Notes Despite leg Westwood near top of leaderboard

By Doug FergusonJuly 17, 2010, 3:38 am

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – For a guy with a bad leg, Lee Westwood is playing pretty well.

The Englishman is at 6-under for the British Open, leaving him tied for third when the second round was halted by darkness Friday. Westwood shot a 1-under 71 on a day when blustery winds made any score below par look like a 62.

“I’m in a good position for the weekend, I think,” he said. “(But) I’m behind where I ought to be. I should really be 10-under, at worst. But I didn’t play last week. I didn’t really hit any balls, either.”

Westwood was at the French Open two weeks ago when his right calf swelled so badly doctors feared the 37-year-old might have a blood clot. Further tests showed he had instead ruptured the plantaris muscle, which runs down the calf. He played the tournament – tying for 18th – but skipped last week’s Scottish Open at Loch Lomond to give the leg a chance to heal.

He took almost all of last week off, not hitting balls until Friday, and played just one full practice round before the Open began.

“I knew I was hitting the ball well, so there was not really any need to do too much practicing,” Westwood said. “I’m just a bit rusty on the greens, which I might expect. We can sharpen it over the weekend and, no matter what the conditions are, I’ve still got a couple good scores in me.”

The No. 3 player in the world has finished in the top 20 in all but three of his 14 starts this year, including getting his second PGA Tour win at St. Jude’s. He’s been in contention at each of the four majors at least once, including finishing second at this year’s Masters and tying for third at Turnberry and the PGA last year.

BACKED UP: This wasn’t the kind of move Paul Lawrie wanted to make.

The last British player to win his own Open shot a 10-over 82 in Friday’s blustery conditions, a 13-stroke swing from the first round. At 10 over for the tournament, he’s all but assured of missing the cut for the fourth time in five years.

“That was one of the toughest days out on the golf course I can ever remember, to be honest,” the 1999 British Open champion said. “But I played very poorly, putted and chipped even worse, so 82 was about right. I really struggled, just couldn’t quite get into it at all. Had a poor three-putt at the third from not very far away, and it just got worse.”

Lawrie opened with a 69 on Thursday, only the second time since 2001 he’d broken 70; he shot 68 in the final round at Turnberry last time. But he went off in the very first group of the day, when the Old Course was playing as mild as it gets.

On Friday, it was about as nasty as it gets. With winds gusting around 40 mph, play was actually suspended midafternoon for 65 minutes.

“I would say it was unplayable for a wee while before they stopped it, to be honest,” said Lawrie, who was already 4 over when play was suspended. “When you’re over three- and four-foot putts and the ball is (moving) all the time, I think it’s unplayable.”

Lawrie was on the 10th green when play was stopped. Some golfers came back to the clubhouse while others parked themselves on the grass and relaxed. Lawrie headed for one of the nearby food stands and grabbed some sausage and fries.

“It was actually really nice,” he said. “It was the highlight of the day.”

GET A GRIP: K.J. Choi might want to rethink his new putting style.

He is likely to miss the cut when the second round concludes Saturday, currently tied for 108th at 6 over. While the blustery afternoon winds didn’t help, neither did his experiment with a croquet-like putting stroke. Choi averaged 1.89 putts over 36 holes, which puts him in a tie for 119th in the field of 156.

By comparison, Retief Goosen and Louis Oosthuizen had the best average of those who completed play, with 1.583 putts per hole.

OLE! OLE! OLE! Sergio Garcia is looking like a world champion.

He has added a gold star to his golf shirts to honor Spain’s first title at soccer’s World Cup. Those champions wear stars on their jersey to signify the number of titles they’ve won; Brazil’s jersey, for example, has five stars to represent the titles it won in 1958, ’62, ’70, ’94 and 2002.

Asked if he – and Spain – will be adding a second star in four years, Garcia smiled.

“We’ll see,” he said. “Some of the guys that played this year might not be there in four years.”

The World Cup title capped a banner month for Spanish sports, with Paul Gasol winning another NBA title with the Los Angeles Lakers, Rafael Nadal winning Wimbledon and defending Tour de France champion Alberto Contador contending again. Since 2000, Spain has won basketball’s world and European championships and four Davis Cup tennis titles; Nadal has captured eight Grand Slam victories; three Spanish riders have triumphed at the Tour de France; and Fernando Alonso secured two Formula One titles.

“Spanish sports have been very good for a while now,” Garcia said. “Unfortunately, I’m not keeping up with it.”

Getty Images

Runner-up McIlroy: 'I should have closed it out'

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 5:18 pm

After taking the 36-hole lead by three and taking a share the 54-hole lead into the final round, Rory McIlroy failed to keep pace with Francesco Molinari on Sunday at the BMW PGA Championship.

Struggling with an two-way miss throughout the weekend, McIlroy fell four down to Molinari through 10 holes.

The Ulsterman attempted to mount a late charge, with birdies at 12 and 17, but when his eagle putt at the 72nd hole came up inches short, and when Molinari's ball opted not to spin back into the water, the comeback bid came to an end.

His final round of 2-under 70 left him in solo second, two shots behind the champion.

Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship

"I’m just disappointed I didn’t play better over the weekend," McIlroy said. "I was in a great position after two days and struggled yesterday and sort struggled today again, as well. I just couldn’t get it going. I let Francesco get a few shots ahead of me, and I couldn’t claw that back.

“I played some good golf coming down the back nine, hit some better shots, but I need to work on a few things going forward."

McIlroy ended an 18-month worldwide winless drought earlier this year with his victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational but hasn't claimed victory on the European Tour in two years, since the Irish Open in May of 2016.

"I get a bit down on myself because my expectations are high, and with a 36-hole lead, I should have closed it out this week," McIlroy said. "But that’s not taking anything away from Francesco. He played a great weekend and bogey-free around here is some playing. He deserved the win, I need to do a little more work, and I’m looking to forward to getting right back at it at Memorial next week."

Getty Images

Molinari holds off McIlroy to win BMW PGA

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 3:20 pm

VIRGINIA WATER, England - Francesco Molinari's path to the biggest win of his career at the BMW PGA Championship was drama-free until he sized up his approach to the 72nd hole.

Rory McIlroy, his closest rival three strokes back, had just hit to 20 feet to set up an eagle chance. Molinari was between clubs for his third shot and faced a delicate wedge over the water protecting Wentworth's pretty 18th green.

His ball landed short of the pin and span back toward the water. The spectators held their collective breath - so did Molinari - but it came to rest on the fringe, just short of trouble.

''Just a bit of luck at the right time,'' Molinari said, with a smile.

After McIlroy came up inches short with his eagle putt, Molinari rolled in for par from 6 feet for a 4-under 68 that secured a two-stroke victory at Wentworth on Sunday. It was the fifth win of his career, and his most satisfying.

''If I could pick one tournament to win in my career, it would be this one,'' the Italian said at the prizegiving ceremony.

A Sunday shootout between Molinari and McIlroy at the European Tour's flagship event never really materialized.

They entered the final round tied for the lead on 13 under but while McIlroy sprayed his drives left and right, Molinari was the model of consistency and established a three-shot cushion by the turn after birdies at Nos. 3, 4 and 8.

From there on, it was a clinic in front-running from Molinari, who laid up when he needed to and picked up his only shot on the back nine with a tap-in birdie at the par-5 12th.

McIlroy birdied the par 5s at Nos. 17 and 18 but mounted his victory charge too late.

''I didn't feel intimidated at all,'' Molinari said of his head-to-head with the former world No. 1. ''It's just the last couple of holes, he's basically thinking eagle, eagle. I'm thinking par, par, and that makes the whole difference.

''Sometimes I just get too drawn on what the other guy is doing, and I was really good today, hitting good shots and focusing on my process and not worrying about anything else.''

Molinari played his final 44 holes bogey-free. He only dropped two shots all week, one of them coming on his first hole.

Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship

He will likely climb into the world's top 20 on Monday and has moved into the automatic qualifying places for the European team for the Ryder Cup, which he hasn't played since 2012 when Europe beat the United States in the so-called ''Miracle at Medinah.''

''I'm playing well enough that I shouldn't really worry too much about that,'' Molinari said. ''I should just keep doing my own thing and hopefully things will take care of themselves.''

Molinari previously had five top-10 finishes in the last six years at Wentworth, including being runner-up to Alex Noren last year.

On that occasion, Noren closed with a 10-under 62 and the Swede embarked on another last-day charge 12 months later, a fifth birdie of the day at No. 12 briefly drawing him to within two shots of Molinari.

It was the closest he came, with a bogey at the next virtually ending his bid for victory.

With a 67, Noren was tied for third with Lucas Bjerregaard (65), a stroke back from McIlroy.

McIlroy, the 2014 winner at Wentworth, played what he described as one of his best rounds of 2018 on Friday, a bogey-free 65 that left him with a three-shot lead.

He struggled off the tee in shooting 71 on Saturday and started the final round with errant drives on Nos. 1 and 3 (both right, into spectators) and No. 4 (left). After a bogey at No. 10, he was the only player in the top 10 over par but he birdied the three par 5s coming home to salvage what was otherwise a disappointing Sunday.

''With a 36-hole lead,'' McIlroy said, ''I should have closed it out this week.''

Getty Images

Four top finishers in Japan qualify for The Open

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:19 am

IBARAKI, Japan – Shota Akiyoshi of Japan shot a 2-under-par 70 on Sunday to win the Mizuno Open and qualify for The 147th Open.

Akiyoshi offset three bogeys with five birdies at the Royal Golf Club in Ibaraki, Japan, to finish 1 under overall and secure his first ever tournament win on the Japan Golf Tour.

Michael Hendry of New Zealand and Japanese golfers Masahiro Kawamura and Masanori Kobayashi were tied for second one stroke off the pace to also qualify for The Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, from July 19-22.

Hendry, who led the tournament coming into the final round, came close to forcing a playoff with Akiyoshi but dropped a shot with a bogey on the final hole when he needed a par to draw level.

Hendry will make his second appearance at The Open after qualifying at the Mizuno Open for the second year in a row.

Getty Images

Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”