Notes No 1 on Line for Els

By Associated PressJune 19, 2004, 4:00 pm
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. -- The stage is set for Ernie Els to make a claim for the top spot in the world rankings.
If Els wins Sunday - he was two strokes behind Retief Goosen and playing in the final group - and Tiger Woods finishes lower than sixth, the Big Easy takes over No. 1.
Woods was tied for 19th after shooting 73 Saturday, leaving him nine shots off the lead.
Woods has held the No. 1 ranking since August 1999, when he replaced David Duval at the head of the list.
Tim Clark was a couple of feet and an inch from the round of his life, let alone the U.S. Open.
The native of South Africa shot a 4-under 66, the best score of Saturday's third round and only one of three under par at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. In addition to moving him onto the leaderboard - he's tied for sixth place, four shots behind leader Retief Goosen - it started conversations of what could have been.
He had a tap-in eagle on the par-5, 537-yard 5th hole and he missed a 2-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th. A 64 would have been one shot off the Open's 18-hole record. The double-eagle would have been just the second ever recorded in an Open as T.C. Chen had one in 1985 at Oakland Hills.
It would have been the second double-eagle in a month for Clark and would have been with the same club.
'From the fairway it looked like it went in the hole, got up there and it was literally an inch behind the cup, pretty much a tap-in eagle,' he said of the 6-iron from 210 yards. 'I made a double-eagle with that club in the qualifying for this event.'
He had four birdies and two bogeys, but it was the par on 18 that kept him from really enjoying the round.
'I just hit a bad putt. It's a tough way to finish,' he said of his short run at another birdie on the final hole. 'I guess I have to put that behind me and go out tomorrow.'
Clark, who has been bothered by a sore right wrist, finished tied for ninth last week at the Buick Classic.
'I feel I've been swinging the club great and making my fair share of putts,' he said.
With Goosen leading, Ernie Els tied for second and Clark, South Africa has three players in the top seven heading into the final round. Clark is the only one of the three without an Open title.
'If he keeps his health he might win a U.S. Open,' Els said of Clark. 'He's straight off the tee, he's got good iron play. Retief, he's got the perfect temperament and a hell of a game. We've got great players coming through and it's good for the country, it really is.'
Jay Haas shot a 76 in the third round and his son Bill had a 71 leaving them tied at 6-over 216.
On Sunday, Father's Day, Jay Haas will tee off at 11:40 a.m., 30 minutes and three groups before Bill, an amateur who will turn pro next week.
'If I had made a par on 18 we would have been one group apart,' Jay Haas said. 'That would have been nice but this whole week has been something special.'
Tiger Woods had a 3-over 73 Saturday to continue his struggles in third rounds of the U.S. Open.
Woods, who has won this event twice, has broken 70 only once in the nine third rounds he has played. He had a 69 at Southern Hills in 2001, when he finished tied for 12th. The years he won he had a third-round 71 (2000) and 70 (2002).
Woods closed his round Saturday with an eagle 2 when he holed a sand wedge from 106 yards.
'I tell you what, that definitely put me back in the tournament, where if the wind blows and I play a great round of golf, I can still win this tournament,' he said.
Chris DiMarco broke his driver on Friday and said it was one of the best things he ever did.
He finished the second round using a 3-wood off the tee and missed one fairway over the final 13 holes. On Saturday, he went to a backup driver and again found the fairway nine times.
'The backup was the same as the other driver so maybe it was me and not the club,' he said after shooting a 70 that left him at 2-over 212. 'Nah, breaking that was the best thing that happened to me.'
Spencer Levin had a 1-over 71 Saturday and was at 3-over 213, the low third-round score for the four amateurs who made the cut.
Chez Reavie and Bill Haas both had 71s Saturday and were at 216, while Casey Wittenberg had a 75 and was at 217.
Three former U.S. Open champions are in the top 10 after 54 holes.
Leader Retief Goosen, who won in 2001, was two strokes in front of Ernie Els, who in 1994 and 1997, while Corey Pavin, the winner here in 1995, was tied for ninth, another four strokes back.
Els is trying to become the sixth players to win three or more Opens. Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus each won four, while Hale Irwin won three.
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    Hammer in position (again) to co-medal at U.S. Am

    By Ryan LavnerAugust 14, 2018, 10:37 pm

    PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer is in position to go for a rare sweep in this summer’s biggest events.

    Two weeks ago, Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas, was the co-medalist at the Western Amateur and went on to take the match-play portion, as well.

    Here at the U.S. Amateur, Hammer shot rounds of 69-68 and was once again in position to earn co-medalist honors. At 6-under 137, he was tied with 19-year-old Daniel Hillier of New Zealand.

    “It would mean a lot, especially after being medalist at the Western Am,” Hammer said afterward. “It’s pretty special.”

    No stroke-play medalist has prevailed in the 64-man match-play bracket since Ryan Moore in 2004. Before that, Tiger Woods (1996) was the most recent medalist champion.  

    Match scoring from U.S. Amateur

    U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

    On the strength of his Western Am title, Hammer, 18, has soared to No. 18 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He credited his work with swing coach Cameron McCormick and mental coach Bob Rotella.

    “Just really started controlling my iron shots really well,” said Hammer, who has worked with McCormick since 2015, when he qualified for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old.

    “Distance control with my wedges and all my iron shots, playing different shots, has become really a strength in my game. I’ve really turned the putter on this year, and I’m seeing the lines and matching the line with the speed really well. I think that’s been the key to my summer.”

    A two-time New Zealand Amateur champion, Hillier is ranked 27th in the world. He said that, entering the tournament, he would have been pleased just to make it to match play.

    “But to come out on top, it’s amazing,” Hillier said. “Cole is a really good golfer and has been playing well lately. So, yeah, I’m in good company.”

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    Tee times, TV schedule, stats for Wyndham Championship

    By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 14, 2018, 9:55 pm

    It's the last tournament of the PGA Tour's regular season as the top 125 in the FedExCup points list advance to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for the Wyndham Championship. (Click here for tee times)

    How to watch:

    Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream:

    Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream:

    Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

    Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

    Purse: $6 million

    Course: Sedgefield Country Club (par 70, 7,127 yards)

    Defending champion: Henrik Stenson. Last year he defeated Ollie Schniederjans by one stroke to earn his sixth career PGA Tour win.

    Notables in the field

    Henrik Stenson at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

    Henrik Stenson

    • Missed the cut last week at the PGA Championship

    • Six top-10 finishes this year, including T-5 at the Masters and T-6 at the U.S. Open

    Sergio Garcia

    • Eight missed cuts in last 10 PGA Tour starts

    • Currently 131 in FedExCup standings (33 points back of 125th)

    Webb Simpson

    • Five top-10 finishes in this event since 2010 (won in 2011)

    • 56 under par in last five years in this event (best of any player in that span)

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    Faldo: Woods told fellow Masters champ 'I'm done' in '17

    By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 7:42 pm

    Fresh off his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, it's easy to get caught up in the recent success and ebullient optimism surrounding Tiger Woods. But it was not that long ago that Woods even hitting another competitive shot was very much in doubt.

    Six-time major champ Sir Nick Faldo shed light on those darker times during a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show when he relayed a story from the 2017 Masters champions' dinner. The annual meal is one of golf's most exclusive fraternities, as only the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is allowed to dine with the men who have each donned a green jacket.

    Last spring Woods had not yet undergone spinal fusion surgery, and Faldo explained that Woods at one point turned to an unnamed Masters champ and grimly assessed his future playing chances.

    Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    "I know he whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago, 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,'" Faldo said. "He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the (2016) Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain."

    But Woods opted for fusion surgery a few weeks later, and after a lengthy rehab process he returned to competition in December. His 2018 campaign has been nothing short of remarkable, with a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with a T-6 result at The Open when he held the outright lead on the back nine on Sunday.

    After apparently even counting himself out, Woods is back up to 26th in the latest world rankings and appears in line to be added as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next month.

    "What he's been able to do is unbelievable," Faldo said. "To turn this aruond, to get this spine fusion, it's completely taken away the pain. To have this mobility is absolutely amazing. Great on him, and great for golf."

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    McDowell needs Wyndham result to maintain status

    By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 5:56 pm

    For the first time in nearly three years, Graeme McDowell heads into an event with his PGA Tour status hanging in the balance.

    The Ulsterman joined the Tour in 2006, and he has had nearly uninterrupted status since winning the 2010 U.S. Open. But McDowell's two-season exemption for winning the 2015 OHL Classic at Mayakoba only extends through this week, where he will start the Wyndham Championship at No. 143 in the season-long points race.

    McDowell tied for fifth at Sedgefield Country Club in 2016, and he will likely need a similar result to crack the top 125 in the standings and retain his fully exempt status for the 2019 season. While he finished T-10 in Las Vegas in November, that remains his lone top-10 finish of the Tour season. The veteran's best results this year have come in Europe, where he tied for fifth at the Italian Open and finished T-12 at the BMW PGA Championship.

    Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    "I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I feel like it's not a do-or-die scenario for me," McDowell told reporters earlier this month at the Barracuda Championship. "I feel if I was 25 years old without a European Tour card to fall back on, it would be a do-or-die scenario. Certainly trying to put the pressure off, if I don't get myself into the top 125 it's not the end of the world for me. I still feel like I can play a great schedule next season."

    By finishing Nos. 126-150 in points after this week, McDowell would retain conditional status that would likely ensure him at least 12-15 starts next season. He would also still have privileges as a past tournament champion.

    But he's not the only winner from the 2015-16 season whose two-year exemption is on the verge of running out. Fabian Gomez (160th), Peter Malnati (164th) and Billy Hurley III (202nd) all need big results in Greensboro to keep their cards, while Shane Lowry, David Lingmerth and Matt Every all earned three-year exemptions for victories in 2015 but currently sit Nos. 139, 140 and 184 in points, respectively.

    Last year four players moved into the top 125 thanks to strong play at Wyndham, with the biggest jump coming from Rory Sabbatini, who went from No. 148 to No. 122 after tying for fourth place.