Noren leads Scottish Open; Mickelson makes cut

By Associated PressJuly 8, 2016, 7:08 pm

INVERNESS, Scotland – Alex Noren of Sweden rolled in five birdies in his last eight holes to shoot a 6-under 66 in calmer conditions and take a one-stroke lead after the second round of the Scottish Open on Friday.

On a day of lower scoring around the Castle Stuart links, Danny Lee of New Zealand (66) and Eddie Pepperell of England (67) were a shot behind Noren, who had an 8-under 136.

Lee is only playing the Scottish Open after the PGA Tour canceled this week's Greenbrier Classic because of flooding in West Virginia. Lee is defending champion at the Greenbrier and is donating money for every birdie ($500) and eagle ($1,000) he makes to the flood-relief efforts.

Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson, two of the top names in the field, made the cut after shooting rounds of 69 but were nine shots off the lead. Matteo Manassero and Branden Grace (both 67) were in a four-way tie for fourth on 6-under overall.

Winds were lighter after a blustery first round in northern Scotland and Noren found his form with the putter from No. 2 - his 11th hole, after starting on the back nine. He birdied Nos. 2 and 3, then Nos. 6, 7 and 8. His tee shot at the par-3 8th landed about 2 feet from the pin.



Noren didn't drop a shot and has just one bogey in two rounds.

''I just kind of worked on my swing, and you're messing around and all of a sudden I got a little bit better strike,'' said Noren, who has already qualified for the British Open at Royal Troon next week in Western Scotland.

''Played steady on the front nine, and then you know, my last nine holes, I really got it going.''

Lee, who also started at No. 10, had six birdies in a bogey-free round - four of them coming between Nos. 1 and 6.

''I love to play great every week. But making birdies and eagles are very important to me this week,'' said Lee, who had five birdies in the first round. ''It's very unfortunate that happened at West Virginia. I won the Greenbrier Classic last year there and was so looking forward to go back there and interact with a lot of fans, and people were just so nice to me last year.

''I know it's not that much to help everybody but I'm trying to make as much birdies as possible to add a little bit of help.''

Mickelson made the cut, which was at 2 over, after recovering from two bogeys on his first four holes that put him on 6 over for the tournament. On the par-5 16th - his seventh hole - the five-time major champion ran a 2-iron to about 4 feet and made eagle. He birdied three of his last eight holes, including a 25-foot putt on No. 2.

Mickelson said his putting was better Friday after taking time to make adjustments to the slower greens than he is used to playing on the PGA Tour.

''I've been leaving every putt short here,'' he said. ''I just haven't trusted it on the golf course. I keep fearing knocking it five, six feet by.''

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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.”

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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.”

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After 36, new Open favorite is ... Fleetwood

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 7:49 pm

With a handful of the pre-championship favorites exiting early, there is a new odds-on leader entering the third round of The Open at Carnoustie.

While Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner share the 36-hole lead, it's England's Tommy Fleetwood who leads the betting pack at 11/2. Fleetwood begins the third round one shot off the lead.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.

Tommy Fleetwood: 11/2

Zach Johnson: 13/2

Rory McIlroy: 7/1

Jordan Spieth: 8/1

Rickie Fowler: 9/1

Kevin Kisner: 12/1

Xander Schauffele: 16/1

Tony Finau: 16/1

Matt Kuchar: 18/1

Pat Perez: 25/1

Brooks Koepka: 25/1

Erik van Rooyen: 50/1

Alex Noren: 50/1

Tiger Woods: 50/1

Thorbjorn Olesen: 60/1

Danny Willett: 60/1

Francesco Molinari: 60/1

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Perez (T-3) looks to remedy 'terrible' major record

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 7:34 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez’s major record is infinitely forgettable. In 24 Grand Slam starts he has exactly one top-10 finish, more than a decade ago at the PGA Championship.

“Terrible,” Perez said when asked to sum up his major career. “I won sixth [place]. Didn't even break top 5.”

It’s strange, however, that his status atop The Open leaderboard through two rounds doesn’t seem out of character. The 42-year-old admits he doesn’t hit it long enough to contend at most major stops and also concedes he doesn’t exactly have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the game’s biggest events, but something about The Open works for him.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I didn't like it the first time I came over. When I went to St. Andrews in '05, I didn't like it because it was cold and terrible and this and that,” he said. “Over the years, I've really learned to like to come over here. Plus the fans are so awesome here. They know a good shot. They don't laugh at you if you hit a bad shot.”

Perez gave the fans plenty to cheer on Friday at Carnoustie, playing 17 flawless holes to move into a share of the lead before a closing bogey dropped him into a tie for third place after a second-round 68.

For Perez, links golf is the great equalizer that mitigates the advantages some of the younger, more powerful players have and it brings out the best in him.

“It's hard enough that I don't feel like I have to hit perfect shots. That's the best,” he said. “Greens, you can kind of miss a shot, and it won't run off and go off the green 40 yards. You're still kind of on the green. You can have a 60-footer and actually think about making it because of the speed.”