Storm Leads Daly Surprises at Southern Hills

By Associated PressAugust 9, 2007, 4:00 pm
PGA ChampionshipTULSA, Okla. -- After all these years, John Daly still loves to grip it and rip it.
 
First at the slot machines.
 
Then at Southern Hills.
 
Neither figured to be the smart choice at the PGA Championship. Instead of practicing on a course he had not see in 13 years, Daly chose to gamble at Cherokee Casino. Then he really rolled the dice by hitting driver at every opportunity on a track that demands precision.
 
Graeme Storm
England's Graeme Storm leads by two after Rd. 1 in Tulsa. (Getty Images)
Against all odds, it worked.
 
Drenched in sweat and drowned by cheers, the two-time major champion walked off the 18th green Thursday with a 3-under 67 that left him two shots behind Graeme Storm, another unlikely star on a day rife with surprises.
 
Storm, who was washing trays at cake factory in England five years ago, was the only player who made it around Southern Hills without a bogey on his way to a 65 that left him looking down a leaderboard to find some of the usual suspects.
 
'The longer you stay ahead of Tiger Woods, the better,' Storm said.
 
Woods, the defending PGA champion trying to make sure he doesn't end the year without a major, birdied three of his first six holes before he ran out of improbable par saves and settled for a 71.
 
Woods' name on any leaderboard can be intimidating. These days, Daly's name looks out of place.
 
Especially this week.
 
He didn't bother with a practice round the previous three days because of the oppressive heat, where temperatures climbed past 100 in the opening round and a cold front this week is anything in double digits. While some guys went through a liter of water every two holes, Daly loaded up on caffeine and cigarettes.
 
Not long after his best round at the PGA Championship in 10 years, it was all a blur.
 
'I can't remember, to tell you the truth,' Daly said when asked about his four birdies. 'Only had three heat strokes out there.'
 
No one else could believe it.
 
'Must be from all of the practice rounds he played here,' Woods said.
 
Daly had not played Southern Hills since he missed the cut at the '94 PGA Championship. Best he can recall, only one other time has he showed up at the first round of a major without a practice round. That would be the '91 PGA Championship, when he was the ninth alternate who drove through the night to Crooked Stick in Indiana.
 
And then he won.
 
Only a dozen players managed to break par on a course that provided ample opportunity for birdies, yet meted out its share of punishment with the slightest mistake.
 
Stephen Ames birdied his last three holes for a 68, putting him with Arron Oberholser and Woody Austin. The group at 69 included British Open champion Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood and former U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, who made seven birdies.
 
So many others weren't so fortunate.
 
U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera was at even par until he hit two balls out-of-bounds, one in the water and took three putts from 30 feet for a 10 on the par-3 sixth hole, sending him to an 81, his worst score in a major championship.
 
Woods was in great shape at 3 under, saving one par from the trees on No. 16 and another by chipping in on the 17th. But from the middle of the fairway, his approach to No. 18 (his ninth hole) clipped a tree and dropped into the bunker. His next shot rolled down a slope some 50 feet away and he did well to make bogey.
 
Three more bogeys followed, although the world's No. 1 player didn't sound concerned.
 
'I felt like I hit the ball better than my score indicates, which is good,' Woods said.
 
Phil Mickelson made his share of amazing birdies to go with a collection of blunders, such as his journey through the rough in trees for a bogey on the par-5 sixth, and dumping a flop shot into the bunker on No. 8.
 
'You're going to hit some bad shots and get bogeys here,' he said after shooting a 73. 'You're not going to be able to go all 18 holes and go unscathed.'
 
Storm was the exception.
 
He had the only bogey-free round, which required no small measure of skill, along with some luck.
 
The 29-year-old player from England had little left in the tank when he arrived in Tulsa from the World Golf Championship at Firestone, where he finished 18 over par. This is his eighth week in a row, a stretch that began before he won the French Open for his first European Tour victory. Storm decided to forget about technique and enjoy the day, and it turned out to be a blast.
 
He started with consecutive birdies, nearly making an ace on the 11th. And when it looked as though he might get in trouble with a tee shot into the trees on the No. 2, he chipped in for birdie and raised his hands, wondering what was happening to him.
 
'It was one of those rounds when I never really thought about anything,' Storm said.
 
This was no time to reflect on his past, either, the darkest days coming at the end of the 2002 season when he lost his card in Europe and was broke. He found work at a cream cake factory, washing trays in the back alley in weather so cold the pipes were frozen. It paid about $250 a week, a job he kept for two months.
 
'You have to bite the bullet and go back,' he said. 'I was just being a normal person doing an everyday job, eight hours a day. I didn't know where my career was going to go. I thought that might be the end, to be honest.'
 
Daly's career looks like it might end any minute.
 
He lost his PGA TOUR card last year and has been getting by on sponsor's exemption when he needs them. But that hasn't been his problem. Daly has finished only five of his 19 tournaments this year, and he hit a milestone this year by recording his 50th round in the 80s on the PGA Tour.
 
So how to explain ripping driver on a course that requires careful navigation? Signing for a 67 at a major where he had broken 70 once in the last 10 years?
 
'I have no idea,' Daly said.
 
And then there's the heat, so severe that workers doused greens with a hose and Ames stood in front of a fan to cool his face.
 
'No wonder he didn't play any practice rounds,' Ames said of Daly. 'He would have died.'
 
Daly found it a victory simply to finish, huffing and puffing up the hills, especially on the last hole.
 
'There was odds with all the caddies and players this week who would fall first, me or my caddie,' he said. 'So we made it. We made 18 holes. It was one of those rounds I was very aggressive off the tee. I didn't know what else to do.'
 
The bigger question is where he goes from here.
 
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    Ciganda, S.Y. Kim share lead in Shanghai

    By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 9:28 am

    SHANGHAI - Carlota Ciganda of Spain shot a 5-under 67 Saturday to share the lead with Sei Young Kim after the third round of the LPGA Shanghai.

    Ciganda carded her fifth birdie of the day on the par-4 18th to finish tied with overnight leader Kim at 11-under 205. Kim shot a 71 with four bogeys and five birdies.

    Ciganda is attempting to win her third LPGA title and first since the 2016 season, when she won two tournaments in a one-month span. Kim is chasing her eighth career LPGA win and second title of the 2018 season.

    ''I want to win because I didn't win last year,'' Ciganda said. ''I love playing in Asia. It's good for long hitters, playing quite long, so I'm quite comfortable.''


    Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai


    Angel Yin also birdied the final hole for a 68 and was a further stroke back with Brittany Altomare (69), Danielle Kang (71) and Ariya Jutanugarn (71).

    Yin and Altomare have yet to break through for their first LPGA win. A win in Shanghai would make either player the ninth first-time winner of the 2018 season, which would tie 2016 for the third highest number of first-time winners in a season in LPGA history.

    ''I love competing,'' Yin said. ''That's why I'm playing, right? I'm excited to be in contention again going into Sunday.''

    Local favorite Yu Liu was seventh after offsetting a lone bogey with four birdies for a 69.

    Paula Creamer also shot a 69 and shared eighth at 8 under with Minjee Lee (70) and Bronte Law (71).

    The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

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    Koepka's pursuers have no illusions about catching him

    By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:50 am

    Ahead by four, wielding his driver like Thor's hammer, Brooks Koepka is 18 holes from his third victory in five months and his first ascent to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking.

    The tournament isn't over. No one is handing him the trophy and updating the OWGR website just yet. But it will likely take some combination of a meltdown and low round from someone in the chase pack to prevent a Koepka coronation Sunday in South Korea.

    Thirteen under for the week, the three-time major champion will start the final round four shots ahead of his playing partners, Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, and five ahead of six more players at minus-8.

    As is his nature, Poulter figures to be undaunted. The 42-year-old is fresh off a Sunday singles victory over Dustin Johnson at the Ryder Cup and in the midst of a career renaissance, having broken a five-year winless drought earlier this year. In one sense, it's Europe vs. the United States again, but this isn't match play, and Koepka, a guy who doesn't need a head start, has spotted himself a four-shot advantage.


    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


    "Tomorrow I'm going to need to make a few birdies. Obviously Brooks is in cruise control right now and obviously going to need a shoot a low one," Poulter conceded. "Do what I'm doing, just enjoy [it]. Obviously try and make as many birdies as I can and see how close we get."

    Perez, in the group at 8 under par, isn't giving up, but like Poulter, he's aware of the reality of his situation.

    "We're chasing Brooks, who of course obviously is playing phenomenally," he said. "A lot of the long hitters now when they get in contention, they hit that driver and they're really hard to catch. I'm not worried about it too much. It's going to be harder for me tomorrow than him, so I'm going to try and go out and just do my thing, hit some shots, hopefully hit some close and make some putts and we'll see. I don't expect him to come backwards, but hopefully I can try to go catch him."

    Gary Woodland, also 8 under par, summed up the predicament best when he alluded to Koepka's perhaps advantageously aloof demeanor.

    "You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can," he said. "You know, Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much, and he's playing so good, so you're going to have to go out and post a number."

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    Koepka has his chance 'to earn' his way to No. 1

    By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:09 am

    There won't need to be any wonky math involved. He won't have to settle for finally reaching the the top via some kind of mathematical reset while he's sitting at home on the couch (or more likely working out in the gym).

    No, Brooks Koepka on Sunday in South Korea will have a chance to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking the way every player would most want to - with a victory.

    On the strength of a bogey-free round of 5-under 67 Saturday, Koepka will enter the final round of the CJ Cup four clear of Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, with six more players five behind.

    The tournament is Koepka's to lose, and so too is the No. 1 ranking. So long as Justin Thomas doesn't somehow defend his title from 12 shots back, Koepka can supplant Dustin Johnson atop the rankings with a win or a solo second-place finish.


    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


    "It was something I wanted to do. I always wanted to become World No. 1 in a week that I was playing," Koepka said Saturday. "I thought like I could really earn it and not have a week off where it just so happens that you bump up. No, it would be very special, and to do it here would be nice and hopefully get to world No. 1 and cap it off with a win, I don't think there would be much better."

    It would be a fitting end to this breakthrough year for Koepka, who successfully defended his U.S. Open title and then added his third major victory at the PGA Championship en route to claiming the PGA Tour's Player of the Year Award. Oddly enough, considering his status a three-time major winner and an impending No. 1, this would be Koepka's fifth Tour victory but only his second in a non-major; his only regular Tour win to date was his first, at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

    "My confidence has always been pretty high," Koepka said. "Anytime you can win three majors you're going to be feeling pretty good about yourself. To do what I've done over the last two years has been special, but I'm looking to build on that."

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    Koepka ahead by four, with No. 1 ranking in his grasp

    By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 5:48 am

    Following a closing birdie and a third-round 67 at Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka will take a four-shot lead over Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy into final round of the CJ Cup. Here's how Koepka separated himself from the field in South Korea.

    Leaderboard: Koepka (-13), Piercy (-9), Poulter (-9), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-8), Cameron Smith (-8), Jaime Lovemark (-8), Pat Perez (-8), Gary Woodland (-8), Chez Reavie (-8)

    What it means: Koepka is in search of his fifth PGA Tour victory and – believe it or not – only his second non-major. The three-time major champion’s only other win came all the way back in February 2015, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One off the lead to start the day, Koepka opened with eight straight pars and birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to take the outright lead at 10 under par. He added three more circles at 14, 17 and 18 to close out a bogey-free round of 5 under and go ahead by ahead by four. He'll be chased on Sunday by Piercy, a four-time PGA Tour winner who won the Zurich Classic earlier this year alongside Billy Horschel, and by Poulter, who ended a five-year worldwide winless drought back in April and is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, with a Sunday singles victory over current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Speaking of which, unless Justin Thomas finds a way to win this tournament from 12 back, Koepka will for the first time ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win or a solo second-place finish.

    Round of the day: After contending last week at the CIMB, Shubankhar Sharma rebounded from opening rounds of 74 and 75 with a nine-birdie, 8-under 64 to move up 45 spots into a tie for 26th through 54 holes.

    Best of the rest: Four players – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ted Potter Jr., Jason Day and Brendan Steele – shot 7-under 65 Saturday. Day played his first four holes in 2 over and his final 14 in 9 under.

    Biggest disappointment: The only previous winner of this event, world No. 4 Justin Thomas entered the week with a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking with a successful title defense. But rounds of 73-70-72 have him 1 under for the week. Thomas played his back nine in 1 over Saturday with six pars, a birdie, a quadruple bogey and a closing eagle.

    Shot of the day: Koepka flying his tee shot 330 yards to the front edge of the green at the par-4 14th and going on to two-putt for birdie.