Notes Aussies second home No Zach attack

By Associated PressAugust 2, 2008, 4:00 pm
WGC-Bridgestone - 125wAKRON, Ohio ' His passport says he was born in Australia and he lives in Florida but northeastern Ohio has become almost a second home for Stuart Appleby.
 
That goes beyond how comfortable he feels playing in the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, just a few rescue-club shots from the city limits sign.
 
The 37-year-old Applebys wife, Ashley, is from nearby Canton. They met at the 2000 Bridgestone and now have daughters Ella and Mia and another child ' this one a boy ' due in late October.
 
So even though his voice is straight out of Crocodile Dundee, the Aussie farm boy feels right at home in Americas Rust Belt.
 
Ive been here for so many years now Ive sort of got a rhythm to this place, he said Saturday after shooting a 3-under 67 that left him at 7-under 203 and a shot back of co-leaders Lee Westwood, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh. Probably a lot more demand for tickets. Yeah, Im comfortable, familiar. Its good to be here.
 
Appleby has two top 10s at Firestone and has won more than $700,000 at the Bridgestone and its predecessor, the NEC Invitational.
 
He said a half a dozen family members followed him around the course.
 
Now hes on the cusp of his first PGA TOUR win since the Shell Houston Open two years ago ' and is reassured because he feels as if hes almost at home.
 
Its a good golf course, and obviously for family reasons its great for them, so Im very pleased, he said.
 
A STEP BACK
 
After rounds of 67 and 68, which led him to believe that he had reversed a recent slump, former Masters champion Zach Johnson dropped back with a 2-over 72 Saturday at the Bridgestone.
 
Johnson isnt a long hitter and, at 7,400 yards, Firestone Country Club is a long course. The slightest misfire off the tee can lead to trouble.
 
Its one of those things that if I dont get the ball in the fairway here its hard for me to score, he said. Im not exactly the best of rough players and when I have longer clubs and irons out of the rough into these greens, its very, very difficult. That was frustrating.
 
The last two years at the Bridgestone, Johnson has faltered after playing well through 36 holes.
 
Im really disappointed. It seems like Ive done that a lot here ' put myself in position going into the weekend three or four times already now, he said.
 
At 3-under 207 and just five shots behind the leaders, he remains hopeful.
 
A good round tomorrow, you never know what might happen, he said.
 
TRYING TOO HARD
 
Darren Clarke may have had a revelation in matching the low round of the day and the tournament with his 5-under 65 in Saturdays third round of the Bridgestone.
 
All summer long Ive pushed and pushed and pushed and tried too hard and practiced too hard and worked too hard, Clarke said after matching Hidemasa Hoshinos 65. Ive wanted to play too well too much, whereas now Im (trying to) just play and enjoy it and see what that brings.
 
Relaxing obviously pays dividends. Clarke started the second round tied for 35th and now finds himself in a logjam for sixth, four shots off the lead heading into the final round.
 
It could have been even better. Clarke failed to get up and down after missing the green short and left on the par-4 closing hole and had to settle for a bogey.
 
A win in Akron would be nothing new for Clarke ' he won at Firestone in 2003 and was third two years before that. Since hes 25th on the European Ryder Cup team points list, he needs to do exceptionally well in the final round and in the near future to harbor even a remote chance of making the team outright or as a captains pick.
 
I need to come out here, playing this week and next week (the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills), and those two weeks at home (the Dutch Open and Johnnie Walker Classic) I have to play well if I even want to be considered, he said. If I do start playing well like I did today, I think I would be an addition to the team. If I dont play well, I would not be. I would not expect a pick. I just want to play as well as I can and see where it takes me.
 
YOU NOT THE MAN
 
Dont count Appleby as one of the people who finds Get in the hole! the height of enlightened comment by gallery members.
 
That really drives me crazy because thats something that should only happen over here, at least ' no more than that, he said. When you hear an Englishman or an Irishman yell out Get in the hole! I think golf has gone too far.
 
DIVOTS
 
The deadlock at the top was the first three-way tie through 54 holes for a World Golf Championship event. Only three European Tour members (Clarke, Ernie Els, Henrik Stenson) have won WGC events. Singh has led through three rounds 30 previous times on the PGA TOUR and has won 17 times. In the Bridgestones nine years, a player has come off the lead in the final round to win the tournament on three occasions. Each time, that player was Tiger Woods, in 2001 and each of the past two years.
 
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    Gooch chooses 'life over a good lie' with gators nearby

    By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 11:31 pm

    AVONDALE, La. – A fairway bunker wasn’t Talor Gooch’s only hazard on the 18th hole at TPC Louisiana.

    Gooch’s ball came to rest Thursday within a few feet of three gators, leading to a lengthy delay as he sorted out his options.

    Chesson Hadley used a rake to nudge two of the gators on the tail, sending them back into the pond surrounding the green. But the third gator wouldn’t budge.

    “It woke him up from a nap,” Gooch said, “and he was hissing away and wasn’t happy.”

    The other two gators remained in the water, their eyes fixed on the group.


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    “I’m sure we would have been fine, but any little movement by them and no chance I would have made solid contact,” he said.

    A rules official granted Gooch free relief, away from the gator, but he still had to drop in the bunker. The ball plugged.

    “I chose life over a good lie in that situation,” he said.

    He splashed out short of the green, nearly holed out his pitch shot and made par to cap off an eventful 6-under 66 with partner Andrew Landry.

    “It was my first gator par,” he said. “I’ll take it.”

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    Koepka's game 'where it should be' even after injury

    By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 11:18 pm

    AVONDALE, La. – Brooks Koepka didn’t look rusty Thursday while making six birdies in the first round of the Zurich Classic.

    Making his first start in four months because of a torn ligament in his left wrist, Koepka and partner Marc Turnesa shot a 5-under 67 in fourballs at TPC Louisiana.

    “It felt good,” Koepka said afterward. “It was just nice to be out here. I played pretty solid.”


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    The reigning U.S. Open champion felt soreness in his wrist the week after he won the Dunlop Phoenix in the fall. He finished last at the Hero World Challenge in December and then the following month at the Tournament of Champions before shutting it down.

    He only began practicing last week and decided to commit to the Zurich Classic after three solid days at Medalist. He decided to partner with one of his friends in South Florida, Marc Turnesa, a former PGA Tour winner who now works in real estate.

    Koepka hasn’t lost any distance because of the injury – he nearly drove the green on the 355-yard 16th hole. He’s planning to play the next two weeks, at the Wells Fargo Championship and The Players.

    “I feel like I’m playing good enough to be right where I should be in April,” he said. “I feel good, man. There’s nothing really wrong with my game right now.”

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    Like a tattoo: Ko shares early Mediheal lead

    By Randall MellApril 26, 2018, 10:45 pm

    Lydia Ko put herself in early position Thursday to try to extend her birthday celebration through Sunday at the LPGA Mediheal Championship.

    Ko, who turned 21 on Tuesday, is off to a strong start at Lake Merced Golf Club, where she has a lot of good memories to draw upon as she seeks to regain the winning form that made her the greatest teen phenom in the history of the women’s game.

    With a 4-under-par 68, Ko moved into a four-way tie for the lead among the morning wave in the first round. I.K. Kim, Jessica Korda and Caroline Hedwall also opened with 68s.

    All Ko has to do is look at her right wrist to feel good about returning to San Francisco. That’s where she tattooed the date April 27, 2014, in Roman numerals. That’s how she commemorated her Swinging Skirts victory at Lake Merced, her first title as an LPGA member. She won there again the following year.

    “This is a golf course where I've played well,” Ko said. “The fans have been amazing. They’ve been super supportive every single time I've come here, even since I played the U.S. Juniors here.”


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    Ko made it to the semifinals of the U.S. Girls’ Junior at Lake Merced in 2012.

    “It just brings back a lot of great memories,” she said.

    Ko got this week off to a good start with friends from South Korea and New Zealand flying to California to surprise her on her birthday. She was born in South Korea and grew up in New Zealand.

    “Turning 21 is a huge thing in the United States,” Ko cracked. “I’m legal now, and I can do some fun things.”

    Ko is looking to claim her 15th LPGA title and end a 21-month winless spell. Her ball striking was sharp Thursday, as she continues to work on improvements under her swing coach, Ted Oh. She hit 11 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens in regulation.

    “My ball striking's been getting better these last few weeks, which has been really nice,” Ko said at week’s start. “But then I've been struggling with putting, which was the aspect of the game that was going really well. I feel like the pieces are there, and just, sometimes, the hardest thing is to kind of put all those pieces together. Just have to stay patient, I know there are a lot of good things happening.”

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    Watch: Rose drops trou despite gator danger

    By Golf Channel DigitalApril 26, 2018, 10:12 pm

    We all know how fashion-conscious pro golfers are, and sometimes that even trumps modesty.

    Take Justin Rose, whose tee shot on the par-3 third hole in Thursday's opening round of the Zurich Classic found the water. But the ball was close enough to shore for Rose to try to play it. Not wanting to get his light-colored pants dirty - what is up with all the white pants on Tour these days, anyway? - he took them off to play the shot.

    If there were any gators in the water hazard - and this being Louisiana, there almost certainly were - they showed no interest in the Englishman.

    It was only appropriate that Rose should strip down for a shot, as his partner, Henrik Stenson, famously did the same thing (to an even greater degree) at Doral in 2009.

    Finally, just to provide some closure, Rose failed to get up and down.