Stricker bulldozing field at John Deere, leads by two

By Associated PressJuly 9, 2011, 10:33 pm

SILVIS, Ill. – Steve Stricker stood in the bunker left of the first fairway, eyed his ball in the rough on the edge of the trap, then looked at the flag 122 yards away.

If it felt like he’d been in that position before, well, that’s because he had.

“I had that same stance in my pro-am,” he said. “Same bunker, same exact shot. I was right in the same spot.”

All he wanted to do was get the ball on the green, which he did. And then came the shot of the day, a 75-foot putt for birdie that led to an 8-under-par 63 Saturday and a two-stroke lead after three rounds of the John Deere Classic.

I was just trying to get a two-putt and par and move on,” Stricker said. “To make a put like that, you don’t expect to, nor are the odds in your favor to make a putt like that. But it went in with perfect speed and it got me going.”

Stricker fashioned his best round of the year while closing in on his third straight victory in the tournament. He’s at 20-under 193 following a par on save on 18, where he twice hit into bunkers before drilling a 15-foot putt.

That put Stricker in a good spot because he’s won the last four times he held the outright lead going into the final round. Stricker said he often hears stats like that, but insisted he doesn’t remember them.

“I don’t put a lot of stock in numbers past, present, whatever,” he said. “I just try to go out there and do the things that I’m capable of doing. You’ve just got to stick to your own game and that’s what I’ve been able to do the last four or five years.”

Zimbabwean Brendon De Jonge is alone in second at 195 after matching Stricker’s 63. Second-round leader Chez Reavie, who started the day two strokes up on Stricker, shot 68 and was 17 under, one ahead of Kyle Stanley (65).

With one more solid round, Stricker would join an elite group. Only 20 times previously on the tour has someone won a tournament three years in a row, a list that includes Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Johnny Miller,

Woods has done it six times and was the most recent to accomplish the feat, winning the Bridgestone Invitational in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

“I haven’t really given it much thought, but it would mean a lot,” Stricker said. “It’s hard enough to win an event three times, let alone three in a row. So it will be tough. I’ve got to fight through nerves, but it would be special to be part of that list.”

As he has done so often recently at TPC Deere Run, Stricker made it look easy, even after getting into immediate trouble with that opening tee shot. He took a baseball-type swing to get out of the rough and hit a line drive that stopped on the front part of the green, where the pin was in to the right and in the back.

Then he stepped up and knocked his putt in, the ball rolling uphill, topping a crest and carrying back down into the center of the cup.

Stricker raised both arms in celebration, then smiled at playing partner Jhonattan Vegas and shrugged as if to say, “When you’re hot, you’re hot.”

“At first, I thought I hit it too hard and then it looked like it was going to be good to tap in (for par),” he said. “And then it just went right in the last couple of feet.”

Stricker moved into the lead with a 14-foot birdie putt on No. 7 as Reavie made bogey at 6. When Reavie bogeyed 8, he suddenly found himself four strokes behind—a six-shot reversal in about 90 minutes.

De Jonge, meanwhile, kept making birdies to keep Stricker from running away with the lead.

“I got off to a great start today, which was the key to set up the round,” de Jonge said. “I think tomorrow’s going to be more of the same. You’re going to have to make a bunch of birdies. The golf course is in such good condition, the ball’s going so far, that you get a lot of wedges in your hands.”

Stricker birdied six of his first 10 holes before turning more humanlike down the stretch and making only two more birdies the rest of the way. But on this warm, breezy Midwestern day, no one was sharp enough to catch him, though for a few minutes at the end it looked as though his lead would drop to one.

His tee shot found a bunker left of the fairway and his second shot landed in a bunker in front of the green. He got the ball up to within 15 feet, not an easy putt by any means, but he knocked it in.

“That was a good save to kind of keep the momentum going into tomorrow,” he said.

De Jonge kept himself in position for his first tour victory if Stricker should falter on Sunday. He matched Stricker’s 30 on the front nine, then had his momentum blunted slightly when he bogeyed 13 after missing a 10-footer for par.

But he came back with a nifty chip from the fringe on 14 to set up a 2-foot birdie putt and capped his round with an approach from 163 yards to 11 feet for a birdie on 18.

De Jonge also was in contention going into the final round of the Transitions Championship, where he was just one stroke off the lead. But he shot a final round 73 to slip into a tie for fifth.

He seemed undaunted about facing down Stricker in the final round of this one.

“I think anybody’s got a chance that’s within a couple,” de Jonge said. “Obviously you’re going to have to play a good round of golf. But yeah, I think everybody feels like they’ve got a chance.”

 

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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."