Notes: Walker stays hot with Round 1 Match Play win

By Associated PressFebruary 20, 2014, 1:22 am

MARANA, Ariz. – Jimmy Walker has been at the front of the pack all season on the PGA Tour. He got a jump on the field in the Match Play Championship, too.

The Texan was the first player to reach the second round Wednesday at Dove Mountain, finishing off South Africa's Branden Grace 5 and 4 before the last dozen matches even started.

''You want to get the first one out of the way and move on to the next round,'' Walker said. ''You just want to keep doing that. It's nice to get a win early. ... I've been playing a lot of golf and it will be nice to kind of relax a little bit this afternoon.''

Walker won at Pebble Beach two weeks ago for his third victory in nine starts this season. He also won the season-opening event at CordeValle in October and at Waialae in January. Before this season, he was winless in 187 PGA Tour starts.

''It's just validation for me, a lot of years being out here and working hard,'' Walker said. ''And to see it all kind of pay off, that's what I've been waiting for.''

Walker will face Rickie Fowler in the second round. Fowler beat Ian Poulter 2 and 1, playing directly ahead of Walker in the first match of the day.

''Rickie and I have a lot in common,'' Walker said. ''He's a good dude.''

Walker and Fowler work with instructor Butch Harmon.

''Jimmy Walker is hands down the best player in the world right now,'' Fowler said. ''It's going to be a tough match. I know he's a great ball-striker, he's been making a lot of putts and has a lot of confidence right now.''

Walker is playing his first match-play event since the 2000 U.S. Amateur Public Links – the summer between his junior and senior seasons at Baylor.

''I made it to the quarters,'' Walker said. ''So, did pretty well. And was at U.S. Am, but missed match play by a shot or something. But it's been a while.''

Walker won Nos. 3-5, the last two with birdies, to take a 3-up lead and went 4 up with a par on the par-5 eighth. He lost the par-5 11th, took the par-5 13th with a conceded birdie, and finished off Grace with a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-4 14th.

''I feel like I'm hitting well,'' Walker said. ''I feel like I'm playing well. So, yeah, I'm feeling confident and excited about the rest of the week.''

WGC-Accenture Match Play scoring

WGC-Accenture Match Play bracket

WGC-Accenture Match Play: Articles, videos and photos

MATCH-PLAY MAESTRO: Defending champion Matt Kuchar beat Austria's Bernd Wiesberger 3 and 2 to improve to 16-3 in the event.

''I feel like my strengths are not giving holes away,'' Kuchar said. ''This is a unique golf course and it's real easy to get on the wrong side of things here, real easy to miss a green and just put it in a place where you can't get it up-and-down.

''So, I feel like I know the course pretty well. And I strategically feel like I can work my way around and not give away too many holes.''

He did give away the par-4 14th when he forgot to move back his coin on the green after moving the marker out of Wiesberger's line.

''I kind of just fell in love with watching his ball roll out and getting the line,'' Kuchar said. ''And then I think the situation took over that here I was with a 16-footer to win the match and felt really good about the line, and I completely forget to move the mark back. ...

''So made the putt, thought that was the end of the match, shook hands. And there were a couple of questions. I think Bernd asked my caddie, Lance (Bennett), had I remembered to move the mark back. And it came to me and I said, 'Son of a gun, I did not move the mark back.'''

Instead, of a 5-and-4 victory, Kuchar needed two more holes to finish off Wiesberger.

Kuchar will face Ryan Moore in the second round. Moore beat Joost Luiten 1 up.

MEDAL COUNT: Fifteen of the 27 U.S. players advanced to the second round, with the Americans going 10-6 against European opponents.

Only 10 of the 25 European players reached the second round.

Five of the six South Africans – Ernie Els, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen, George Coetzee and Richard Sterne – and all three Swedes – Henrik Stenson, Peter Hanson and Jonas Blixt – advanced. Justin Rose was the only one of the five English players to win, and Sergio Garcia was the lone Spaniard in the four-player contingent to advance.

WEATHER REPORT: A year after snow covered the cactus-lined course, play opened in partly cloudy conditions with a high around 80 degrees.

On Thursday and Friday, the forecast highs are around 75. It is expected to be a little warmer over the weekend, with forecast highs of 78 on Saturday and 79 on Sunday.

Last year, first-round play was suspended when rain gave way to snow from a storm that dumped close to 2 inches and dropped the temperature to 33 degrees. In 2011, the championship match was delayed by snow.

DIVOTS: Hunter Mahan improved to 16-5 in the event, beating Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano 3 and 2. Mahan won the 2012 title and finished second last year. ... The first-round losers received $48,000. The winner will get $1.53 million from the $9 million purse. Second place is worth $906,000, third $630,000 and fourth $510,000. The quarterfinal losers will get $280,000, the third-round losers $148,000, and the second-round losers $99,000.

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Fleetwood, with his fancy umbrella, fires 65 on Day 2

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 12:34 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tommy Fleetwood looked like an Open rookie when he set out on Friday under gray skies and a cold, steady rain.

Because the Englishman doesn’t have an equipment sponsor he made a quick turn through the merchandise tent for an umbrella – but at least he didn’t have to pay for it.

“We stole it,” he laughed when asked about his Open-brand umbrella. “We got one given for free, actually. We didn't steal it. We don't always carry an umbrella. So it just so happens this week that we've got a nice Open Championship [umbrella]. It looked quite nice, the yellow and the course.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

It was Fleetwood’s only rookie move on Day 2 at Carnoustie, posting a flawless 65 to move into an early tie for second place at 5 under par.

Fleetwood holds the competitive course record at Carnoustie, a 9-under 63 he shot last fall during the European Tour’s Dunhill Links Championship, but given Friday’s conditions and the difficulty of this course during The Open, his 65 on Friday might have been better.

“It's not a course record, but it's pretty good,” said Fleetwood, who was stroke behind leader Zach Johnson. “If you went out, you wouldn't really fancy being 6 under out there. So I think that's a good indication of how good it was.”

It was a dramatic turnaround for Fleetwood on Friday. He said he struggled with his ball-striking, specifically his tee shots, on Day 1, but he was able to turn things around with an hour-long session on the range following his opening round.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 10:15 am

Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.

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McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

Said Harmon:

“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.

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How The Open cut line is determined

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:57 am

Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.

The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

• After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.

• There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.

• There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.

The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.