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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    Wrongfully convicted inmate who turned to golf artistry freed

    By Associated PressSeptember 20, 2018, 12:35 am

    BUFFALO, N.Y. – A New York prison artist who never played golf but became known for drawings of lush courses he could only imagine was set free Wednesday after authorities agreed that another man committed the murder that put him behind bars for nearly three decades.

    Valentino Dixon walked out of Erie County Court into bright sunshine and hugs from his mother, daughter and a crowd of other relatives and friends, ready for a meal at Red Lobster and vowing to fight on behalf of others who are wrongly convicted.

    "I love y'all," Dixon shouted after trading the green prison uniform he wore in court for jeans and a T-shirt. "It feels great."

    Earlier Wednesday, a judge agreed to set aside Dixon's conviction in the 1991 shooting death of 17-year-old Torriano Jackson on a Buffalo street corner and accepted a guilty plea from another man who had confessed to the killing two days after it happened.

    "There was a fight. Shots were fired. I grabbed the gun from under the bench, switched it to automatic, all the bullets shot out. Unfortunately, Torriano ended up dying," Lamarr Scott, who has been in prison for 25 years for an unrelated attempted murder, told the court. "I dropped the gun and ran and it was over and done with."

    Scott said he had gotten the gun, a Tec-9 semi-automatic, from Dixon and the two men had driven together to the crowded corner where the fighting broke out. Scott was given a sentence of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison, concurrent with his current term.

    Judge Susan Eagan let stand a count of criminal possession of a weapon against Dixon, and its 5- to 15-year sentence, which she said he had satisfied.



    "You are eligible for release today," the judge said, igniting applause and shouts from courtroom supporters.

    "Mr. Dixon is not an innocent man. Don't be misguided in that at all," Erie County District Attorney John Flynn told reporters after the hearing. He described Dixon as "an up-and-coming drug dealer in the city of Buffalo" at the time of the shooting and said Scott was Dixon's bodyguard.

    "Mr. Dixon is innocent of the shooting and of the murder for what he was found guilty of," he said, "but Mr. Dixon brought the gun to the fight. It was Mr. Dixon's gun."

    While behind bars, Dixon rekindled his childhood passion for drawing, often spending 10 hours a day creating vivid colored pencil landscapes, including of golf courses, while imagining freedom. Articles in Golf Digest and elsewhere have drawn public attention to Dixon's case. NBC Sports' Jimmy Roberts spotlighted Dixon in a 2013 segment for his "In Play" series on Golf Channel.

    Georgetown University students made a documentary as part of a prison reform course last spring. The class worked with Dixon's attorney, Donald Thompson, to have the conviction overturned.

    "It went so far beyond reasonable doubt that it's pretty outrageous that he would have been convicted and it would have been upheld," said Marc Howard, director of the university's Prisons and Justice Initiative. Howard taught the course with childhood friend, Marty Tankleff, who also spent years wrongfully imprisoned.

    Dixon said he will keep drawing, while working on behalf of other prisoners.

    "If you don't have any money in this system, it's hard to get justice because the system is not equipped or designed to give a poor person a fair trial," he said. "So we have a lot of work ahead of us."

    His daughter, Valentina Dixon, was a baby when her father went to prison. She brought her 14-month-old twins, Ava and Levi, to court from their Columbus, Ohio, home.

    "We're definitely going to go shopping and go explore life," she said. "I can't wait to get him a cellphone and teach him how to Snapchat."

    Dixon's mother, Barbara Dixon, said she was in shock after relying on her faith while fighting for his release.

    "We're going to Red Lobster," she said when asked what was next. "And everybody's invited."

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    Thomas donating to hurricane relief at East Lake

    By Jason CrookSeptember 19, 2018, 9:20 pm

    Much like in years past, Justin Thomas is using his golf game to help with relief of a natural disaster.

    The world No. 4 announced on Twitter Wednesday that he’d be donating $1,000 per birdie and $5,000 per eagle at the Tour Championship to a charity benefiting the victims of Hurricane Florence, which ravaged the Carolinas last week.

    At a fan's suggestion, Thomas, who has averaged 4.35 birdies per round this season, also pledged to donate $10,000 for a hole-in-one.

    Hurricane Florence made landfall on Friday just south of Wrightsville Beach, N.C., and has left much of the area flooded and without power. At least 37 people have died in storm-related incidents.

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    Rose realizes his No. 1 ranking is precarious

    By Rex HoggardSeptember 19, 2018, 8:18 pm

    ATLANTA – Asked how he would like to be identified when he was finished playing golf, Justin Rose didn’t hesitate – “major champion, Olympic gold medalist, world No. 1.”

    He’s had only a week to enjoy the last accomplishment, but the Englishman is aware of what it means to his career to have finally moved into the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking.

    “It's a moment in your career that you always remember and cherish,” said Rose, who overtook Dustin Johnson with his runner-up finish two weeks ago at the BMW Championship.


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    Rose said he took some time last weekend with family and friends to relish the accomplishment and will play his first event this week at the Tour Championship as the world’s best, but he also understands how tenuous his position atop the ranking is at the moment.

    “I accept it's really tight up top. It could easily switch this week,” he said. “I just feel that if I go to [No.] 2 or 3 this week, if Dustin and Brooks [Koepka] both play well, I have an opportunity the week after and British Masters, and going to China and Turkey, there's going to be opportunities to get back there.”

    Johnson, Koepka and Justin Thomas could unseat Rose atop the ranking this week depending on their finishes at the Tour Championship.

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    Likely ROY Wise not looking past 'special' East Lake

    By Rex HoggardSeptember 19, 2018, 8:05 pm

    ATLANTA – Much like the PGA Tour Player of Year Award, voting for the Rookie of the Year Award is very much a rubber stamp this season.

    Brooks Koepka is a lock to win the Jack Nicklaus Trophy after winning two majors - the U.S. Open and PGA Championship - despite missing a portion of the season with an injury. Similarly, Aaron Wise, who won the AT&T Byron Nelson, is the only rookie this year to advance to the Tour Championship, which is normally the threshold players use for voting for Rookie of the Year.

    “I knew with the rookie class that we had it was going to be tough, and the players still have to vote but it’s definitely something that was important to me,” he said on Wednesday at East Lake. “My focus is just finishing strong this week and giving them a reason to vote for me.”


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    For Wise, who had four top-10 finishes this season and begins the week 21st on the FedExCup point list, the chance to win the award is gratifying, but being among the best 30 players on Tour, and securing his spot in all four major championships next season, is an accomplishment worth savoring.

    “To win Rookie of the Year you have to have a solid season, but to make it to East Lake, so many guys don’t get this far. You really have to have a special season and this is really special,” Wise said.