Notes British Open Solheim Cup US Drought

By Associated PressJuly 4, 2006, 4:00 pm
The final stage of qualifying for the British Open will be held next Monday and Tuesday at four courses near Royal Liverpool, filling most of the 156-man field for a championship that is shifting focus from an open competition to a global one.
Gone are the days when tour pros from around the world had to travel to Britain the weekend before the Open and walk the fairways alongside players who had dreams, but not pedigree.
Now, there are 25 ways for a tour pro to get into the British Open without leaving home.
That includes four exemptions for top finishers at the Mizuno Open in Japan, two from a special money list in Japan, two from a special money list on the PGA Tour, and the highest finisher not already eligible at three PGA Tour events leading up to the British Open. Spots also are given to the Japan Open and Canadian Open champions.
When the dust settles, only about 56 spots are awarded to those who compete in 36-hole qualifiers -- 44 of those going to 'International Final Qualifying' held in Africa, Australia, Asia, Europe and the United States.
'We feel we have a good balance, in particular a good international balance,' R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said. 'Our exemption criteria covers overseas tours that the U.S. Open doesn't. We believe we're reaching out to the players.'
The U.S. Open now has overseas qualifying in Japan (three spots available) and Europe (eight spots). Michael Campbell came out of the European qualifier before winning last year at Pinehurst No. 2, and he might not have come to America to try for a spot in the field.
USGA executive director David Fay considered adding more spots overseas, but didn't want the U.S. Open to become a closed shop.
'You run up against numbers,' Fay said last week at Newport Country Club. 'They (British Open) get 2,100 or 2,200 entries. We're pushing 9,000 entries. We want to retain the openness of the Open. We have more than half the field come through qualifying.'
Almost half, anyway. The U.S. Open field included 76 players who had to qualify, including 26 who went through 18-hole local qualifying and 36-hole sectional qualifying. That amounts to 49 percent of its field.
The British Open will end up with only 56 players from 36-hole qualifiers, or 36 percent of the field.
'We think we run the most democratic golf tournament in the world,' Fay said. 'If you have the ability, you can give it a shot.'
There's room for only a dozen of those dreamers next week at local final qualifying in England, although Dawson is comfortable with how the British Open establishes its field. It's the oldest championship in golf, one known worldwide simply as 'The Open.'
'We think there are a lot of very good golfers in far-flung parts of the world,' Dawson said. 'They may not be known because they don't play in the States, but we like the Open to be an international event.'
When the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks caused the Ryder Cup to be postponed and moved to even-numbered years, the Solheim Cup felt its best option was to move away from the men's event to odd-numbered years.
Now there's another scheduling conflict.
The Solheim Cup already has been set for Sept. 14-16 in Sweden, typically a slow part of the golf season.
But then the PGA Tour revamped and tightened its schedule around the new FedEx Cup, which will end Sept. 14-16 with the Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta.
Should the LPGA Tour consider moving the matches back a week? Not this time.
'We did look at it,' said Chris Higgs, chief operations officer for the LPGA Tour. 'The good and bad thing about the Swedes is they are so well prepared. As soon as it was announced in 2003, they were asking us to confirm dates.'
Higgs said too many plans were in place for Sept. 14-16 for the Solheim Cup to change the dates now. He noted that because of the time difference, the Solheim Cup will be over before the final round of the Tour Championship begins.
Still, one of the tournaments will lose coverage it might have otherwise had.
Higgs said the Solheim Cup likely will move in 2009, when it is played at Rich Harvest Farm outside Chicago. One date the LPGA Tour is considering is the week after the PGA Championship, which is the week before the FedEx Cup playoff system begins.
The LPGA Tour is perhaps the most global circuit in golf, a point proven in the majors.
Annika Sorenstam's playoff victory Monday in the U.S. Women's Open made it eight consecutive majors won by international players, extending the longest U.S. drought in history. The last American winner was Meg Mallon at the 2004 U.S. Women's Open.
And there's no evidence the streak will end anytime soon.
Americans have won only four of the last 25 majors, a short list that includes the 43-year-old Mallon, 46-year-old Juli Inkster and Hilary Lunke, who hasn't had a top 20 on the LPGA Tour since winning the '03 U.S. Women's Open.
The best hope appears to be Michelle Wie, a senior-to-be in high school who has finished in the top five at five of the last six majors.
Sahalee Country Club had the 2010 PGA Championship taken away from it when PGA of America officials wanted to lock up Whistling Straits in a long-term deal. And while PGA officials promised Sahalee another 'championship,' the Seattle club appears to be going in another direction.
USGA executive director David Fay confirmed that Sahalee is interested in hosting a U.S. Senior Open. The first opening on the schedule for a U.S. Senior Open would be 2010, which might be a more than a little coincidental.
Not only did Fay say that he likes the Pacific Northwest, 'there's a well-known player with roots in Seattle who is getting to the age he might be able to play.'
Fred Couples would be eligible for his first Senior Open in 2010.
Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie are the only players to finish in the top 10 at all three LPGA Tour majors this year. ... Watching the final group inside the ropes in the final round of the Women's Open was Sandra Gal, a 21-year-old German who attends Florida. She missed the cut in her first Women's Open, then stuck around to watch how the leaders went about their business. ... USGA executive director David Fay says he has suggested that the British Open use Oakland Hills for its U.S. qualifier next year. ... The top three players for LPGA Tour player of the year are separated by nine points -- Lorena Ochoa (148), Sorenstam (140) and Karrie Webb (139).
Annika Sorenstam made only three bogeys on the back nine during five rounds of the U.S. Women's Open.
'I'm seeing a different part of the golf course again, and this part is a lot prettier.' -- Annika Sorenstam, on hitting more fairways.
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M. Jutanugarn eyeing first win with L.A. Open lead

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:50 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn took the lead into the weekend at the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open in her latest bid to join younger sister Ariya as an LPGA winner.

Moriya Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Friday at Wilshire Country Club to get to 8-under 134 in the LPGA Tour's first event in Los Angeles since 2005. The 23-year-old from Thailand started fast with birdies on the par-5 second, par-4 third and par-3 fourth and added two more on the par-4 11th and par-5 13th.

Ariya Jutanugarn has seven LPGA victories.

Marina Alex was second after a 68.

Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open

So Yeon Ryu was 6 under after a 69, and fellow South Korean players Inbee Park(71) and Eun-Hee Ji (69). Park was the first-round leader at 66. Lexi Thompsonwas 3 under after a 71.

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng followed her opening 74 with a 67 to get to 1 under.

Ariya Jutanugarn (71) was even par, and Michelle Wie (70) was 1 over. Brooke Henderson, the Canadian star who won last week in Hawaii, had a 79 to miss the cut.

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Garcia tosses driver, misses Valero cut

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

It wasn't quite to the level of his watery meltdown earlier this month at the Masters, but Sergio Garcia still got frustrated during the second round of the Valero Texas Open - and his driver paid the price.

Garcia had a hand in redesigning the AT&T Oaks Course along with Greg Norman several years ago, but this marked his first return to TPC San Antonio since 2010. After an opening-round 74, Garcia arrived to the tee of the short par-4 fifth hole and decided to get aggressive with driver in hand.

When his shot sailed well left, a heated Garcia chucked the club deep into the bushes that lined the tee box:

It took considerable effort for Garcia to find and retrieve the club amid the branches, and once he did things only got worse. He appeared to shank a chip once he got up to his ball, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on a demanding track.

Garcia closed out his round with four straight pars, and at 2 over he eventually missed the cut by a shot. It marks the first time he has missed consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour since 2003, when he sat out the weekend at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Fort Worth Invitational and Memorial Tournament in successive weeks.

Garcia entered the week ranked No. 10 in the world, and he was the only top-20 player among the 156-man field. He missed the cut at the Masters in defense of his title after carding an octuple-bogey 13 on the 15th hole during the opening round.

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Johnson, Moore co-lead Valero Texas Open through 36

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson was going nowhere in the Valero Texas Open when it all changed with one putt.

He made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole of the opening round to stay at 2 under. He followed with a big drive, a hybrid into 12 feet and an eagle. Johnson was on his way, and he kept right on going Friday to a 7-under 65 and a share of the 36-hole lead with Ryan Moore.

''You just never know. That's the beauty of this game,'' Johnson said. ''I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. You just never know.''

Moore had three birdies over his last five holes for a 67 and joined Johnson at 9-under 135.

They had a one-shot lead over Grayson Murray (69) and Andrew Landry (67).

Ben Crane (66), Martin Laird (65) and David Hearn (68) were three shots behind. Billy Horschel and Keegan Bradley shot 71 and were four shots behind at 5-under 139.

Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos

Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, had a short stay in his first time at the Texas Open since 2010. Garcia shot an even-par 72, and at one point became so frustrated he threw his driver into the shrubs.

Garcia finished at 2-over 146 and missed the cut.

It was the first time since 2010 that Garcia missed the cut in successive starts. That was the PGA Championship and, 10 weeks later, the Castello Masters in Spain. This time, he missed the cut in the Masters and Texas Open three weeks apart.

Johnson, a two-time winner of the Texas Open, appeared to be headed to a short week until the key par save on the 13th hole, followed by his eagle, par and three straight birdies. He began the second round Friday with five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, a sixth birdie on the par-4 first hole, and then an eagle on the short par-4 fifth when he holed out from a greenside bunker.

The only sour taste to his second round was a three-putt bogey from about 30 feet on his final hole. Even so, the view was much better than it was Thursday afternoon.

Moore thought he had wasted a good birdie opportunity on the par-5 14th hole when he left his 50-foot eagle putt about 6 feet short. But he made that, and then holed a similar putt from 8 feet for birdie on the next hole and capped his good finish with a 15-foot putt on the 17th.

''That was a huge momentum putt there,'' Moore said of the 14th. ''It was a tough putt from down there with a lot of wind. That green is pretty exposed and ... yeah, really short and committed to that second putt really well and knocked it right in the middle.''

The birdies on the 14th and 15th were important to Moore because he missed a pair of 10-foot birdie tries to start the back nine.

''So it was nice to get those and get going in the right direction on the back,'' he said.

The cut was at 1-over 145, and because 80 players made the cut, there will be a 54-hole cut on Saturday.

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Daly-Allen team grabs Legends of Golf lead on Day 2

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 11:14 pm

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - John Daly and Michael Allen took the second-round lead Friday in the cool and breezy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

Daly and Allen shot an 8-under 46 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course with wind gusting to 15 mph and the temperature only in the high-50s at Big Cedar Lodge. They had three birdies on the front nine in alternate-shot play and added five more on the back in better-ball play to get to 13 under.

''Michael and I go back to the South African days in the late 80s and playing that tour,'' Daly said. ''We've been buddies since. He's just fun to play with. We feed off each other pretty good. And if he's not comfortable guinea-pigging on one hole, I'll go first.''

On Thursday, they opened with a 66 on the regulation Buffalo Ridge course. They will rotate to the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course on Saturday, and return to Top of the Rock for the final round Sunday.

''I went to high school in Jeff City, so it's cool to have the fans behind us,'' Daly said.

Allen won the PGA Tour Champions team event with David Frost in 2012 and Woody Austin in 2016.

''I'm just here to free up John,'' Allen said. ''It was fun. Luckily, I started making good putts today. We just want to keep the good times rolling.''

Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf

Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco were a stroke back along with Bernhard Langer-Tom Lehman and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett. Singh and Franco had a 7-under 32 in best-ball play at Mountain Top, and Lehman-Langer and Broadhurst-Tripplet each shot 6-under 48 at Top of the Rock.

''Part of the issue here is all the tees are elevated, so you're up high hitting to a green that's down below and the wind is blowing, and there is more time for that wind to affect it,'' Lehman said. ''If you guess wrong on the wind, you can hit a really good shot and kind of look stupid.''

Former UCLA teammates Scott McCarron and Brandt Jobe were two strokes back at 11 under with Steve Flesch and David Toms and the Spanish side of Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez. McCarron-Jobe had a 47, and Jimenez-Olazabal a 48 at Top of the Rock, and Tom Flesch shot 34 at Mountain Top.

First-round leaders Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik had a 52 at Top of the Rock to fall three shots back at 10 under. Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly also were 10 under after a 32 at Mountain Top. Jay Haas aced the 131-yard seventh hole at Mountain Top with a gap wedge. Haas and fellow 64-year-old Peter Jacobsen were 8 under after a 32.