Crane leads Players Mickelson struggles

By Doug FergusonMay 7, 2009, 4:00 pm
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The PlayersPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. ' Ben Crane should have known what was coming when he rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt on the first hole of the day. He kept right on pouring them in until he had a 7-under 65 and a one-shot lead in The Players Championship.
 
Crane made four birdie putts longer than 20 feet, kept his ball on land throughout another wild opening round Thursday on the TPC Sawgrass and wound up atop a leaderboard devoid of the biggest stars.
 
Tiger Woods couldnt make a putt outside 4 feet.
Tiger Woods had plenty of missed opportunities in the first round of The Players Championship. (Getty Images)
Phil Mickelson ran off three straight birdies early in his round, then couldnt keep the ball in play.
 
Defending champion Sergio Garcia opened with a 71 and already was looking forward to going home to Spain.
 
Crane couldnt relate.
 
Its one of those rounds that you just live for when youre a golfer, he said. And I had one today at one of my favorite courses and tournaments of all time.
 
He had a one-shot lead over John Mallinger, Alex Cejka and Richard S. Johnson of Sweden, with a large group at 67 that included Retief Goosen, David Toms, Camilo Villegas and Scott Verplank, who had two eagles ' one of them from 150 yards out on the 15th fairway, another with a putt that seemed about that long on the par-5 second.
 
Woods opened his round with four straight birdie chances inside 12 feet and missed them all. He wound up with a 71, keeping alive his streak of never breaking 70 in the opening round at this elite event.
 
Mickelson hit iron off the 18th tee but it worked out beautifully with an approach to 5 feet for birdie to salvage a 73.
 
Looked like it was going to be a great round, Mickelson said. And then it just kind of went away.
 
That can happen on one of the most exciting courses in golf, where small mistakes can turn into big numbers.
 
Brian Gay made a small error by trying to reach the fourth green from the left rough, coming up short and into the water. He took a drop, dumped it in the water again, finally got on land and three-putted for a quintuple-bogey 9 on his way to an 80, one of five players who failed to break 80.
 
Or take the group of Steve Lowery, Daniel Chopra and Paul Goydos. They played the par-3 17th in a combined 18 shots, with four balls in the water ' and Goydos made a par. Lowery put two in the drink and three-putted for an 8, while Chopra rinsed two and made 7.
 
But there were times that Sawgrass was forgiving.
 
Villegas was cruising along at 3 under early in his round when he punched a 6-iron from under the trees to just short of the green, then chipped too hard and watched it roll off the green and into the water. He dropped on the edge of the putting surface and holed a 35-foot putt to walk off with a par.
 
Its funny how people talk, Oh, this golf course is perfect for this guy or for that guy, and trust me, Villegas said, players dont think that way. We just get a target and swing at it. Ill be out there focusing on every target, every swing, every shot, and hopefully, keep it going.
 
Crane got his day off to a slow start. His wife had the car, so he rode to the Stadium Course on the back of his caddies moped. Then, he was off to the races. He opened with consecutive birdies starting at No. 10, made the turn in 33, then ran off five birdies in a six-hole stretch along his back nine.
 
The hole looked the same size, but it seemed like a magnet for his ball.
 
How often from 30 feet do you actually start it there and then the read is correct? And that happened a number of times today, he said. You just smile. Youre like, Yeah, this is why I play golf right here.
 
Johnson, who won in Milwaukee last year, had to battle to be low man in his group. He played with Verplank and Johnson Wagner, and they combined for 17 birdies, two eagles and were a collective 14 under.
 
Woods only felt as if he should be there on his own, especially after missing seven birdie putts inside 12 feet.
 
This is probably the highest score I could have shot today, he said. Thats the way it goes.
 
Toms, who qualified for the tournament two weeks ago with a strong finish in New Orleans, was headed for the first-round lead until he made a few bad choices, hit a few bad shots and took three bogeys on his final four holes for a 67.
 
Im not sure exactly what I feel right now, he said. Im just glad to get off the golf course.
 
At Sawgrass, thats usually the safest place to be.
 

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    Tiger putts way into contention at The Open

    By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 5:17 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – When Tiger Woods benched his trusty Scotty Cameron blade putter last month at the Quicken Loans National for a new TaylorMade mallet-headed version some saw it as a sign of desperation, but if his performance on Carnoustie’s greens on Saturday were any indication it could end up being a calculated success.

    Woods stormed into contention on Day 3 with a 5-under 66 to move to within shouting distance of the lead at The Open, thanks in large part to his vastly improved putting.

    “I hit so many good putts out there today, and this week from distance, I've had really good feels,” said Woods, whose 29 putts on Saturday belies his performance on Carnoustie’s greens. “Even as this golf course was changing and evolving, I've maintained my feels with the putter. I've made a couple of putts from about 40 to 60 feet, which is nice. I just feel like I've been able to roll the ball.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    The highlight of Woods’ round came at the par-4 ninth hole when he charged in a 40-footer for birdie from the front edge of the green to begin a run of three consecutive birdies. Perhaps more impressive, he didn’t have a three-putt, and has only had two all week, which is always a bonus on links courses.

    Woods temporarily took a share of the lead with a lengthy birdie putt at the 14th hole and scrambled for a par save at the last after his drive nearly found the Barry Burn.

    “I hit a few putts that I think should have gone in from 20, 30 feet today," he said. "So that's always a good sign.”

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    TT postscript: A 66, he's in contention - awesome

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 21, 2018, 4:58 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods went berserk Saturday and shot 5-under 66 to vault up the leaderboard at The Open at Carnoustie:

    • THAT WAS AWESOME!

    At 4:13PM here in Scotland, when Tiger two-putted for birdie on the par-5 14th hole, he held a share of the lead in a major championship. It was once unthinkable, but it happened. I saw it with my own eyes.

    • Tiger’s last two weekend rounds in the 60s in The Open both happened at Carnoustie and both happened on July 21. In 2007, Woods shot 69 here. On Saturday, that score was clipped by three shots. Tiger shot 65 in the second round of The Open at Royal Liverpool in 2006. He won his third claret jug that week. Tiger last shoot 66 in a major during the second round of the 2011 Masters.

    • This is the sixth time that Tiger has recorded three consecutive rounds of par of better to start The Open. He went on to win three of the previous five times.

    • One bad swing, the only bad swing of the day according to Tiger, produced the luckiest of breaks. Standing on the 18th tee with an iron in hand, Tiger pulled his tee shot that hit on the top of the Barry Burn and very easily could’ve ended in a watery grave. Instead it ended in thick rough, some 250 yards from the pin. Tiger punted it up the fairway, but got up and down from 83 yards to save par and shoot 66. “I hit my number,” he quipped about hitting wedge to 2 feet.

    • On the other hand, the lone bogey came from one poor putt. On the par-3 16th hole, with half of Scotland screaming his name, Tiger missed a 7-footer for par. It was deflating at the time because the last three holes are so difficult. Pars on the last two holes were stellar.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    • Final stats: 12 of 15 fairways, 14 of 18 greens and 29 total putts. Tiger hit six drivers and one 3-wood, proving that he was way more aggressive. He hit four drivers on Friday and only one on Thursday.

    • One of the aforementioned drivers that he hit on the ninth hole was well left and in some thick round, 170 yards from the hole. A safe approach to 40 feet set him up for and easy two-putt par. But he slammed the putt home and made an improbable birdie. “I hit so many good putts out there today, and this week from distance, I’ve had really good feels,” he said.

    • In his own words about his chances of winning: “It certainly is possible. I’ve shown that I’ve been there close enough with a chance to win this year. Given what happened the last few years, I didn’t know if that would ever happen again, but here I am with a chance coming Sunday in a major championship. It’s going to fun.”

    Yes, yes it is.

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    Watch: Guy sleeps next to many beers at Open

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 21, 2018, 4:55 pm

    It's Moving Day at The Open Championship for all but one sedentary fan.

    Cameras caught this potentially browned-out man having himself a Saturday snooze on the browned-out grasses of Carnoustie:

    Browned out. That's a great term. Glad it's in the public domain. We've been using it all weekend. I imagine we'll continue to use it. A lot.

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    Watch: Tiger makes 6 birdies, 1 amazing par in Rd. 3

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 4:10 pm

    Tiger Woods started the third round of The Open at even par, having made seven birdies and seven bogeys over the first 36 holes at Carnoustie.

    Following three pars to start on Saturday, Woods went on a birdie binge.

    No. 1 came with this putt at the par-4 fourth.


    No. 2 with this two-putt at the par-5 sixth.


    No. 3 thanks to this 30-footer at the par-4 ninth.


    No. 4 after nearly jarring his approach shot on the par-4 10th.


    No. 5 when he almost drove the green at the par-4 11th and two-putted, from just off the green, from 95 feet.


    And No. 6, which gave him a share of the lead, came courtesy another two-putt at the par-5 14th.


    Woods bogeyed the par-3 16th to drop out of the lead and almost dropped - at least - one more shot at the par-4 18th. But his tee shot got a lucky bounce and he turned his good fortune into a par.


    Woods shot 5-under 66 and finished the day at 5 under par.