Thompson's 66 leads Open; Tiger three back

By Associated PressJune 15, 2012, 2:31 am

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Open featured two marquee groups, but only one marquee player.

Take Tiger Woods out of the equation and the top five players in the world were no match for unforgiving Olympic Club.

Then again, not many were.

The lead belonged to Michael Thompson, a 27-year-old in his first U.S. Open as a pro. He made seven birdies - that's seven more than Luke Donald - for a 4-under 66 that gave him a three-shot lead over Woods and the four other lucky souls to manage to break par Thursday.

The buzz came from Woods.

Even as Thompson strung together four birdies on the back nine, Woods put on a clinic on the other side of the course on how to handle the toughest test in golf.


Video: Highlights of Woods' 69

Video: Disastrous start for big names

Video: Meet surprise leader Michael Thompson


Woods was never out of position. None of his tee shots found the deep, nasty rough lining the fairways. There was hardly any stress in the most demanding of majors. With consecutive birdies late in his round, including a 35-foot putt that banged into the back of the cup, Woods opened with a 1-under 69 to raise hopes that he can finally end that four-year drought in the majors.

''I felt like I had control of my game all day,'' Woods said. ''Just stuck to my game plan - and executed my game plan.''

For so many others, the game plan was simply to survive. Thirteen players shot in the 80s, and the average score was 74.9.

The best tribute to the toughness of Olympic was the top five players in the world. They combined to go 26-over par, which includes Woods at 69. Perhaps it was Ryo Ishikawa who best summed up the day after a hard-earned 71: ''I'm very tired right now.''

Woods stood out on a day when the game's best struggled mightily.

He was in the marquee group in the morning with four-time major champion Phil Mickelson and Masters champion Bubba Watson. Mickelson never found his opening tee that he hooked into the trees and shot 76. Watson could only say that Olympic ''beat me up'' on his way to a 78.

In the afternoon, the USGA put together Nos. 1-2-3 based on their world ranking, and it was a rank performance.

Donald failed to make a birdie in his round of 79. Rory McIlroy, the defending champion, bogeyed three of his last four holes for a 77 and then declined interview requests, instead speaking to a pool reporter. Lee Westwood was 4 over through six holes, and made an impressive rally for a 73.

The shocking numbers: The top three in the world ranking combined for three birdies.

''It shows how tough it is,'' Donald said. ''There aren't that many opportunities out there.''

Only six players managed to break par in the opening round, which would have come as a surprise to none of the players. After opening with a birdie, Joe Ogilvie turned to his caddie and said, ''Seventy-one more pars and we're hoisting the trophy.'' He shot 73.

Woods and David Toms opened with 69 in the morning, with overcast conditions from a marine layer off the Pacific Ocean.

Graeme McDowell, who won the U.S. Open two years ago down the coast at Pebble Beach, Justin Rose and Nick Watney each had 69 in the afternoon.

Watney would not be in that group except for the rarest shot in golf - with a 5-iron from 190 yards, the ball well below his feet on the canted fairway, he made an albatross 2 on the par-5 17th that saved his day.

McIlroy said he simply got out of position. What didn't need to be said by anyone was that Olympic Club is a far different test from Congressional, where the 23-year-old shattered the U.S. Open scoring record at 16-under 268.

The good news for McIlroy? His record is safe here.

''Anything just a little off and it really punishes you,'' McIlroy said. ''You have to be precise with your tee shots and your iron shots and leave it on the right side of the pins, and today I didn't really do any of that.''

Toms relied on a superb short game and an even better attitude.

''You really just have to concentrate, give it your all on every shot and never give in to the golf course, because it will punish you if your attitude is not good, if your concentration is not good,'' Toms said. ''There's just too many hard shots out there to really ever give in to it and not be there.''

The group at 70 included Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar and 17-year-old Beau Hossler, already playing in his second U.S. Open.

Thompson's game seems to work on this quirky, tree-lined course built on the side of a giant dune that separates the Pacific Ocean from Lake Merced.

He was runner-up in the 2007 U.S. Amateur at Olympic Club and couldn't wait to get back.

After a roller coaster of a front nine that featured consecutive bogeys and holing a bunker shot for birdie on the downhill par-3 third hole, Thompson hit his stride on the back nine, even if hardly anyone was watching.

He made five consecutive 3s - three of them birdies - and closed his dream round with a 10-foot birdie putt on the short, tough 18th for the lead. Thompson took only 22 putts.

''On the back side, the putter ... seems like every putt went in the hole,'' Thompson said. ''Got a little nervous there once all those cameras showed up. It's always a little bit of an adjustment. In that sense, I kind of wish I was Phil or Tiger, because you get the cameras from the beginning.''

There weren't enough cameras or fans to find Mickelson's opening tee shot, but it was easy to find Woods.

He missed only four fairways - three of them that ran off the severe slopes and into the first cut, the other into a bunker on the 256-yard seventh hole, which is where he was aiming. The only glitch was failing to get the ball closer to the hole with short irons, including the 14th when it landed on the back of the green and bounced off the base of the grandstand.

That led to one of his two bogeys, the other at No. 6 with a poor bunker shot. The only surprise was a good one - the 35-foot birdie putt on the fifth that he struck too hard and worried it might lead to a three-putt until the hole got in the way.

''Five was a fluke,'' Woods said. ''That putt was off the green.''

Olympic wasn't that simple for most everyone else.

Watson was asked about his strategy of hitting his pink-painted driver. ''I shot 8 over, so not very good,'' he said. The next question was how he played out of the rough with short irons in his hand. ''I shot 8 over, so not very good,'' he said.

''You could answer these yourself,'' he said.

The marine layer in the morning allowed for cool, overcast conditions that eventually gave way to sunshine. That didn't help. Steve Marino opened with an 84. Zach Johnson didn't feel as though he played all that badly until he signed for a 77. Padraig Harrington thought the course was fair, and allowed for good scores. But he had two four-putts and a three-putt that ruined a reasonable day and gave him a 74.

''It just goes to show that firm greens scare the life out of professional golfers,'' Harrington said.

Mickelson was looking forward to playing with Woods - the last time they were together, Lefty closed with a 64 and buried him at Pebble Beach in February - but he could not have envisioned a worse start. The hook was bad enough. But as Mickelson approached the gallery and looked for a crowd surrounding his ball, his eyes widened when a marshal told him, ''No one heard it come down.''

Five minutes later, he was on his way back to the tee.

Mickelson made an unlikely bogey on the hole, added two more bogeys and was fighting the rest of the day. A three-putt late in the round cost him dearly, and now Mickelson can only hope he's around for the weekend.

''I can't really think about the lead or anything,'' said Mickelson, who was 10 shots behind. ''I've just got to make the cut right now, and to do that I've got to shoot something under par.''

Woods is coming off his second win of the year at Memorial, and while that made him the favorite at the U.S. Open, recent history left some questions.

He won Bay Hill by five shots going into the Masters, and then had his worst performance as a pro at Augusta National. Woods said he wasn't hitting the ball as consistently well in the spring, not like he is now. And it showed.

''That was the old Tiger,'' Watson said. ''That was beautiful to watch. That's what we all come to see. That's what we all want to watch, and that was awesome to see him strike the ball good.''

It wasn't enough for the lead, but it was enough to break par, which is never bad at Olympic Club.

Thompson, who said he had only a few hundred people following his group, understands all the fuss over a 14-time major champion who is showing signs of returning to the top of his game. He was more than happy with a 66 and his name atop the leaderboard, and he made it clear he wasn't going to settle for one good round.

''A lot of people don't know who I am, and I'm totally OK with that because I've always been a player that just kind of hangs around,'' Thompson said. ''I don't give up very easily and I'm very proud of that. Give Tiger the spotlight. I don't care. I'm going to go out and play my game. If I go out and putt the way I did today, I'll be contention.''

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M. Jutanugarn eyeing first win with L.A. Open lead

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:50 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn took the lead into the weekend at the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open in her latest bid to join younger sister Ariya as an LPGA winner.

Moriya Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Friday at Wilshire Country Club to get to 8-under 134 in the LPGA Tour's first event in Los Angeles since 2005. The 23-year-old from Thailand started fast with birdies on the par-5 second, par-4 third and par-3 fourth and added two more on the par-4 11th and par-5 13th.

Ariya Jutanugarn has seven LPGA victories.

Marina Alex was second after a 68.


Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


So Yeon Ryu was 6 under after a 69, and fellow South Korean players Inbee Park(71) and Eun-Hee Ji (69). Park was the first-round leader at 66. Lexi Thompsonwas 3 under after a 71.

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng followed her opening 74 with a 67 to get to 1 under.

Ariya Jutanugarn (71) was even par, and Michelle Wie (70) was 1 over. Brooke Henderson, the Canadian star who won last week in Hawaii, had a 79 to miss the cut.

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Garcia tosses driver, misses Valero cut

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

It wasn't quite to the level of his watery meltdown earlier this month at the Masters, but Sergio Garcia still got frustrated during the second round of the Valero Texas Open - and his driver paid the price.

Garcia had a hand in redesigning the AT&T Oaks Course along with Greg Norman several years ago, but this marked his first return to TPC San Antonio since 2010. After an opening-round 74, Garcia arrived to the tee of the short par-4 fifth hole and decided to get aggressive with driver in hand.

When his shot sailed well left, a heated Garcia chucked the club deep into the bushes that lined the tee box:

It took considerable effort for Garcia to find and retrieve the club amid the branches, and once he did things only got worse. He appeared to shank a chip once he got up to his ball, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on a demanding track.

Garcia closed out his round with four straight pars, and at 2 over he eventually missed the cut by a shot. It marks the first time he has missed consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour since 2003, when he sat out the weekend at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Fort Worth Invitational and Memorial Tournament in successive weeks.

Garcia entered the week ranked No. 10 in the world, and he was the only top-20 player among the 156-man field. He missed the cut at the Masters in defense of his title after carding an octuple-bogey 13 on the 15th hole during the opening round.

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Johnson, Moore co-lead Valero Texas Open through 36

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson was going nowhere in the Valero Texas Open when it all changed with one putt.

He made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole of the opening round to stay at 2 under. He followed with a big drive, a hybrid into 12 feet and an eagle. Johnson was on his way, and he kept right on going Friday to a 7-under 65 and a share of the 36-hole lead with Ryan Moore.

''You just never know. That's the beauty of this game,'' Johnson said. ''I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. You just never know.''

Moore had three birdies over his last five holes for a 67 and joined Johnson at 9-under 135.

They had a one-shot lead over Grayson Murray (69) and Andrew Landry (67).

Ben Crane (66), Martin Laird (65) and David Hearn (68) were three shots behind. Billy Horschel and Keegan Bradley shot 71 and were four shots behind at 5-under 139.


Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos


Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, had a short stay in his first time at the Texas Open since 2010. Garcia shot an even-par 72, and at one point became so frustrated he threw his driver into the shrubs.

Garcia finished at 2-over 146 and missed the cut.

It was the first time since 2010 that Garcia missed the cut in successive starts. That was the PGA Championship and, 10 weeks later, the Castello Masters in Spain. This time, he missed the cut in the Masters and Texas Open three weeks apart.

Johnson, a two-time winner of the Texas Open, appeared to be headed to a short week until the key par save on the 13th hole, followed by his eagle, par and three straight birdies. He began the second round Friday with five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, a sixth birdie on the par-4 first hole, and then an eagle on the short par-4 fifth when he holed out from a greenside bunker.

The only sour taste to his second round was a three-putt bogey from about 30 feet on his final hole. Even so, the view was much better than it was Thursday afternoon.

Moore thought he had wasted a good birdie opportunity on the par-5 14th hole when he left his 50-foot eagle putt about 6 feet short. But he made that, and then holed a similar putt from 8 feet for birdie on the next hole and capped his good finish with a 15-foot putt on the 17th.

''That was a huge momentum putt there,'' Moore said of the 14th. ''It was a tough putt from down there with a lot of wind. That green is pretty exposed and ... yeah, really short and committed to that second putt really well and knocked it right in the middle.''

The birdies on the 14th and 15th were important to Moore because he missed a pair of 10-foot birdie tries to start the back nine.

''So it was nice to get those and get going in the right direction on the back,'' he said.

The cut was at 1-over 145, and because 80 players made the cut, there will be a 54-hole cut on Saturday.

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Daly-Allen team grabs Legends of Golf lead on Day 2

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 11:14 pm

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - John Daly and Michael Allen took the second-round lead Friday in the cool and breezy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

Daly and Allen shot an 8-under 46 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course with wind gusting to 15 mph and the temperature only in the high-50s at Big Cedar Lodge. They had three birdies on the front nine in alternate-shot play and added five more on the back in better-ball play to get to 13 under.

''Michael and I go back to the South African days in the late 80s and playing that tour,'' Daly said. ''We've been buddies since. He's just fun to play with. We feed off each other pretty good. And if he's not comfortable guinea-pigging on one hole, I'll go first.''

On Thursday, they opened with a 66 on the regulation Buffalo Ridge course. They will rotate to the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course on Saturday, and return to Top of the Rock for the final round Sunday.

''I went to high school in Jeff City, so it's cool to have the fans behind us,'' Daly said.

Allen won the PGA Tour Champions team event with David Frost in 2012 and Woody Austin in 2016.

''I'm just here to free up John,'' Allen said. ''It was fun. Luckily, I started making good putts today. We just want to keep the good times rolling.''


Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf


Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco were a stroke back along with Bernhard Langer-Tom Lehman and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett. Singh and Franco had a 7-under 32 in best-ball play at Mountain Top, and Lehman-Langer and Broadhurst-Tripplet each shot 6-under 48 at Top of the Rock.

''Part of the issue here is all the tees are elevated, so you're up high hitting to a green that's down below and the wind is blowing, and there is more time for that wind to affect it,'' Lehman said. ''If you guess wrong on the wind, you can hit a really good shot and kind of look stupid.''

Former UCLA teammates Scott McCarron and Brandt Jobe were two strokes back at 11 under with Steve Flesch and David Toms and the Spanish side of Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez. McCarron-Jobe had a 47, and Jimenez-Olazabal a 48 at Top of the Rock, and Tom Flesch shot 34 at Mountain Top.

First-round leaders Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik had a 52 at Top of the Rock to fall three shots back at 10 under. Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly also were 10 under after a 32 at Mountain Top. Jay Haas aced the 131-yard seventh hole at Mountain Top with a gap wedge. Haas and fellow 64-year-old Peter Jacobsen were 8 under after a 32.