Kim builds a 4-shot lead at East Lake

By Associated PressSeptember 25, 2008, 4:00 pm
THE TOUR Championship by Coke 2007 LogoATLANTA ' Anthony Kim wore a red shirt, fired at flags and made birdies on almost half of his holes.
 
So much for that Ryder Cup hangover. The way Kim played Thursday in the opening round of the Tour Championship, it was almost as if the Ryder Cup never ended.
 
Four days after Kim humbled Sergio Garcia, he beat 29 players just as badly at East Lake with a 6-under 64 that gave Kim a four-shot lead over Masters champion Trevor Immelman, Ryder Cup teammate Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els.
 
It took me a couple of days to get over that celebration, Kim said of a 16 1/2 -11 1/2 victory over Europe. Obviously, its nice when you walk up to a green and youve got a couple of people (saying), Nice job at the Ryder Cup. Way to bring the cup back home, little things like that. I feel like when Im happy, having a good time, Im going to make some birdies.
 
So it was a good vibe out there.
 
Vijay Singh wasnt feeling it. He only has to complete all four rounds at East Lake to capture the FedEx Cup, and that might have been the best part of his opening round at East Lake'he finished. But he started poorly, 5 over through 11 holes, before settling for a 73.
 
Kenny Perry, the Kentucky hero from the Ryder Cup, also found little reason to smile. He opened with a 76, and while that wont take away from his memories of red, white and blue, what irritated him was a pink slip.
 
It was his summons for drug testing, the second of the year for the 48-year-old Perry.
 
Good thing the 23-year-old Kim had four days to try to get the Ryder Cup out of his system. He was the life of the party Sunday night, especially after his 5-and-4 victory over Garcia in which Kim made birdie or better on six of his 14 holes.
 
Just trying to enjoy the moment, he said. This Ryder Cup hangover doesnt feel as bad as a college hangover.
 
As well as he played at the Ryder Cup on a Valhalla course with soft greens and minimal rough, Kim was equally spectacular on an East Lake course that was tough as ever.
 
Golf balls disappeared in Bermuda rough that was only 2 inches deep. The real challenge was getting the ball close to the cup on greens that were rebuilt in the spring. It usually takes a few years for new greens to settle, making them particularly firm. Add to that gusts up to 15 mph on a warm, dry afternoon and its no wonder only five players broke par.
 
K.J. Choi was the other with a 1-under 69.
 
The real marvel was Kim posting eight birdies in his round of 64 in his Tour Championship debut. He attributes most of that to a simple fix in his putting before he teed off.
 
It was the most basic thing you can think ' keep you eye on the ball, Kim said. Now that Ive got that under control, Im going to try to make some more putts.
 
He didnt have to make them from very far.
 
Kim hit sand wedge to 2 feet on the third hole and to 3 feet on the fourth. The longest putt he made came from just behind the 11th green when he knocked in a 25-footer to start building a gap between him and the rest of the field that made it to the final event in the PGA Tour Playoffs.
 
I didnt really know what score was out there, Kim said. I had heard the greens were really receptive last year, so I didnt know what to expect. And obviously, it took me a couple of days to get over that celebration that we had on Sunday night, so I wasnt expecting too much. Just taking what the course gave me.
 
What was so tough about that American party?
 
I did a lot of reading that night, Kim said, smiling. My eyes were tired.
 
The drama is gone from the FedEx Cup ' Singh made sure of that with two victories ' but perhaps there is one race that could come down to the wire.
 
Mickelson has a chance to win the Vardon Trophy for the lowest adjusted scoring average, and at 69.52 he leads Garcia (69.53) by one-hundredth of a point. Mickelson at least needs to finish ahead of the Spaniard to capture his first major award on the PGA Tour.
 
Kim, however, is one-tenth of a point behind at 69.62. Scoring averages cannot be computed until the end of the week, because scores are adjusted based on the average field score for the tournament.
 
It would be cool, Mickelson said when asked about the Vardon Trophy. I dont really understand the mathematics of the scoring average, because its not really your score.
 
But he understood a 68 and was pleased with it.
 
Mickelson made the turn at 4 under thanks to some putting that has been missing most of the year. One errant shot struck a small girl in the knee, and before Mickelson could check on her, his caddie brought some levity to the moment.
 
Have you seen our Crowne Plaza commercials? he said, referring to one scene when Mickelson meets with various fans he has hit in the gallery over the years.
 
Kim hit mainly fairways and greens, and he took only 26 putts for to match his lowest scores of the year and post his fifth consecutive round in the 60s on the PGA Tour. He played with Mike Weir (70), who watched some of the Ryder Cup on Sunday. He was asked if he saw any of Kims match against Garcia.
 
I saw the start, Weir said. He got off to a great start.
 
Four days later, Kim hasnt slowed a bit.
 
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    Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'

    By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 3:35 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following his victory two weeks ago at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Kevin Na said his second triumph on the PGA Tour was the most rewarding of his career.

    Although he declined to go into details as to why the victory was so gratifying at The Greenbrier, as he completed his practice round on Tuesday at the Open Championship, Na shed some light on how difficult the last few years have been.

    “I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, 'I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, 'He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.' I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

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    Na, who made headlines for his struggles to begin his backswing when he found himself in the lead at the 2012 Players Championship, said he asked other players who had gone through similar bouts with the game’s most dreaded ailment how they were able to get through it.

    “It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”

    The payoff, however, has steadily arrived this season. Na said he’d been confident with his game this season following a runner-up showing at the Genesis Open and a fourth-place finish at the Fort Worth Invitational, and he felt he was close to a breakthrough. But being able to finish a tournament like he did at The Greenbrier, where he won by five strokes, was particularly rewarding.

    “All good now,” he smiled. “I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”

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    Koepka still has chip on his chiseled shoulder

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 3:06 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brooks Koepka prepared more for this Open than last year's.

    He picked up his clubs three times.

    That’s three more than last summer, when the only shots he hit between the summer Opens was during a commercial shoot for Michelob Ultra at TPC Sawgrass. He still tied for sixth at The Open a month later.

    This time, Koepka kept his commitment to play the Travelers, then hit balls three times between the final round in Hartford and this past Sunday, when he first arrived here at Carnoustie.

    Not that he was concerned, of course.

    Koepka’s been playing golf for nearly 20 years. He wasn’t about to forget to how to swing a club after a few weeks off.

    “It was pretty much the same thing,” he said Tuesday, during his pre-tournament news conference. “I shared it with one of my best friends, my family, and it was pretty much the same routine. It was fun. We enjoyed it. But I’m excited to get back inside the ropes and start playing again. I think you need to enjoy it any time you win and really embrace it and think about what you’ve done.”

    At Shinnecock Hills, Koepka became the first player in nearly 30 years to repeat as U.S. Open champion – a major title that helped him shed his undeserved reputation as just another 20-something talent who relies solely on his awesome power. In fact, he takes immense pride in his improved short game and putting inside 8 feet.

    “I can take advantage of long golf courses,” he said, “but I enjoy plotting my way around probably - more than the bombers’ golf courses - where you’ve got to think, be cautious sometimes, and fire at the center of the greens. You’ve got to be very disciplined, and that’s the kind of golf I enjoy.”

    Which is why Koepka once again fancies his chances here on the type of links that helped launch his career.

    Koepka was out of options domestically after he failed to reach the final stage of Q-School in 2012. So he packed his bags and headed overseas, going on a tear on the European Challenge Tour (Europe’s equivalent of the Web.com circuit) and earning four titles, including one here in Scotland. That experience was the most fun and beneficial part of his career, when he learned to win, be self-sufficient and play in different conditions.


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “There’s certain steps, and I embraced it,” Koepka said. “I think that’s where a lot of guys go wrong. You are where you are, and you have to make the best of it instead of just putting your head down and being like, 'Well, I should be on the PGA Tour.' Well, guess what? You’re not. So you’ve got to suck it up wherever you are, make the best of it, and keep plugging away and trying to win everything you can because, eventually, if you’re good enough, you will get out here.”

    Koepka has proved that he’s plenty good enough, of course: He’s a combined 20 under in the majors since the beginning of 2017, the best of any player during that span. But he still searches long and hard for a chip to put on his chiseled shoulder.

    In his presser after winning at Shinnecock, Koepka said that he sometimes feels disrespected and forgotten, at least compared to his more-ballyhooed peers. It didn’t necessarily bother him – he prefers to stay out of the spotlight anyway, eschewing a media tour after each of his Open titles – but it clearly tweaked him enough for him to admit it publicly.

    That feeling didn’t subside after he went back to back at the Open, either. On U.S. Open Sunday, ESPN’s Instagram page didn’t showcase a victorious Koepka, but rather a video of New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. dunking a basketball.

    “He’s like 6-foot-2. He’s got hops – we all know that – and he’s got hands. So what’s impressive about that?” Koepka said. “But I always try to find something where I feel like I’m the underdog and put that little chip on my shoulder. Even if you’re No. 1, you’ve got to find a way to keep going and keep that little chip on.

    “I think I’ve done a good job of that. I need to continue doing that, because once you’re satisfied, you’re only going to go downhill. You try to find something to get better and better, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

    Now 28, Koepka has a goal of how many majors he’d like to win before his career is over, but he wasn’t about to share it.

    Still, he was adamant about one thing: “Right now I’m focused on winning. That’s the only thing I’ve got in my mind. Second place just isn’t good enough. I finished second a lot, and I’m just tired of it. Once you win, it kind of propels you. You have this mindset where you just want to keep winning. It breeds confidence, but you want to have that feeling of gratification: I finally did this. How cool is this?”

    So cool that Koepka can’t wait to win another one.

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    Despite results, Thomas loves links golf

    By Jay CoffinJuly 17, 2018, 2:48 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Despite poor results in two previous Open Championships, Justin Thomas contends that he has what it takes to be a good links player. In fact, he believes that he is a good links player.

    Two years ago at Royal Troon, Thomas shot 77 in the second round to tie for 53rd place. He was on the wrong side of the draw that week that essentially eliminated anyone from contention who played late Friday afternoon.

    Last year at Royal Birkdale, Thomas made a quintuple-bogey 9 on the par-4 sixth hole in the second round and missed the cut by two shots.


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “I feel like I’ve played more than two Opens, but I haven’t had any success here,” Thomas said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I feel like I am a good links player, although I don’t really have the results to show.”

    Although he didn’t mention it as a reason for success this week, Thomas is a much different player now than he was two years ago, having ascended to the No. 1 position in the world for a few weeks and now resting comfortably in the second spot.

    He also believes a high golf IQ, and the ability to shape different shots into and with the wind are something that will help him in The Open over the next 20 years.

    “I truly enjoy the creativity,” Thomas said. “It presents a lot of different strategies, how you want to play it, if you want to be aggressive, if you want to be conservative, if you want to attack some holes, wait on certain winds, whatever it might be. It definitely causes you to think.

    “With it being as firm as it is, it definitely adds a whole other variable to it.”

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    Reed's major record now a highlight, not hindrance

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 2:46 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The narrative surrounding Patrick Reed used to be that he could play well in the Ryder Cup but not the majors.

    So much for that.

    Reed didn’t record a top-10 in his first 15 starts in a major, but he took the next step in his career by tying for second at the 2017 PGA Championship. He followed that up with a breakthrough victory at the Masters, then finished fourth at the U.S. Open after a closing 68.

    He’s the only player with three consecutive top-4s in the majors.

    What’s the difference now?


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “The biggest thing is I treat them like they’re normal events,” he said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I’ve always gone into majors and put too much pressure on myself, having to go play well, having to do this or that. Now I go in there and try to play golf and keep in the mindset of, Hey, it’s just another day on the golf course. Let’s just go play.

    “I’ve been able to stay in that mindset the past three, and I’ve played pretty well in all three of them.”

    Reed’s record in the year’s third major has been hit or miss – a pair of top-20s and two missed cuts – but he says he’s a better links player now than when he began his career. It took the native Texan a while to embrace the creativity required here and also to comprehend the absurd distances he can hit the ball with the proper wind, conditions and bounce.

    “I’m sort of accepting it,” he said. “I’ve gotten a little more comfortable with doing it. It’s come a little bit easier, especially down the stretch in tournament play.”