Russ Cochran sets course record at Crooked Stick

By Associated PressAugust 1, 2009, 4:00 pm
CARMEL, Ind. ' Russ Cochran entered the U.S. Senior Open just trying to get his game together.
After breaking the course record at Crooked Stick on Saturday, he could finish near the top of the leaderboard.
Cochran had even-par 72s on Thursday and Friday to make the cut, then fired an 8-under 64 on Saturday. He was tied for sixth place at 8 under, five shots behind leader Fred Funk.
I dont know where it came from, exactly, Cochran said. I hit it well, but obviously made a bunch of putts to go with it.
The previous record was set Thursday, when Greg Norman, Joey Sindelar, Dan Forsman and amateur Tim Jackson shot 66s.
Cochran had nine birdies in what he called one of his best days as a golfer. On two occasions, he birdied three consecutive holes. The performance was shocking because the 50-year-old hadnt placed higher than 19th in his past five senior events.
It definitely ranks up there as one of my better rounds.
Cochran said he thought he could improve his position over the weekend, but never considered contending.
There might be a chance where I make a couple birdies and make up a little ground if I shoot a couple under par, he said, recalling his thoughts from earlier in the day. To be honest with you, I didnt see this coming.
Cochran hadnt played much the previous five years, so his expectations were tempered.
Coming back, Id shown signs of some good play, but I hadnt followed through with them, he said. It seemed like today, I got it rolling a little bit. Then it started looking good to me, and it seemed like the more I made, the more I relaxed.
Cochran said hell need to take his carefree approach into Sunday.
I went out and hit a driver on the first hole today, kind of out of character for me, jumped up there and said Im going to be aggressive and Im not going to back off any lines and see what happens, he said. I didnt know the putter was going to cooperate so well, so that was an added bonus.

FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH: Norman said hes driving the ball as well as he has in years.
Norman was second place at 12 under heading into the final round on Sunday. He even had an eagle on 15 on Saturday after what he called a beautiful drive.
He doesnt plan to make changes on Sunday.
Keep hitting it to where Im hitting, he said. Im driving the ball long and straight, and Freddy (Funk) made the comment that Im driving the ball like I used to do it. And so its a good feeling when you can get up on any tee and hit it the way you feel like you can hit it.
Norman had a little extra motivation for the third round. His wife, former tennis star Chris Evert, attended Saturday.

MOVING UP: Scott Simpson shot a 4-under 68 to move up to 8 under and a tie for sixth place.
I played really well, drove in most of the fairways and hit a lot of good irons, he said. Rolled the ball well, and no bogeys, which is always good.
It looked like he might end up higher. He got birdies on the second, fifth and eighth holes and was at 7 under heading into the back nine. After a birdie on 11, he got par on each of the remaining holes.
Simpson missed the early part of the season with a broken left wrist. That made Saturdays effort more satisfying.
That was probably the best round Ive played since I came back, he said.
Defending champion Eduardo Romero shot a 2-under 70 for the second straight day to move to 3 under. He struggled to a 73 on Thursday.
Olin Browne shot a 68 and jumped to 1 under, and Keith Fergus shot a 69 to improve to 2 under.
The worst round of the day came from Kevin Marion, who shot a 13-over 85. He was 62nd at 16 over.

OTHER AMATEURS: Jackson is the amateur who has received much of the attention this week, but another has quietly performed well.
Bryan Norton shot a 3-under 69 on Saturday for a 1-under total.
Norton, who barely made the cut, was tied for 24th place.
A third amateur, Bert Atkinson, didnt fare so well. He shot a 6-over 78 on Saturday and had an overall score of 9 over.
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    Runner-up McIlroy: 'I should have closed it out'

    By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 5:18 pm

    After taking the 36-hole lead by three and taking a share of the 54-hole lead into the final round, Rory McIlroy failed to keep pace with Francesco Molinari on Sunday at the BMW PGA Championship.

    Struggling with a two-way miss throughout the weekend, McIlroy fell four down to Molinari through 10 holes.

    The Ulsterman attempted to mount a late charge, with birdies at 12 and 17, but when his eagle putt at the 72nd hole came up inches short, and when Molinari's ball opted not to spin back into the water, the comeback bid came to an end.

    His final round of 2-under 70 left him in solo second, two shots behind the champion.

    Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship

    "I’m just disappointed I didn’t play better over the weekend," McIlroy said. "I was in a great position after two days and struggled yesterday and sort struggled today again, as well. I just couldn’t get it going. I let Francesco get a few shots ahead of me, and I couldn’t claw that back.

    “I played some good golf coming down the back nine, hit some better shots, but I need to work on a few things going forward."

    McIlroy ended an 18-month worldwide winless drought earlier this year with his victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational but hasn't claimed victory on the European Tour in two years, since the Irish Open in May of 2016.

    "I get a bit down on myself because my expectations are high, and with a 36-hole lead, I should have closed it out this week," McIlroy said. "But that’s not taking anything away from Francesco. He played a great weekend and bogey-free around here is some playing. He deserved the win, I need to do a little more work, and I’m looking to forward to getting right back at it at Memorial next week."

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    Molinari holds off McIlroy to win BMW PGA

    By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 3:20 pm

    VIRGINIA WATER, England - Francesco Molinari's path to the biggest win of his career at the BMW PGA Championship was drama-free until he sized up his approach to the 72nd hole.

    Rory McIlroy, his closest rival three strokes back, had just hit to 20 feet to set up an eagle chance. Molinari was between clubs for his third shot and faced a delicate wedge over the water protecting Wentworth's pretty 18th green.

    His ball landed short of the pin and span back toward the water. The spectators held their collective breath - so did Molinari - but it came to rest on the fringe, just short of trouble.

    ''Just a bit of luck at the right time,'' Molinari said, with a smile.

    After McIlroy came up inches short with his eagle putt, Molinari rolled in for par from 6 feet for a 4-under 68 that secured a two-stroke victory at Wentworth on Sunday. It was the fifth win of his career, and his most satisfying.

    ''If I could pick one tournament to win in my career, it would be this one,'' the Italian said at the prizegiving ceremony.

    A Sunday shootout between Molinari and McIlroy at the European Tour's flagship event never really materialized.

    They entered the final round tied for the lead on 13 under but while McIlroy sprayed his drives left and right, Molinari was the model of consistency and established a three-shot cushion by the turn after birdies at Nos. 3, 4 and 8.

    From there on, it was a clinic in front-running from Molinari, who laid up when he needed to and picked up his only shot on the back nine with a tap-in birdie at the par-5 12th.

    McIlroy birdied the par 5s at Nos. 17 and 18 but mounted his victory charge too late.

    ''I didn't feel intimidated at all,'' Molinari said of his head-to-head with the former world No. 1. ''It's just the last couple of holes, he's basically thinking eagle, eagle. I'm thinking par, par, and that makes the whole difference.

    ''Sometimes I just get too drawn on what the other guy is doing, and I was really good today, hitting good shots and focusing on my process and not worrying about anything else.''

    Molinari played his final 44 holes bogey-free. He only dropped two shots all week, one of them coming on his first hole.

    Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship

    He will likely climb into the world's top 20 on Monday and has moved into the automatic qualifying places for the European team for the Ryder Cup, which he hasn't played since 2012 when Europe beat the United States in the so-called ''Miracle at Medinah.''

    ''I'm playing well enough that I shouldn't really worry too much about that,'' Molinari said. ''I should just keep doing my own thing and hopefully things will take care of themselves.''

    Molinari previously had five top-10 finishes in the last six years at Wentworth, including being runner-up to Alex Noren last year.

    On that occasion, Noren closed with a 10-under 62 and the Swede embarked on another last-day charge 12 months later, a fifth birdie of the day at No. 12 briefly drawing him to within two shots of Molinari.

    It was the closest he came, with a bogey at the next virtually ending his bid for victory.

    With a 67, Noren was tied for third with Lucas Bjerregaard (65), a stroke back from McIlroy.

    McIlroy, the 2014 winner at Wentworth, played what he described as one of his best rounds of 2018 on Friday, a bogey-free 65 that left him with a three-shot lead.

    He struggled off the tee in shooting 71 on Saturday and started the final round with errant drives on Nos. 1 and 3 (both right, into spectators) and No. 4 (left). After a bogey at No. 10, he was the only player in the top 10 over par but he birdied the three par 5s coming home to salvage what was otherwise a disappointing Sunday.

    ''With a 36-hole lead,'' McIlroy said, ''I should have closed it out this week.''

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    Four top finishers in Japan qualify for The Open

    By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:19 am

    IBARAKI, Japan – Shota Akiyoshi of Japan shot a 2-under-par 70 on Sunday to win the Mizuno Open and qualify for The 147th Open.

    Akiyoshi offset three bogeys with five birdies at the Royal Golf Club in Ibaraki, Japan, to finish 1 under overall and secure his first ever tournament win on the Japan Golf Tour.

    Michael Hendry of New Zealand and Japanese golfers Masahiro Kawamura and Masanori Kobayashi were tied for second one stroke off the pace to also qualify for The Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, from July 19-22.

    Hendry, who led the tournament coming into the final round, came close to forcing a playoff with Akiyoshi but dropped a shot with a bogey on the final hole when he needed a par to draw level.

    Hendry will make his second appearance at The Open after qualifying at the Mizuno Open for the second year in a row.

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    Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

    By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

    Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

    Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

    And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

    “The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

    Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

    Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.

    Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

    Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

    Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

    “I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

    Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

    A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

    It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

    There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

    Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

    The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

    Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

    “I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”