Simpson rolling Kite three back

By Associated PressAugust 23, 2008, 4:00 pm
Boeing ClassicSNOQUALMIE, Wash. ' Scott Simpson thought shooting 65 or 66 at the TPC Snoqualmie Ridge wasnt out of the question for someone playing well.
 
Then he went out and proved it.
 
Riding a new putter, Simpson matched the lowest round of the tournament with a 6-under 66 on Saturday and holds a two-shot lead entering the final round of the Boeing Classic.
 
Simpson made five birdies on the back nine, running off a string of one-putts and surging away from a pack of chasers to put himself in position for his first victory in nearly two years. Its the first time on the Champions Tour that Simpson leads going into the final round.
 
I probably didnt hit it as good as today as I did yesterday, but my putter really got hot, said Simpson, a former U.S. Open champion. It seemed like I was one-putting every hole.
 
Simpson started the day even with Mark Wiebe at 5-under, and made his charge on the back nine with birdies on Nos. 10, 11, 13, 14 and dropped a 15-footer on No. 16. Simpson avoided his first bogey of the tournament by dropping a 14-foot par putt on the 17th, then pared the 18th to hold a two-shot lead over David Edwards. Simpson had just 24 putts in his round, including one-putts on six straight holes between Nos. 9 and 14.
 
Simpson changed his putter after the U.S. Senior Open earlier this month and the results are impressive: he has just two bogeys in his last 104 holes.
 
Simpsons last victory came two years ago at the Wal Mart First-Tee Open at Pebble Beach. That victory came a week after he shot 61 in the second round of the Boeing Classic, only to find himself one shot out of a playoff on Sunday.
 
Its great to get the putter rolling. Obviously it helps your score, but it helps your psyche as well, Simpson said.
 
But in true fashion of this 4-year-old tournament, Simpson doesnt find himself with much of a cushion heading into Sundays final round, which was pushed up by two hours because of an incoming storm expected to hit the area later Sunday.
 
Edwards was equally solid, shooting a bogey free round, and dropped all five of his birdies on par 4s, some of them the most difficult holes on the course.
 
Tom Kite, champion two years ago when Simpson shot a course-record 61 in the second round, is two shots back following a 67 that briefly had him in the lead early in his round before seeing Simpson and Edwards pushed ahead on the back nine.
 
Kite left his 30-foot birdie putt on 18 hanging on the lip, one of a number of shots Kite felt he left on the course, despite being pleased with his 5-under round.
 
Its hard to complain with 67, but it was one of those rounds that really could have been something special, said Kite, whose last victory was in 2006 at this tournament. I had some opportunities on the front nine I let get away and then I had opportunities on the back, some holes I didnt take advantage of. Its nice to be in the hunt but it was one of those could of, should of.
 
Bruce Fleisher is at 7-under after shooting 68 and Bruce Vaughan and John Cook lead a group of four golfers at 6-under. Playing in the same group, Cook and Vaughan fed off each other, with Cook making four birdies in his first six holes, then Vaughan added six birdies in his last 11.
 
Playing in the first group off the 10th tee, Lonnie Nielsen was 7-under for his round heading to his 18th hole, but hit his tee shot on the par-3 ninth into the rough and made bogey. He is at 5-under for the tourney.
 
Also lamenting mistakes was Wiebe, who struggled with his putter on the back nine. He drove the green on the par-4 14th, which required a 300-yard drive across the tree-lined canyon, bowing toward the cheering fans at the top of the ridge after his shot finished within 20-feet. Wiebe saw the eagle putt lip-out, then missed a 2-footer coming back for birdie.
 
He again had a short birdie chance on 16, but missed from inside 5-feet. Despite those misses, Wiebe birdied 18 and is 8-under headed to Sunday.
 
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    Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

    According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

    Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.


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    Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

    Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

    And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

    Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.

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    Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

    The Monday morning headline will be …

    REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

    RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

    MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

    JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.



    Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

    HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

    LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

    BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

    COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.



    Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

    HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

    LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

    BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

    COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.



    What will be the winning score?

    HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

    LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

    BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

    COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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    Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”


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    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.