Notes: Casey eyes spot on UK Olympic team

By Doug FergusonDecember 2, 2015, 2:37 pm

NASSAU, Bahamas – Paul Casey would love nothing better than to wear a uniform and play for the flag in 2016.

His motivation is Rio, not Hazeltine.

''Not that I know,'' Casey said Tuesday with a smile, ''but I think we have until July 11.''

He was talking about the cutoff for qualifying for the Olympics, and the 38-year-old from England has a good chance to qualify for the United Kingdom. Casey is No. 24 in the world ranking and currently behind Justin Rose (No. 5) and Danny Willett (No. 20). As steady as he has been playing, Casey is setting his target on the top 10. The UK can have as many as four players provided they are within the top 15 on July 11.

As for that other flag-waving event?

Casey disclosed just over a week ago that he was not going to join the European Tour, and thus will not be eligible for the Ryder Cup team. In his mind, this was not a decision based on the Ryder Cup. It was a decision for wife Pollyanna and their 15-month-old son Lex.

''I'm going to continue to focus on the family, which means I'm going to be playing here next year,'' said Casey, who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. ''Family to me is the most important thing.''

Asked if it was hard to turn down the Ryder Cup, he said it was ''not about that.''

''It was looking at the schedule and looking at how much time I can spend with my family,'' he said. ''I'm saying 'yes' to family. My life has changed drastically for the better in the last 15 months from having Lex. It's magic. I wanted to be as good of a father as I can possibly be and spend as much time with Lex and Pollyanna.''

The European Tour last month significantly changed its membership requirements, though it wasn't a change that helped the top players. Instead of a minimum requirement of 13 events on the schedule, players only have to play five times, but that excludes the majors and World Golf Championships. So that would have come in handy a year ago for Casey when he was not eligible for the eight biggest events.

''Nothing is changed for me,'' he said. ''For me and others in the top 50, you still have to play the same events. It would have helped me when I was in the 80s. But it doesn't change a thing now. And nothing has changed for me. I'm still going to focus on my family.''

LYLE AWARD: The PGA Tour only hands out its ''Courage Award'' when it feels it has a worthy recipient. Jarrod Lyle was a natural selection this year.

Lyle has overcome two battles with acute myeloid leukemia. He returned to the PGA Tour last year after nearly losing his life, and the Australian now is in the second year of a medical extension granted to him.

He was presented the award at the Greg Norman Gold Medal Dinner on the eve of the Australian PGA Championship.

''It has taken a lot of fighting for me to get back to the PGA Tour, but it has been well worth it,'' Lyle said. ''For me to get back after the things I have dealt with shows people in similar situations there is hope for them and if they stay positive and fight for every day then they can succeed in life. To be back playing with all the guys again and saying 'thank you' was very important to me.''

The PGA Tour Courage Award is presented to a player who has overcome extraordinary adversity, such as personal tragedy or debilitating illness, to make significant contribution to golf. The last player to win the award was Erik Compton two years ago. Compton has gone through two heart transplants.

''Jarrod is a story of great perseverance and courage in the face of adversity,'' PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. ''To battle and overcome leukemia twice is a statement unto itself as to his character. But he has also made a significant impression on all of us with his determination to reclaim his career as a professional golfer.''

The Courage Award includes a $25,000 donation to a charity chosen by the winner. Lyle has selected ''Challenge - Supporting Kids with Cancer,'' an Australian organization that delivers daily support to children and families living with cancer.

TIGER ON KOBE: Tiger Woods has deep appreciation for Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers star who is retiring after this season. And when it comes to injuries and a tough conclusion to a Hall of Fame career, Woods can relate.

''He was a flyer,'' Woods said Tuesday. ''You only have so many jumps in the body, and only so many landings. The last three years he's gone through some pretty tough injuries. But other than that, I mean, this guy was as durable as durable gets.''

Woods said 20 years in the NBA must feel like more than 20 years compared with other sports (such as golf).

''You add up all those games, it takes a toll on the body and eventually it just doesn't heal anymore,'' Woods said. ''And that sport is so fast, so athletic and so quick, it's just tough. It's been tough to watch him go through the season he's had and understandably so. He's been there for 20 years.''

KHANG TURNS PRO: Megan Khang has decided to skip college and turn pro. Her first job is to get an LPGA Tour card.

The 17-year-old from Massachusetts finished in the top three at the first two stages of Q-school. She was driving to an event last week in Florida with her father when she made a ''spur of the moment'' decision to turn pro.

''Making the decision helps me because I no longer have to decide if I'm going to stay an amateur,'' Khang said. ''It is good to know beforehand.''

Final stage starts Wednesday at LPGA International at the tour's headquarters. The top 20 from a 157-player field get full cards for the 2016 season.

Khang already has qualified three times for the U.S. Women's Open and tied for 35th this year to be low amateur. She is No. 8 in the women's amateur rankings, won the Connecticut State Open for the third time and went 3-0 in the Junior Solheim Cup.

''The LPGA is where the best players in the world play and I want to be there,'' Khang said. ''But I need to get past this tournament first to play on the big time.''

DIVOTS: Jason Day will have had a three-month break when he shows up at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua. He withdrew from the Hero World Challenge this week, and on Tuesday he withdrew from the Franklin Templeton Shootout. Day and Cameron Tringale were defending champions. Day has been replaced by Chris Kirk. The PGA champion said he wanted to spend time with his newborn daughter, Lucy. ... Seven players in the final stage of LPGA Tour qualifying currently are in the top 60 in the Olympic rankings and would be eligible to compete in Rio - Nicole Broch Larsen (Denmark), Stephanie Meadow (Ireland), Dewi Claire Schreefel (Netherlands), Giulia Sergas (Italy), Laetitia Beck (Israel), Paz Echeverria (Chile) and Lisa McCloskey (Colombia).

STAT OF THE WEEK: Matt Jones has a tough act to follow. The last two winners of the Australian Open, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy, won two majors the following year.

FINAL WORD: ''I have a lot less hair.'' - Tiger Woods of if he seems like a different person after 20 years on the PGA Tour.

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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.”