Strong field assembled for St Jude Classic

By Associated PressJune 10, 2010, 1:34 am

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Sweat dripped off Rory McIlroy’s face even as he stood in the shade behind the 18th green. This good Irish lad isn’t used to the muggy, hot South.

Call it the price of taking advantage of the PGA Tour’s last tuneup for the U.S. Open.

McIlroy is at the St. Jude Classic for the first time along with Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter looking for some competition before heading to Pebble Beach. The TPC Southwind course bears little resemblance to what golfers will face in California next week, down to the weather, but they will face a strong field starting Thursday with eight of the world’s top 20 on hand.

“It’s a tough test. It’s going to be tough all week, and it looks like it’s going to be pretty steamy,” McIlroy said Wednesday after finishing his pro-am practice round.

“It’s good preparation for the U.S. Open, tough conditions. You’ve got to hit the ball well. You’ve got to drive it in the fairway. You’ve got to put yourself in good position on the greens, so I’m really looking forward to it.”

Westwood comes in ranked No. 3 with Poulter sixth and McIlroy 10th. Also here are Robert Allenby, Padraig Harrington, Camilo Villegas, Zach Johnson and Retief Goosen – Nos. 13 through 17 in the world rankings.

Brian Gay is defending his title, trying to kick his own game into a new gear. David Toms, who won here in 2003 and 2004, also is back here after finishing tied for second a year ago. And Jordan Spieth, the 16-year-old Texas amateur who threatened at the Byron Nelson Championship last month, is here on a sponsor’s exemption offered up last November.

As the defending champ, Gay quickly thanked Smith & Nephew for stepping in as presenting sponsor this year for the PGA Tour’s third-longest running event dating back to 1958. Gay said he hopes it’s the start of a long relationship between the global medical technology business and this event.

If not, this could be the final tournament here at an event that has benefited the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital since 1970 and has plenty of history with winners like Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Nick Price and Greg Norman. Al Geiberger shot his amazing 59 in the second round en route to winning the event in 1977 at Colonial Country Club.

“I know dollars are tight out there, and the Tour really appreciates these guys coming in and helping out,” Gay said.

The scramble for sponsorship also is why this event will pay out $5.6 million with $1 million going to the winner.

The par-70, 7,239-yard course will force golfers to work hard this week. Plenty of recent rain has softened the fairways along with the Bermuda greens. Scattered thunderstorms could bring more rain Thursday and Friday for the first two rounds.

“Some guys like to play right before. Some guys like to rest. So it’s a good week for getting some rounds in competition before a major,” Gay said.

Gay won his third career title here a year ago, running away with a five-stroke victory that was the third-largest in the event’s history. He comes here this year having made 12 of 15 cuts with two Top 10s, including a tie for second at the Byron Nelson Championship last month when his putter got hot on the final day.

One lucky sign may have come for him on the drive from the Memphis airport to the course. His family had nearly arrived at the TPC Southwind when his wife noticed the diamond missing from her 10th anniversary wedding ring. The driver radioed a volunteer at the airport who went searching for the stone.

“Amazingly enough, 10 minutes later they called back and they found it on the curb, which was a miracle,” Gay said.

Spieth has been very busy since becoming the sixth-youngest player to make the cut on tour. He finished tied for 16th before heading back to school. He just finished exams and doesn’t know how he did. He also finished eighth at a junior tournament in Arizona before heading to Memphis, which has a tradition of giving a sponsor’s exemption to a top amateur each year.

He thinks he’ll be playing with much less adrenaline than at the Byron Nelson, where he had friends following him around.

“I’d like to get in there and just start going and just start playing my game,” Spieth said.

DIVOTS: John Daly also got a sponsor’s exemption to play at a course where he used to own a house. He still has a home nearby. … Grant Leaver, who is 6-foot-7, will be making his PGA Tour debut here. He went to Austin Peay and won the final spot in a qualifying playoff last weekend.

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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 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 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."