Koepka leads St. Jude by 1 after 36 holes

By Associated PressJune 13, 2015, 12:18 am

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Brooks Koepka is tuning up quite nicely for the U.S. Open at the event he added at the deadline.

Koepka, who had a share of the lead after the first round, shot a 3-under 67 Friday to lead the St. Jude Classic by a stroke after 36 holes. He turned in a four birdie-one bogey round for a 9-under 131.

''Playing solid golf, no mistakes, being very patient, waiting for my opportunities to come,'' Koepka said. ''And when they have come, I've kind of taken advantage of them, but I still feel like I could be about 5, 6 under par ... Really haven't been firing on all cylinders, but good enough to be at the top.''

Austin Cook (64) was at 132. The Arkansas native is playing his tour event after getting a sponsor exemption.

''There's a lot of people here, and I'm sure lot more buying tickets right now to come tomorrow,'' Cook said after matching the best round.

TPC Southwind played firmer with temperatures in the 90s drying out the course, and that has greens playing faster along with some tricky pin placements Friday.

Koepka hit 14 of 18 greens for a second straight round and needed 28 putts Friday. The Floridian who won his first career title in February in Phoenix likes his chances going into the weekend as he tries to join Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jimmy Walker as multiple winners on tour this season.

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''I haven't blitzed the golf course yet,'' Koepka said. ''You can shoot 8, 9 under in a round out here. I feel like the greens are so good, you put the ball in the fairway you really take it 8, 9 under. Being in the lead is nice, but would have liked to have been a few more under par.''

Steve Alker briefly had the lead at 10 under with two holes to play only to finish bogey-double bogey. He had a 68-133 total and needed only 23 putts Friday as he got to 10 under with his sixth birdie of the round.

Alker said he picked the wrong club on the par-3 No. 8 where his tee shot landed short of the green leading to his second bogey of the round. Then he put his first three shots on No. 9 - his 18th hole - in the rough leading to double bogey.

The New Zealand native who now lives in Arizona said he wasn't aware he was the first to 10 under at TPC Southwind.

''It's a good thing it's not Sunday and finish two behind that would be bad,'' Alker said. ''You have to look at the positives and say, 'I've got two days left.' I've been swinging it pretty good and still learning the putter, so there's a lot of good things going on.''

Chris Smith (67), Russell Knox (64) and Greg Owen (70) were among seven tied at 134. Ryan Palmer (71) shared the first-round lead with Koepka and Owen and was tied with three others at 135.

At one point Friday, as many as five were tied atop the leaderboard with eight having a piece of the lead at some point.

Koepka was tied with four others when he teed off in the afternoon and promptly birdied his opening hole to take the lead to himself. Koepka, who played at Florida State and joined the PGA Tour last year, took the lead back with consecutive birdies on Nos. 15 and 16.

He called his birdie on the par-5 16th a bit embarrassing after his attempted chip for eagle missed by 3 feet.

Phil Mickelson was tied with seven others at 137 after a 69. He spent some time on the range before his afternoon tee time, which helped him hit better shots both off the tee and with his irons. Mickelson said pin placements kept him from attacking the greens, but he agrees that this course can give up even a 7-under round to anyone making birdies.

''The swing is starting to feel a lot better,'' Mickelson said. ''I feel a lot more confident on where the ball is going to go, and so hopefully I'll be able to put it together tomorrow and have a good round and get in contention.''

Divots: Steven Bowditch and Retief Goosen were among those missing the cut at 1 over with 76 playing the weekend. ... David Hearn had his hole-in-one on tour on No. 4 with a 6-iron from 185 yards, and Hudson Swafford had an ace on No. 14 with a 9-iron from 169 yards. Hearn said this was his eighth overall and first since holing out on No. 8 here in a practice round with the same club. ... Kevin Chappell tied the course record with a 29 on the back nine with six birdies. He finished with a 64-135.

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Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

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Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

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Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.

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“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

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Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.