Struggling Leonard Hopeful in Title Defense

By Associated PressMay 24, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 FedEx St. Jude ClassicMEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Justin Leonard isn't sure good memories will be enough to help him this week.
He comes into the St. Jude Classic as the defending champion, which he won wire-to-wire for his 10th career title. But he has struggled with his game this year, and he tied for 35th in January when trying to defend his title at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.
That's why Leonard has mixed feelings in his return to the TPC at Southwind course.
'It's nice to be back here, though, knowing that I did play well last year. However, I don't want to raise my expectations too high just because I did play well last year,' Leonard said Wednesday after a practice round in the pro-am.
The 1997 British Open champion said he's not sure if his game fits the par-70, 7,244-yard course or if he simply had a week where he would have played well no matter where he competed.
'You have to have confidence to play well, and it's been a frustrating year so far the last three, four months. I continue to work hard, but it's been frustrating,' Leonard said.
He currently ranks 76th on the money list. He has two Top 10s in 13 events, but his best finish was a tie for seventh at the FBR Open in January. Since then, he's missed four cuts and hasn't finished better than a tie for 26th at Byron Nelson two weeks ago. He tied for 56th last week at Colonial.
Leonard, who won here by rolling in 63 of 68 putts inside 10 feet, has changed putters two or three times without finding success. He has used video to analyze his putting stroke, trying to work out the kinks.
He finally has a putter he feels comfortable with, but won't talk about it except to say he didn't pull out an old putter he has won with in the past.
'I look back at some of the putters I used to use, and that's not my taste right now,' Leonard said.
Putting better the past couple weeks, Leonard has run into new problems.
'When I do putt well, I don't hit my irons well. It's been one thing or another. I think my game's OK. I'd like to see everything come together better and shoot some better scores,' he said.
'Hopefully, it'll all change this week.'
Leonard will need everything clicking in the 49th year for this tournament even though David Toms, ranked eighth, is the only player here currently in the top 10 on the money list.
Memphis may be Toms' home away from home because he has finished fourth, first, first and second in the last four years with 14 of his last 16 rounds here in the 60s. He comes into this event already having won at Sony with four top 10s, and he's No. 1 on tour in the all-around ranking.
'I feel a lot like I would feel if I had a tournament I was playing at home,' said Toms, the Louisiana native who always draws plenty of fans at this course. 'Whatever benefit that is, I've always had it here.'
Also here are three other winners on tour this year in Tim Herron, who won Colonial in a playoff last week, Aaron Baddeley and Kirk Triplett.
The field might stiffen next year with a new sponsor after FedEx switches to a presenting sponsor. The purse will jump from $5.2 million this year to $6 million, and the event will be played a week before the U.S. Open.
For now, golfers are enjoying a course growing into changes after the 2004 tournament to erase a reputation for low scoring that included John Cook's winning 26 under in 1996. Leonard won with a 14-under 266 last year.
The Champion Bermuda grass on the greens has grown in enough that putts no longer roll straight in, forcing golfers to read more break. Dry conditions have the fairways firm, giving more roll off the tee.
'It'll take a good score to win here,' Toms said. 'If the weather keeps up like this, hopefully I can go low.'
The PGA TOUR and FedEx Corp. unveiled the new logo for the FedEx Cup on Wednesday. The logo is part of the tour's new schedule featuring a points competition that starts in 2007 with the playoff series of four tournaments in August and September. ... Notah Begay III, who won here in 2000, got into this event on a sponsor's exemption.
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    Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

    By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

    NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

    Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

    The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

    Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

    Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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    Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

    Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

    Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

    Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

    4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

    4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

    4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

    4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

    4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

    5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

    5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

    5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

    5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

    5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

    6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

    6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

    6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

    6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

    6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

    6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

    7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

    7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

    7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

    7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

    7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

    7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

    8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

    8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

    8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

    8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

    8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

    8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

    9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

    9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

    9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

    9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

    9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

    10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

    10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

    10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

    10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

    10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

    10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

    11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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    Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

    He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

    “There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

    Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

    “I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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    Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

    Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

    Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

    “I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

    Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

    “It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

    More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

    “I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”