Smyth knocks out NCAA champ at U.S. Amateur

By Associated PressAugust 18, 2017, 2:58 am

LOS ANGELES – Australia's Travis Smyth knocked off No. 3-ranked Braden Thornberry in the morning and advanced to the U.S. Amateur quarterfinals in the afternoon with a 2-and-1 victory over No. 12 Will Zalatoris on Thursday.

Smyth is on an impressive run at Riviera Country Club with a chance to follow the path set by Curtis Luck. Smyth's good friend and fellow long-haired Australian won the Amateur last year at Oakland Hills.

Smyth excelled in a 3-and-2 victory over NCAA champion Thornberry, who beat world No. 1 Joaquin Niemann on Wednesday. Smyth finished off Zalatoris with a birdie on the 17th aided by a remarkable chip from the bunker.

Smyth is a former rugby player who only picked up golf at 12 years old while recovering from an injury.

He handled the grind of a two-round day with steady effort and an afternoon mental reset on the 13th, where he saved par after his 4-up lead had dwindled to 2-up.

''This format, it's very tough,'' Smyth said. ''You want to get yourself into match play and then just play as best you can. ... I just concentrate on my next shot. The more I think about how good these guys are - and they're all good - I think that's taking me away from what I need to do.''

Chicago-area player Doug Ghim also advanced to the quarterfinals while wearing a Cubs cap, beating Californians in back-to-back matches. Ghim, the Big 12 Player of the Year at the University of Texas, followed up a 19-hole victory over Pepperdine junior Sahith Theegala with a 3-and-2 win over El Cajon's Joey Vrzich in the afternoon.

After the world's top two ranked players lost on Wednesday, several more big names fell on the draining Thursday. Only two of the top eight seeds are among the final eight players left in the championship.

Medalist Hayden Wood also lost in the Round of 32, falling 4 and 3 to Norway's Kristoffer Ventura - his teammate at Oklahoma State.

But Scotland's Connor Syme eliminated Ventura in dramatic fashion in the afternoon, holing a 75-foot chip from the fringe on the 18th hole to win 1 up.

''That's just the coolest way to finish out a match,'' Syme said. ''It was awesome.''

Ventura had repeatedly rallied to catch up during their tense round, but Syme continued his strong run after knocking off No. 2-ranked Maverick McNealy on Wednesday in the Round of 64.

''I'm just really enjoying myself this week,'' Syme said. ''It's a special place, Riviera. It's an absolutely awesome golf course.''

Fourth-seeded Theo Humphrey is the highest-rated remaining competitor after wins over Kyle Mueller and Noah Norton. Humphrey, a Vanderbilt player from Connecticut, is adjusting solidly to the challenges of unfamiliar West Coast grass.

''The rough is what's completely different,'' Humphrey said. ''I've never seen anything like it before. It's weird. It looks like it's always sitting up and it's going to be easy. Somehow it finds a way to be pretty challenging.''

No Californians are left in the field after four afternoon defeats. Taiwan's Chun An Yu beat Los Angeles-area player Collin Morikawa 2 up, and USC freshman-to-be Cheng Jin of China lost 2 and 1 to Dawson Armstrong.

Play continues through Sunday at Riviera.

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Watch: Pieters snaps club ... around his neck

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 1:19 pm

After opening in 3-over 75, Thomas Pieters was in no mood for more poor play on Friday.

Unfortunately for Pieters, he bogeyed two of his first three holes in the second round of the BMW PGA Championship and then didn't like his second shot at the par-5 fourth.

Someone - or some thing - had to pay, and an innocent iron bore the brunt of Pieters' anger.



Pieters made par on the hole, but at 5 over for the tournament, he was five shots off the cut line.

It's not the first time a club has faced Pieters' wrath. 

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Woods would 'love' to see Tour allow shorts

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 12:59 pm

Players on the European Tour are allowed to wear shorts during practices and pro-ams.

The PGA of America permitted players to show some leg while prepping for last year’s PGA Championship.

Tiger Woods would like to see the PGA Tour follow suit.

"I would love it," he said Thursday in a Facebook Live with Bridgestone Golf. "We play in some of the hottest climates on the planet. We usually travel with the sun, and a lot of our events are played in the summer, and then on top of that when we have the winter months here a lot of the guys go down to South Africa and Australia where it's summer down there.

"It would be nice to wear shorts. Even with my little chicken legs, I still would like to wear shorts."

Caddies are currently allowed to wear shorts on Tour, during events.

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Feasting again: McIlroy shoots 65 to lead BMW PGA

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 12:04 pm

Updated at 9:42 a.m. ET

Rory McIlroy made seven birdies and no bogeys on Friday for a 7-under 65 and the second-round lead at the BMW PGA Championship.

After opening in 67, McIlroy was among the early groups out on Day 2 at Wentworth Club. He made three birdies and no bogeys on the par-35 front nine on Friday, and then went on a run after the turn.

McIlroy made four consecutive birdies, beginning at the par-5 12th. That got him to 12 under, overall, and gave him a clear advantage over the field. With two closing par-5s, a very low number was in sight. But, as he did on Day 1, McIlroy finished par-par.

"I've made four pars there [on 17 and 18] when I really should be making at least two birdies, but I played the other par-5s well," McIlroy said. "It all balances itself out."


Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship


McIlroy has made 14 birdies and two bogeys through two rounds. At 12 under, he has a three-stroke lead over Sam Horsfield.

"The work has paid off, to some degree," McIlroy said of his practice with swing coach Michael Bannon. "I still feel like I'm hitting some loose shots out there. But, for the most part, it's been really good. If I can keep these swing thoughts and keep going in the right direction, hopefully this is the type of golf I'll be able to produce."

This event has been feast or famine for McIlroy. He won here in 2014, but has three missed cuts in his other three starts. This week, however, he’ll be around for the weekend and is in position for his first European Tour victory since the 2016 Irish Open and his second worldwide victory of the year (Arnold Palmer Invitational).

"I have the confidence that I'm playing well and I can go out and try to just replicate what I did the day before," McIlroy said about his weekend approach with the lead. "On the first tee box tomorrow I'll be thinking about what I did today. Trying to just keep the same thoughts, make the same swings. I went a couple better today than I did yesterday. I'm not sure I'll keep that progression going but something similiar tomorrow would be nice."

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Goat visor propels Na to Colonial lead

By Will GrayMay 25, 2018, 1:29 am

Jason Dufner officially has some company in the headwear free agency wing of the PGA Tour.

Like Dufner, Kevin Na is now open to wear whatever he wants on his head at tournaments, as his visor sponsorship with Titleist ended earlier this month. He finished T-6 at the AT&T Byron Nelson in his second tournament as a free agent, and this week at the Fort Worth Invitational he's once again wearing a simple white visor with a picture of a goat.

"I bought it at The Players Championship for $22 with the 30 percent discount that they give the Tour players," Na told reporters. "It's very nice."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Perhaps a change in headwear was just what Na needed to jumpstart his game. Last week's result in Dallas was his first top-35 finish in his last six events dating back to February, and he built upon that momentum with an 8-under 62 to take a one-shot lead over Charley Hoffman after the first round at Colonial Country Club.

While many sports fans know the "GOAT" acronym to stand for "Greatest Of All Time," it's a definition that the veteran Na only learned about earlier this year.

"I do social media, but they kept calling Tiger the GOAT. I go, 'Man, why do they keep calling Tiger the GOAT? That's just mean,'" Na said. "Then I realized it meant greatest of all time. Thinking of getting it signed by Jack (Nicklaus) next week (at the Memorial)."