Notes Mediate Falters After Injuring Back

By Associated PressApril 9, 2006, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Rocco Mediate bent over as his ball hit the flag on No. 9 and bounced backward, rolling off the sloping green and taking his eagle chances with it.
An eagle would have gone a long way in his pursuit of the Masters title. But the pain Mediate was feeling Sunday afternoon came from his balky back.
After my swing on nine, it went, he said. I almost had to quit, but I couldnt do that.
Mediate hasnt played well the last two years because of ongoing back problems. He had to use a one-time exemption to keep his card last year, and a late surge allowed him to narrowly finish inside the top 125 on the PGA Tour money list. He was at the Masters only because of his sixth-place finish at last years U.S. Open.
Mediates back had been feeling good at Augusta National. He appeared to tweak it as he finished up the third round Sunday morning, but he got treatment during the break and was in good shape through the first eight holes, making three straight birdies to grab a share of the lead at 4-under.
I was tied for the lead at that point and feeling tremendous, Mediate said. I seriously thought I was going to win this golf tournament.
Then came that second shot on No. 9.
It was the sickest sound, he said. And I knew it was coming back.
Mediate pressed on despite the pain, but his game wasnt the same. He made a bogey on the par-4 11th after his second shot sailed far over the green. He dumped two shots into the water at the par-3 12th, and wound up with a 10.
He posted a 10-over 46 for the back nine, giving him 80 for the final round. He finished at 6-over 294, putting him near the bottom of the field.
Now maybe people will know who Tim Clark is.
Previously known as the South African who ISNT Ernie Els or Retief Goosen, Clark made a name for himself with his runner-up finish at the Masters on Sunday. His 69 in the final round put him at 5-under 283, two strokes behind winner Phil Mickelson.
I think it makes me a little bit more determined to play well, Clark said. Obviously people see my name up there and they either think Im Darren Clarke, or, you know, wonder what Im doing there.
Clark has three victories on the European Tour and is a two-time winner on the Nationwide Tour, but hes still looking for his first PGA Tour victory. He has three top-15 finishes this year, including a 10th at the Buick Invitational.
But he tends to play his best in the majors. He tied for third at the U.S. Open last year, and was third at the 2003 PGA Championship. His best previous finish at Augusta was a tie for 13th in 2003.
Ive had a few good major championships and really do feel like I play my best golf in the majors, Clark said. I dont know what it is. I guess I get a little bit more geared up for them or what have you. I pride myself on being up there on the leaderboard with those guys, and when Im there, Im going to try my best to beat them.
He beat the best of the best Sunday. Paired with Tiger Woods, Clark finished one shot ahead of Woods.
Hes still the worlds No. 1 player, Clark said. I just happened to have a great day today.
Brandt Jobe is taking home quite the crystal collection.
Jobe had his second par-4 eagle of the week Sunday, holing out from 138 yards on No. 7. He also eagled the 10th hole in the second round, making him only the third person with two par-4 eagles in one year.
Brett Ogle did it in 1993, and Jack Nicklaus had eagles on the same hole'No. 5 in the first and third rounds'in 1995.
How about that? More crystal, Jobe said, referring to the Masters tradition of awarding a pair of crystal goblets to anyone making an eagle. Its fun. I had a rough week, so these are highlights youll remember, which is nice.
Jobe needed his first eagle just to make the cut, and he finished 12 strokes behind winner Phil Mickelson. But he had a good round Sunday, starting with the eagle. The seventh green is elevated, so Jobe couldnt see his 9-iron shot find the cup. When he heard fans scream and raise their arms, though, he figured hed done it again.
It was only the ninth eagle on the seventh in Masters history. He was only the seventh player to eagle the 10th hole.
Ive never gotten any, so I dont know what to do with it. Put it in my study, he said. Its something youll have forever, so its nice.
Stewart Cink takes back everything he said about the newly supersized Augusta National.
Cink wasnt thrilled with the changes, which added 155 yards and made the course play at 7,445 yards, second-longest for a major championship. The 2004 PGA Championship was played at the 7,514-yard Whistling Straits.
But after getting up close and personal with the new Augusta National, Cink has decided its not so bad.
I was really critical of the changes here. But after seeing the course play like it did, especially the first two days when it was fast and dry, I might have been a little premature, Cink said.
Cink didnt shoot above a 73 during the Masters, and closed with a 70 Sunday to finish at 2-under 286. That was good for 10th place, his best finish ever at Augusta.
I dont think this place is too hard. It just requires a lot of precision, he said. Short hitters still have a chance, but you have to have the short game.
After giving fans a thrill with his great start, Ben Crenshaw thudded to a finish. The two-time champion, who shot a 1-under 71 in the first round, closed with 78-79 and finished dead last. ... Jose Maria Olazabal had the low round of the week, shooting a 6-under 66 Sunday. ... Phil Mickelson has now won six tournaments in the state of Georgia.
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    Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

    ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

    The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

    Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

    ''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

    The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.

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    Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

    Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

    ''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

    Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

    Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

    First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.

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    Henley will try to put heat on Casey in final round

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:55 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – While it will be a tall task for anyone to catch Paul Casey at the Travelers Championship, the man who will start the round most within reach of the Englishman is Russell Henley.

    Henley was in the penultimate group at TPC River Highlands on Saturday, but he’ll now anchor things during the final round as he looks to overcome a four-shot deficit behind Casey. After a 3-under 67, Henley sits at 12 under through 54 holes and one shot clear of the three players tied for third.

    Henley closed his third round with a run of five straight pars, then became the beneficiary of a pair of late bogeys from Brian Harman that left Henley alone in second place.

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

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    “Could have made a couple more putts, but to end with two up-and-downs like that was nice,” Henley said. “I felt a little bit weird over the shots coming in, put me in some bad spots. But it was nice to have the short game to back me up.”

    Henley has won three times on Tour, most recently at the 2017 Houston Open, and he cracked the top 25 at both the Masters and U.S. Open. But with Casey riding a wave of confidence and coming off an 8-under 62 that marked the best round of the week, he knows he’ll have his work cut out for him in order to nab trophy No. 4.

    “I think I can shoot a low number on this course. You’ve got to make the putts,” Henley said. “I’m definitely hitting it well enough, and if I can get a couple putts to fall, that would be good. But I can’t control what he’s doing. I can just try to keep playing solid.”

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    Back from back injury, Casey eyeing another win

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:36 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Given his four-shot cushion at the Travelers Championship and his recent victory at the Valspar Championship, it’s easy to forget that Paul Casey hit the disabled list in between.

    Casey had to withdraw from The Players Championship because of a bad back, becoming the only player in the top 50 in the world rankings to miss the PGA Tour’s flagship event. He flew back to England to get treatment, and Casey admitted that his T-20 finish at last month’s BMW PGA Championship came while he was still on the mend.

    “I wasn’t 100 percent fit with the back injury, which was L-4, L-5, S-1 (vertebrae) all out of place,” Casey said. “Big inflammation, nerve pain down the leg and up the back. I didn’t know what was going on.”

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

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    Thanks in large part to a combination of MRIs, back adjustments and anti-inflammatories, Casey finally turned the corner. His T-16 finish at last week’s U.S. Open was the first event for which he felt fully healthy since before the Players, and he’s on the cusp of a second title since March after successfully battling through the injury.

    “We thought we were fixing it, but we weren’t. We were kind of hitting the effects rather than the cause,” Casey said. “Eventually we figured out the cause, which was structural.”

    Casey started the third round at TPC River Highlands two shots off the lead, but he’s now four clear of Russell Henley after firing an 8-under 62 that marked the low round of the week.

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    Bubba thinks he'll need a Sunday 60 to scare Casey

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:15 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Perhaps moreso than at most PGA Tour venues, a low score is never really out of reach at TPC River Highlands. Positioned as a welcome change of pace after the U.S. Open, the Travelers Championship offers a lush layout that often pushes the balance much closer to reward than risk.

    This is where Jim Furyk shot a 58 on the par-70 layout two years ago – and he didn’t even win that week. So even though Paul Casey enters the final round with a commanding four-shot lead, there’s still plenty of hope for the chase pack that something special could be in store.

    Count Bubba Watson among the group who still believe the title is up for grabs – even if it might require a Herculean effort, even by his standards.

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Watson has won the Travelers twice, including in a 2015 playoff over Casey. But starting the final round in a large tie for sixth at 10 under, six shots behind Casey, he estimates that he’ll need to flirt with golf’s magic number to give the Englishman something to worry about.

    “My 7 under yesterday, I need to do better than that. I’m going to have to get to like 10 [under],” Watson said. “The only beauty is, getting out in front, you have a chance to put a number up and maybe scare them. But to scare them, you’re going to have to shoot 10 under at worst, where I’m at anyway.”

    Watson started the third round three shots off the lead, and he made an early move with birdies on Nos. 1 and 2 en route to an outward 32. The southpaw couldn’t sustain that momentum, as bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 turned a potential 65 into a relatively disappointing 67.

    “Bad decision on the par-3, and then a very tough tee shot for me on 17, and it just creeped into the bunker,” Watson said. “Just, that’s golf. You have mistakes every once in a while.”