Slumans 66 ties record at Gulf Resort Classic

By Associated PressApril 2, 2011, 3:12 am
Champions Tour

SAUCIER, Miss. – Jeff Sluman tied a course record with a 6-under-par 66 on Friday to take a one-shot lead over Tom Lehman at the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic at Fallen Oak.

Sluman had a bogey-free round, highlighted by an eagle from 154 yards on the par-4 No. 4. He used a 9-iron on the shot, dropping it about five feet from the hole before it rolled downhill and into the cup.

He knew it had a chance from the moment he hit it.

“I said ‘Boy, this is as good as I’ve got,”’ Sluman said.

And the good shots never stopped for Sluman, who is currently fifth in the Charles Schwab Cup standings. He birdied two more holes on the front nine and two after the turn to finish a nearly flawless performance. He said his ball striking was so good that he rarely ran into trouble – and didn’t need any miracles on his birdie putts.

“The longest (birdie) putt I made was from three feet,” said Sluman, a three-time Champions Tour winner. “If I’m going to have a chance to contend in the golf tournament, I’ve got to make some putts over three feet. The greens are perfect.”

The second-year Champions event yielded some low scores, with 46 out of 79 golfers shooting par or better. David Eger won last year’s event, beating Tommy Armour III by one stroke, but struggled to a 75 on Friday.

Sluman said many golfers struggled last year because they were playing the Tom Fazio-designed course – built in 2006 – for the first time.

It also helped that conditions were nearly ideal on Friday, with plenty of sunshine and 80-degree temperatures, as opposed to the wind and rain that dominated last year’s tournament.

“Last year, I really had a nice feel for the golf course tee to green, but I didn’t putt very well,” Sluman said. “But I did like the golf course and the way it was set up.”

Even so, there were plenty of challenges. The field averaged 72.456 strokes in the first round, the highest on the Champions Tour so far this year.

Maybe the most daunting was No. 18, which ranked as the third-toughest hole on the course and put a sour ending to many rounds. Among the casualties: Chip Beck was at 3-under until the final hole, but a triple-bogey left him at even par.

Dan Forsman birdied four of five holes on the back nine to pull within one shot of Sluman before a bogey on 18 left him two shots back with a 68. The 460-yard par 4 has a fairway littered with obstacles, including deep bunkers on the left and the course’s signature fallen oak tree on the right.

The downhill approach isn’t any easier, with water to the left and behind the green swallowing several errant shots.

Sluman managed to escape the final hole with a par, keeping his round intact.

“Not only does (the green) run away from you, but it’s downgrain,” Sluman said. “So usually you’re hitting a longer cut shot in there to the green – it’s just a bear.”

Tom Lehman, who leads the standings, is in second place after a 67. His success followed Sluman’s theme: impeccable ball striking which led to reasonable putts. He also shot a bogey-free round.

“I’m always thrilled when I play a round without a bogey, whether I’m playing at home or playing out here,” Lehman said. “You’re doing a lot right when you do that.”

Forsman, Nick Price and David Frost are tied for third at 4 under.

The golfers had universal praise for Fallen Oak, which played long after heavy rain soaked the course earlier in the week. The weather for the next two days is expected to be sunny and warm, which should dry the course and make the greens faster.

“It’s matured,” Forsman said. “The greens are firm and much more consistent. They are in marvelous shape. There were a couple of spots last year with some growth issues but they certainly have that solved.”

Mark Brooks and Mississippi native Jim Gallagher Jr. both made their Champions Tour debut. Brooks shot 70 while Gallagher Jr. shot even par.

Sluman tied the course record set last year by Frost and Gary Halberg.

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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 LPGA.com 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 LPGA.com 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.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."

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Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."