Toms, Matsuyama in group sharing Colonial lead through 54

By Associated PressMay 24, 2014, 11:30 pm

FORT WORTH, Texas – David Toms felt no need to even look at the Colonial leaderboard until noticing more people with cameras suddenly watching late in his third round.

''I didn't feel like I was really relevant at the time to even look at it,'' Toms said. ''I knew something was going on.''

Three years after the last of his 13 PGA Tour victories, also at Hogan's Alley, the 47-year-old Toms was back in contention. He wasn't alone.

Toms shared the lead Saturday with Hideki Matsuyama, Chad Campbell and Chris Stroud at 7-under 203, the highest leading 54-hole score at Colonial since 1999. Among the other 13 players within two strokes of the lead were Adam Scott, the No. 1 player in the world, and Jimmy Walker, a three-time winner this season and No. 1 in the FedEx Cup standings.

''It's kind of jammed in there,'' Campbell said.

Kevin Chappell, whose early 7-under 63 was the low round of the day, moved from a tie for 60th after just making the cut to within one stroke of the lead.


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Matsuyama, the 22-year-old from Japan with five wins at home, shot a bogey-free 64 Saturday. Toms had a 65, local resident Campbell shot 68 and Stroud finished bogey-birdie for a 69.

Walker was 6 under after a 69, and Scott was another stroke back after his bogey-free 66.

Campbell and Walker, playing together, were alone atop the leaderboard at 8 under before both bogeyed the 161-yard 13th hole.

When Walker missed a 9-footer, it was his first bogey all week - and he had another after hitting from two different greenside bunkers at No. 15. Campbell held the lead alone only for a moment before missing his 4-foot par chance at No. 13.

Second-round leader Brice Garnett fell back with a bogey at the 216-yard fourth hole, followed by a double bogey when he drove out of bounds at the tight fifth hole that runs parallel to the Trinity River. The PGA Tour rookie shot 74 and dropped into a tie for 25th at 3 under.

With raised expectations at Colonial after winning his plaid jacket in 2011, Toms missed the cut the last two years.

''I came here this week just a little more relaxed, and just wanted to enjoy the experience,'' he said. ''And I've done that so far. It's certainly reflective in the way I've played.''

Matsuyama had three early birdies in his best round ever on the PGA Tour, including at Nos. 4 and 5 - the last two of a trio of holes known as the ''Horrible Horseshoe'' because of the layout of difficulty of the holes. There are two tough par 4s with the course's longest par 3 between them.

''Kind of set the tone for the rest of the round,'' Matsuyama said through an interpreter. ''Gradually, week by week my game has gotten better, and I feel like I can compete now. ''

To stay No. 1 for more than a week, Scott likely has to finish higher at Colonial than third-ranked Henrik Stenson does at Wentworth. Stenson was tied for seventh going into Sunday's final round in Europe's flagship event, though he was nine strokes off the lead. Scott was tied for 11th at Colonial, but only two back - after starting the third round tied for 36th in the same group as Matsuyama.

''I can only worry about my golf here,'' Scott said. ''It's all very tight, we know that. I'm happy to have gotten to No 1. I hope it's not a short stay.''

Since four bogeys in his first nine holes this week, Scott has had only one bogey his last 45 holes. He had his only four birdies Saturday in the first eight holes. At the lone par 5 on the back nine, Scott hit his approach in a greenside bunker at No. 11 before blasting to about 6 feet, only to miss the birdie chance.

''I lost my momentum on 11 when I didn't get up and down,'' Scott said. ''Even though it's still a par, it's almost like giving one away there.''

Chappell chipped in from 40 feet at the third hole, then had consecutive birdies at Nos. 6-9. The only one shorter than 20 feet was a 5-footer at the par-3 eighth. After an eagle from the greenside bunker at the 615-yard 11th - the same bunker from which Scott failed to get up and down - Chappell was 8 under on the day and with thoughts of a record. But he had six pars and a bogey after that.

''I used up a lot of luck today. I had two chip-ins and made some long putts. 59 would have been nice, but kind of lost the feel of the putter there on the back nine,'' Chappell said. ''But all in all, a good day.''

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Stunner: Inbee Park steps aside for Int. Crown

By Randall MellJuly 17, 2018, 4:00 pm

There was a big surprise this week when the LPGA announced the finalized lineups for the UL International Crown.

Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park won’t be teeing it up for the host South Koreans Oct. 4-7 in Incheon.

She has withdrawn, saying she wanted another Korean to be able to experience the thrill of representing her country.

It’s a stunner given the importance the LPGA has placed on taking the UL International Crown to South Korea and its golf-crazy allegiance to the women’s game in the Crown’s first staging outside the United States.

Two-time major champion In Gee Chun will replace Park.

"It was my pleasure and honor to participate in the first UL International Crown in 2014 and at the 2016 Olympics, and I cannot describe in one word how amazing the atmosphere was to compete as a representative of my country,” Park said. “There are so many gifted and talented players in Korea, and I thought it would be great if one of the other players was given the chance to experience the 2018 UL International Crown.”

Chun, another immensely popular player in South Korea, was the third alternate, so to speak, with the world rankings used to field teams. Hye Jin Choi and Jin Young Ko were higher ranked than Chun but passed because of commitments made to competing in a Korean LPGA major that week. The other South Koreans who previously qualified are So Yeon Ryu, Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim.

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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.”