Notes Harrington last major champion standing

By Associated PressAugust 8, 2008, 4:00 pm
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2008 US Open 81x90BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. ' Tiger Woods can only watch the PGA Championship on TV, if he so chooses, as he recovers from season-ending knee surgery after winning the U.S. Open.
 
That left British Open champion Padraig Harrington and Masters winner Trevor Immelman as the only players in the PGA Championship field with a chance to win multiple majors this year.
 
Now, its just Harrington.
 
Harrington shot a 74 Friday at Oakland Hills to make the second-round cut at 5 over. Immelman wasnt as fortunate, struggling for the second straight day and finishing at 13 over.
 
A year ago, Harrington found out how exhausting it is to win the British Open. He just hasnt figured out a way to play through it because hes just as worn out after repeating.
 
Ive just run out of steam, the Irishman said. What can I say? I havent got the focus this week. Obviously, Im still just having a hangover after winning the Open.
 
I think I need to spend 24 hours in bed.
 
Immelman can sleep as long as hed like this weekend after missing the cut for the fourth time in eight PGA TOUR events since winning at Augusta in April.
 
I played poorly and Im bitterly disappointed about it, the South African said. Ive been fighting with my swing. Ive got the double-miss going, missing left and right. I really need to figure out what Im going to do with my long game.
 
But it doesnt hurt knowing you won a major.
 
JUST CUTTING IT
 
Jim Furyk made one of the two birdies on the 498-yard, par-4 18th Friday and his was huge.
 
It got him to 8-over 148'good enough to make the cut on the number'after he had four bogeys and two doubles during a 7-over second round.
 
Robert Allenby birdied three of his last four holes for a 72 that left on the cut line.
 
South African Charl Schwartzel made a remarkable run to make the cut by a stroke with six birdies in a seven-hole stretch on his back nine.
 
U.S. Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger also made it, the first active captain to make the cut since Tom Kite in 1997, but two players on the bubble burst their chances of being among the eight automatic qualifiers for the team.
 
Woody Austin and Hunter Mahan, who started the week ninth and 10th in U.S. Ryder Cup points, both failed to make the cut.
 
U.S. Open runner-up Rocco Mediate will start the third round at 8 over, surviving a round putting on what he called a brown and nasty, surface.
 
Its not a complaint, but theyre on the verge of dying, Mediate said. Its hard and its OK.
 
Its supposed to be hard.
 
First-round leaders Robert Karlsson and Jeev Milkha Singh both were unable to put together another strong round, but 77 and 74 respectively was good enough to keep them in the field.
 
Five of the top 15 players in the world, not counting Tiger Woods, didnt make the cut: Vijay Singh (12 over) Adam Scott (10 over), Stewart Cink (11 over), Lee Westwood (15 over) and K.J. Choi (11 over).
 
Two-time major winner John Daly played relatively well, but his 74-75 was one too many shots.
 
KENTUCKY BLUES
 
Woody Austin thinks his Ryder Cup chances are over.
 
Austin shot a second straight 79 Friday and at 18 over, missed the cut by 10 shots in his last chance to lock up one of the automatic spots on the U.S. team.
 
I embarrassed myself out there, Austin said. Its like I forgot how to play golf. I looked like a 20 handicap.
 
Austin entered the week ninth in Ryder Cup points, which would have been good enough in past years. This year, though, U.S. captain Paul Azinger will have four captains picks to go along with eight automatic slots.
 
My whole intention for the year was to make the team, Austin said. I didnt do that, so my year is over.
 
Azinger, though, wasnt ready to write off Austin, who is well-known for usually being hard on himself, or Hunter Mahan, who was 10th on the list and also missed the cut.
 
The Ryder Cup is not this week, said Azinger, who will announce his picks Sept. 2 in New York.
 
Knowing how tough Austin is on himself, Azinger joked that he was going to call his wife.
 
Im going to call Shannon and tell her to put away the sharp objects, Azinger joked.
 
Even though Austin is still a candidate to be one of Azingers selections, hes not so sure.
 
Every expert that Ive heard in the last month has said that Paul is going to go with young guys, the 44-year-old Austin said. Ive played one bad tournament in the last three months, and thats all anyone is going to remember.
 
While Austin, Mahan and 14th-ranked Zach Johnson ended their hope to earn an automatic spot on the team that will face Europe next month in Kentucky, seventh-ranked Boo Weekley and eighth-ranked Steve Stricker held their positions by making the cut.
 
Four players between No. 11 and 16 in the standings'D.J. Trahan, Rocco Mediate Sean OHair and second-round leader J.B. Holmes'improved their chances by making it to the weekend.
 
WEIRS WOE
 
Mike Weir might have found the solution to Oakland Hills famed greens'a lofted putter. Weir used an 18-degree hybrid club after breaking his putter.
 
I tossed my club at the bag on the par-3 13th, and it must have just caught the plastic part because it dented the shaft, said Weir, who is 8 over after his second-round 75. Im a dummy.
 
The 2003 Masters champion was pleasantly surprised, though, at his success with the unconventional putter that helped him make the cut.
 
I didnt three-putt a single green with the hybrid, and that was after five three-putts with the regular one, he said. I might bend my putter to an 18-degree loft tonight. Maybe thats the way to putt these greens.
 
DIVOTS
 
Anthony Kim was the only player with a birdie at the par-3 17th. After hitting his last tee shot, Jerry Kelly walked over to the ropes and gave the driver to a kid, who was so startled by the gesture that he dropped the club. Sean OHair remained in contention at 2-over by making spectacular saves on his last two holes, one from the gaping bunker just right of the eighth green and then hitting an 18-foot putt for par on No. 9. When Andres Romero went to bed Thursday night, he shared the lead at 2 under because darkness ended his round through 16 holes. Romero bogeyed his final first-round hole Friday morning, then came close to missing the cut. He had a quadruple-bogey 8 after finding water twice at No. 16 and a double-bogey 6 at 18 to drop to 78 for the day and 7 over.
 
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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.”