Lewis brings star power to rain-shortened LPGA Bahamas

By Doug FergusonMay 22, 2013, 11:22 pm

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – Stacy Lewis brings more value to the LPGA Tour that just her golf.

Along with becoming the first American in 18 years to win LPGA player of the year, and then rising to No. 1 in the world for four weeks, Lewis had a direct hand in bringing two tournaments to the LPGA Tour. One of them is this week, the Bahamas LPGA Classic, which grew out of her partnership with Ohio-based title sponsor Pure Silk.

She also aced what amounted to a pop quiz by the chief executive of Marathon Oil, which now sponsors a tournament in July.

That's what led LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan to jokingly say Wednesday, ''She's better at sales than me.''

''Your stars drive your sport,'' Whan said. ''Your athletes generate the momentum, and your job is to turn that momentum into business.''

Lewis, however, is not good enough to dictate weather.

A storm the locals haven't seen in some 20 years pounded Paradise Island through the night, dumping about a foot of rain in an eight-hour span that flooded the Ocean Club. There was so much water on the course – the entire 18th fairway was covered – that the tournament was reduced to 54 holes.

The first round is to start Friday with a Sunday finish, leaving some flexibility in case more showers cause problems.

''I'm happy I got 18 holes of practice in yesterday,'' Suzann Pettersen said. ''We'll play whenever we can.''

The rain wiped out the pro-am, so the LPGA Tour hastily arranged for players to meet at a restaurant at The Atlantis for question-and-answer sessions with the amateurs. The group of players included the top three in the world ranking – Inbee Park, Lewis and Pettersen, along with Brittany Lincicome and Natalie Gulbis.

It was an example of how the LPGA players try to do a little more, and it goes back to the pop quiz for Lewis.

She had a marketing sponsorship with Marathon, and the company was thinking about sponsoring a tournament. Lewis was playing in a pro-am with the CEO when he turned to her and said, ''Why should I sponsor an LPGA event?''

''It caught me off guard,'' Lewis said. ''I said it was a different experience than the PGA Tour and your customers will love it. I think that's more why they did. They do a big customer outing. You get your name out there, but mostly they take care of their customers. And our pro-ams are better than any out there.''

The LPGA stars all turned out for a pro-am party Tuesday night at The Atlantis, with its massive aquarium as the backdrop.

As for the golf? No chance.

The rain fell so hard and for so long that on Wednesday morning, the tip of a red hazard stake down the right side of the 18th fairway was barely visible. The entire hole was a water hazard except for the tee and the green. On the adjacent ninth hole, water covered a deep bunker on the left side of the green – two turtles were swimming in what had been a bunker – and it was nearly coming onto the green.

Whan asked some officials from The Bahamas if they should have considered an earlier date. The advance staff had not seen much of a cloud of the last week.

''They said they had never seen a storm like this, so we're probably in a good spot,'' Whan said.

Lewis is trying to get back to the top spot after winning the LPGA Founders Cup in Phoenix in March to reach No. 1 in the world. Not since Beth Daniel in 1994 had an American won LPGA player of the year, and Lewis was on an upward trend by winning the HSBC Champions in Singapore the following week in Phoenix.

Park won the Kraft Nabisco Championship and replaced Lewis at No. 1. There now is a three-way battle - and it could grow – as the LPGA Tour heads into the heart of its major championship season, including a return to St. Andrews.

Lewis is concerned with the careless mistakes leading to bogeys, though the real struggle is finding a balance with her recent star power. She is one of the more remarkable stories in women's golf, having spent most of her childhood in a back brace because of scoliosis, and then having to go through surgery after high school to install a rod and metal screws. None of that kept her from reaching the top.

As for the attention? She is getting recognized more often. She gets some of the largest galleries, even when playing early in the morning.

''The hardest for me is the extra stuff, being the only American up there,'' she said. ''That adds to the media requirements, sponsor requirements, doing extra things at tournaments. Managing my schedule has been the hardest thing.''

In her first tournament after getting to No. 1, Lewis had interviews in the morning, went to practice, another session of interviews in the afternoon, followed by a video interview, a photo shoot and the pro-am party.

''It was exhausting,'' she said

After a morning practice Tuesday this week, she headed over to Atlantis for a promotional spot – she swam with dolphins. That was fun. And after getting out of the water, it started to rain. If nothing else, Wednesday brought a day of rest.

Getty Images

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.”

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

“This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

“I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

“I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think 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 tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

“We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

Getty Images

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.”