Luck, Dalke advance to U.S. Amateur final

By Associated PressAugust 20, 2016, 5:07 pm

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. - Curtis Luck was in a fairway bunker about 135 yards from the hole, needing to get up and down from there to keep his U.S. Amateur run going.

''I was kind of lucky I had a perfect distance and a perfect lie in the trap,'' he said. ''Managed to pick it cleanly and use the backstop.''

Luck's wedge shot from the bunker reached the green and rolled down to about 3 feet from the pin, enabling him to match Nick Carlson's birdie and extend their semifinal to a 21st hole Saturday. Luck then made another birdie to win the match and advance to Sunday's 36-hole final against Brad Dalke.

Dalke defeated Jonah Texeira, 3 and 2, in the other semifinal on the South Course at Oakland Hills.

Luck was 1 down after 16 holes and bogeyed Nos. 17 and 18 - but he was still able to square the match when Carlson double bogeyed No. 18. The playoff began on No. 10. Both players parred that hole, and Carlson appeared to be in great shape when he hit his approach to within a couple feet on No. 11.

Luck answered with a terrific shot of his own from out of the bunker, and both players made their short birdie putts.

''I saw he obviously hit it real close in there for his second from the fairway, and it really didn't give me any option other than to go for it and hit it close myself,'' Luck said.

On the par-5 No. 12, Luck was able to reach the green in two. Carlson missed a putt for birdie from about 20 feet, ending the match.

Carlson, a local favorite who is entering his sophomore year at Michigan, fell onto his back in despair after missing the last putt, then quickly got up to congratulate Luck. He thanked the crowd and yelled ''Go Blue!'' - there were plenty of people in Michigan gear following Carlson and Luck around the course.

''I was able to stand on that 12th green after Curtis won and just think to myself how amazing it was that they were all there,'' said Carlson, who became choked up after the match. ''Someone told me yesterday that their ticket sales were up because of me, and that's pretty incredible to me.''

Carlson missed a 7-foot putt for par on No. 17 that would have won the match, and his tee shot on 18 ended up under a tree. He had to flip his club around and chip left-handed from there, and the ball went only a few feet. His third shot missed the green from out of the rough.

Luck didn't fare much better, hitting his approach into a bunker, but his bogey was good enough to win the hole.

''I stood on 18 tee telling my caddie we're going to aim at that blue spruce right there, then we're going to try to cut off of it, and it went dead straight,'' Carlson said. ''I had to chip left-handed and didn't hit it far enough, but that wasn't the issue. I drew a good lie, and the club caught a little of the rough, and it went right, unfortunately. Curtis had to make five basically, and he kind of knew it.''

On the first playoff hole, Luck sank a par putt from about 15 feet to extend the match, and the Australian pulled off another impressive escape on No. 11 before finally winning.

Luck and Dalke secured exemptions to next year's U.S. Open and likely invitations to the Masters.

Dalke, who plays for the Oklahoma Sooners, won five of the final seven holes in his match. Texeira was 2 up after nine, then bogeyed Nos. 10 and 11 and three-putted the 12th, leaving the match all square.

''He was making putts early on,'' Dalke said. ''I knew I just needed to keep grinding. You just never know what happens in match play, and obviously this is kind of a big hump in the U.S. Amateur, making it to the finals, just because of all the stuff that you get along with it.''

Dalke birdied Nos. 13 and 15 and closed out the match with a par on 16.

''He beat me fair and square, and it was a great day to remember,'' said Texeira, who is entering his junior year at Southern California. ''Congratulations to Brad.''

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 9:20 am

Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.

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McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

Said Harmon:

“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.

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How The Open cut line is determined

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:57 am

Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.

The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

• After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.

• There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.

• There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.

The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.