Defending champ Matsuyama shares lead at Memorial

By Doug FergusonJune 5, 2015, 12:13 am

DUBLIN, Ohio – Hideki Matsuyama was bracing for a rough day at the Memorial and wound up with a share of the lead Thursday.

Tiger Woods still doesn't know what to expect.

Matsuyama made a bold start in his bid to join Woods as the only repeat winners at Muirfield Village by running off four straight birdies on the back nine and one strong par save on his way to an 8-under 64 that tied the Japanese star with Bo Van Pelt.

''To be honest with you, up until yesterday I was not hitting the ball very well, I was not chipping very well, I was not putting very well,'' Matsuyama said through a translator. ''And I don't know what happened overnight. We just caught magic.''

It was a dream start for Van Pelt for other reasons. He grew up across the state line in Indiana and used to play hooky from school to attend the Memorial from the time he was 10 until he got out of high school. Muirfield Village is where he first dreamed about playing the PGA Tour. In calm conditions under an overcast sky, Van Pelt made a career-best 10 birdies for his best score in 41 rounds at the course Jack Nicklaus built.


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''Other than the Masters, this tournament means more to me than any one I've ever played,'' Van Pelt said. ''So it's always good to play well around a place that means a lot to you.''

Woods, a five-time winner of the Memorial, wasn't sure what he was going to get. He hooked his tee shot and started with a bogey for the eighth time in his last nine starts on the PGA Tour. He went so far right off the tee at the 18th that it went out-of-bounds (the next tee shot wasn't much better) and made double bogey to go out in 40. He hooked his 3-wood on the first hole. It was looking like another big number.

Instead, Woods battled to save pars and convert birdies, and he salvaged a 73 that left him nine shots behind.

''Physically, I feel good. Mentally, I feel beat up,'' Woods said. ''To turn that round around like I did today ... that was hard.''

He was determined to stick with the changes he is making to his swing under a fourth coach as a pro, no matter how long it takes. Considering he hasn't had a top 10 in his last 13 events dating to the end of 2013, this could take time.

''I was just trying to stay committed to what we're working on, to what we're doing,'' he said. ''I hit it awful, yeah. So what? I was going to go through this phase and stick with it, keep sticking with it. And some of the shots I hit were really, really good. But then I also had some really bad shots, too. And we need to work on that.''

Matsuyama won the Memorial last year in a playoff. It was his first win in America and validated him as one of the many rising stars in golf.

He said every course on the PGA Tour feels difficult to him, and even when he made a pair of 15-foot birdie putts on his way to a 32 on the front nine while playing with Phil Mickelson (72) and Rickie Fowler (72), he wasn't comfortable.

''I was just trying to hang on,'' he said.

So was Jason Dufner, the former PGA champion, whose tied for eighth last week at the AT&T Byron Nelson ended a stretch of 17 events on American soil without a top 10. He was tied for the lead after making a 60-foot eagle putt on the 15th hole and was still poised to join Matsuyama and Van Pelt at 64 until he pulled his tee shot into the water on the 18th and closed with a double bogey.

That put him at 66, along with Russell Knox, who fed his putts off the ridges beautifully in making seven birdies.

Harris English and Kevin Kisner were among those at 67. Masters champion Jordan Spieth, who saved the start of his round with a world-class short game, was cruising along until one mistake turned a birdie into a bogey on the par-5 seventh late in his round. He had to settle for a 68.

English (No. 70 in the world) and Kisner (No. 61) each have a chance to do well enough at the Memorial to avoid U.S. Open qualifying next week. Another important start belonged to Patrick Rodgers, who has his last chance to gain special temporary membership on the PGA Tour.

Woods grabbed the most attention for two reasons. He's Tiger Woods, still enough to attract the biggest gallery. And there remains a mystery about the game of a 79-time PGA Tour winner who has plunged to No. 172 in the world.

Most intriguing about his assessment of Thursday's round was a stubbornness to see the changes to a conclusion, no matter how long that takes. Previous changes have taken as long as 18 months for Woods to figure it out. Time is no longer on his side, however, not at his age and with five surgeries behind him.

''I've gone through phases like this, rounds like this, where yeah, it's easy to revert back and go ahead and hit some old pattern,'' he said. ''But it doesn't do you any good going forward. And I've done it. Sometimes it's taken me about a year and then it kicked in and I did pretty good after that. ... If you believe in it, do it. And eventually it will start turning.

''And when it turns, I've had periods where I've played good for four or five years, where I've won close to 20 tournaments in that stretch.''

American Junior Golf Association

Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 11:03 pm

While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.

There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.

According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)

Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.

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McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

12/1: Tony Finau

14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

20/1: Francesco Molinari

25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

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Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.



“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

Her overall assessment of her day?

“It was a great experience,” she said.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.