History suggests U.S. Open is Tiger's to lose

By Doug FergusonJune 16, 2012, 7:53 pm

SAN FRANCISCO – The expectations came back before Tiger Woods did.

For the longest time, there was a sense of inevitability about Woods when he was in front going into the weekend at a major championship. Eight times he had the outright lead after 36 holes, and eight times he went on to win, a streak that Y.E. Yang finally ended in 2009 at the PGA Championship.

The circumstances were slightly different Saturday at the U.S. Open.

This was the first time Woods has shared the lead at a major going into the third round, and the other leaders have some experience.

Jim Furyk won the U.S. Open nine years ago at Olympia Fields, where he had a chance to set the 72-hole scoring record until meaningless bogeys on the last two holes. David Toms is 11 years removed from his lone major at the PGA Championship, though not quickly forgotten is the resolve he showed. With the gallery one-sided in its support of Phil Mickelson, Toms laid up on the 18th hole at Atlanta Athletic Club and made a 12-foot par to win.

The other difference?

This is 2012.

Woods removed his cap on the putting green Thursday, revealing an increasingly receding hair line. That was always going to be a losing battle, though it was a subtle reminder that Woods is not the 24-year-old who completed the career Grand Slam at St. Andrews, nor was this the 30-year-old who won consecutive majors.

He is 36.

He has gone through four operations on his left knee.

He has gone through public scrutiny of a very private life.

In some respects, this week could be the start of a new era for Woods, who will always be compared against his old era.

This business of the ''new Tiger'' looking like the ''old Tiger'' needs to stop, for no other reason than the new Tiger is older. For all this talk about whether Woods is really back, he has won two times this year on the PGA Tour, and that's as many as anyone else. Woods won five times in 2003 and it used to be called a slump because it didn't include a major championship.

So now Woods is among the leaders going into the third round at The Olympic Club, and the expectations are that he will win the U.S. Open for a record-tying fourth time, and finally get to his 15th major in his delayed pursuit of Jack Nicklaus.

Woods' mother is at Olympic this week, and she rarely goes anywhere but the Masters and Honda Classic, her new home. Maybe she's onto something.

Then again, it's hard to imagine Woods not expecting the same thing.

If a 70 in the U.S. Open at Olympic is equivalent to a 66 at a regular PGA Tour event, then this would be a stretch of golf that should get some attention. He closed with a 67 to win at Memorial, then joined Furyk and Toms as the only players who have not gone over par this week.

''It's one thing to have a game plan, but you also have to execute the game plan,'' Woods said. ''And I think that's one of the reasons why I was so excited about how I hit the ball at Memorial, because that's what I needed to play here. I hit the ball so well there and the different trajectories, that was big for me. And to come here and then be able to shape it like this – because I have to, I have to shape it here – I've done a pretty good job of that for the first two days.''

Perhaps it helps that he has two players whose game he admires joining him as the only golfers who remain under par.

Woods thinks so much of the Furyk's toughness that he finally got his wish to have Furyk as a partner in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup. A few years ago, Woods was presented one of those age-old hypothetical questions: If his life depended on someone making a 15-foot putt, and he couldn't pick himself or Nicklaus, which player would he choose? Among the names he eventually mentioned was Toms.

The lesser-known players have proved far more dangerous over the years.

Bob May took him to a playoff at Valhalla in the 2000 PGA Championship. Woods had to hole one of the biggest putts of his life at Torrey Pines just to get into a U.S. Open playoff with Rocco Mediate in 2008, and he still had to go 19 holes to beat him. Rich Beem didn't blink when he beat Woods in the PGA Championship at Hazeltine. Yang remains the only player to win a major when Woods had the lead going into final round.

His former caddie, Steve Williams, once said that what looked like the easiest of Sundays felt like one of the hardest. He was talking about the Buick Open in 2009. Woods went into the final round with a one-shot lead over a group of players that made it look like a Nationwide Tour leaderboard. Only two of the seven guys behind him had won on Tour, and none was ranked among the top 100.

The tournament, in the eyes of everyone except the players, was over.

Woods is not at that stage yet, though Saturday could go a long way toward raising the expectations even higher. Woods is known for closing on Sunday, but he traditionally has set himself up for the win on Saturday.

In his 14 major wins, his scoring average in the third round is 68.3 and he has never had a round over par. He has had the lowest score of the third round five times (despite being among the last to tee off in the afternoon), and he has not had a round over par.

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”