Notes Beems bad day A David Duval sighting

By Associated PressJuly 17, 2008, 4:00 pm
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Open ChampionshipSOUTHPORT, England -- Jerry Kelly put the Royal & Ancient in the same league as the U.S. Golf Association on Thursday, and considering he shot 83 in the first round of the British Open, that wasnt a compliment.
 
Kelly, who criticized the USGA over the setup at Shinnecock Hills for the final round of the 04 U.S. Open, blamed the R&A for not moving up a few tees in 30 mph wind, which he said made it impossible for him to reach four of the par 4s.
 
I was really surprised because the R&A usually uses common sense, Kelly said. The weather was playable, but not with that setup. Do you want to take half the field out of the championship just because you cant hit it far enough? Basically, if youre not a long hitter out there today, then there are seven or eight par 5s.
 
R&A chief executive Peter Dawson didnt understand the fuss.
 
Three of the holes in question were the 499-yard sixth, the 11th and the 16th hole, which are moderate in length (just under 440 yards) but required a carry of some 210 yards to reach the fairway.
 
Vijay Singh couldnt reach the sixth hole in two by using driver twice, both solidly struck.
 
Dawson said with such a strong wind, the sixth hole played more like a par 5. He also noted that the claret jug is awarded to the lowest score, not the score under par.
 
It was a par 5 today, even though it was a par 4 on the card, Dawson said. I just dont see an issue with (No.) 6 at all. There was no issue about whether you could reach the fairway or not. End of story, as far as Im concerned.
 
He said the 11th hole required a 230-yard carry, but officials mowed the rough in front of the fairway earlier in the week and set the markers to the front of the tee box.
 
I do believe its reachable by most of the field if the ball was well-struck, Dawson said.
 
He didnt hear any complaints about the 16th, where the next forward tee is some 50 yards closer. He hadnt heard from Kelly, though, who had said he would talk to Dawson about the way the course was set up.
 
Theyve put themselves right in the same league with the USGA at Shinnecock, Kelly said. They knew what was coming. We knew what was coming yesterday. Four greens I couldnt reach. Three fairways I couldnt reach. I cant hit it far enough. This is a great golf course. You cant mess it up, except for the tees.
 
Dawson said he considered Kelly a good friend and a great supporter of the British Open who had a bad day at the office.
 
Links golf tough day by the seaside, Dawson said.
 
VETERANS DAY: Some of the British Open champions now on the 50-and-older circuit acquitted showed how much experience matters on the links courses, especially Tom Watson.
 
He was the first player under par Thursday'albeit briefly after a birdie on the opening hole'but the five-time champion refused to buckle in the wind and rain and finished birdie-par for a 74.
 
I have plenty of experience on Open Championship courses, but in conditions like this, you have to judge the wind right, Watson said. I did that today. If you dont do that and you hit some bad shots thats it.
 
Mark OMeara, who won at Royal Birkdale in 1998 at age 41, also had a 74 by playing the back nine in even par.
 
DUVAL STIRS: David Duval has said he was close to playing well again. In conditions that expose the slightest weakness, he used the first round of the British Open to show he was serious.
 
Ive been expecting some glimpses of greatness for a while, Duval said after opening with a steady 73.
 
Duval, who hasnt won since the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan at the end of 2001, showed remarkable control of his shots in 30 mph wind. His best shot was a 4-iron on the 184-yard 12th hole that he held against a harsh right-to-left wind to a right hole location. The ball settled 10 feet away for one of his three birdies.
 
Getting the ball onto the green is success, he said. Hitting it within 10 or 12 feet was obviously a great golf shot.
 
As for the six bogeys? Those were to be expected.
 
Duval, who won the British Open in 2001 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, has made only one cut in 11 starts on the PGA TOUR this year, and that was a tie for 60th at the Stanford St. Jude Classic. He has only two rounds under par.
 
But he rarely looked more in control than he did Thursday at Royal Birkdale.
 
I probably stand here with a lot more confidence than you maybe think I should if you simply look at results, Duval said. But Im the one holding the club, Im the one hitting the shots, so I know how Im truly swinging the golf club and how Im playing. And I feel good about it.
 
WET WEATHER: Lucas Glover played his entire round in the rain, and summed up his experience with one comment.
 
You know youre at the British Open when you come inside to change rain suits, he said.
 
SLOCUM STARTS: Heath Slocum figured his best chance of playing his first British Open was if defending champion Padraig Harrington could not play because of his injured wrist.
 
Warming up in the morning, he was two spots down from Harrington on the practice range, but didnt stay long.
 
When I saw him hitting full shots, I knew he was OK, Slocum.
 
So he retreated to the clubhouse, the putting green and family dining, bracing for a long day. The first tee time was 6:30 a.m., and the last group went off at 4:31 p.m. Slocum couldnt afford to leave the property.
 
Imagine his surprise when an R&A official tapped him on the back at 9:15 a.m. to tell him that Toru Taniguchi had withdrawn.
 
I was a little bit stunned, Slocum said. And I was pretty excited.
 
He played that way, too, opening with a 73.
 
BEEMS BAD DAY: Rich Beem took a few practice strokes on the second green and moved over his ball when he backed off, noticing that the wind made it wiggle. It moved the ball slightly, and Beem called for an official.
 
He was assessed a one-shot penalty because it was deemed he had grounded his club, and thus had addressed the ball when it moved.
 
I thought you had to be set to address the ball, Beem said. We sat there and argued for a good seven or eight minutes. I called another official, and apparently, once you put the putter down, youve taken your stance.
 
A triple bogey turned into an 8, and Beem was done after nine holes, joining Sandy Lyle as the two players who quit early.
 
I came over here to compete for the Open, and it wasnt meant to be, Beem said. It stinks. But its a hell of a game. Anybody who plays with any passion knows how hard it can be.
 
EARLY STARTERS: R&A chief executive Peter Dawson was on the first tee for the opening shots Thursday, watching as Craig Parry, Simon Dyson and Lucas Glover found the short grass.
 
Someone asked if he knew about Glovers reputation?
 
Oh? What would that be? Dawson said.
 
Glover is among the fastest players on the PGA Tour, and when told this, Dawson nodded his head and smiled.
 
Really? he said. Funnily enough, so are the other two.
 
Its a safe bet those three players were not first off the tee by accident.
 
DIVOTS: Davis Love III was among the 29 players who failed to make a birdie in the opening round, but he takes on special significance. Love failed to make a birdie in his final two rounds of the U.S. Open, and now has gone 55 holes in majors without one. All of the 19 rounds in the 80s came in the morning. Mike Weir shot 71 despite two double bogeys.
 
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    Lopez fires flawless 63 for lead in Arkansas

    By Associated PressJune 23, 2018, 12:41 am

    ROGERS, Ark. – Since its first year on the LPGA Tour in 2007, the crowds at the NW Arkansas Championship have belonged to Stacy Lewis.

    Another former University of Arkansas star staked her claim as the hometown favorite Friday when Gaby Lopez shot a career-low 8-under 63 to take the first-round lead at Pinnacle Country Club.

    Like Lewis, the two-time winner of the tournament, Lopez starred as a three-time All-American for the Razorbacks before joining the LPGA Tour in 2016. Despite flashes of potential, Lopez had yet to join Lewis among the ranks of the world's best - missing the cut in her last two tournaments and entering this week ranked 136th in the world.

    For a day, at least, the Mexican standout felt right at home atop the leaderboard in her adopted home state.

    ''I feel like home,'' Lopez said. ''I feel so, so comfortable out here, because I feel that everyone and every single person out here is just rooting for us.''


    Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship


    Moriya Jutanugarn was a stroke back along with Minjee Lee, Catriona Matthew, Nasa Hataoka, Lizette Salas, Mirim Lee and Aditi Ashok. Six others finished at 6 under on a day when only 26 of the 144 players finished over par, thanks to some mid-week rain that softened the greens and calm skies throughout the day.

    Jutanugarn finished second at the tournament last year and is trying to win for the second time on the LPGA Tour this year. Her younger sister, Ariya, is already a two-time winner this year and shot an opening-round 66.

    Lewis, the former world No. 1 who won the event in 2007 in 2014, finished with a 66. She's expecting her first child in early November

    Defending champion So Yeon Ryu, coming off a victory Sunday in Michigan, shot a 67.

    Friday was Lopez's long-awaited day to standout, though, much to the delight of the pro-Arkansas crowd.

    After missing the cut her last two times out, Lopez took some time off and returned home to Mexico City to rest her mind and work on her game. The work paid off with two straight birdies to open her round and a 6-under 30 on her front nine.

    Lopez needed only 25 putts and finished two shots off the course record of 61, and she overcame a poor drive on the par-5 18th to finish with a par and keep her place at the top of the leaderboard. Her previous low score was a 64 last year, and she matched her career best by finishing at 8 under.

    ''(Rest) is a key that no one really truly understands until you're out here,'' Lopez said. ''... Sometimes resting is actually the part you've got to work on.''

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    Harman rides hot putter to Travelers lead

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 12:28 am

    CROMWELL, Conn. – There are plenty of big names gathered for the Travelers Championship, and through two rounds they’re all chasing Brian Harman.

    Harman opened with a 6-under 64, then carded a 66 during Friday’s morning wave to become the only player to finish the first two rounds in double digits under par. The southpaw is currently riding a hot putter, leading the field in strokes gained: putting while rolling in 12 birdies and an eagle through his first 36 holes.

    “Putted great today,” said Harman, who ranks 22nd on Tour this season in putting. “Got out of position a couple of times, but I was able to get myself good looks at it. I started hitting the ball really well coming down the stretch and made a few birdies.”


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

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    Harman, 31, has won twice on the PGA Tour, most recently at last year’s Wells Fargo Championship. While he doesn’t have a win this year, he started his season in the fall by reeling off five straight finishes of T-8 or better to quickly install himself as one of the leaders in the season-long points race.

    Now topping a leaderboard that includes the likes of Jason Day, Bubba Watson and Rory McIlroy, he realizes that he’ll have his work cut out for him if he’s going to leave Connecticut with trophy No. 3.

    “The putter has been really good so far, but I’ve been in position a lot. I’ve had a lot of good looks at it,” Harman said. “I’m just able to put a little pressure on the course right now, which is nice.”

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    10-second rule costs Zach Johnson a stroke

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 12:06 am

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Zach Johnson heads into the weekend one shot back at the Travelers Championship, but he was a matter of seconds away from being tied for the lead.

    Johnson had an 18-foot birdie putt on No. 3 at TPC River Highlands, his 12th hole of the day, but left the ball hanging on the lip. As Johnson walked up to tap the ball in, it oscillated on the edge and eventually fell in without being hit.

    Was it a birdie, or a par?

    According to the Rules of Golf, and much to Johnson’s chagrin, the answer was a par. Players are afforded “reasonable” time to walk to the hole, and after that they are allowed to wait for 10 seconds to see if the ball drops of its own accord. After that, it either becomes holed by a player’s stroke, or falls in and leads to a one-shot penalty, resulting in the same score as if the player had hit it.

    According to Mark Russell, PGA Tour vice president of rules and competitions, Johnson’s wait time until the ball fell in was between 16 and 18 seconds.


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    “Once he putts the ball, he’s got a reasonable amount of time to reach the hole,” Russell said. “Then once he reaches the hole, he’s got 10 seconds. After 10 seconds, the ball is deemed to be at rest.”

    Johnson tried to emphasize the fact that the ball was oscillating as he stood over it, and even asked rules officials if marking his ball on the edge of the hole would have yielded a “bonus 10 seconds.” But after signing for a 2-under 68 that brought him within a shot of leader Brian Harman, the veteran took the ruling in stride.

    “The 10-second rule has always been there. Vague to some degree,” Johnson said. “The bottom line is I went to tap it in after 10 seconds and the ball was moving. At that point, even if the ball is moving, it’s deemed to be at rest because it’s on the lip. Don’t ask me why, but that’s just the way it is.”

    While Johnson brushed off any thoughts of the golf gods conspiring against him on the lip, he was beaming with pride about an unconventional par he made on No. 17 en route to a bogey-free round. Johnson sailed his tee shot well right into the water, but after consulting his options he decided to drop on the far side of the hazard near the 16th tee box.

    His subsequent approach from 234 yards rolled to within 8 feet, and he calmly drained the putt for an unexpected save.

    “I got a great lie. Just opened up a 4-hybrid, and it started over the grandstands and drew in there,” Johnson said. “That’s as good of an up-and-down as I’ve witnessed, or performed.”

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    Travelers becoming marquee event for star players

    By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 11:29 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Get lost in the throngs following the defending champ, or caught up amongst the crowds chasing the back-to-back U.S. Open winner, and it’s easy to forget where this tournament was a little more than a decade ago.

    The Travelers Championship was without a sponsor, without a worthwhile field, without a consistent date and on the verge of being jettisoned to the PGA Tour Champions schedule. The glory days of the old Greater Hartford Open had come and gone, and the PGA Tour’s ever-increasing machine appeared poised to leave little old Cromwell in its wake.

    The civic pride is booming in this neck of the woods. Main Street is lined with one small business after the next, and this time of year there are signs and posters popping up on every corner congratulating a member of the most recent graduating class at Cromwell High School, which sits less than two miles from the first tee at TPC River Highlands.

    Having made it through a harrowing time in the event’s history, the local residents now have plenty of reason to take pride.

    The Tour’s best have found this little New England hamlet, where tournament officials roll out the red carpet in every direction. They embrace the opportunity to decompress after the mind-numbing gauntlet the USGA set out for them last week, and they relish a return to a course where well-struck shots, more often than not, lead to birdies.


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    Ten years ago, this tournament was also held the week after the U.S. Open. Stewart Cink won, and for his efforts he received a paltry 36 world ranking points. But thanks to a recent influx of star-power, this week’s winner will pocket 58 points – the same amount Rory McIlroy won at Bay Hill, and two more than Justin Rose got at Colonial. Now at the halfway point, the leaderboard backs up the hefty allocation.

    While Brian Harman leads at 10 under, the chase pack is strong enough to strike fear in the heart of even the most seasoned veteran: McIlroy, Bubba Watson and Zach Johnson, they of the combined eight major titles, all sit within three shots of the lead. Former world No. 1 Jason Day is one shot further back, and reigning Player of the Year Justin Thomas will start the third round inside the top 20.

    Paul Casey and Bryson DeChambeau, both likely participants at the Ryder Cup this fall, are right there as well at 8 under. Casey lost a playoff here to Watson in 2015 and has come back every year since, witnessing first-hand the tournament’s growth in scope.

    “It speaks volumes for what Travelers have done and how they treat everybody, and the work that Andy Bessette and his team put in to fly around the country and speak highly of this event,” Casey said. “And do things which matter, to continue to improve the event, not just for players but for spectators.”

    Part of the increased field strength can be attributed to the Tour’s recent rule change, requiring players who play fewer than 25 events in a season to add a new event they haven’t played in the last four years. Another portion can be attributed to the short commute from Shinnecock Hills to TPC River Highlands, a three-hour drive and even shorter across the Long Island Sound – an added bonus the event will lose two of the next three years with West Coast U.S. Opens.

    But there’s no denying the widespread appeal of an event named the Tour’s tournament of the year, players’ choice and most fan-friendly in 2017. While Spieth’s return to defend his title was assumed, both Day and McIlroy are back for another crack this year after liking what they saw.

    “Anyone that I talked to could only say good things about the tournament about the golf course, how the guys are treated here, how the fans come out, and how the community always gets behind this event,” McIlroy said. “Obviously I witnessed that for the first time last year, and I really enjoyed it.”

    After starting the week with all four reigning major champs and five of the top 10 players in the latest world rankings, only Masters champ Patrick Reed got sent packing following rounds of 72-67. The remaining top-flight contingent will all hit the ground running in search of more low scores Saturday, with Spieth (-4) still retaining a glimmer of hope to keep his title defense chances alive, perhaps with a 63 like he fired in the opening round.

    The Tour’s schedule represents a zero-sum game. Outside of the majors and WGCs that essentially become must-play events for the game’s best, the rest of the legs of the weekly circus become victim of a 12-month version of tug-of-war. Some players like to play in the spring; others load up in the fall. Many play the week before majors, while a select group block off the week after for some R&R far away from a golf course.

    But in an environment where one tournament’s ebbs can create flows for another, the Travelers has continued a steady climb up the Tour’s hierarchy. Once in jeopardy of relegation, it has found its footing and appears in the process of turning several of the Tour’s one-name stars into regular participants.

    Rory. Jordan. Bubba. JT.

    It’s been a long battle for tournament officials, but the proof is in the pudding. And this weekend, the reward for the people of Cromwell – population 14,000 – looks to be a star-studded show.

    “All the events are incredible,” Thomas said. “But this is kind of one of those underrated ones that I think until people come and play, do they realize how great it is.”