Mud balls lead to pot luck at US Open

By Associated PressJune 19, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 U.S. OpenFARMINGDALE, N.Y. ' Tiger Woods would have liked to have been able to clean the mud off his ball Friday in the U.S. Open at soggy Bethpage Black.
Jim Furyk knew it was a waste of time to even talk about it.
We all know thats not going to happen, Furyk said about allowing players to lift, clean and place balls in the fairways, so its a worthless conversation.
Woods was frustrated after facing four mud balls in 11 holes Friday in a 4-over 74 that left him 10 strokes behind leader Lucas Glover.
A golf fan walks through the mud during the second round at Bethpage. (Getty Images)
If we keep it down, it is what it is. Its potluck, Woods said.
When Tom Meeks was in charge of the USGAs course setup, he referred to preferred lies ' standard practice on the PGA Tour in wet conditions ' as lift, clean and cheat. While Meeks is gone, the governing body is as firm as ever on the issue.
So much so that when championship committee chairman Jim Hyler brought up the subject Friday, it was only to refute that it was slowing play.
I think theres a perception that by not playing that, were somehow prolonging the event, Hyler said. That is absolutely not true.
More rain ' expected Saturday and deep into next week ' would wash away the mud-ball problem, and cause even more trouble on the saturated course.
Its only going to get worse, unless we get some more rain, Woods said of the mud. If we get more rain we wont catch them again.
Mike Weir, tied for third at 4 under with nine holes left in his second round, prepared for the mud on the practice range before his opening 64, gouging chunks of dirt out of divots and putting it on the balls.
That actually helped, said Weir, who estimated he had mud on the ball on about a third of his shots on the course. I got to figure how the ball was acting a little bit.
In addition to the four mud balls Woods cited, the possibility of picking up mud altered his game plan off the tee, negating some of his distance advantage.
You would think you would have to hit low tee shots and run it off, but the problem is the fairways are so soft its not going to go anywhere, the three-time U.S. Open champion said. If you take the chance of carrying the ball out there, you also have a chance of picking up mud on the ball, too.
Furyk had a little better luck than Woods in an opening 72.
Actually, I made birdie on the hole, but I had a huge chunk of mud on my ball on 16 right out of the chute this morning, Furyk said. It doesnt matter what club you have in, if youve got mud on your ball, its hard to control what its doing.
And the players had a lot longer clubs in their hands than usual on the massive Bethpage layout, a stern test under any conditions.
Its very difficult to go into a lot of par 4s, certainly on a U.S. Open golf course, when the balls are picking up so much mud, Ian Poulter said after shooting 70. I dont think a driver I hit today went forward more than a foot. If thats happening youre taking more than a pitch mark and youre going to have mud on the ball.
Its pretty tricky when youre going into greens with so much club and theres a bit of mud on the ball. So a little disappointing, but the rule is the rule.
The Englishman also said balls were plugging in the wet bunkers.
The other factor in this is we had four bunker shots between our threesome and all four were buried, Poulter said. So, not only are we standing in the middle of the fairway with 5-wood, 3-wood, whatever club youre going to hit, youre thinking, `If this doesnt come out cleanly, then its going to pitch in the face of the bunker. You barely can get it out of the bunker.
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    Kerr blows big lead, heads into Kia Sunday one back

    By Associated PressMarch 25, 2018, 1:55 am

    CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr blew a five-stroke lead Saturday in the Kia Classic to set up a final-round showdown at Aviara Golf Club.

    A day after shooting an 8-under 64 to open the big lead, Kerr had a 75 to drop a stroke behind playing partner Lizette Salas, Eun-Hee Ji and In-Kyung Kim. Kerr was tied with Caroline Hedwall, Wei-Ling Hsu and Cindy LaCrosse, and four players were another shot back.

    The 40-year-old Kerr had a double bogey on the par-4 15th after snap-hooking a drive into the trees. The 2015 winner at Aviara, she also had two bogeys and two birdies.

    Ji had a 67 to match Salas (69) and Kim (69) at 11-under 205. Salas had a chance to pull away, but missed birdie putts of 1 1/2 feet on the short par-4 16th and 2 1/2 feet on the par-5 17th.

    Anna Nordqvist had a 66 to top the group at 9 under.

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    Match Play Final Four set to bring the excitement

    By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 11:55 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Sunday’s Final Four at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play will include a pair of Georgia Bulldogs, a two-and-done phenom from Alabama and a Swede from Stockholm via Stillwater, that would be Oklahoma.

    Just like that other tournament, right?

    Actually, for all the volatility in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, it’s not even in the same league as this year’s Match Play, where just a single player who began the week seeded inside the top 10 is still playing.

    But what the event may lack in star power it’s certainly made up for with stellar performances, starting with Justin Thomas who is the PGA Tour’s most avid Alabama fan and the tournament’s second-seeded player.

    After not losing a match in three days of pool play, Thomas again cruised through his morning Round-of-16 bout with Si Woo Kim, 6 and 5; but found himself in an unfamiliar position early in his quarterfinal match against Kyle Stanley.

    Having not trailed during any point in his matches this week, Thomas bogeyed the second hole to fall behind.

    “I was hoping to never trail this whole week. I thought that was unbelievable that [2017 champion Dustin Johnson] did it last year,” Thomas said. “I'm going out there this afternoon, and I was like, ‘Man, I have got a chance of doing this, too.’ Then I missed a 3-footer on 2 and shot that out the window.”

    The world’s second-ranked player was nearly perfect the rest of the way, regaining the lead with three birdies in four holes starting at No. 5 and closing Stanley out with a bogey-free finish.

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

    It’s all part of an impressive turnaround for Thomas, who had been slowed in recent weeks by dental surgery followed by a bout with the flu, which nearly prompted him to miss the Match Play.

    “I had a pretty serious conversation with my dad on Monday if I was going to play,” said Thomas, who can unseat Johnson atop the Official World Golf Ranking if he advances to the championship match. “I never want to play in a tournament, first off if it's going to hurt my health. If I was sick or really sick, me trying to play this week wasn't going to do me any good.”

    His improved health has dovetailed with his increasingly better play at Austin Country Club and he’s now two matches away from winning his first World Golf Championship.

    Like the NCAA tournament, however, being one of the last four standing only means more work, and Thomas will have plenty to keep him busy when he sets out early Sunday in a semifinal match against Bubba Watson.

    Although Watson hasn’t been as dominant as Thomas, his ability to overpower any course, any time, has been evident this week following victories over Brian Harman, 2 and 1, and Kiradech Aphibarnrat, 5 and 3, on his way to the Final Four.

    “When you're hitting an 8-iron and another guy is hitting a 7- or another guy is hitting a 6-iron, obviously that's going to change everything,” said Watson, who played his college golf at Georgia. “It's like LeBron James, when he jumps, he jumps higher than I do, so it's an advantage. When you're hitting the driver good and those guys you're naming, they're known for hitting the driver pretty well, just like Thomas is doing right now, he's been hammering it. Anytime that you're hitting the driver somewhat straight, it's an advantage.”

    But if Bubba is a familiar foe for Thomas, he may want to do a quick Google search to fill in the blanks on one of his potential final opponents.

    While Alex Noren is still a relatively unknown player to many American fans (and that’s certain to change in September at the Ryder Cup), it’s only because they haven’t been paying attention. The Swede, who attended Oklahoma State, has been dominant this week, sweeping the group stage followed by a 5-and-3 victory over Patrick Reed in the Sweet 16 and a 4-and-2 triumph over Cameron Smith in the quarterfinals.

    “I've always liked match play because the outcome is quite direct,” said Noren, who will face Kevin Kisner in the semifinals. “In match play, you've just got to be really focused all the time and anything can happen. And then you have to play good each round. You can't just give up a round and then think you've got three more.”

    But if a JT vs. Noren final would be the perfect Ryder Cup primer, the dream match up for Thomas in the championship tilt might be Kisner.

    Kisner lost a friendly wager to Thomas earlier this year at the Sony Open when Alabama defeated Georgia in the NCAA National Championship football game and he had to wear an Alabama jersey while he played the 17th hole on Thursday.

    Kisner would certainly appreciate the chance at a mulligan. And the way the duo have been rolling in birdie putts this week, it has the potential to be just as entertaining as that other tournament.

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    Up one, Stricker hunting second Champions title

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 11:48 pm

    BILOXI, Miss. - Steve Stricker moved into position for his second straight PGA Tour Champions victory, shooting a 3-under 69 on Saturday to take a one-stroke lead in the Rapiscan Systems Classic.

    Stricker won the Cologuard Classic three weeks ago in Tucson, Arizona, for his first victory on the 50-and-over tour. He tied for 12th the following week in the PGA Tour's Valspar Championship.

    Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

    Stricker had a 7-under 137 total at Fallen Oak, the Tom Fazio-designed layout with big, speedy greens.

    The 51-year-old Wisconsin player bogeyed Nos. 2-3, rebounded with birdies on Nos. 6-7, birdied the par-4 12th and eagled the par-5 13th. He has six top-three finishes in eight career senior starts.

    First-round leader Joe Durant followed his opening 66 with a 72 to drop into a tie for second with Jeff Sluman (67).

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    Thomas can take world No. 1 with win over Watson

    By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 11:29 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – On March 7, Justin Thomas had his wisdom teeth removed, and just when he was recovering from that, he was slowed by a bout with the flu.

    In total, he estimates he lost about seven pounds, and he admitted on Saturday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play that he wasn’t sure he’d be able to play the event.

    “I had a pretty serious conversation with my dad on Monday if I was going to play,” Thomas said. “I never want to play in a tournament, first off, if it's going to hurt my health. If I was sick or really sick, me trying to play this week wasn't going to do me any good.”

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

    Thomas went on to explain he was “50/50” whether he’d play the World Golf Championship, but decided to make the start and it’s turned out well for the world’s second-ranked player.

    After going undefeated in pool play, Thomas cruised past Si Woo Kim, 6 and 5, in the round of 16 and secured himself a spot in the semifinals with a 2-and-1 victory over Kyle Stanley in the quarterfinals. If Thomas wins his semifinal match against Bubba Watson on Sunday, he’s assured enough points to overtake Dustin Johnson atop the Official World Golf Ranking.

    “I don't care when it happens; I just hope it happens and it happens for a while,” Thomas said when asked about the possibility of becoming world No. 1. “I don't know what to say because I've never experienced it. I don't know what's going to come with it. But I just hope it happens tomorrow.”