener at The Northern Trust, the PGA Tour announced after The Open Championship last month.

But McIlroy left the PGA Championship last week saying he might need to skip the opener to regroup, and that’s just what he is doing.

McIlroy wasn’t on The Northern Trust field list published Friday on the PGA Tour’s website.

“I need to assess where I'm at,” McIlroy said leaving Bellerive last week. “I think the best thing for me to do right now is just sort of take a couple days off, reflect on what I need to do going forward.

“The best thing might be to take that first FedExCup week off and work on my game and come back, hopefully, in a better place for Boston.”

McIlroy also skipped the FedExCup opener in 2015, choosing to make his start in the playoffs at Boston that year. It appears he will do the same this year.

“Historically, the first FedEx playoff event hasn't been my best event of the four,” McIlroy said. “I've played well in Boston. I've played pretty well in the other two.”

McIlroy left Bellerive saying he would do some work on his game and see if he felt ready for the playoffs opener as part of a run of big events leading into the Ryder Cup.

“There's a lot of room for improvement,” McIlroy said. “My swing really hasn't been where I want it to be. It was pretty good at the start of the year. I had a couple of months to work on it, but it's just sort of regressed as the season went on and you start to play tournaments, you start to fall back into some of the habits that you don't want to fall back into."

McIlroy has won once over the last two seasons – at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last March – but he has given himself other chances this year with some frustrating finishes. Overall, he has five finishes of third or better in 2018. He got himself in the final pairing with Patrick Reed at the Masters but stumbled to a T-5 finish. He tied for second at The Open last month.

“Inconsistency with the swing has been the big area,” McIlroy said. “If you look at my statistics, especially with approach play on my irons, and even my driving, even though it's been OK, there's been a two-way miss, with sort of everything throughout the bag, and that obviously isn't a good thing. So that's something I need to work on.”