Past champs Stricker, Johnson headline John Deere

By Associated PressJuly 10, 2013, 9:39 pm

SILVIS, Ill. – Steve Stricker might be the only golfer on the PGA Tour who isn't peeking ahead to Muirfield and next week's British Open.

Stricker's single-minded focus on TPC Deere Run, combined with his recent dominance of the course, makes him the man to beat at this weekend's John Deere Classic.

Stricker, 46, is playing a reduced schedule this season – and he's skipping the Open Championship to celebrate his wedding anniversary with his wife Nicki in Wisconsin.

But Stricker won the John Deere Classic three times from 2009-11. He's not about to pass on a shot at a fourth title just down the road in Illinois.

''I owe a lot to this place. It's a special place for me,'' Stricker said.


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Stricker and Zach Johnson, who grew up about 100 miles across the Mississippi River in nearby Cedar Rapids, Iowa, are the unquestioned headliners this week.

That's largely because most of the world's top golfers are already concentrating in Scotland.

There's no Tiger, Rory or Phil in this field. In fact, the only golfer ranked in the top 10 in the world that'll play Deere Run is Louis Oosthuizen – and he's 10th.

Just eight of the world's top 50, including Stricker, Keegan Bradley, Nick Watney and Johnson, have committed to the tournament. But what the field lacks in star power it should make up for somewhat in depth, as nearly half of the top 100 on FedEx Cup points list will tee off on Thursday.

''It doesn't matter where we're playing or what the field looks like. They're all good,'' said Johnson, who also serves as an executive board member for the tournament. ''If you don't know the names, you're going to know them at some point because they're all too good.''

Johnson broke Stricker's three-year winning streak here in 2012. But he enters his hometown event in a bit of a slump.

Johnson followed up a third-place finish at the Crowne Plaza Invitational in late May by shooting 13-over par at The Memorial Tournament and missing the cut at the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club.

Johnson said that although his putting remains ''up and down'' – a worrisome sign because of how many birdie chances Deere Run presents – he's feeling more and more confident in his driver.

Johnson also notched top-5 finishes at Deere Run in 2009 and 2011 before beating Troy Matteson on the second hole of a playoff last year.

''My golf game is in a much better form than it was at the beginning of the year. I've said it a couple of times and I hate to admit it, but my golf game was not where it needed to be early on in the year,'' Johnson said. ''That was just a process to kind of get where I am now.''

But not even Johnson can approach the run that Stricker has had at the John Deere.

Stricker's reduced schedule also appears to be doing wonders for his game in 2013.

Stricker has four top-10s in seven events – including a memorable eighth at the U.S. Open.

''My attitude is fresher,'' Stricker said. ''Just getting it right in my mind at the start of the year that this is what I wanted to do was a big step in my own mind, knowing that I am doing the right thing. And I feel good about what I'm doing. That helps me play the way I've been playing.''

Bradley will be making his John Deere Classic debut and is seeking his first win of the year. Watney will also be looking for a breakthrough after missing three straight cuts from mid-May to Merion.

Jonas Blixt initially said he intended to return to his native Sweden after winning last week's Greenbrier Classic. But Blixt remains scheduled to tee off Thursday with Watney and Oosthuizen.

Perhaps no one in the field will have more fun this weekend than Oosthuizen.

The South African is a self-described ''farm boy'' with an affinity for John Deere equipment. Oosthuizen celebrated his 2010 British Open by buying a John Deere tractor, and he even brought family and friends to the Quad Cities this week so they could tour the company's facilities.

''I've still got quite a bit of passion for golf. But John Deere and farming is not far off,'' Oosthuizen said.

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Mullinax fires course-record 62 at Valero

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 9:01 pm

Trey Mullinax surged into contention during the third round of the Valero Texas Open, shooting a 10-under 62 that set a new course record on the AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio.

Mullinax started the day seven shots off the pace, but by the time he completed his round he had taken a one-shot lead with the overnight leaders still on the course. The former Alabama standout caught fire on the back nine, shooting a 7-under 29 despite a bogey after chip-ins for eagle on No. 14 and birdie on No. 16 to go along with an eagle on the home hole.

"It's probably one of the best rounds I've ever had," Mullinax told reporters. "To go out there and shoot 62 on a hard golf course is really good."

Mullinax appeared headed for a missed cut after a 74 in the opening round, but he bounced back with a second-round 68 to earn a weekend tee time and his third-round score broke the previous course record of 63 held by multiple players.

The 25-year-old finished 137th in FedExCup points last season, leaving him with only conditional status this season. His lone top-10 finish of the year came at the Valspar Championship, where he survived a Monday qualifier and went on to tie for eighth, and this marks only his third start since the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February.

"Obviously I would like to play a little more, but the tournaments I get in, I'm really excited about playing golf," Mullinax said. "I've loved every start I've gotten, and I'm very thankful to be in the position I'm in."

Mullinax holed a putt to clinch a national title for the Crimson Tide in 2014, and he finished T-9 at last year's U.S. Open at Erin Hills. But success has been fleeting among the professional ranks, meaning Sunday's opportunity to notch a career-best finish or breakthrough victory is nothing short of enticing.

"I'm sure you'll be nervous," Mullinax said. "To have a chance to win or just go play good golf is what I came here for, so that's what I'm going to do."

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Quiros maintains one-shot lead through 54 in Morocco

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 7:46 pm

RABAT, Morocco - A birdie on the last hole gave Alvaro Quiros a one-shot lead after three rounds of the Trophee Hassan II.

Quiros' birdie on No. 18 allowed the Spanish golfer to sign for an even-par 72 on Saturday to stay at 7-under par overall and clear of four players in second place.

South African pair Erik van Rooyen and Christiaan Bezuidenhout, France's Alexander Levy, and Finland's Mikko Ilonen were just a shot behind at 6 under heading into the final day at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Rabat.

Quiros is a seven-time winner on the European Tour, but went six years without a victory until last year with his triumph at the Rocco Forte Open in Italy.


Full-field scores from the Trophee Hassan II


He's seeking a wire-to-wire victory in Morocco after sharing the first-round lead with Bradley Dredge before taking it outright on Day 2.

Quiros had an on-off day in the third round - he said it was ''suddenly great shot, suddenly not so good'' - and carded four birdies and four bogeys to come out even and still hold on to his lead.

Van Rooyen shot 71, Bezuidenhout 68, Levy a 69, and Ilonen the best round of the week so far with his 6-under 66.

Ilonen had seven birdies and just a single bogey - on his first hole - to leap 23 places up the leaderboard and into contention for a first tour title since 2014 when he won the World Match Play Championship.

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M. Jutanugarn eyeing first win with L.A. Open lead

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:50 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn took the lead into the weekend at the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open in her latest bid to join younger sister Ariya as an LPGA winner.

Moriya Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Friday at Wilshire Country Club to get to 8-under 134 in the LPGA Tour's first event in Los Angeles since 2005. The 23-year-old from Thailand started fast with birdies on the par-5 second, par-4 third and par-3 fourth and added two more on the par-4 11th and par-5 13th.

Ariya Jutanugarn has seven LPGA victories.

Marina Alex was second after a 68.


Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


So Yeon Ryu was 6 under after a 69, and fellow South Korean players Inbee Park(71) and Eun-Hee Ji (69). Park was the first-round leader at 66. Lexi Thompsonwas 3 under after a 71.

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng followed her opening 74 with a 67 to get to 1 under.

Ariya Jutanugarn (71) was even par, and Michelle Wie (70) was 1 over. Brooke Henderson, the Canadian star who won last week in Hawaii, had a 79 to miss the cut.

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Johnson, Moore co-lead Valero Texas Open through 36

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson was going nowhere in the Valero Texas Open when it all changed with one putt.

He made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole of the opening round to stay at 2 under. He followed with a big drive, a hybrid into 12 feet and an eagle. Johnson was on his way, and he kept right on going Friday to a 7-under 65 and a share of the 36-hole lead with Ryan Moore.

''You just never know. That's the beauty of this game,'' Johnson said. ''I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. You just never know.''

Moore had three birdies over his last five holes for a 67 and joined Johnson at 9-under 135.

They had a one-shot lead over Grayson Murray (69) and Andrew Landry (67).

Ben Crane (66), Martin Laird (65) and David Hearn (68) were three shots behind. Billy Horschel and Keegan Bradley shot 71 and were four shots behind at 5-under 139.


Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos


Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, had a short stay in his first time at the Texas Open since 2010. Garcia shot an even-par 72, and at one point became so frustrated he threw his driver into the shrubs.

Garcia finished at 2-over 146 and missed the cut.

It was the first time since 2010 that Garcia missed the cut in successive starts. That was the PGA Championship and, 10 weeks later, the Castello Masters in Spain. This time, he missed the cut in the Masters and Texas Open three weeks apart.

Johnson, a two-time winner of the Texas Open, appeared to be headed to a short week until the key par save on the 13th hole, followed by his eagle, par and three straight birdies. He began the second round Friday with five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, a sixth birdie on the par-4 first hole, and then an eagle on the short par-4 fifth when he holed out from a greenside bunker.

The only sour taste to his second round was a three-putt bogey from about 30 feet on his final hole. Even so, the view was much better than it was Thursday afternoon.

Moore thought he had wasted a good birdie opportunity on the par-5 14th hole when he left his 50-foot eagle putt about 6 feet short. But he made that, and then holed a similar putt from 8 feet for birdie on the next hole and capped his good finish with a 15-foot putt on the 17th.

''That was a huge momentum putt there,'' Moore said of the 14th. ''It was a tough putt from down there with a lot of wind. That green is pretty exposed and ... yeah, really short and committed to that second putt really well and knocked it right in the middle.''

The birdies on the 14th and 15th were important to Moore because he missed a pair of 10-foot birdie tries to start the back nine.

''So it was nice to get those and get going in the right direction on the back,'' he said.

The cut was at 1-over 145, and because 80 players made the cut, there will be a 54-hole cut on Saturday.