Notes DiMarco Anomaly Phil and Butch

By Associated PressFebruary 21, 2007, 5:00 pm
2007- WGC-AccentureMARANA, Ariz. -- During a brief visit to The Gallery earlier this week, Jack Nicklaus said success in match play usually carries over into stroke play because it teaches players how to finish off the round. Each match was similar to a final round, with the pressure building and little room for error.
Chris DiMarco's record doesn't seem to support that theory.
He won a clutch match at the Presidents Cup in South Africa in 2003. He was the only American with a winning record at the Ryder Cup a year later. His singles match victory in 2005 at the Presidents Cup delivered an emotional victory for the Americans. And his record at the Accenture Match Play Championship is 12-6, including a runner-up finish in 2005 to David Toms.
Then again, his last PGA TOUR victory was five years ago, and he has only three victories in his career.
DiMarco thinks it's only a matter of bad timing.
'I look back at the seconds I've had in the past two or three years, and every one of those I've played well enough to win,' he said. 'I just got beat by somebody. That's going to happen on the PGA TOUR unless you last name is Woods.'
Sure enough, he lost a playoff to Tiger Woods in the '05 Masters after they finished seven shots ahead of the field. He was runner-up to Woods at the British Open last summer, three shots clear of third place. He also pointed to Firestone in 2005, when he was tied for the lead until Woods birdied the 16th hole.
'I've put myself in position to win,' he said. 'Obviously, I feel like I should have won more tournaments than I have. And you're right. Closing is what it's all about.'
DiMarco said he gets tentative in stroke play, especially on the greens, because running it too far past the hole for a potential three-putt often doesn't matter in match play.
He won his opening matching Wednesday, breezing by Ryder Cup teammate Brett Wetterich, 4 and 3.
Butch Harmon spent about 15 minutes with Phil Mickelson on the practice range at The Gallery on Tuesday, and it created quite a buzz. Golf World magazine posted a story that ESPN put on its Web site with a headline, 'Mickelson turns to Harmon for help with driver woes.'
The AP quoted Harmon on Tuesday as saying Mickelson's swing coach, Rick Smith, was not in Arizona this week and that Lefty had called Harmon and asked him to take a look. Harmon spent about 15 minutes with him.
Smith told the magazine he had 'zero issues with it.'
'Phil called me five minutes afterward and said, 'You know the media is going to make a big deal out of it. I want you to know there's nothing to it,'' Smith said. 'I've had so many guys who work with other teachers come up and ask me to look at their swings. Nothing's up.'
Asked about it after he beat Richard Green, Mickelson said only, 'I'm not going to go there.'
'We've been friends for a long time,' he said of Harmon.
The tournament began with 23 Americans and 19 Europeans among the 64-man field at The Gallery.
After one round, Europe is 1-up.
Going into Thursday's matches, Europe has 11 players still alive, one more than the Americans. And in the four matches Wednesday between the two continents, Europe won them all -- Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain over Paul Goydos; Niclas Fasth of Sweden over Joe Durant; Ian Poulter of England over Bart Bryant; and Henrik Stenson of Sweden over Zach Johnson.
There are three U.S.-Europe matches in the second round. Sergio Garcia of Spain takes on Charles Howell III; Justin Rose of England plays Phil Mickelson; and Padraig Harrington of Ireland faces Stewart Cink.
Bradley Dredge might have felt like hiding on the British Airways flight to America.
On the screen were highlights from the Goodwill Cup, an exhibition that turned into a lowlight for the Welshman. The exhibition came down to his match against Peter Senior, and Dredge chopped up the final hole so badly it took him four to reach the green.
'It was a bit of a funny one,' Dredge said. 'I saw it was on the plane and decided not to watch it. I didn't want to see my swing on the last tee there.'
He wouldn't mind seeing highlights of his match against Ernie Els, though. In his debut at the Accenture Match Play Championship, he took out fifth-seeded Ernie Els in 15 holes.
Charl Schwartzel passed up a chance to play this week, where even losing in the first round -- he would have played Ernie Els -- pays $40,000.
Instead, the 22-year-old South African decided to stay home and play the Telkom PGA Championship on his native Sunshine Tour, where he can win the Order of Merit. And even though he passed on an opportunity to win $1.35 million and a World Golf Championship title, Schwartzel could pick up plenty of other perks.
'It's an interesting one,' Trevor Immelman said of his fellow South African. 'But once he wins the South African Order of Merit, he will get into the British Open, Bridgestone (Invitational), the CA Championship in Doral, as well as the Million Dollar Challenge, which is a massive event for us South Africans.
'He felt like if he was going to give up this one, he was going to gain four other big ones. So I can understand it.'
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    Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 2:30 pm

    Tiger Woods shot his second consecutive 70 on Friday at Carnoustie and enters weekend play at even par for the championship, still in contention for major No. 15.

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    Scott and Sunesson a one-week partnership

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 2:13 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Adam Scott has been in between caddies for the last month and went with a bold stand-in for this week’s Open Championship, coaxing veteran looper Fanny Sunesson out of retirement to work for him at Carnoustie.

    Sunesson caddied for Nick Faldo in his prime, as the duo won four major titles together. She also worked for Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia before a back injury forced her to retire.

    But for this week’s championship, Scott convinced the Swede to return to the caddie corps. The results have been impressive, with the Australian following an opening 71 with a second-round 70 for a tie for 16th place.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “It's been going great. Fanny is, obviously, a fantastic caddie, and to be able to have that experience out there with me is certainly comforting,” Scott said. “We've gotten along really well. She's picked up on my game quickly, and I think we think about things in a very similar way.”

    Scott was also asked about a potential long-term partnership between the duo, but he didn’t sound hopeful.

    “It's just for this week,” he said. “It would be up to her, but I don't think she's making plans of a comeback. I was being a bit opportunistic in contacting her and coaxing her out of retirement, I guess. But I think she's having a good week. We'll just take it one week at the moment.”

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    After tense Augusta Sunday, Rory ready to be aggressive

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 1:51 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy temporarily lost his superpowers during the Masters.  

    In one of the most surprising rounds of the year, he played tentatively and carefully during the final day. Squaring off against the major-less Patrick Reed, on the brink of history, with the backing of nearly the entire crowd, it was McIlroy who shrank in the moment, who looked like the one searching for validation. He shot a joyless 74 and wound up six shots behind Reed.

    No, the final round was nowhere near as dispiriting as the finale in 2011, but McIlroy still sulked the following week. He binge-watched TV shows. Devoured a few books. Guzzled a couple of bottles of wine. His pity party lasted a few days, until his wife, Erica, finally dragged him out of the house for a walk.

    Some deeper introspection was required, and McIlroy revealed a healthier self-analysis Friday at Carnoustie. He diagnosed what went wrong at Augusta, and then again two months later at the U.S. Open, where he blew himself out of the tournament with an opening 80.

    “I was worrying too much about the result, not focusing on the process,” he said. “Sunday at Augusta was a big learning curve for me because, even if I hadn’t won that tournament, but I went down swinging and aggressive and committing to every shot, I would have walked away a lot happier.”

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    And so McIlroy has a new mantra this week at The Open.

    Let it go.

    Don’t hold back. Don’t worry about the repercussions. Don’t play scared.

    “I’m committed to making sure, even if I don’t play my best golf and don’t shoot the scores I want, I’m going to go down swinging, and I’m going to go down giving my best,” he said. “The result is the byproduct of all the little things you do to lead up to that. Sometimes I’ve forgotten that, and I just need to get back in that mindset.”

    It’s worked through two rounds, even after the cool, damp conditions led McIlroy to abandon his ultra-aggressive strategy. He offset a few mistakes with four birdies, shooting a second consecutive 69 to sit just a couple of shots off the lead.

    During a sun-splashed first round, McIlroy gleefully banged driver on almost every hole, flying or skirting the bunkers that dot these baked-out, undulating fairways. He wasn’t particularly accurate, but he also didn’t need to be, as the thin, wispy rough enabled every player to at least advance their approach shots near the green.

    Friday’s weather presented a different challenge. A steady morning rain took some of the fire out of parched fairways, but the cooler temperatures also reduced much of the bombers’ hang time. Suddenly, all of the bunkers were in play, and McIlroy needed to adjust his driver-heavy approach (he hit only six) on the fly.

    “It just wasn’t worth it,” he said.

    McIlroy hit a few “skanky” shots, in his words, but even his bigger misses – on the sixth and 17th holes – were on the proper side, allowing him to scramble for par and keep the round going.

    It’s the fifth time in his career that he’s opened a major with back-to-back rounds in the 60s. He’s gone on to win three of the previous four – the lone exception that disastrous final round (80) at Augusta in 2011.

    “I don’t want to say easy,” he said, “but it’s felt comfortable.”

    The weekend gets uncomfortable for everyone, apparently even four-time major winners who, when in form, ooze confidence and swagger.

    Once again McIlroy has that look at a major.

    The only thing left to do?

    Let it go.

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    Z. Johnson may have to pay for the jet home

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 1:23 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Zach Johnson will have some bragging rights when he gets back to the ultimate golf frat house on Friday after a second-round 67 moved him into the lead at The Open.

    Johnson is rooming with Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Kevin Kisner, Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler this week at Carnoustie. It’s a tradition that began two years ago at Royal Troon.

    Kisner joked on Thursday after he took the first-round lead that the perks for the house/tournament front-runner were limited: “I probably get to eat first,” he said.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    There is, however, one running wager.

    “Two years ago we, I don't know if you call it bet, but agreement that, if you win, you get the jet and you buy it, so we go home,” said Johnson, who added that because of varying travel arrangements, the wager might not be needed this year. “I didn't pay last year. Somebody else did.”

    Spieth won last year’s championship at Royal Birkdale.

    Despite the expense, Johnson said he didn’t know how much it costs to charter a private flight back to the United States, but it’s a good problem to have.

    “I’d be happy to fork it over,” he smiled.