Notes Welcome Back Monty Rare Birdies

By Associated PressJune 12, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. OpenOAKMONT, Pa. -- The last time Colin Montgomerie played at Oakmont, he forced a three-way playoff for the 1994 U.S. Open title with eventual winner Ernie Els and Loren Roberts. But Montgomerie wilted in stifling heat and humidity to shoot a playoff-round 78.
 
This time, Montgomerie put heat on himself by firing his caddie, Alastair McLean, before arguably the most important tournament of the year. McLean caddied for Montgomerie since 1991. The two also split in 2002, reuniting before Montgomerie's excellent performance in the 2004 Ryder Cup near Detroit.
 
The latest split came after Montgomerie missed the cut in last week's Austrian Open. Montgomerie is 30th in the European Order of Merit, but hasn't finished higher than 15th in his six tournaments there this year.
 
Montgomerie was in position to win last year at Winged Foot, but a poorly hit 7-iron on the final hole helped Geoff Ogilvy win. Still, the 43-year-old Montgomerie said his play last year proved he can still compete at the level needed to win a major.
 
WELCOME BACK, VAUGHN:
Vaughn Taylor stood on the Oakmont practice green for 30 minutes, then said being on a golf course never felt better.
 
Taylor got a scare last month at the AT&T Classic when he became dizzy bending over to stick a tee in the ground and could not see the ball when he stood over a putt. He withdrew after the first round, went to the doctor and learned he was suffering from vertigo.
 
I didn't know what was going on,' Taylor said. 'The further I bent over, the worse it go.'
 
He said the vertigo was a product of allergies, and Taylor learned he was allergic to just about everything -- pine straw, Bermuda grass, dogs, dust.
 
Taylor returned to the PGA TOUR last week in Memphis after missing two weeks, failing to break par any of the four rounds. But he's feeling good about his game and much better about his health going into this week's U.S. Open, the record eighth at Oakmont.
 
WATCH THE (LACK OF) BIRDIES:
Something to consider when pondering whether Tiger Woods can win his first major at Oakmont, one of the few elite American championship courses he has never played during competition: Can he win a tournament while playing over par?
 
Woods was a combined 62 under while winning his last four majors: the 2006 PGA (18 under), 2006 British Open (18 under), 2005 British Open (14 under) and 2005 Masters (12 under). Yet Woods says a plus-4 might win at Oakmont -- Geoff Ogilvy won with a plus-5 at Winged Foot last year -- and Vijay Singh predicts a plus-10 might do it.
 
Woods has shown he can win when the numbers are in red. This will be a different test, trying to win with scores that may be in the black.
 
For now, Woods is trying merely to tame his contrary driver. He didn't look comfortable hitting it Monday into Oakmont fairways that, on some holes, were as slender as a model's waist. At one point, he yelled to himself following a poor tee shot, 'Stay on it!' after he felt he prematurely pulled his right hand off the club.
 
PINK IS IT:
Among Woods' practice partners Monday was the long-hitter Bubba Watson, who could be seen at a distance -- and not just because of his long drives -- as he trotted out one of his pink-shafted drivers.
 
HOWELL OUT:
David Howell of England became the first to depart the U.S. Open, withdrawing Monday with a wrist injury.
 
Howell was replaced by Luke List, the first alternate from the Woodmont qualifier who lost a 3-for-2 playoff. It will be the third U.S. Open for List, who just completed his senior season at Vanderbilt. List will make his professional debut.
 
NOT A 'BURGHER:
Woods, interestingly, is playing a competitive event in the Pittsburgh area for the first time in his career. He once played an exhibition at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Fayette County, receiving about $1 million, and initially signed up for the 84 Lumber Classic there in 2004. But he pulled out following a disappointing showing at the Ryder Cup the week before.
 
Oakmont is 14 miles from downtown Pittsburgh, in a pleasant suburban community of about 7,000 that features numerous Victorian-style homes, brick streets, gas lights and, it seems, a clock tower on nearly every corner.
 
NOT-SO-HOT WEATHER:
Montgomerie still remembers the brutal weather during the 1994 Open at Oakmont, when highs were in the upper 90s every day except for the Monday playoff, when they cooled off to around 90. He can't remember playing in more oppressive conditions, even during Asian tour events.
 
Montgomerie hasn't had a very good season, as evidenced by his caddie firing, but at least he won't have to contend with such unseasonable weather again.
 
Forecasts call for temperatures in the low 80s each day, with mostly to partly sunny skies Thursday through Saturday and more clouds than sun on Sunday. More of the same is predicted on Monday, in case the U.S. Open goes to a fifth day at Oakmont as it did in 1983 and 1994.
 
Dry weather is enjoyable for the spectators and allows rounds to go off with no delays, but they could make Oakmont's super-fast greens even faster.
 
Currently, they're about 13.5 on the Stimpmeter, the device that measures green speed. If the USGA dictates, the greens can be made faster still.
 
'If it's dry, it will be unreal because these greens are so severe, obviously the speed and the rough that they have there, it will be everything you want,' Woods said. 'Only will it help the scores if it rains a little bit and slows it down.'
 
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    Crenshaw pleased with reaction to Trinity Forest

    By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 12:02 am

    DALLAS – Despite the tournament debut of Trinity Forest Golf Club coming to a soggy conclusion, course co-designer Ben Crenshaw is pleased with how his handiwork stood up against the field at this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson.

    Crenshaw was on property for much of the week, including Sunday when tee times were delayed by four hours as a line of storms passed through the area. While the tournament’s field lacked some star power outside of headliner Jordan Spieth, Crenshaw liked what he saw even though Mother Nature didn’t exactly cooperate.

    “We’re pleased. It’s off to a nice, quiet start, let’s say,” Crenshaw said. “The week started off very quiet with the wind. This course, we envision that you play it with a breeze. It sort of lends itself to a links style, playing firm and fast, and as you saw yesterday, when the wind got up the scores went up commensurately.”


    Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

    AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos


    That assessment was shared by Spieth, a Trinity Forest member who has become the tournament’s de facto host and spent much of his week surveying his fellow players for opinions about a layout that stands out among typical Tour stops.

    “A lot of guys said, ‘It’s grown on me day to day, I really enjoyed it as a change of pace, I had a lot of fun playing this golf course.’ Those were lines guys were using this week, and it shouldn’t be reported any differently,” Spieth said. “It was an overwhelmingly positive outlook from the players that played.”

    Crenshaw didn’t bristle as tournament leaders Aaron Wise and Marc Leishman eclipsed the mark of 20 under par, noting that he and co-designer Bill Coore simply hoped to offer a “different experience” from the usual layouts players face. With one edition in the books, he hopes that a largely positive reaction from those who made the journey will help bolster the field in 2019 and beyond.

    “To me, the guys who played here this week will go over to Fort Worth, and hopefully the field at Colonial that wasn’t here would ask questions of the people who were here,” Crenshaw said. “You hope that some good word spreads.”

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    A. Jutanugarn wins Kingsmill playoff for 8th title

    By Associated PressMay 20, 2018, 11:32 pm

    WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Ariya Jutanugarn birdied the second hole of a playoff Sunday to win the Kingsmill Championship for the second time in three years.

    Jutanugarn closed with a 5-under 66 to match Nasa Hataoka (67) and In Gee Chun (68) at 14-under 199.

    Jutanugarn and Hataoka both birdied the first extra hole, with Chun dropping out. Hataoka putted first on the second extra hole and missed badly before Jutanugarn rolled in a 15-footer for her eighth career victory. The 22-year-old Thai star's older sister, Moriya, won the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in Los Angeles in April for her first LPGA Tour victory


    Full-field scores from the Kingsmill Championship


    Jutanugarn started the day two shots behind Chun and had a two-shot lead before making bogey at the par-5 15th. Hataoka, playing with Chun in the final threesome, birdied No. 15 to join Jutanugarn at 14 under, and Chun made a long birdie putt on the par-3 17th to also get to 14 under.

    The tournament was cut from 72 holes to 54 when rain washed out play Saturday.

    Brooke Henderson closed with a 65 to finish a shot back. Megan Khang was fifth after her third straight 67.

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    Jimenez wins first Champions major at Tradition

    By Associated PressMay 20, 2018, 9:32 pm

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Miguel Angel Jimenez finally got to light up a victory cigar after winning a senior major championship.

    Jimenez won the Regions Tradition on Sunday for his first PGA Tour Champions major title, closing with a 2-under 70 for a three-stroke victory. He celebrated with a big embrace from fellow Spaniard and two-time Masters winner Jose Maria Olazabal, who hoisted him in the air.

    After a round of photos and speeches from local dignitaries, Jimenez finally got to break out the celebratory cigar.

    ''It's time to have a medal in my pocket and it's nice to be on the first major of the year,'' he said.

    Jimenez held or shared the lead after every round, taking a three-shot edge into the final round at Greystone Golf & Country Club. The Spaniard finished at 19-under 269 for his fifth PGA Tour Champions victory.

    ''It's been a wonderful week,'' he said. ''My game was amazing, really.''


    Full-field scores from the Regions Tradition


    Steve Stricker, Joe Durant and Gene Sauers tied for second.

    It was the third time Jimenez had entered the final round of a senior major with at least a share of the lead but the first one he has pulled out. He tied for third at the 2016 Senior British Open and for second at the 2016 U.S. Senior Open.

    Durant and Sauers finished with matching 69s, and Stricker shot 70.

    Jimenez birdied two of the final three holes including a closing putt for good measure.

    Jimenez entered the day at 17 under to tie Gil Morgan's 21-year-old Tradition record through 54 holes. He got off to a rough start with an errant tee shot into a tree-lined area on his way to a bogey, but he never lost his grip on the lead.

    Jimenez had three bogeys after making just one over the first three rounds, but easily held off his challengers late.

    His approach on No. 18 landed right in the center of the green after Stricker's shot sailed well right into the gallery. He had rebuilt a two-stroke lead with a nice birdie putt on No. 16 while Durant and Stricker each had a bogey among the final three holes to leave Jimenez with a more comfortable cushion.

    Stricker and Durant both had par on the final hole while Sauers also birdied to tie them. Durant had produced two eagles on No. 18 already in the tournament but couldn't put pressure on Jimenez with a third.

    Stricker's assessment of his own performance, including a bogey on No. 17, was that he ''made quite a few mistakes.''

    ''Just didn't take care of my ball, really,'' he said. ''I put it in some bad spots, didn't get it up and down when I had to a few times, missed a few putts. Yeah, just didn't have it really, didn't play that good, but still had a chance coming down to the end.''

    Jeff Maggert finished with a 64 and was joined at 15 under by Scott McCarron (67) and Duffy Waldorf (66).

    Jimenez made a birdie putt on No. 16 one hole after falling into a tie with Stricker with a bogey. Durant faltered, too, with a bogey on No. 16.

    ''When (Stricker) made birdie and I make a bogey on the 15th, everything's going up again very tight,'' Jimenez said. ''It's time to hole a putt on 16, for me that makes all the difference.''

    Stricker had two wins in his first four senior tour events this year and remains second on the money list. He has finished in the top five in each of his events.

    Bernhard Langer finished five strokes off the lead in his bid to become the first to win the Tradition three straight years. He shot 66-67 over the final two rounds after a slow start.