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Garcia needs strong finish just to make playoffs

By Doug FergusonJuly 25, 2018, 1:15 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Three tournaments remain before the top eight players qualify for the U.S. Ryder Cup team, including $10 million or more purses from the World Golf Championship at Firestone and the PGA Championship.

Another deadline quickly approaching is the FedExCup, and Adam Scott did himself a big favor with his tie for 17th at The Open.

Scott moved from No. 123 to No. 107 in the FedExCup standings. He should be set, especially being guaranteed points in two weeks at the Bridgestone Invitational. Scott, who has fallen to No. 73 in the world ranking, gets into Firestone because he played in the Presidents Cup last year.

''There's good stuff in my game,'' Scott said. ''I didn't hit it as well as I wanted this week, but there was still plenty of good in that. My short game is really good, I thought. So if I can just get the rhythm of the golf swing going a little better over the next couple weeks, I really feel like I can make a mark at the PGA and try to put a dent in the end of the season.''

Others remain in a tough spot.

Sergio Garcia missed the cut at Carnoustie and fell to No. 132, which is why he decided to play the RBC Canadian Open this week for the first time since 2001. Garcia has played only 11 events on the PGA Tour this year.

Bill Haas, who took time off from golf after being the passenger in a fatal car accident outside Riviera in February, is at No. 144.

BUSY TIMES: Henrik Stenson banged the top part of his left arm on a door, and it was sore enough that it nearly kept him out of The Open. He could use some quick healing with a schedule that is busier than usual.

A year ago, Stenson was at No. 75 in the FedExCup standings and in danger of not fulfilling his minimum 15 tournaments, so he entered the Wyndham Championship, which he won. Now, the Swede has a World Golf Championship at Firestone and the PGA Championship, and then the title defense at the Wyndham before the FedExCup playoffs start.

''That's why I'm hoping the arm will clear up in a week or so, and I can get back into playing without thinking about that and just working on my game,'' Stenson said. ''If I'm going to play all that golf, I need to pace myself and not do too much. But at the same time, I'm not feeling like I'm firing golf-wise, so you still need to put the work in. So that's a bit of a tough one.''

It's tough in other aspects. The Nordea Masters in Sweden, which he has never won, was moved this year to the same week as the Wyndham Championship.

''So we're disappointing a lot of people,'' he said.

SPREADING THE WEALTH: The PGA Tour Champions has its final major of the year at St. Andrews this week for The Senior Open, and it's been a year of spreading out the victories.

Miguel Angel Jimenez won the Regions Tradition in Alabama. Paul Broadhurst won the Senior PGA Championship. David Toms won the U.S. Senior Open in Colorado, and Vijay Singh won the Senior Players Championship two weeks ago in Chicago.

Missing from the list is Bernhard Langer, who has won majors each of the last four years.

For the last six years, at least one player has won multiple senior majors. The last time the five majors were won by five players was in 2011, when they were won by Tom Lehman, Tom Watson, Olin Browne, Fred Couples and Russ Cochran.

GLOBAL TOURS: Shubhankar Sharma turned pro at 16 and got his start on the Professional Golf Tour of India, which offered small purses and little else. Now, it is one of three small circuits that will start awarding world ranking points.

The board of the Official world Golf Ranking approved India, the All Thailand Golf Tour and the feeder circuit of the Japan Golf Tour into its system. Winners in Thailand and India will get a minimum of five points over 72-hole events, while the Abema TV Tour in Japan awards four points.

''I think it's fabulous,'' Sharma said. ''India has some great players, and the scores are pretty low. I think it's truly one of the better tours in Asia now. It's great we have world ranking points. It will just attract more and more sponsors, and it will help making India bigger.''

The ranking starts one year before the Olympics, and Anirban Lahiri expects quick movement. Lahiri was the first Indian to play in the Presidents Cup, and Lahiri and S.S.P. Chawrasia represented India in the Olympics at Rio de Janeiro two years ago.

''It's unbelievable what that's going to do,'' Lahiri said. ''We're suddenly going to have another 20 guys in the top 300, I think.''

PLAYER OF THE YEAR RACE: Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose and Justin Thomas are in a tight race for the points-based PGA Player of the Year, and none has won a major.

Johnson, Rose and Thomas are all three-time winners (each event is worth 10 points). Johnson leads in scoring average and is third on the money list, while Rose is second in scoring and money. That leaves both of them at 56 points.

Thomas leads the money list and is No. 4 in scoring average, leaving him two points out of the lead.

As for the major champions, that is their only victory this year on the PGA Tour. Majors are worth 30 points, and there is a 50-point bonus for winning two majors.

The PGA Tour's award is based on a vote of the players.

DIVOTS: The R&A reported attendance for the week at The Open at 172,000, a record for Carnoustie. The previous mark was 159,000 in 1999. ... Tiger Woods raised $19,000 for his foundation last month when he auctioned the camouflage bag he used at the Quicken Loans National. The bag was made specifically for Woods to support the tournament's military camouflage day initiative. He autographed it and wrote a personal message to the winning bidder. ... U.S. Junior Girls champion Yealimi Noh and semifinalists Lucy Li were among seven players named to the 12-member Junior Ryder Cup team. Li, who was on the Curtis Cup team, is playing the Junior Ryder Cup for the second time. ... Rory McIlroy was the only player with all four rounds under par at Carnoustie. ... By winning The Open, Francesco Molinari took over the lead in the Race to Dubai on the European Tour. It had belonged to Patrick Reed since he won the Masters.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Francesco Molinari and Y.E. Yang are the only players to win a major while paired with Tiger Woods in the final round.

FINAL WORD: ''There's going to be a lot of European guys vying for his partnership in the foursomes at the Ryder Cup, that's for sure.'' - Rory McIlroy on The Open champion Francesco Molinari.

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Man bites off finger during golf course brawl

By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 3:45 pm

PLYMOUTH, Mass. – A man has bitten off another man’s finger during a fight at a Massachusetts golf course.

WCVB-TV reports a 47-year-old man was arrested at the Southers Marsh Golf Club in Plymouth Friday after he apparently got into a fight with another golfer and bit off a part of his thumb.

The station reports the victim’s thumb had been bitten off to his knuckle and he was transported to a local hospital for treatment. The incident happened around sunset.

The attacker was arrested and charged with mayhem. A police dispatcher declined to comment Saturday and Chief Michael Botieri didn’t immediately return a call seeking more information.

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Snedeker leads by one heading into final round

By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 3:26 pm

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Brandt Snedeker took a one-stroke lead into the final round of the weather-delayed Wyndham Championship after finishing the third round Sunday with a 2-under 68.

Snedeker was at 16-under 194 through three rounds of the final PGA Tour event of the regular season. Brian Gay and David Hearn were at 15 under, with Gay shooting a 62 and Hearn a 64.

Thirty players were on the course Saturday when play was suspended because of severe weather. After a delay of 3 hours, 23 minutes, organizers chose to hold things up until Sunday morning.

Snedeker, who shot an opening-round 59 to become just the 10th tour player to break 60, is chasing his first victory since 2016 and his second career win at this tournament.

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Olesen edges past Poulter in Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayAugust 19, 2018, 3:10 pm

With only two weeks left in the qualification window, Thorbjorn Olesen is now in position to make his Ryder Cup debut.

Olesen finished alone in fourth place at the Nordea Masters, two shots out of a playoff between Thomas Aiken and eventual winner Paul Waring. Olesen carded four straight sub-70 rounds in Sweden, including a final-round 67 that featured three birdies over his final seven holes.

It's a tight race for the fourth and final Ryder Cup spot via the World Points list, and Olesen's showing this week will allow him to move past Paul Casey and Ian Poulter, both of whom didn't play this week, into the No. 4 slot. Olesen is now also less than 40,000 Euros behind Tommy Fleetwood to qualify via the European Points list.

The top four players from both lists on Sept. 2 will qualify for next month's matches, with captain Thomas Bjorn rounding out the roster with four selections on Sept. 4. Poulter and Casey will both have a chance to move back in front next week at The Northern Trust, while the final qualifying week will include the PGA Tour event at TPC Boston and Olesen headlining the field in his homeland at the Made in Denmark.

Even if Olesen fails to qualify automatically for Paris, the 28-year-old continues to bolster his credentials for a possible pick from his countryman, Bjorn. Olesen won the Italian Open in June, finished second at the BMW International Open three weeks later and has now compiled four top-12 finishes over his last five worldwide starts including a T-3 result at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational earlier this month.

In addition to the players who fail to qualify from the Olesen-Poulter-Casey trio, other candidates for Bjorn's quartet of picks will likely include major champions Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson.

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Thompson bounces back from rule violation

By Randall MellAugust 19, 2018, 2:22 am

If Lexi Thompson’s trouble in the sixth fairway brought back any painful memories Saturday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship, she shook them off in a hurry.

If the approach of another rules official amid a spirited run of brilliant play rattled her, she didn’t show it.

Thompson posted an 8-under-par 64 in the third round despite another awkward rules infraction.

Her round was impressively bogey free but not mistake free, and so her work will be a little harder Sunday chasing Lizette Salas.

After incurring a one-shot penalty for violating a local rule in effect for preferred lies, Thompson will start the final round five shots back instead of four.

She knows she’s fortunate she isn’t six back.

If a rules official hadn’t witnessed Thompson in the middle of committing the infraction, she could have been assessed an additional penalty shot for playing from the wrong spot.

Thompson got the penalty after stepping on the 10th tee and blowing her drive right, into the sixth fairway. She got it after picking up her ball over there and lifting, cleaning and placing it. She got it because she wasn’t allowed to do that in any other fairway except for the fairway of the hole she was playing.

The preferred-lie rule was distributed to players earlier in the week.

The story here isn’t really the penalty.

Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

It’s Thompson’s reaction to it, because she opened this week in such heartfelt fashion. After skipping the Ricoh Women’s British Open to take a month-long “mental break,” Thompson revealed this week that she has been struggling emotionally in the wake of last year’s highs and lows. She opened up about how trying to “hide” her pain and show strength through it all finally became too much to bear. She needed a break. She also candidly shared how the challenges of being a prodigy who has poured herself into the game have led her to seek therapists’ help in building a life about more than golf.

That’s a lot for a 23-year-old to unload publicly.

Last year may have been the best and the worst of Thompson’s career. She said dealing with that controversial four-shot penalty that cost her the ANA Inspiration title, watching her mother battle cancer and losing a grandmother were cumulatively more difficult to deal with than she ever let on. There was also that short missed putt at year’s end that could have vaulted her to Rolex world No. 1 for the first time and led to her winning the Rolex Player of the Year title. She still won twice, won the Vare Trophy for low scoring average and was the Golf Writers Association of America Player of the Year.

That’s a lot of peaks and valleys for a young soul.

That’s the kind of year that can make you feel like an old soul in a hurry.

So seeing a rules official approach her on Saturday, you wondered about Thompson gathering herself so quickly. You wondered what she was thinking stepping up and ripping her next shot 215 majestic yards, about her hitting the green and saving par. You wondered about how she  bounced back to birdie 13 and 14 and finish bogey free.

With this week’s soul bearing, you wondered a lot about what rebounding like that meant to her.

We’re left to wonder from afar, though, because she wasn’t asked any of those questions by local reporters afterward. The transcript showed three brief answers to three short questions, none about the penalty or the challenge she met.

Of course, there were other questions to be asked, because local rules have been an issue this year. Did she read the local notes with the preferred lies explanation? She got hit with another local rules issue in Thailand this year, when she hit her ball near an advertising sign and moved the sign, not realizing a local rule made the sign a temporary immovable obstruction.

Of course, there were other good stories in Indy, too, with Sung Hyun Park poised to overtake Ariya Jutanugarn and return to Rolex world No. 1, with Salas holding off Park so brilliantly down the stretch Saturday.

Thompson, though, is the highest ranked American in the world. She’s the face of American women’s golf now. A face more tender, resolute and vulnerable than we have ever seen it.

Folks along the ropes watching her on the back nine in Indy Saturday got to see that better than any of us.