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Perry, Illini coach Small share lead at Senior Players

By Associated PressJuly 13, 2018, 1:00 am

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. - Kenny Perry wasn't sure what to expect.

He's still rounding back into form following shoulder surgery. His back's bothering him, too.

A spot at the top of the leaderboard in a major? He'll take it.

Perry and Mike Small shot 7-under 65s to share a one-stroke lead in the first round of the Constellation Senior Players Championship on Thursday.

Bart Bryant, Glen Day and 2015 U.S. Senior Open champion Jeff Maggert were one stroke back in the fourth of five majors on the PGA Tour Champions schedule.

Defending champion Scott McCarron was in a pack at 5 under, while three-time Senior Players winner Bernhard Langer and Vijay Singh were another shot back at Exmoor Country Club. David Toms, coming off a win at the U.S. Senior Open, shot 2 over.

The 57-year-old Perry and the 52-year-old Small - the longtime Illinois golf coach - each made eight birdies and one bogey. Perry is in contention for his fifth senior major to go with two U.S. Senior Opens (2013, 2017), a Senior Players Championship (2013) and the Regions Tradition (2014).

''I actually made some putts today,'' Perry said. ''I've had a tough year this year.''

Surgery on his right shoulder kept him out from November until late April. He has one top-10 finish in seven starts this season.

Adding to his difficulties, Perry's back flared up on him last week. He bent over to pick up a club while practicing at home in Kentucky. Next thing he knew, he was on the ground and then rushing to see his chiropractor.

All that happened as he was recovering from a bout with strep throat.

''I had played seven straight weeks in a row,'' Perry said. ''It was terrible. ... Seven weeks in a row was way too much golf for an old man, so I just said that was not what I needed to do anymore. Last week was horrible. I couldn't do a lot. And then didn't have a lot of expectations coming in here, but I hit the ball nice and finally made a few putts, and that's why I shot a good score.''


Full-field scores from the Constellation Energy Senior Players


Perry three-putted for bogey on the par-4 seventh and missed a 3-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th. Otherwise, his round was largely stress-free.

Small never has won on the PGA Tour Champions. He is not a tour member and made the field with strong performances in three events where he received sponsors' exemptions. He tied for 10th at the American Family Insurance Championship in Madison, Wisconsin, in late June after tying for ninth at the Principal Charity Classic in Des Moines, Iowa, two weeks earlier.

What would a victory here mean?

''Well, that would be great, but there's a lot of golf to go,'' he said. ''So yeah, that would be awesome. That's what we're here for. Everybody is here to win.''

Bryant was 7 under before finishing with a bogey on 18. But he put himself in contention for his second senior victory to go with the 2013 Dick's Sporting Goods Open.

Not bad, in the midst of what he called a ''very mediocre'' season and a difficult few years on and off the golf course. His wife Cathy died of brain cancer in April 2017, and he finished outside the top 10 in all 14 starts last season. He has one top-10 finish in 10 events this year. But a recent putter switch has boosted his confidence.

Bryant ditched his Bobby Grace putter in favor of an Odyssey 2-Ball before the final round of the American Family Insurance Championship last month. He bought it at a Dick's Sporting Goods the night before, and then shot a 66.

''My caddie and I were having dinner. He goes, 'We've got to do something.' I go, 'Let's go buy a putter,''' Bryant said. ''So I went and bought a putter, and that was the first time I had putted OK.''

Toms struggled on the greens after making long putts on two of the final three holes at the Broadmoor two weeks ago to help secure his first PGA Tour Champions victory.

The 2001 PGA Championship winner was 2 under before missing the green on the par-3 eighth, starting a run of three straight bogeys and four in five holes.

Toms three-putted the par-4 ninth and hit a poor drive on No. 10.

''I still felt like I was playing OK,'' he said. ''But all of a sudden, instead of being three or four under, I was over par. The wind was a little tricky that back nine. I never made any putts, so that was the difference today.''

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McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

12/1: Tony Finau

14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

20/1: Francesco Molinari

25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

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Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.

“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

Her overall assessment of her day?

“It was a great experience,” she said.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

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Knox relishes round with 'mythical figure' Woods

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 8:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Russell Knox was expecting the worst and hoping for the best Thursday at The Open.

Playing with Tiger Woods tends to have that effect.

The native Scot received a treat earlier this week when he saw his name on the tee sheet alongside his boyhood idol, Woods.

“Felt good out there, but obviously my swing, it was just like I had too much tension,” Knox said after an opening 73. “I just wasn’t letting it go as normal. First round with Tiger, I expected to feel a little bit different. The way I felt was better than the way I swung.”

Knox said that he was nervous playing alongside Woods, a player he’d only encountered on the range. “He’s almost like a mythical figure,” he said.

But after a while, he settled into the rhythm of the round at Carnoustie.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I thought it would be worse,” he said, “I feel like I should know what I’m doing. It’s cool playing with Tiger, but I’ve got to get over that. I’m here to win, not just enjoy my walk around the course.”

Knox probably had more interaction with Woods than he anticipated, if only because the third member of the group, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, keeps to himself because of the language barrier.

“It’s kind of a blur,” Knox said. “It’s like, Oh, I’m chatting away with Tiger here like normal. I don’t even remember what I was saying.”

There have been countless stories from this year as the next generation of players – guys who grew up watching Woods dominate the sport – get paired with Woods for the first time.

It was no less special for Knox on Thursday.

“It’s nice for him to say things like that,” Woods said, “and we enjoyed playing with each other. Hopefully we’ll play a little bit better tomorrow.”