Wu makes history with breakthrough win in China

By Associated PressApril 26, 2015, 1:00 pm

SHANGHAI – With two Chinese golfers tied for the lead going into the final round of the Volvo China Open, there was a good chance one of them would break new ground by becoming the first from the country to capture a European Tour title on home soil.

Most eyes were on Li Haotong at the start of the round, the talented 19-year-old touted as a future golf star in China. Instead, it was Wu Ashun, a player nearing 30 who had recently taken six months off to rebuild his swing and had never had a top-10 finish on the tour, who took home the trophy.

Wu proved to be the steadiest player during a final round filled with momentum swings, delighting the crowd in his hometown of Shanghai with a final-round 71 to secure a one-stroke victory over David Howell on Sunday. Wu finished at 9-under 279 overall.

''I tried my best to play every shot well,'' he said. ''I played very good today – not down, not up. Just simple golf today.''

It was not only the biggest title of Wu's career, but also the biggest paycheck. He takes home nearly 500,000 euros ($543,000) - more than doubling how much he's earned in seven years on the European Tour.

''There's a long journey in a golf career, someone can hit a low score in their 30s, 40s, so I have to just be patient and keep practicing, keep playing the tournaments, and it will come,'' Wu said through a translator.

Wu is the third Chinese player to win on the tour and the first since Liang Wen-Chong took the title at the Singapore Masters in 2007.

Howell missed a five-foot par putt on the 18th that would have forced a playoff. It was just one of four bogeys for the veteran Englishman, who also had four birdies in his round of 72.

Emiliano Grillo of Argentina had a spirited run on the final day, making four birdies in five holes on the front nine and two more on the back to pull within one shot of the lead. But his chances of winning a maiden European Tour title slipped away with a tee shot into the water on No. 17, leading to double bogey.

He shot a 69 to finish in a tie for third with defending champion Alexander Levy of France (73) and Prom Meesawat of Thailand (71).

Wu started the day in a four-way tie for the lead with Howell, Levy and Li, but he had played the least recently. He was coming off a six-month break to work on his swing with his coach in California and didn't make the cut at a Japan Tour event last week.

Li, on the other hand, nearly won his first European Tour title last week at the Shenzhen International, losing in a playoff to Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

Li, however, didn't look sharp from the first hole Sunday. With hundreds of excited fans lining the green, phones poised to snap photos, he missed a routine 3-foot par putt that caught the lip of the cup and curled away, drawing gasps from the gallery.

It was just the start of an up-and-down day for the rising star. He made a 50-foot birdie putt on No. 8 and then a tremendous approach and nervy putt for eagle on the par-5 No. 13, but also missed a number of relatively easy putts from close in, the frustration apparent on his face.

He carded five bogeys – more than his first three rounds combined – and finished tied for sixth at 6-under 282.

''It's a great experience for me, especially considering I still finished sixth, which is much better than last year, so I learned a lot,'' he said.

Howell had vastly more experience than the Chinese players, with 523 starts on the European Tour compared to just 26 for Wu and 13 for Li. Ten years ago in Shanghai, he fought then-No. 1 Tiger Woods in the final round of the HSBC Champions – and won the title.

But Howell missed when it mattered most, trying to save par after his approach on the 18th left him with a long putt. When his shot skirted by the left side of the hole, thousands of Chinese fans around the Tomson Golf Club erupted in cheers.

''Obviously a crying shame for me not to come home with the trophy, but there's I don't know how many billion people who are rather pleased I made six on the last,'' Howell said.

Getty Images

Kisner doubles 18, defends not laying up

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 6:42 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It was only fitting that Jean Van de Velde was there working as an on-course reporter on Friday as Kevin Kisner struggled his way up Carnoustie’s 18th fairway.

Rolling along with a two-stroke lead, Kisner’s 8-iron approach shot from an awkward lie in the rough from 160 yards squirted right and bounced into Barry Burn, the winding creek where Van de Velde’s title chances at the 1999 Open Championship began to erode.

Unlike Van de Velde, who made a triple bogey-7 and lost The Open in a playoff, Kisner’s double bogey only cost him the solo lead and he still has 36 holes to make his closing miscue a distant memory. That’s probably why the 34-year-old seemed at ease with his plight.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“It just came out like a high flop shot to the right. It was weird. I don't know if it caught something or what happened,” said Kisner, who was tied with Zach Johnson and Zander Lombard at 6 under par. “You never know out of that grass. It was in a different grass than usual. It was wet, green grass instead of the brown grass. So I hadn't really played from that too much.”

Like most in this week’s field Kisner also understands that rounds on what is widely considered the most difficult major championship venue can quickly unravel even with the most innocent of mistakes.

“To play 35 holes without a double I thought was pretty good,” he said. “I've kept the ball in play, done everything I wanted to do all the way up into that hole. Just one of those things that came out completely different than we expected. I'll live with that more than chipping out and laying up from 20 feet.”

Getty Images

Wind, not rain more a weekend factor at Open

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:39 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – After a half-day of rain in Round 2 of the 147th Open Championship, the weekend offers a much drier forecast.

Saturday at Carnoustie is projected to be mostly cloudy with a high of 62 degrees and only a 20 percent chance of rain.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Sunday calls for much warmer conditions, with temperatures rising upwards of 73 degrees under mostly cloudy skies.

Wind might be the only element the players have to factor in over the final 36 holes. While the winds will be relatively calm on Saturday, expected around 10-15 mph, they could increase to 25 mph in the final round.

Getty Images

Van Rooyen holes putt after ball-marker ruling

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Erik van Rooyen was surveying his 10-footer for par, trying to get a feel for the putt, when his putter slipped out of his hand and dropped onto his ball marker.

The question, then, was whether that accident caused his coin to move.

The rules official looked at various camera angles but none showed definitively whether his coin moved. The ruling was made to continue from where his coin was now positioned, with no penalty.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

This was part of the recent rules changes, ensuring there is no penalty if the ball or ball maker is accidently moved by the player. The little-used rule drew attention in 2010, when Ian Poulter accidentally dropped his ball on his marker in Dubai and wound up losing more than $400,000 in bonus and prize money.

After the delay to sort out his ruling Friday, van Rooyen steadied himself and made the putt for par, capping a day in which he shot even-par 71 and kept himself in the mix at The Open. He was at 4-under 138, just two shots off the clubhouse lead.

“I wanted to get going and get this 10-footer to save par, but I think having maybe just a couple minutes to calm me down, and then I actually got a different read when I sat down and looked at it again,” he said. “Good putt. Happy to finish that way.”

Getty Images

Lyle birdies last hole in likely his final Open start

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:32 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – If this was Sandy Lyle’s final Open appearance, he went out in style.

Playing on the final year of his automatic age exemption, the 60-year-old Scot buried a 30-foot birdie on the last hole. He missed the cut after shooting 9-over 151 over two rounds.

“I was very light-footed,” he said. “I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. To make birdie was extra special.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Lyle, who also won the 1988 Masters, has missed the cut in his last eight majors, dating to 2014. He hasn’t been competitive in The Open since 1998, when he tied for 19th.

To continue playing in The Open, Lyle needed to finish in the top 10 here at Carnoustie. He’d earn a future exemption by winning the Senior British Open.

“More punishment,” he said.