Notes Year of the Blowout Wies Big Heart
Four months into the season, this is becoming the year of the blowout.
Competition is so tough and so deep that it's rare when anyone wins by more than a shot or two. But when Appleby won the Houston Open by six shots, it was the sixth time in 16 tournaments that the margin of victory was at least five shots.
These guys are good. But some of these guys aren't having to sweat very much.
'I've watched tournaments where players had big victories and thought, 'I don't know how easy it would be or how crazy it would be,'' Appleby said. 'I felt comfortable and relaxed knowing there was no way I could mess up the tournament.'
How rare is a victory by five shots or more?
There were only four tournaments decided by that margin all of last year, and only twice in the last 10 years have there been more than six tournaments won by at least five shots. It happened seven times in 2003 and eight times in 2000 -- half of those by Tiger Woods, who won the U.S. Open by 15, the British Open by eight, the NEC Invitational by 11 and the Memorial by five.
Phil Mickelson owns the largest margin of victory this year, winning by 13 shots at the BellSouth Classic.
Two blowouts have come from first-time PGA TOUR winners -- rookie J.B. Holmes by seven shots in Phoenix and Arron Oberholser by five shots at Pebble Beach. The other big winners were David Toms (five shots at the Sony Open) and Stephen Ames (six shots at The Players Championship).
Since the PGA TOUR was formed in 1969, the biggest year of blowouts was in 1982, when nine tournaments were decided by five shots or more. The tightest year was 1991, when the largest margin of victory all year was four shots, and 17 events were won in a playoff.
Michelle Wie's charity is getting as much attention as her golf.
The 16-year-old from Hawaii donated $500,000 to the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund when she turned pro last October. Now, she has donated $300,000 to an endowment at the Yonsei University Severance Hospital and Korea University Medical Center that will pay for operations for more than 30 children who could not otherwise afford them.
Wie will be in South Korea next week for the SK Telecom Open, her eighth time competing against the men.
'Before she made a commitment to play in the SK Telecom Open, Michelle wanted to do something in her first trip to Korea as a professional golfer and she wanted to help children with illnesses but whose parents don't have the money to pay (for) the surgery,' her father, B.J. Wie, told The Honolulu Advertiser.
The hospital selected which children, between the ages of 8 and 18, would get the operations.
ON THE RISE
Steve Stricker was on his way to pay his taxes when life took a turn for the better.
A four-time winner on the PGA TOUR who is having to get by on sponsors' exemptions this year, Stricker had not played since the Ford Championship at Doral the first week of March and his prospects were looking bleak. Then he got a call from Steve Timms, the tournament director of the Houston Open, offering him an exemption.
'I started to get a little worried that I wasn't getting into any events,' Stricker said. 'Funny how things can change out here from one week to the next.'
With the weather improving in Wisconsin, Stricker had been trying to stay competitive by playing money games with Jerry Kelly and some friends from the Canadian Tour. He carried that to Redstone, shot 68-66 on the weekend and finished third, his best result since winning the 2001 Match Play Championship in Australia.
Better yet, it was worth $374,000 and moved him from No. 155 to No. 58 on the money list. And finishing in the top 10 earned him a spot in the field this week at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
'Every bit helps me, especially when I don't know when I'm going to get into an event,' Stricker said. 'Those finishing holes are so hard. I made birdie on No. 15, and was just trying to make pars on the way in. Fortunately, I was able to do that.'
Houston was only his fourth start this year. He tied for 14th at Pebble Beach, tied for 30th at Tucson and missed the cut at Doral.
Stricker now has $471,484, already more money than he earned in each of the last three years. And while he still has to play out of the past champions category -- among the lowest on the totem pole -- the reshuffle after the U.S. Open should help him get into more events.
British Open officials are still waiting for the first woman to enter this year's tournament at Royal Liverpool.
The Royal & Ancient Club revised its rules last year to allow women to enter. Although Michelle Wie has said she won't play, officials are still hopeful of other entries.
'We did not open it up to women hoping they would not enter,' R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said Tuesday. 'Having done that, it will be a shame if they do not take advantage of the opportunity. Having said that, it was never our intention to disrupt the women's tours. ... But the option is there.'
Women are eligible to enter regional qualifying if they finish in the top five of the majors.
One problem is that the HSBC Match Play Championship on the LPGA Tour is July 6-9, which clashes with regional qualifying for the British Open.
Prize money for the U.S. Open will remain at $6.5 million, the first time in 25 years it did not increase its purse. That makes two consecutive majors that have not raised the purse. The Masters again was $7 million. The U.S. Women's Open prize money also will stay the same at $3.1 million. ... Mike Weir's tie for sixth at the Houston Open was his fourth top-10 of the year, already twice as many as he had in 2005. ... International players have won eight of 17 events this year on the PGA TOUR.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Tim Petrovic has missed 16 cuts in his last 30 events since winning in New Orleans last year.
'She has the ability to do for the women's tour what Tiger has done for the men's tour, and that would help all of us.' -- Morgan Pressel on Michelle Wie's impact on the LPGA Tour.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off
NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.
Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.
The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.
Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.
Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.
Third-round tee times for the 147th Open
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.
Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.
Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.
Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.
Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.
4:15AM ET: Gavin Green
4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed
4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose
4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton
4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley
5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner
5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson
5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)
5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood
5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello
6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford
6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma
6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele
6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood
6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na
6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin
7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim
7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira
7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters
7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li
7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker
7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink
8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook
8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris
8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim
8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari
8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson
8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell
9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka
9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott
9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren
9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone
9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett
10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler
10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell
10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau
10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen
10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele
10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood
11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson
Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.
He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.
“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.
At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.
Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.
“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”
Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?
Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.
Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.
“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”
Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.
Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.
“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.
More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.
“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”