Holmes (62) tames Blue Monster, leads by 4 at Doral

By Doug FergusonMarch 5, 2015, 11:01 pm

DORAL, Fla. - J.B. Holmes never liked the old Blue Monster at Doral because he thought it was too easy for a World Golf Championship.

He said this with a straight face Thursday after a 10-under 62 that tied the tournament record at the Cadillac Championship, gave him a four-shot lead and left the rest of this world-class field to wonder just how he managed.

''I was able to hit the shots where I envisioned and hit good shots, and today the putter was on,'' Holmes said. ''Put that combination together, you do everything pretty good, you're going to shoot a good score.''

He made it sound as easy as it looked. Except that Trump National Doral wasn't all that easy for everyone else.

Rory McIlroy again felt tentative with his swing and shot 40 on his opening nine holes before finishing without a par on his last six holes - an eagle, three birdies and two bogeys that allowed him to salvage a 73. The world's No. 1 player has shot 73-74-73 in his three rounds in Florida this year.

Phil Mickelson shot 74 and failed to make a birdie for the first time in 186 rounds on the PGA Tour, dating to the final day at Olympic Club in the 2012 U.S. Open.

''Ten under? You're joking,'' Shane Lowry said after a hard-fought 71.

Ryan Moore was hanging with him until he hit his tee shot into the water on the par-5 18th hole and made double bogey. He still had a 66.

''It was a very fair test of golf,'' Moore said. ''I mean, it's difficult, but you can make some birdies.''


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Dustin Johnson ran off four birdies in a five-hole stretch on the back nine and was at 68, along with Alexander Levy of France and Rickie Fowler, who thought his round was solid. ''To shoot 68 in some tough conditions on a tough golf course and be six back, wouldn't really expect that,'' Fowler said.

Henrik Stenson, making his American debut, had six birdies and joined Phoenix Open winner Brooks Koepka at 69. The group at 70 included Adam Scott, who used a conventional putter for the first time in just over four years.

Holmes last played at Doral in 2010, missing time with injuries, not the least of which was surgery to remove a piece of his skull in 2011. Gil Hanse renovated the Blue Monster to make it more sensational with so much water hugging the fairways and greens. That was never an issue for Holmes. He finished his round with an 8-foot par putt, which he said was the closest he came to bogey all day.

''By about 5 feet,'' he said.

The start was nothing short of deal. Holmes two-putted for birdie on the par-5 10th, holed a 35-foot birdie putt on the 11th, and then smashed a drive downwind on the 603-yard 12th hole. He hit 6-iron thinking he might be able to clear the bunker, and it turned out better than he imagined, a foot away from the hole for an eagle.

The rest of the round, playing in tropical warmth and typical south Florida wind, was a matter of keeping it below the hole and making putts.

This was never his favorite WGC event the two previous times he played it.

''One of my least favorite tracks on tour,'' he said of the previous design. ''It was just too easy. I felt like for a World Golf Championship, 22 under winning shouldn't really happen. It's a very difficult golf course. I played great today.''

He was right on both counts.

The average score was 73.4, meaning that Holmes was more than 11 shots better than the field, the best standard of a great round. His 62 matched the tournament record set by Bubba Watson at Doral in 2012, and Sergio Garcia and Retief Goosen at Mount Juliet in Ireland in 2002.

McIlroy's standard is slightly off at the moment.

Already a winner in Dubai and a runner-up in Abu Dhabi, he missed the cut last week at the Honda Classic after a month break and said he felt tentative. A week later, not much changed. Poor tee shots kept him from reaching the par 5s on the back nine in two. He twice failed to save par from the bunkers. And then from the middle of the fairway on the 18th hole - the tee shot is supposed to be the hard part - he was caught between clubs and tugged a 7-iron short, down the bank and into the water for a double bogey.

On his next tee shot, McIlroy was 5 yards away from going into the water - on the adjacent Red Course.

''It is very good on the range and it is very good in normal play when I'm not playing a tournament,'' McIlroy said. ''Then I've got a card in my hand the last couple weeks and it just hasn't quite been there. It's nice you can get round rounds this week and sort of try to play your way into some sort of rhythm. I don't feel like it's that far away. That's the frustrating thing.''

But he's far away from the lead. McIlroy already was 11 shots behind.

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Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.

Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.

Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.


Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


"I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."

Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:

Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.

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Immelman misses Open bid via OWGR tiebreaker

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:25 pm

A resurgent performance at the Scottish Open gave Trevor Immelman his first top-10 finish in more than four years, but it left him short of a return to The Open by the slimmest of margins.

The former Masters champ turned back the clock this week at Gullane Golf Club, carding four straight rounds of 68 or better. That run included a 5-under 65 in the final round, which gave him a tie for third and left him five shots behind winner Brandon Stone. It was his first worldwide top-10 since a T-10 finish at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.

There were three spots available into The Open for players not otherwise exempt, and for a brief moment it appeared Immelman, 38, might sneak the third and final invite.


Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


But with Stone and runner-up Eddie Pepperell both not qualified, that left the final spot to be decided between Immelman and Sweden's Jens Dantorp who, like Immelman, tied for third at 15 under.

As has been the case with other stops along the Open Qualifying Series, the tiebreaker to determine invites is the players' standing in the Official World Golf Rankings entering the week. Dantorp is currently No. 322 in the world, but with Immelman ranked No. 1380 the Swede got the nod.

This will mark Dantorp's first-ever major championship appearance. Immelman, who hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2013 Masters, was looking to return to The Open for 10th time and first since a missed cut at Royal Lytham six years ago. He will instead work the week at Carnoustie as part of Golf Channel and NBC's coverage of The Open.

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Stone (60) wins Scottish Open, invite to Carnoustie

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:06 pm

There's never a bad time to shoot a 60, but Brandon Stone certainly picked an opportune moment to do so.

Facing a jammed leaderboard in the final round of the Scottish Open, Stone fired a 10-under 60 to leave a stacked field in his wake and win the biggest tournament of his career. His 20-under 260 total left him four shots clear of Eddie Pepperell and five shots in front of a group that tied for third.

Stone had a mid-range birdie putt on No. 18 that would have given him the first 59 in European Tour history. But even after missing the putt on the left, Stone tapped in to close out a stellar round that included eight birdies, nine pars and an eagle. It's his third career European Tour title but first since the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December 2016.


Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


Stone started the day three shots behind overnight leader Jens Dantorp, but he made an early move with three birdies over his first five holes and five over his first 10. Stone added a birdie on the par-3 12th, then took command with a three-hole run from Nos. 14-16 that included two birdies and an eagle.

The eye-popping score from the 25-year-old South African was even more surprising considering his lack of form entering the week. Stone is currently ranked No. 371 in the world and had missed four of his last seven worldwide cuts without finishing better than T-60.

Stone was not yet qualified for The Open, and as a result of his performance at Gullane Golf Club he will tee it up next week at Carnoustie. Stone headlined a group of three Open qualifiers, as Pepperell and Dantorp (T-3) also earned invites by virtue of their performance this week. The final spot in the Open will go to the top finisher not otherwise qualified from the John Deere Classic.

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Daly (knee) replaced by Bradley in Open field

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 12:13 pm

Former champion John Daly has withdrawn from The Open because of a right knee injury and will be replaced in the field at Carnoustie by another major winner, Keegan Bradley.

Daly, 52, defeated Costantino Rocca in a memorable playoff to win the claret jug at St. Andrews in 1995. His lingering knee pain led him to request a cart during last month's U.S. Senior Open, and when that request was denied he subsequently withdrew from the tournament.

Daly then received treatment on the knee and played in a PGA Tour event last week at The Greenbrier without the use of a cart, missing the cut with rounds of 77-67. But on the eve of the season's third major, he posted to Twitter that his pain remains "unbearable" and that a second request for a cart was turned down:

This will be just the second time since 2000 that Daly has missed The Open, having also sat out the 2013 event at Muirfield. He last made the cut in 2012, when he tied for 81st at Royal Lytham. He could still have a few more chances to improve upon that record, given that past Open champions remain fully exempt until age 60.

Taking his place will be Bradley, who was first alternate based on his world ranking. Bradley missed the event last year but recorded three top-20 finishes in five appearances from 2012-16, including a T-18 finish two years ago at Royal Troon.

The next three alternates, in order, are Spain's Adrian Otaegui and Americans Aaron Wise and J.B. Holmes.