Mediate shares lead Norman one back

By Associated PressJuly 17, 2008, 4:00 pm
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Open ChampionshipSOUTHPORT, England -- From sunny San Diego to bleak and blustery Royal Birkdale, the expression on Rocco Mediates face didnt change.
 
He watched one final birdie tumble into the cup for a 1-under 69 and a three-way share of the lead in the British Open, straightened his 45-year-old back, then dropped his jaw into a smile that said, How did that just happen?
 
Others must have been wondering the same thing Thursday.
 
Adam Scott
Adam Scott held the lead most of the day before two late bogeys. (Getty Images)
Ernie Els was playing some of his best golf in the worst of the weather until taking 45 shots on the back nine and posting an 80, his highest score in nearly two decades at his favorite major.
 
Phil Mickelson was up to his knees in grass right of the sixth green and never found his ball, taking a triple bogey that sent him to a 79.
 
Robert Allenby and Graeme McDowell, who watched on television as the early starters suffered through raging wind and stinging rain coming off an angry Irish Sea, must have wondered where all that nasty weather went as they made their way around Birkdale in tamer wind to join Mediate atop the leaderboard.
 
Stranger still was seeing 53-year-old newlywed Greg Norman in the hunt.
 
Indeed, how did all that happen?
 
I have no explanation for that whatsoever. No idea why that happened, said Mediate, still going strong after his epic playoff loss to Tiger Woods last month in the U.S. Open.
 
It was just one of those rounds, he said. It was just up and down, up and down, and a couple of birdies, and here we are. I would have been ecstatic with 73 or 74 today.
 
For those who thought his performance at Torrey Pines was merely a mirage, Mediate again found bright lines under leaden skies of the Lancashire Coast by bouncing back from three bogeys on the opening six holes by holing a 40-foot birdie putt on the 13th, chipping in from off the 17th green for birdie and ending his round with a 20-foot birdie.
 
Crazy stuff, he said.
 
Norman made enough par-saving putts to sustain momentum and finish at 70 along with Australian protege Adam Scott and Bart Bryant.
 
The group at 71 included Retief Goosen, who might have played the best golf of anyone.
 
Goosen awoke at 2 a.m. when rain pelted his windows, and he caught the brunt of the bad weather his entire round. He still managed four birdies and was under par most of the round until a pair of late bogeys.
 
How in the hell is he 1 under? Pat Perez said from the warmth of the locker room after an 82. I would pay to learn how to do that.
 
The leaders caught a break by getting slightly better weather, although it was by no means easy. The average score in the opening round was about 76, driven up by 19 rounds in the 80s.
 
But they arrived at Royal Birkdale in good form.
 
McDowell, the first-round leader down the coast at Royal Liverpool in 2006, won the Scottish Open four days ago at Loch Lomond. Allenby lost in a playoff at the Stanford St. Jude Classic in Memphis, Tenn., last month, and tied for third two weeks ago at Congressional.
 
Even so, the British Open lived up to its billing as the major that sometimes requires the most luck. It wasnt a goofy bounce but the tee times, thanks to weather that shifted along with the tide in the middle of the 15 hours of action.
 
We did get the better side of the draw, no doubt about it, Norman said. When you watch it in the morning, you feel sorry for the guys. But theres times when you say, Well, Ive been there before. Ive been on that side of the draw, too. It all balances out, and you have to take advantage of it.
 
Former Masters champion Mike Weir did his best in the morning, making an eagle on the 17th for a 71.
 
Sergio Garcia, the betting favorite at Birkdale with Woods on the disabled list, was among the late starters but did not make his first birdie until the par-5 15th and had to settle for a 72. Also at 72 was Brandt Snedeker, who has contended in both majors this year. After five bogeys on the first six holes, he was 3 under the rest of the way.
 
Now for the gloomy side of this opening round.
 
It was miserable, miserable, miserable weather, Vijay Singh said after his 80. It was just a miserable day.
 
Mickelson, at No. 2 the highest-ranked player at a major for the first time, was not terribly bothered by his 79 because he figured everyone else would struggle. When the winds died slightly, so did his hopes. He was tied for 123rd.
 
You cant play, Simon Dyson said after an 82 while playing in the opening group. You put a 4-handicapper on that first tee and theyd probably shoot 100. Thats no exaggeration. I dont think Ive played a par 4 that I couldnt reach with my best drive and my best 3-wood, and theres three of them.
 
Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson responded to the complaints with a statement as old as this championship.
 
Links golf, he said. Tough day by the seaside.
 
It was so brutal that two major champions didnt even bother to finish. Sandy Lyle stopped after 10 holes and former PGA champion Rich Beem made his exit after a 46 on the front.
 
Its the greatest golf known to man, Beem said. It was just difficult.
 
McDowell considered himself fortunate. The British Open starts at 6:30 a.m. and did not finish until nearly 10 p.m., offering the late starters a chance to tune into the BBC and see how the course is playing.
 
I sat at home this morning with my breakfast cereal and cup of coffee in my hand going, God, do I really have to go out there this afternoon? Obviously, we got pretty lucky, McDowell said.
 
He added to his good fortunes on the 499-yard sixth hole, playing dead into the wind toward the sea, when he got greedy with his second shot out of the rough and advanced it only 10 yards. He had to lay up to 9-iron range, hit that 30 feet and made it for bogey.
 
If I made double there, Im obviously feeling pretty bad about things, McDowell said.
 
This was a day where a lot of players felt plenty miserable'except for Mediate, of course. Even in the chill of late afternoon, he felt the warmth of the gallery, of another good round and what is shaping up as a magical summer.
 
A lot of crazy things have happened the last six weeks, Mediate said.
 
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    Woods fires shot into crowd: 'I kept moving them back'

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:14 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It added up to another even-par round, but Tiger Woods had an eventful Friday at The Open.

    His adventure started on the second hole, when he wiped a drive into the right rough. Standing awkwardly on the side of a mound, he prepared for a quick hook but instead fired one into the crowd that was hovering near the rope line.

    “I kept moving them back,” he said. “I moved them back about 40 yards. I was trying to play for the grass to wrap the shaft around there and hit it left, and I was just trying to hold the face open as much as I possibly could. It grabbed the shaft and smothered it.


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    “I was very, very fortunate that I got far enough down there where I had a full wedge into the green.”

    Woods bogeyed the hole, one of four on the day, and carded four birdies in his round of 71 at Carnoustie. When he walked off the course, he was in a tie for 30th, six shots off the clubhouse lead.

    It’s the first time in five years – since the 2013 Open – that Woods has opened a major with consecutive rounds of par or better. He went on to tie for sixth that year at Muirfield.

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    By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 2:30 pm

    Tiger Woods shot his second consecutive 70 on Friday at Carnoustie and enters weekend play at even par for the championship, still in contention for major No. 15.


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    Scott and Sunesson a one-week partnership

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 2:13 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Adam Scott has been in between caddies for the last month and went with a bold stand-in for this week’s Open Championship, coaxing veteran looper Fanny Sunesson out of retirement to work for him at Carnoustie.

    Sunesson caddied for Nick Faldo in his prime, as the duo won four major titles together. She also worked for Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia before a back injury forced her to retire.

    But for this week’s championship, Scott convinced the Swede to return to the caddie corps. The results have been impressive, with the Australian following an opening 71 with a second-round 70 for a tie for 16th place.


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    “It's been going great. Fanny is, obviously, a fantastic caddie, and to be able to have that experience out there with me is certainly comforting,” Scott said. “We've gotten along really well. She's picked up on my game quickly, and I think we think about things in a very similar way.”

    Scott was also asked about a potential long-term partnership between the duo, but he didn’t sound hopeful.

    “It's just for this week,” he said. “It would be up to her, but I don't think she's making plans of a comeback. I was being a bit opportunistic in contacting her and coaxing her out of retirement, I guess. But I think she's having a good week. We'll just take it one week at the moment.”

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    After tense Augusta Sunday, Rory ready to be aggressive

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 1:51 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy temporarily lost his superpowers during the Masters.  

    In one of the most surprising rounds of the year, he played tentatively and carefully during the final day. Squaring off against the major-less Patrick Reed, on the brink of history, with the backing of nearly the entire crowd, it was McIlroy who shrank in the moment, who looked like the one searching for validation. He shot a joyless 74 and wound up six shots behind Reed.

    No, the final round was nowhere near as dispiriting as the finale in 2011, but McIlroy still sulked the following week. He binge-watched TV shows. Devoured a few books. Guzzled a couple of bottles of wine. His pity party lasted a few days, until his wife, Erica, finally dragged him out of the house for a walk.

    Some deeper introspection was required, and McIlroy revealed a healthier self-analysis Friday at Carnoustie. He diagnosed what went wrong at Augusta, and then again two months later at the U.S. Open, where he blew himself out of the tournament with an opening 80.

    “I was worrying too much about the result, not focusing on the process,” he said. “Sunday at Augusta was a big learning curve for me because, even if I hadn’t won that tournament, but I went down swinging and aggressive and committing to every shot, I would have walked away a lot happier.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

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    And so McIlroy has a new mantra this week at The Open.

    Let it go.

    Don’t hold back. Don’t worry about the repercussions. Don’t play scared.

    “I’m committed to making sure, even if I don’t play my best golf and don’t shoot the scores I want, I’m going to go down swinging, and I’m going to go down giving my best,” he said. “The result is the byproduct of all the little things you do to lead up to that. Sometimes I’ve forgotten that, and I just need to get back in that mindset.”

    It’s worked through two rounds, even after the cool, damp conditions led McIlroy to abandon his ultra-aggressive strategy. He offset a few mistakes with four birdies, shooting a second consecutive 69 to sit just a couple of shots off the lead.

    During a sun-splashed first round, McIlroy gleefully banged driver on almost every hole, flying or skirting the bunkers that dot these baked-out, undulating fairways. He wasn’t particularly accurate, but he also didn’t need to be, as the thin, wispy rough enabled every player to at least advance their approach shots near the green.

    Friday’s weather presented a different challenge. A steady morning rain took some of the fire out of parched fairways, but the cooler temperatures also reduced much of the bombers’ hang time. Suddenly, all of the bunkers were in play, and McIlroy needed to adjust his driver-heavy approach (he hit only six) on the fly.

    “It just wasn’t worth it,” he said.

    McIlroy hit a few “skanky” shots, in his words, but even his bigger misses – on the sixth and 17th holes – were on the proper side, allowing him to scramble for par and keep the round going.

    It’s the fifth time in his career that he’s opened a major with back-to-back rounds in the 60s. He’s gone on to win three of the previous four – the lone exception that disastrous final round (80) at Augusta in 2011.

    “I don’t want to say easy,” he said, “but it’s felt comfortable.”

    The weekend gets uncomfortable for everyone, apparently even four-time major winners who, when in form, ooze confidence and swagger.

    Once again McIlroy has that look at a major.

    The only thing left to do?

    Let it go.