Notes An Aussies Bingo Lubed Up Mechanic

By Associated PressJune 13, 2008, 4:00 pm
2008 U.S. OpenSAN DIEGO -- With a 45-foot putt on the par-5 18th, Stuart Appleby rolled into the lead of the U.S. Open and knocked out 11 players, including 2007 Masters winner Zach Johnson.
 
Bingo, the Australian said about his putt that gave him a 1-under 70 and a two-day total of 3-under 139. Hes a stroke ahead of Tiger Woods, Rocco Mediate and Robert Karlsson.
 
Applebys putt certainly was worth a salutation of Good on ya, mate.
 
He got his line right and tried not to hit it too hard.
 
Typical stuff when youre at 50 feet, he said. Youre trying to just use your natural feel. I hit it and I thought, Well, that looks up, it doesnt look long. Because it didnt have that feeling off the putter. Probably a couple seconds out, I thought, This could go in. Then the crowd does their thing, and it all adds to what looks like a good putt.
 
Had the putt missed, Johnson and 10 other players who were 8-over-par would have made the cut to play the weekend. Instead, their tournament was over.
 
Also missing the cut were two of the last three U.S. Open winners. Defending champion Angel Cabreras struggles on Torrey Pines South Course ended with a 13-over 155, and 2005 champion Michael Campbell shot 83 on Friday to drop to 19-over 161.
 
In all, 80 of the 156 players made the weekend, including Irishman Padraig Harrington and Spaniard Sergio Garcia, who both had been in danger of missing the cut.
 
Harrington, the reigning British Open champion, started the day seven strokes over par, but his 4-under-par 67 Friday was the second-best round of the tournament and gave him a two-round total of 3-over 145.
 
Garcia shot a 1-under 70 in the second round for a 146 total. After starting 6 over for his first seven holes Thursday, he was 2 under for his last 29.
 
I knew I made four birdies yesterday and I said to myself if I can make four more today and keep the rest of it tidy, I knew Id have a good score. I was aiming for 69, but 67 is a nice return. It even felt like it might have been one or two better than that.
 
Harrington kept it tidy all right, by playing bogey-free golf. He said the difference from the first round to the second was that he just holed the odd par putt here and there.
 
I am in good shape in the championship now and if the wind picks up and the greens firm up, well see where I am at the end of the day, he said. The positive thing is that Im right back in the tournament and Ill try to have a great weekend.
 
Three amateurs also made the cut: Derek Fathauer at 146, Michael Thompson at 147 and Rickie Fowler at 149. No amateurs made it the last two years.
 
Cabrera was the second defending champion in three years to miss the cut. Campbell failed to make it at Winged Foot in New York two years ago after winning the 2005 Open at Pinehurst.
 
Cabrera opened at Torrey Pines with an 8-over 79 and followed that with a 76 on Friday for a 13-over 155.
 
PERSPECTIVE
Mark OMeara, the 1998 Masters and British Open winner, was among those who missed the cut by a stroke, but he took it in stride.
 
Im 51. What the hell. Im out here, he said.
 
OMeara once lived in San Diego County and won the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines in 1997.
 
NO FIX NEEDED
Theres nothing The Mechanic needs to do to fix his golf swing.
 
Miguel Angel Jimenez played his way into contention by shooting a 5-under 66 to move within two shots of leader Stuart Appleby.
 
Jimenez hit 15 of 18 greens, made seven birdies against two bogeys and made up a lot of ground after his opening 75.
 
Every chance I had for birdie, I made the birdie, the Spaniard said.
 
Jimenez, who finished eighth at the Masters but is still looking for his first major championship at age 44, gave himself a chance to do just that with the round of the tournament.
 
Its very important, he said of his chances of winning a major. This is my 26th year on the tour, and Im 44. I would love to have one for my career.
 
Jimenez, who got his nickname because of his affinity for high-performance vehicles, is not only hitting the ball well but playing with a lot of confidence. He is coming off a win in his last tournament, the BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour, where he has won twice this year.
 
Hes also getting a break in the smoking department. Jimenez likes to enjoy a cigar on the course and he can at Torrey Pines, which is non-smoking for everyone outside the ropes but allows smoking inside them.
 
FLOOD OF CONCERNS
Zach Johnson made only four birdies to go along with eight bogeys and two double bogeys in his 36-hole total of 8-over 150, but he was more concerned with the situation in his hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where rising floodwaters Friday forced the evacuation of a downtown hospital and sent thousands of residents fleeing for higher ground.
 
Im playing golf, you know? In the grand scheme of things, it really means nothing, the 2007 Masters champion said. Im trying as hard as I can out here. Im not saying my play has anything to do with the situation back home, but its on my mind. Its impossible not to be.
 
You look at all the situations that have gone on, the tornadoes, obviously the flooding, and, you know, Im chasing a white ball, Johnson said. So the deaths from the tornadoes and certainly the evacuations from the floods, thats perspective right there. Im very lucky.
 
Johnson said his mothers office at the Archdiocese of Eastern Iowa was under water and she didnt know when shed be able to return to work. His fathers chiropractic clinic, also downtown, is closed, with sandbags surrounding the sewer system.
 
My charitys there, too, Johnson said. Its probably under water. I dont know.
 
So who could really blame him for all those bogeys?
 
When youre trying to focus on your nations event, your nations Open, its extremely difficult to focus. I pride myself on being mentally strong, but its hard, Johnson said. Its very difficult.
 
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    Berger more than ready to rebound at Travelers

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:54 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Daniel Berger hopes that this year he gets to be on the other end of a viral moment at the Travelers Championship.

    Berger was a hard-luck runner-up last year at TPC River Highlands, a spectator as Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him in a playoff. It was the second straight year that the 25-year-old came up just short outside Hartford, as he carried a three-shot lead into the 2016 event before fading to a tie for fifth.

    While he wasn’t lacking any motivation after last year’s close call, Berger got another dose last week at the U.S. Open when he joined Tony Finau as a surprise participant in the final group Sunday, only to shoot a 73 and drift to a T-6 finish.


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    “It was one of the best experiences of my professional golf career so far. I feel like I’m going to be in such a better place next time I’m in that position, having felt those emotions and kind of gone through it,” Berger said. “There was a lot of reflection after that because I felt like I played good enough to get it done Sunday. I didn’t make as many putts as I wanted to, but I hit a lot of really good putts. And that’s really all you can do.”

    Berger missed the cut earlier this month to end his quest for three straight titles in Memphis, but his otherwise consistent season has now included six top-20 finishes since January. After working his way into contention last week and still with a score to settle at TPC River Highlands, he’s eager to get back to work against another star-studded field.

    “I think all these experiences you just learn from,” Berger said. “I think last week, having learned from that, I think that’s even going to make me a little better this week. So I’m excited to get going.”

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    Rory tired of the near-misses, determined to close

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:46 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy has returned to the Travelers Championship with an eye on bumping up his winning percentage.

    McIlroy stormed from the back of the pack to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, but that remains his lone worldwide win since the 2016 Tour Championship. It speaks to McIlroy’s considerable ability and lofty expectations that, even with a number of other high finishes this season, he is left unsatisfied.

    “I feel like I’ve had five realistic chances to win this year, and I’ve been able to close out one of them. That’s a bit disappointing, I guess,” McIlroy said. “But at least I’ve given myself five chances to win golf tournaments, which is much more than I did last year.”


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    The most memorable of McIlroy’s near-misses is likely the Masters, when he played alongside Patrick Reed in Sunday’s final group but struggled en route to a T-5 finish. But more frustrating in the Ulsterman’s eyes were his runner-up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, when he led by two shots with eight holes to go, and a second-place showing behind Francesco Molinari at the BMW PGA Championship in May.

    “There’s been some good golf in there,” he said. “I feel like I let Dubai and Wentworth get away a little bit.”

    He’ll have a chance to rectify that trend this week at TPC River Highlands, where he finished T-17 last year in his tournament debut and liked the course and the tournament enough to keep it on his schedule. It comes on the heels of a missed cut at the U.S. Open, when he was 10 over through 11 holes and never got on track. McIlroy views that result as more of an aberration during a season in which he has had plenty of chances to contend on the weekend.

    “I didn’t necessarily play that badly last week. I feel like if I play similarly this week, I might have a good chance to win,” McIlroy said. “I think when you play in conditions like that, it magnifies parts of your game that maybe don’t stack up quite as good as the rest of your game, and it magnified a couple of things for me that I worked on over the weekend.”

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    Sunday run at Shinnecock gave Reed even more confidence

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:08 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – While many big names are just coming around to the notion that the Travelers Championship is worth adding to the schedule, Patrick Reed has been making TPC River Highlands one of his favorite haunts for years.

    Reed will make his seventh straight appearance outside Hartford, where he tied for fifth last year and was T-11 the year before that. He is eager to get back to the grind after a stressful week at the U.S. Open, both because of his past success here and because it will offer him a chance to build on a near-miss at Shinnecock Hills.

    Reed started the final round three shots off the lead, but he quickly stormed toward the top of the leaderboard and became one of Brooks Koepka’s chief threats after birdies on five of his first seven holes. Reed couldn’t maintain the momentum in the middle of the round, carding three subsequent bogeys, and ultimately tied for fourth.


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    It was a bittersweet result, but Reed is focusing on the positives after taking a couple days to reflect.

    “If you would have told me that I had a chance to win coming down Sunday, I would have been pleased,” Reed said. “I felt like I just made too many careless mistakes towards the end, and because of that, you’re not going to win at any major making careless mistakes, especially on Sunday.”

    Reed broke through for his first major title at the Masters, and he has now finished fourth or better in three straight majors dating back to a runner-up at the PGA last summer. With another chance to add to that record next month in Scotland, he hopes to carry the energy from last week’s close call into this week’s event on a course where he feels right at home.

    “It just gives me confidence, more than anything,” Reed said. “Of course I would have loved to have closed it out and win, but it was a great week all in all, and there’s a lot of stuff I can take from it moving forward. That’s how I’m looking at it.”

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    Koepka back to work, looking to add to trophy collection

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 8:53 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Days after ensuring the U.S. Open trophy remained in his possession for another year, Brooks Koepka went back to work.

    Koepka flew home to Florida after successfully defending his title at Shinnecock Hills, celebrating the victory Monday night with Dustin Johnson, Paulina Gretzky, swing coach Claude Harmon III and a handful of close friends. But he didn’t fully unwind because of a decision to honor his commitment to the Travelers Championship, becoming the first player to tee it up the week after a U.S. Open win since Justin Rose in 2013.

    Koepka withdrew from the Travelers pro-am, but he flew north to Connecticut on Wednesday and arrived to TPC River Highlands around 3 p.m., quickly heading to the driving range to get in a light practice session.

    “It still hasn’t sunk in, to be honest with you,” Koepka said. “I’m still focused on this week. It was just like, ‘All right, if I can get through this week, then I’m going to be hanging with my buddies next week.’ I know then maybe it’ll sink in, and I’ll get to reflect on it a little bit more.”


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    Koepka’s plans next week with friends in Boston meant this week’s event outside Hartford made logistical sense. But he was also motivated to play this week because, plainly, he hasn’t had that many playing opportunities this year after missing nearly four months with a wrist injury.

    “I’ve had so many months at home being on the couch. I don’t need to spend any more time on the couch,” Koepka said. “As far as skipping, it never crossed my mind.”

    Koepka’s legacy was undoubtedly bolstered by his win at Shinnecock, as he became the first player in nearly 30 years to successfully defend a U.S. Open title. But he has only one other PGA Tour win to his credit, that being the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open, and his goal for the rest of the season is to make 2018 his first year with multiple trophies on the mantle.

    “If you’re out here for more than probably 15 events, it gives you a little better chance to win a couple times. Being on the sidelines isn’t fun,” Koepka said. “Keep doing what we’re doing and just try to win multiple times every year. I feel like I have the talent. I just never did it for whatever reason. Always felt like we ran into a buzzsaw. So just keep plugging away.”