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Record-setting Rock leads Scottish, eyes Open berth

By Associated PressJuly 13, 2018, 8:12 pm

GULLANE, Scotland - Robert Rock was already heading to Carnoustie next week to work at The Open in a coaching capacity.

He might now have to take his clubs.

Rock, ranked No. 244, set the record for the lowest 36-hole total since the Scottish Open was launched by the European Tour in 1972, adding a 7-under 63 in the second round Friday to his 64 on Day 1. So far, he has made 13 birdies and not dropped a shot.

Not only did it give the English golfer a two-shot lead on 13-under 127 at Gullane, it also gave him a great chance of earning one of the final qualification spots for The Open just up the east coast of Scotland.

''It's everything for me,'' Rock said.

On a day when players shot low scores because of a lack of wind, the course record was broken twice - by Connor Syme of Scotland (62) and then Hideto Tanihara of Japan (61). The layout has only been played once before, at the Scottish Open in 2015.

Tyrrell Hatton (64) and unheralded Swede Jens Dantorp (65) were the closest challengers to Rock. Eddie Pepperell (63) and Rickie Fowler (66), the winner at Gullane three years ago, were a shot further back.

One of golf's more nattily dressed players, Rock is most famous for overcoming Tiger Woods in a last-group, final-round shootout at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in 2012. That remains the second and most recent professional win for a player who never wears a golf hat and seemingly never has a hair out of place.


Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


Nowadays, the 41-year-old Rock - a former club pro - has started coaching again. Among his part-time pupils are Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn and up-and-coming English player Matt Wallace, whose two wins this year have secured a place at The Open for the first time.

''My job is to be there with him (Wallace) and help him prepare. I was looking forward to that anyway,'' Rock said, before adding with a smile: ''But I'd love to play there, of course.''

To do that, he has to be one of the leading three players to finish in the top 10 and ties who are not otherwise exempt for Carnoustie. And that's far from guaranteed with Gullane as defenseless as it has been this week.

Hatton, likely to be in Europe's Ryder Cup team against the United States in Paris in September, opened with a 65 and has only made one bogey this week.

Dantorp, who is playing in his second full year on the tour and has only one top-10 finish, went down No. 18 needing a birdie to tie the lead. He made a bogey, his first of the week.

Tanihara was 9 under par for his round after 15 holes and required two more birdies to become the first player in European Tour history to shoot a 59. He could only par his way home, but that still meant Syme's 62 from the morning was the course record for about eight hours.

Defending champion Rafa Cabrera Bello missed the cut, which came at 4 under, after a 67 left him on 1 under. Also sidelined at the weekend will be Phil Mickelson (69, for 1 under overall) and Hideki Matsuyama (70, for 2 under overall).

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Tiger Tracker: 42nd Ryder Cup

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 25, 2018, 1:15 pm

Fresh off his 80th PGA Tour victory at the Tour Championship, Tiger Woods is competing in his first Ryder Cup since 2012. We're tracking him.


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Euros wearing yellow ribbons to honor slain golfer

By Will GraySeptember 25, 2018, 12:51 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – European Ryder Cup team members will wear yellow ribbons this week to honor Celia Barquin Arozamena, who was murdered last week while playing golf.

Arozamena went to school at Iowa State, but she was a native of Spain and won the European Amateur Championship in July. She was attacked and killed Sept. 17 while playing a round by herself at Coldwater Golf Links in Ames, Iowa.

European captain Thomas Bjorn wore one of the ribbons while addressing media Tuesday at Le Golf National, and he explained that the decision to honor Arozamena came out of a discussion between Ryder Cup Europe and her mother.


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“The golfing family extends beyond what we are trying to do this week,” Bjorn said. “It’s nothing about us, but it’s just more about that the golfing family gets touched by these things all over the world. It’s terrible when things like this happen.”

Arozamena considered Ryder Cup stalwart and fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia one of her idols growing up, and the two met when she was a child. Garcia sent condolences out via social media last week, saying he was “heartbroken” over her death.

“Such a great prospect for the game of golf she was, but also a wonderful person,” Bjorn said. “When you speak to Sergio and [Spaniard] Jon [Rahm] about it, they couldn’t talk highly enough about her. We felt like that was appropriate for the week.”

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Spieth, Reed in different groups during Tuesday practice

By Rex HoggardSeptember 25, 2018, 12:38 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Tuesday’s U.S. groupings at the Ryder Cup may give a glimpse into what potential pairings we will see this week at Le Golf National.

In the day’s first foursome, Tiger Woods, Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed played together. The second group included Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas; and the anchor group was Bubba Watson, Tony Finau, Brooks Koepka and Webb Simpson.

Whether those groups will make up captain Jim Furyk’s version of the team’s pods, however, remains to be seen. Given that half of his team has never played Le Golf National, Furyk said he tried to match players on Tuesday with those who had some experience on the course.


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“Today is really about trying to learn the golf course and hit some solid golf shots,” Furyk said. “There may be some pairings out there and there's some groups there isn't. Just want them concentrating on their own game right now. They are very aware of who they will be playing with this week and they are very aware of some of the options they have.”

Given the success of previous pairings and some relatively obvious choices, it seems there are some likely options for the U.S. Woods and DeChambeau have become regular practice-round partners and at the Tour Championship they experimented with the other player’s golf balls on Tuesday.

It also seems likely that Spieth-Thomas and Fowler-Johnson will be paired in some form this week.

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Le Golf National nothing like wide open Hazeltine

By Will GraySeptember 25, 2018, 12:00 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – The layout at Le Golf National has a distinctly European feel, and captain Thomas Bjorn hopes to keep it that way at the Ryder Cup.

Gone are the wide fairways and short rough of Hazeltine, where the Americans bombed and gouged their way to their first team victory in nearly a decade. This week players will encounter one of the tightest and most demanding tracks on the European Tour, where water lurks around nearly every corner.

“Well this is a tough golf course, to start with,” Bjorn said Tuesday. “I like the idea of a golf course that’s set up like a championship golf course. You’ve got to identify guys that are hitting the golf ball well. Identify guys that are playing good golf that week.”


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Unlike the other recent Ryder Cup host venues on this side of the Atlantic, Le Golf National is somewhat of a known entity in that it annually hosts the European Tour’s French Open. It’s a tournament that Ryder Cup rookies Tommy Fleetwood and Alex Noren have won each of the last two years, while teammates Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia both cracked the top 10 in June.

That should give the Europeans an advantage when it comes to familiarity, and Bjorn’s plans for course setup included a desire to ensure the experience factor for his players would still be relevant this week amid larger-than-normal grandstands.

“There’s guys on this team that have played a lot of French Opens. I don’t want them to show up and it’s a completely different golf course to what they are used to,” Bjorn said. “This is very similar to what it is normally.”

Despite the similarities in setup, there will still be plenty of adjustments for the American squad. Justin Thomas was the only U.S. player to make the trek for this year’s French Open, and captain Jim Furyk admitted that only six of his 12 players had seen the course at all prior to this week.

“We’re just trying to figure it out,” Furyk said. “Europe knows this golf course well. They have played the French Open here. We’re trying to figure out the setup and what they have in store for the week.”