McIlroy hoping St. Jude Classic is tune-up he needs

By Associated PressJune 6, 2012, 8:06 pm

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Rory McIlroy tends not to play a tournament the week before a major. Then again, he tends not to miss three straight cuts.

With his game in need of a tune-up, McIlroy added the St. Jude Classic to his schedule to play a few more competitive rounds before the U.S. Open. He is among 29 players in Memphis getting ready for the Open by competing, even though no one has won a PGA Tour event and then the U.S. Open the following week.

''I feel like that's just what I need ... especially going into next week,'' McIlroy said Wednesday after his pro-am practice round. ''But I mean I would love to play well here and obviously try and win the tournament, and that would give me a great confidence boost going into next week.''

McIlroy won the Honda Classic in March and lost in a playoff at Quail Hollow that returned him to No. 1 in the world. Then, he missed the cut in The Players Championship, the BMW PGA Championship in England and the Memorial. He hadn't missed three consecutive cuts since August 2008 when he was ranked No. 164 in the world.

After missing the cut last week at Memorial, McIlroy flew to San Francisco and spent four days at Olympic trying both to learn the course and find the form that helped him run away in winning the U.S. Open at Congressional a year ago. McIlroy called it a very productive time with his coach, Michael Bannon, learning the course and preparing for the Open.

''Even though it wasn't the way I wanted to spend the weekend, I still felt like I got a lot out of it,'' McIlroy said.

This will be McIlroy's fourth straight tournament, and he has made the cut in five of his seven PGA Tour events this year, including four top three finishes. McIlroy showed Wednesday he hits the ball very well at times with three birdies and an eagle on the par-5 No. 16. Then he gave a glimpse of his struggles by hitting into the water on No. 18 for a double bogey.

''The most important thing is that you see encouragement and you see glimpses of the great golf that you can play, the likes of the 16th hole today or the other holes I made good birdies and hit shots,'' McIlroy said. ''It's just about eliminating the bad ones, and that's just a matter of I think playing more golf and becoming more confident with what you're trying to do.''

The TPC Southwind course is nothing like The Olympic Club, though this course has played much tougher since changes cut par to 70 here in 2007. This course ranked as the PGA Tour's ninth-hardest in 2011.

The field features Harrison Frazar defending his lone career win along with Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III, David Toms - a two-time champ here - and former champ Justin Leonard. Ryo Ishikawa of Japan and Dustin Johnson also are making their first start at this event.

Zach Johnson, who won the Crowne Plaza Invitational two weeks ago at Fort Worth, said people ask him often why he plays in Memphis when he could be prepping for the U.S. Open. He said he's drawn by sponsor FedEx to an event that benefits St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

He didn't get a chance to visit Olympic, but Johnson said he prefers competing the week before a major.

''It requires everything,'' Johnson said. ''It's firm, fast usually with firm greens, and as a result, you've got to shape shots and hit quality shots. Going into a U.S. Open where you have to have all aspects of your game on ... this tournament certainly gets you into that sort of competitive state.''

Heavy rains Monday helped soften both the fairways and the Champion Bermuda greens at the 7,239-yard course. But clear skies and winds are expected to dry most of the course out before Thursday's opening round.

Frazar is back defending a title that was his first in his 355th start and came at a point where his aching left hip and family demands had him thinking retirement. He has made the cut in seven of his 13 events this year with two top fives.

''Right now I happen to be in a little bit of a phase where I'm not feeling my best, but it's certainly manageable with some therapy and some soft tissue stuff,'' Frazar said. ''I'm doing the best I can. I'm not 25 anymore, and my body's just taken a beating. I need to do a better job of taking care of it.''

For Robert Karlsson of Sweden, this event is more important than the U.S. Open because it's this week's tournament.

''If it's a pretty tough test, it's even better,'' Karlsson said. ''This week is probably not as good for Olympic Club because it's completely different conditions. You have Bermuda grass here. You won't have that over there. We're going to have hot conditions here, even though the weather forecast looks nicer than normal. But it's just mentally as I said to keep playing and hopefully if you can play well as well, it boosts the confidence a bit.''

Then again, Karlsson has finished second here each of the past two years, losing to Lee Westwood in a playoff in 2010 and to Frazar on a third extra hole last year.

''Nobody has beaten me over 144 holes still. It's those extra ones,'' Karlsson said with a smile.

Getty Images

Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

Getty Images

Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

Getty Images

Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

Getty Images

Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”