Mize (64) leads Senior Players; Langer one back

By Associated PressJuly 13, 2017, 9:46 pm

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) -- Larry Mize had such a good day, even his flubbed shots ended up being effective.

Mize birdied half the holes and shot an 8-under 64 on Thursday for a one-stroke lead over Bernhard Langer, Corey Pavin and Steve Flesch after the opening round of the Senior Players Championship.

Seeking his second win on the PGA Tour Champions, the 58-year-old Mize was 5 under after the front nine. He made his only bogey on the par-4 10th hole, but rebounded with birdies on 14, 15 and 16.

''On 15, I hit the 5-iron a little thin but got away with it. Missed it in the right spot and made the putt,'' Mize said. ''That's what you've got to do when you have these rounds - miss it in the right spot at the right time. That's what I did today.''

That kind of good fortune, along with a 50-foot putt for a birdie on the ninth hole, provided Mize with the second-best round of his PGA Tour Champions career.

Langer, the three-time defending champion, had a bogey-free round on the 7,196-yard Caves Valley Golf Course.

''I played very nicely, played smart, played well,'' he said.

The 59-year-old German has already won three events and $1.8 million this year, leaving little doubt that he's the player to beat this weekend.

''I don't know if words can do justice to what he's done to stay that focused, that on top of it,'' Mize said.

Mize won the 2010 Montreal Championship for his lone senior title. He won the 1987 Masters and three regular PGA Tour titles.

Pavin eagled the 372-yard, par-4 11th as part of a 5-under 31 on the back nine.

''Hit a 3-wood off the tee and had 120 yards in,'' he said. ''One-bounced it in the hole.''

Flesch gained entry to the tournament Wednesday after Bart Bryant withdrew. He took the last flight out of Cincinnati to play in his sixth tournament since he turned 50 on May 23.

Brandt Jobe and Scott Dunlap shot 66. Jobe was 8 under before pushing a 7-iron off the tee and into the water on No. 17. That led to a double bogey, and he bogeyed 18.

''You know what? I played good today. I'm not even going to be mad,'' Jobe said. ''I made one bad swing and that was on 17. That's just golf. Didn't finish how I wanted to, but it was a good day and I'm in good shape.''

Jobe was part of a prestigious threesome that included Langer and Kenny Perry.

''It's always sad to see when somebody plays so good and keeps hanging in there and had a great score going and then you blow it the last hole or two,'' Langer said. ''It was tough to watch.''

Perry shot a 73. He won the U.S. Senior Open two weeks ago in Massachusetts.

John Daly pleased the crowd with loud orange, black and white pants that featured the Baltimore Orioles logo. He shot a 70. 

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Woods on firing 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.

“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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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

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.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“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

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


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.