Barclays reduced with Kuchar in the driver's seat

By Doug FergusonAugust 26, 2011, 6:04 pm

EDISON, N.J. – What once looked to be a long week at The Barclays suddenly has turned into a sprint.

Matt Kuchar heard the news from his walking scorer when he reached the eighth green Friday that the PGA Tour’s opening playoff event would be reduced to 54 holes on Saturday because of Hurricane Irene. By then, the defending champion had already left his mark on Plainfield Country Club and closed with a pair of pars for a 6-under 65.

That gave Kuchar a one-shot lead over Dustin Johnson and Vijay Singh, and it could loom large.

Even now, no one is sure what to expect from Irene. The plan is to start the third and final round Saturday morning and hope to finish before the storm arrives. If the rain shows up early and they can’t finish, it will revert to a 36-hole tournament.

“The best players generally come out winners after 72, so for me, I feel like the more golf we play, the better my chances,” Kuchar said. “But given the situation, I love being on top of the leaderboard with 18 holes to go. Hard to find something to complain about with the situation I’m in. Yeah, I’m quite happy that I’ve got this opportunity. I just feel like we’ve got one last round to go.”

Johnson missed birdie putts inside 10 feet on his last three holes and still shot 63. Singh, who has gone 67 starts on the PGA Tour since his last win at the BMW Championship in 2008, two-putted for par from 40 feet on his last hole for a 64.

“I’m pretty happy with my position,” Singh said. “I would have loved to be in the lead in case we don’t play.”

What helped is that only 72 players made the cut at 4-under 138, which at least makes for a quicker third round.

It’s the first time a FedEx Cup playoff event has been reduced to 54 holes since the series began in 2007, and there was not much choice.

Plainfield already had received about 10 inches of rain the past two weeks and 10 more were expected Sunday. There also were safety issues. Crews began dismantling electronic scoreboards Friday afternoon and an army of volunteers from the area had to make their own plans to evacuate, if necessary.

“It kind of makes you want to cry because of all the effort that went in, and all of the energy that surrounded this event going into the week, which is going to be the best Barclays we have ever had,” tournament director Peter Mele said.

The tournament had been a sellout, and fans still turned out Friday in warm weather. They were treated to quite a show.

Kuchar, who won The Barclays last year at Ridgewood, played without a bogey in a round so efficient that his most memorable shot was punching under a tree and onto the green for a two-putt par on the eighth.

He finished his first round earlier Friday with a birdie on the 18th for a 63, and he was at 14-under 128 going into the final round.

On the other side of the course was Johnson, using his sheer power to overwhelm a soft course. Johnson was blasting driver whenever he thought he could carry the trouble off the tee. He came up just short of the par-4 fourth and ninth greens, making birdie on both as he went out in 29. Johnson made an 18-foot birdie on the 11th to tie for the lead, but his 3-iron into the par-5 12th turned just enough to catch the water, and he had to scramble for par.

It was a spectacular round in many ways, no matter how soft the conditions, no matter how many chances he missed.

“There’s no way I can say I’m disappointed by any means,” he said. “I could have done a little better with the short game. But overall, I mean a 63 is a 63. I’m going to be smiling.” And, yes, he said that with a smile.

Singh had only one blemish when he three-putted from 30 feet on the 15th, but he countered with eight birdies. He recently went to Germany to get the same treatment on his back as Fred Couples, who won on the Champions Tour last week.

Jonathan Byrd birdied his last hole for a 66 and was at 11-under 131.

Among those at 10 under were Justin Rose (65), Aaron Baddeley (66) and a surprise – at least this year – in Padraig Harrington. The three-time major champion only got into the FedEx Cup playoffs last week at No. 124 of the 125 who qualified. He opened with a 65 for his low round of the year, and followed it with seven birdies in his round of 67.

He played with William McGirt, the No. 125 seed, who had a 69 and was another shot behind. They now only have one more round to secure a spot among the top 100 in the standings and move on to the second playoff event outside Boston next week.

“I wouldn’t say we played with desperation,” Harrington said. “I think there was a bit of freedom in it. We had nothing to lose. We were the last men in.”

McGirt was planning to play Nationwide Tour events in Tennessee and Idaho. Instead, he went to Plainfield and appears headed to the TPC Boston, two tournaments with $8 million in prize money.

“Kind of got everything going, but hey, it’s golf,” McGirt said. “And the worst thing I could finish this week is 125.”

PGA Tour events are not official unless they go at least 54 holes. If the rain arrives earlier than expected Saturday and the tournament reverts to 36-hole scores, the Tour will still distribute FedEx Cup points as if it were official, which is significant for those trying to get into the top 100.

Adam Scott won a playoff at Riviera six years ago after rain allowed just 36 holes, and while he received official money, it didn’t count as a PGA Tour win and he only received 75 percent of the world ranking points available that week.

None of the players seemed to mind that it would be 54 holes, even as a playoff event. One look at the forecast, and news of a hurricane warning for New Jersey, was enough to make anyone realize golf is secondary.

“I think they made the right decision,” Harrington said. “There’s bigger things going on, once this hurricane hits, to be worried about coming back for the last round of a golf event. There’s going to be bigger issues.”

The only beef for Ian Poulter was the timing of it all. He found out it was reduced to 54 holes when he saw the announcement on a video board with only four holes left in his second round. Poulter didn’t understand why the Tour couldn’t mention that as a possibility.

“It’s a little frustrating that you get told it’s a 54-hole tournament when you’ve got four holes to play,” he said. “The guys going out now for the second round know exactly what’s going on. There’s been no information about what might happen. And I think that’s pathetic.”

He at least finished with four pars for a 67 and was at 4 under, which made the cut and gives him a chance to get to Boston.

This is the second straight year a hurricane has been the focus at a playoff event. Hurricane Earl threatened the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston last season, although it never developed.

“I think you never know with hurricanes. They are fickle, as we all know,” Mele said. “Unfortunately, this one wasn’t.”

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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."