Maggert takes 1-shot lead in Tradition

By Associated PressMay 14, 2015, 11:11 pm

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Jeff Maggert experienced the potential ups and downs of Shoal Creek during a round that was still good enough to put him on top.

Maggert birdied three of the final four holes Thursday for a 5-under 67 and a one-stroke lead over Kevin Sutherland at the Regions Tradition.

He held on to the lead at the first of the Champions Tour's five majors despite a bogey on No. 18. He said a hot start is nice, but patience will be important the rest of the week on a course where Kenny Perry won at 7 under last year.

''The difficulty of the course, you don't have to come out and tear it up for four days,'' Maggert said. ''You know there's going to be some rough times on the course. Just the history of the tournament here, I think 10 to 15 under's probably a typical range you would like to be in on Sunday.

''A few more 5 unders would help a lot in that regard.''

Maggert is seeking his second win on the 50-and-over tour after a victory in Mississippi last year. Sutherland is chasing his first senior title.

Maggert had five birdies on the first nine holes before the roller-coaster finish. He had three bogeys and three birdies on the back nine, but did make a 20-footer for birdie from the fringe on No. 16.

Tom Watson, Colin Montgomerie and Wes Short Jr. were two strokes back at 69.

Sutherland had six birdies and two bogeys before parring the final five holes. It's his first time playing Shoal Creek since the U.S. Amateur in 1986 and, he said, ''I didn't remember much except for the fact that I did like it.''

''Any time you make six birdies, I don't care where you're playing, that's a good day,'' said Sutherland, who made a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 9.

Sutherland's biggest claim to fame was shooting the Champions Tour's first 59 last August in Endicott, New York.

''Kevin's been playing pretty good this year so it's not surprising that he had a good round,'' Maggert said. ''But it's a ball-striker's course. You can't just aim for the middle of the green and shoot a good score.

''You've got to pay attention to where the pins are on the greens.''

The 65-year-old Watson had to chip out of the bunker below the green on the final hole, saving par with a 12-footer.

''It makes dinner taste a lot better, it always does,'' he said. ''I made a stupid decision on 18 to go for the flag there. It's not a flag that you go at. You go left of the flag, get your two putts out of there and get out of there with a par.

''I did a pretty stupid shot right there. I was trying to go right at it. Ego got involved again.''

Then again, he made a 50-foot putt for birdie on No. 4, ''so that's like stealing.'' It's Watson's best opening round at the tournament since 2009, when he also had a 67 at Sunriver Resort in Oregon. He finished in a three-way tie for fifth.

Montgomerie had a closing birdie. Short finished with a bogey with a chance to catch up to Sutherland and perhaps Maggert. Short had two straight birdies going into 18.

Perry and David Frost, who both have won this tournament since it moved to Shoal Creek in 2011, were among nine players at 2 under.

Tom Lehman, who won in 2011 and 2012, opened with a 76. Points leader Joe Durant was three shots better at 73.

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Kang on cheating allegation: 'I did the right thing'

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 1:26 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Three weeks after his playing partner claimed that he “cheated” while taking an improper drop at the Quicken Loans National, Sung Kang insisted Thursday that he did nothing wrong.

Joel Dahmen tweeted that Kang cheated after a lengthy dispute about where his ball had last crossed the line of a hazard. A PGA Tour official ruled in Kang’s favor, he made par on the hole, shot 64 and earned one of the available spots in the Open Championship.

Kang didn’t learn of the controversy until the next day, when he received an email from a PGA Tour communications official seeking comment. He researched online what the furor was about, then issued a brief statement through the Tour (which added its own statement, saying that there was “no clear evidence” to suggest that Kang dropped incorrectly).

Kang said he tried to clear the air with Dahmen before the first round of last week’s John Deere Classic, but they never had the opportunity to discuss their differences.

“I followed the rules official and I think I did the right thing,” Kang told a handful of reporters Thursday following his opening round at Carnoustie, where he shot a 2-under 69 to sit three shots off the early lead.

Kang said he was hesitant to discuss the incident with reporters, because he said there clearly was a difference in opinions. He said he’d already told his side to South Korean news outlets but that “whatever I say, some people are going to trust it and some people are not going to trust it. Then I’ve got to think about it more and more when it’s not going to help my golf game.”

“I really want to say a lot of things about it, the truth about what happened,” he added, “but I’m not going to say anything.”

Kang said that he wouldn’t alter his approach when dealing with rulings in the future.

“No. Why?” he said. “I did the right thing. There’s no point in changing.”

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Kisner (67) enjoying 'frat' life, soccer matches with Jordan and Co.

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 12:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The frat house tradition continued this year at The Open, with a group of seven high-profile Americans rooming together for the week, including early first-round leader Kevin Kisner.

Kisner explained after his opening 5-under 66 that the group – which includes Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler – has spent the week talking about how demanding Carnoustie is playing and enjoying the summer weather.

“We're out there playing soccer at night and hanging out,” he said.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

To be clear, this isn’t a proper soccer match, but instead a penalty-kick situation with all but one player taking turns trying to score.

“I just try to smash [Dufner] in the face,” Kisner laughed. “He's the all-time goalie.”

Although Kisner said he’s always impressed with the athletic prowess of other players, Spieth has proven himself particularly adept on the impromptu pitch.

“Jordan scored when Duf tripped, it was hilarious,” Kisner smiled. “[Spieth] is good until he sends it over the goal four houses over, and we've got to go knock on a neighbor’s door for the soccer ball.”

The group is actually staying in two local houses that are next to each other, one with a large enough back yard and a soccer net, but perhaps not enough soccer balls.

“We’re going to have to Amazon Prime a couple new balls to replace the ones we lost,” Kisner said.

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Van Rooyen continues links run with impressive 67

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 12:27 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For Erik van Rooyen familiarity has not bred contempt.

The South African, like many European Tour players, has been on a links golf odyssey the last three weeks, playing the Irish Open, Scottish Open and this week’s Open Championship in consecutive weeks, and the crash course paid off on Day 1 at Carnoustie when he opened with a 4-under 67 to assure himself a spot among the early leaders.

Although van Rooyen missed the cut last week just down the coast at Gullane Golf Club, he entered the final round in Ireland with a four-stroke lead.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I didn't pull it off the final day,” said van Rooyen, who closed with a 74 to tie for fourth place. “I still think I played pretty well. I was nervous. That's completely normal, and I'll learn how to deal with that. I'll take that experience into tournaments like this.”

Van Rooyen, who was alone in second place when he completed his round, began his round with back-to-back birdies and was bogey-free until the last hole. It was just what one would expect from a player who has immersed himself in links golf for the better part of a month.

“We've been playing nice golf now the last three weeks, so definitely used to the way this course is playing, definitely used to handling the wind,” he said. “So I'll be ready.”