Mickelson trails Cabrera by 1 after Wells first round

By Doug FergusonMay 1, 2014, 11:10 pm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Phil Mickelson was entertaining to the very end Thursday and finished one shot behind Angel Cabrera in the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship.

Cabrera played in early, calmer conditions and thrived on the new Bermuda greens at Quail Hollow. He made seven birdies, including a 40-footer from just off the green, and turned in a 6-under 66 that stood as the lead the rest of the day.

Mickelson caught him twice and couldn't hold it.

Coming off his first missed cut at the Masters in 17 years, Mickelson handled the strong, swirling wind in the afternoon for a 5-under 67, tied with Martin Flores. Mickelson hit only one fairway on the back nine. He bogeyed both the par 3s. He chipped poorly and atoned for that with long par putts.

And he wound up with the start he wanted at a tournament he badly wants to win.

''It was important for me to get off to a good start today because I haven't played as well as I would like to this year, and I haven't been getting off to great starts,'' Mickelson said. ''So I'm always playing from behind. And it feels great to get off to a quick start where I don't have to feel like I'm playing catch-up.''


Wells Fargo Championship: Articles, videos and photos


Webb Simpson, the former U.S. Open champion and a member at Quail Hollow, might have joined Cabrera except for the way he finished each nine. He took double bogey on No. 9 when he hit into the trees and three-putted, and made bogey on No. 18 with another wayward tee shot. Other than that, his card was filled with seven birdies for a 68.

Stewart Cink and Jonathan Byrd also were at 68.

Rory McIlroy also had a few patches of wild play – a tee shot down the side of the hill toward the water on No. 16, another that hit a tree and bounced so far left that Boy Wonder thought about playing a shot down a service road behind the corporate tents. Wiser heads prevailed – his caddie's, in this case – and he limited the damage to bogey.

He still made six birdies and was in the large group at 69 that included U.S. Open champion Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer, who played his final four holes in 2-under par despite not making a birdie or a par. Kaymer went bogey-eagle-eagle-bogey.

''Two eagles in a row, pretty rare. I don't think I've ever done that before,'' Kaymer said. ''I missed a lot of short putts today as well, so therefore, 3-under par is OK.''

Cabrera's round was not nearly that dramatic. He made a couple of long putts, most of the birdie chances one would expect to make and hit it close enough times to post his lowest score of the year, and only his fourth round this year in the 60s.

''It was a very good first round, and we have a lot to go,'' the Argentine said through a translator.

Even though he struggled to hit fairways, this wouldn't classify as a wild round by Mickelson's standards. But there was rarely a dull moment.

From the trees on the par-5 10th, he escaped with a strong shot just short of the green, only to hit his chip too hard and nearly roll off the green. He holed that from 10 feet for birdie. From the pine straw left of the 11th fairway, he hit a low bullet in good shape just short of the green, only to catch his chip too heavy and leave himself 25 feet short. He made that one for par. And he caught Cabrera at 6 under for the first time with another shot from the pine straw to 4 feet.

But then, Mickelson hit another chip too hard and failed to save par from 15 feet. He tied for the lead again with a solid pitch to 2 feet for birdie on the par-5 15th.

The final three holes were symbolic of the grind.

He rammed a 30-foot birdie attempt some 6 feet past the hole and made that for par. He left a 45-foot birdie putt about 5 feet short and missed that for a three-putt bogey on the 17th. And made a remarkable recovery from a tough lie in a bunker on the 18th.

Being left-handed, his feet were up the slope of a bunker and the ball was well below his feet. Mickelson hit 6-iron from 210 yards and caught it so perfectly that it rolled up the hill and onto the collar of the green just over 40 feet away.

And then he blasted the putt 10 feet past the hole – and made that with a sigh of relief, a par and a good start going into a morning tee time Friday.

''I made a lot of really good putts today, and it covered up some very poor chips – a number of poor chips 15, 20 feet from the hole that should be tap-ins,'' Mickelson said. ''Ended up making three out of the four, so it covered up a lot of mistakes.''

Getty Images

Suwannapura beats Lincicome in playoff for first win

By Associated PressJuly 15, 2018, 10:49 pm

SYLVANIA, Ohio - Thidapa Suwannapura won her first LPGA event on Sunday, closing with a 6-under 65 and birdieing the first playoff hole to defeat Brittany Lincicome at the Marathon Classic.

The 25-year-old Thai player is the sixth first-time winner on tour this year. Her previous best finish in 120 starts was seventh at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.

Suwannapura picked up three strokes over her final two holes, making eagle on the par-5 17th and closing with a birdie on the par-5 18th at Highland Meadows to finish at 14-under 270.

In the playoff, Suwannapura converted a short birdie putt after Lincicome hit her second shot into a water hazard and scrambled for par.

Lincicome shot 67. She had a chance to win in regulation, but her birdie putt from about 10 feet did a nearly 360-degree turn around the edge of the cup and stayed out. Next up for the big-hitting Lincicome: a start against the men at the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship.

Third-round leader Brooke Henderson led by two shots after six holes, but struggled the rest of the way. Back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes dropped her out of the lead. The 20-year-old Canadian finished with a 2-under 69, one shot out of the playoff.

Getty Images

Kim cruises to first win, final Open invite at Deere

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 9:38 pm

Following the best week of his professional career, Michael Kim is both a winner on the PGA Tour and the 156th and final player to earn a tee time next week at The Open.

Kim entered the final round of the John Deere Classic with a five-shot lead, and the former Cal standout removed any lingering doubt about the tournament's outcome with birdies on each of his first three holes. He cruised from there, shooting a bogey-free 66 to finish the week at 27 under and win by eight shots over Francesco Molinari, Joel Dahmen, Sam Ryder and Bronson Burgoon.

It equals the tournament scoring record and ties for the largest margin of victory on Tour this season, matching Dustin Johnson's eight-shot romp at Kapalua in January and Molinari's margin two weeks ago at the Quicken Loans National.

"Just super thankful," Kim said. "It's been a tough first half of the year. But to be able to finish it out in style like this means a lot."

Kim, 25, received the Haskins Award as the nation's top collegiate player back in 2013, but his ascent to the professional ranks has been slow. He had only one top-10 finish in 83 starts on Tour entering the week, tying for third at the Safeway Open in October 2016, and had missed the cut each of the last three weeks.

But the pieces all came together at TPC Deere Run, where Kim opened with 63 and held a three-shot lead after 36 holes. His advantage was trimmed to a single shot during a rain-delayed third round, but Kim returned to the course late Saturday and closed with four straight birdies on Nos. 15-18 to build a five-shot cushion and inch closer to his maiden victory.

As the top finisher among the top five not otherwise exempt, Kim earned the final spot at Carnoustie as part of the Open Qualifying Series. It will be his first major championship appearance since earning low amateur honors with a T-17 finish at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, and he is also now exempt for the PGA Championship and next year's Masters.

The last player to earn the final Open spot at the Deere and make the cut the following week was Brian Harman, who captured his first career win at TPC Deere Run in 2014 and went on to tie for 26th at Royal Liverpool.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.