A Quiet Sunday at Augusta National

By Associated PressApril 3, 2005, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Steve Flesch felt a warm blast of wind on his face as he gazed down the first fairway Sunday afternoon at Augusta National, looking like a man who would not want to be anywhere else on earth.
 
The alternative was Atlanta, which made this moment even sweeter.
 
Flesch was among five players who entered the BellSouth Classic as a final tuneup before the Masters, then pulled out when the tournament didn't start for two days because of rain.
 
He played the back nine at Augusta on Saturday afternoon. As some players were just starting the second round Sunday afternoon in Atlanta, Flesch was headed to the first tee at Augusta to join Jonathan Kaye for a relaxing round with no spectators, no distractions, no worries.
 
'It's been so bad lately, you can't get into any kind of rhythm playing,' Flesch said, noting that weather has interrupted play at eight of the 14 events this year on the PGA Tour, and the BellSouth Classic won't be finished until Monday.
 
He didn't come up with a phantom injury for withdrawing from the BellSouth Classic. He simply told tournament officials, as much by his early departure as any words he said, that the Masters was on his mind.
 
'You can always say you've got a bad back,' Flesch said. 'I just told them that wasn't how I wanted to prepare for this week. If I knew I was going to have play Monday, I never would have played the tournament.'
 
He walked into one of the best weekends of the year.
 
The Sunday before the Masters is a practice round like no other major, on a course that looks like any other country club on a lazy afternoon. Players share the course with Augusta National Members and both bring friends, making it look more like a member-guest at the local club.
 
'This is special,' Craig Parry said. 'It's quiet. I think it's the best time to come, because there are no spectators. You just go out there and enjoy it for what it is.'
 
Nothing captured the spirit of the afternoon quite like Nick Faldo, a three-time Masters champion who was fidgeting with a camera on the putting green as he waited for the 10th tee to clear so he could play with his son, 16-year-old Matthew.
 
It was the lad's first time playing Augusta National.
 
'He was born three weeks before I won my first Masters,' Faldo said, recalling his first green jacket in 1989 when he holed a 25-foot birdie on the second extra hole to beat Scott Hoch.
 
Matthew rapped a few putts, amazed at the speed of the green. Did his dad mention that the greens are probably faster than anything else he has seen?
 
'He'll figure it out soon enough,' Faldo said.
 
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was on the grounds, for reasons unclear, although he took time to chat with Jerry Kelly. It was a diverse blend of players -- members and their guests, first-timers like Mark Hensby, former champions Gay Brewer, Charles Coody, Fuzzy Zoeller and Ben Crenshaw, and players who simply couldn't wait to get started.
 
Scott Verplank (Oklahoma State) teed off with Todd Hamilton (Oklahoma). Ian Woosnam played with Jesper Parnevik and a guest of the Swede's, who hit his opening tee shot about 210 yards and into the trees.
 
Not to worry -- the Masters doesn't start until Thursday, and the real work doesn't begin until Monday, when the gates open to some 40,000 fans and players start trying to remember all the nuances about the only course where a major championship returns every year.
 
For Flesch, sunshine was the biggest treat.
 
Adam Scott turned into a prophet when he said at the Sony Open in Hawaii, the second week of the year, 'For a tour that tries to follow the sun, it seems we play under water a lot of the time.'
 
In consecutive weeks in California, the Nissan Open was cut short to 36 holes over five days because of rain, and the Match Play Championship lost one day because the course was under water.
 
Florida was just as bad. The Bay Hill Invitational lost all but three hours of the first day because of rain, and The Players Championship the following week got so much rain that the tournament didn't finish until Monday, when the leaders had to play 32 holes.
 
Then came the two-day delay in Atlanta.
 
'It seems like this year has taken forever, but I can't believe we're already at Augusta. Does that make sense?' Flesch said. 'It just doesn't seem like I've played any golf this year.'
 
That should change this week. The forecast is for mostly sunny skies, with a mild chance of showers on Thursday.
 
Augusta National is as green as ever, with azaleas and dogwoods bursting in bloom. With a golf club in hand, there was no better place to be.
 
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    Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

    By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

    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.

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    Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

    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.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    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

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    Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

    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.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    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.”

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    Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

    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.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    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.”