Four-way tie for lead, top-3 MC at U.S. Open

By Doug FergusonJune 17, 2017, 12:08 am

ERIN, Wis. – The biggest surprise at this U.S. Open was not who was leading, but who was leaving.

Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day — the top three players in the world, all of them professing expansive Erin Hills to be perfect for their games — spent Friday cleaning out their lockers after missing the cut.

Left behind was the biggest 36-hole logjam in 43 years at the U.S. Open.

Paul Casey chopped his way to a triple bogey, only to respond with five straight birdies that carried him to a 1-under 71 and make him the first to post at 7-under 137. He set the target early under warm sunshine, and even as the wind tapered in the afternoon, no one could catch him.

Brooks Koepka had the lead until he turned a birdie chance into a bogey on the par-5 first hole after making the turn. He didn’t make a birdie the rest of the way and had to settle for a 70. They were joined by Brian Harman and Tommy Fleetwood of England, who each had a 70.


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Right behind was a trio of players that included Rickie Fowler, who went 28 holes before making his first bogey and then went three holes without making a par. Fowler shot a 73 and was still very much in the hunt at a second straight major.

The four-way tie was the most after two rounds in a U.S. Open since Winged Foot in 1974, back when the names were more familiar for a major — Raymond Floyd, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Hale Irwin, who went on to win his first major.

The last six majors have been won by first-timers, and that cycle has a good chance to continue. The top 18 players on the leaderboard going into the weekend have combined for zero majors. Only a half-dozen of them have even experienced Sunday contention in golf’s biggest events.

“Tomorrow will be a very cool experience,” Fleetwood said. “It’s still Saturday — 36 holes is a very long time in a U.S. Open. Anything can happen.”

Just about everything already has at Erin Hills.

A commercial blimp crashed to the ground and caught fire just outside the course Thursday, about the time the county health department was analyzing samples that confirmed evidence of the E. coli bacteria in water at a hydration station near the 12th hole. The USGA is providing complimentary bottled water the rest of the week. There have been no reports yet of anyone getting sick.

And then Friday, a 94-year-old man at the tournament for the first time stopped breathing while in a grandstand on the sixth hole and died of what Washington County officials said appeared to be natural causes.

Next up is a weekend without most of the biggest names in golf. The cut for the top 60 and ties was at 1-over 145, tying a U.S. Open record set in 1990 at Medinah.

Johnson was hitting it so well that he appeared to be safe even when he was on the cut line. But then he three-putted from long range on the 13th and the 14th, and lost all hope when he missed the green on the 17th while going after the flag. He shot 73 and missed the cut by three.

“I couldn’t have shot any higher,” Johnson said. “I couldn’t possibly shoot any higher than I did. I just struggled on the greens. It’s simple.”

Day never had a chance, following his career-worst 79 in a U.S. Open with a 75. McIlroy came to life when it was far too late. He made four birdies over the last six holes to salvage a 71, but he still missed the cut for the second straight year.

Joining them with a weekend off — Open champion Henrik Stenson, Alex Noren, Jon Rahm, Justin Rose and Adam Scott. That left only four of the top 12 in the world to play the weekend at Erin Hills.

Fowler has the best chance, even though he lost so much ground over the final two hours. He went from pouring putts into the center of the cup to burning the edges, and his 39 on the back nine cost him the lead, though not his chances of breaking through for that first major.

“We’re in a good spot,” Fowler said. “Looking forward to the next two days.”

Casey discovered how little it takes to make a big number in the U.S. Open — and at this U.S. Open, how a recovery is never too far away.

Casey laid up in the rough, took two chops to get out of more rough behind the 14th green, and staggered away with a triple bogey-8 that might have ruined his day at Erin Hills. Moments later, he began a run of five straight birdies that put him right where he wanted to be going into the weekend.

“Not every day you enjoy a round of golf with an 8 on the card, but I’m a pretty happy man,” Casey said. “Yeah, it was a bit of a roller coaster. I guess it’s rare you get through a U.S. Open or any major without some kind of a hiccup.”

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Schauffele just fine being the underdog

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Jordan Spieth: 7/4

Xander Schauffele: 5/1

Kevin Kisner: 11/2

Tiger Woods: 14/1

Francesco Molinari: 14/1

Rory McIlroy: 14/1

Kevin Chappell: 20/1

Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

Alex Noren: 25/1

Zach Johnson: 30/1

Justin Rose: 30/1

Matt Kuchar: 40/1

Webb Simpson: 50/1

Adam Scott: 80/1

Tony Finau: 80/1

Charley Hoffman: 100/1

Austin Cook: 100/1

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Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”

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Kisner not expecting awkward night with Spieth

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:33 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It might get awkward in that star-studded rental house Saturday night.

Two of the three Open co-leaders, Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner, are sharing a house this week near Carnoustie. Though it’ll be late by the time they both get back to the house Saturday night, they’ll have plenty of time to kill Sunday morning, with their tee times not until nearly 3 p.m. local time.

“Everybody is probably going to get treatment and eating and trying to find a bed,” Kisner said. “I’m sure there’ll be some conversations. There always are. Everybody has a few horror stories or good laughs over something that happened out there. That will probably be the end of it.”

One thing they’re almost certain to discuss is the weather.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


After three days of mostly benign conditions, Sunday’s forecast calls for warm temperatures and wind gusts up to 25 mph.

“When you watch any TV, that’s all they talk about – how Sunday’s coming,” Kisner said. “It’s going to be a true test, and we’ll get to see really who’s hitting it the best and playing the best.”

Zach Johnson is also in the house – along with Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Jimmy Walker and Jason Dufner – and he rode to the course Saturday with Kisner, with whom he played in the final group, at 4 p.m. It’s unclear whether the co-leaders Sunday will have a similar arrangement.

This is the third year that Spieth and Co. have shared a house at The Open, though Kisner is a new addition to the group.

“It’s the end of the week,” Kisner said. “Everybody’s got a lot of stuff going on. Everybody’s going their separate ways tomorrow. Tomorrow morning we’ll all sit around and laugh on the couch and talk about why that guy’s making so many birdies.”