Notes: Stenson falls just short

By Doug FergusonJuly 21, 2013, 10:56 pm

GULLANE, Scotland – Even after he made back-to-back bogeys to fall out of a tie for the lead, Henrik Stenson never thought he was out of the British Open.

Ian Poulter had posted a 1-over 285, and Stenson was 1 over with five holes to play.

He just had no idea Phil Mickelson in the group ahead of him was piling up so many birdies down the stretch Sunday at Muirfield.

''All of a sudden, I saw he was 2 under and I was three back with only two holes to go,'' Stenson said. ''So I said to my caddie when I made the birdie on 17, 'Maybe I can hole the second shot on 18 and get into a playoff.'''

Wishful thinking. Stenson could hear the crowd roar for another Mickelson birdie on the 18th that put Lefty at 3-under 281. The Swede with the slick sense of humor turned to his caddie again and told him, ''A hole-in-one is pushing it, I think.''

Stenson finished strong with a par, and his consolation prize was a silver medal. He closed with a 70 to finish three shots behind, alone in second place, for his best finish in a major. Stenson twice tied for third in the Open, though he was six shots behind Padraig Harrington at Royal Birkdale in 2008, and eight shots behind Louis Oosthuizen at St. Andrews two years later.

This time, he has a serious contender, one of four players to have at least a share of the lead on Sunday at Muirfield.

''Very happy with the performance,'' Stenson said. ''We're getting closer. I've got two thirds and now a second. We all know what we're longing for.''

Stenson, coming off three poor years brought on by illness and injuries since he won The Players Championship in 2009, is certainly headed in the right direction. He moved up to No. 20 in the world ranking.

''I've done some great improvements this season, getting back into form,'' Stenson said. ''I know it might sound silly, a bit stupid to say that I didn't feel like I'm that overly confident with some parts of my game. But I still managed to keep it together. I've played this golf course very good, I think. Even though I made a few mistakes, I haven't made some big mistakes that kind of put me out of the tournament.''


ATTENDANCE DOWN: Get this, the R&A believes the weather might have actually been too sunny and warm for the British Open.

Looking to put a favorable spin on a nearly 12 percent drop in attendance compared with the last Open at Muirfield in 2002, tournament organizers said advance sales were strong but not as many fans bought tickets at the gate. The weeklong tournament drew 142,036, compared with a turnout of 160,595 the last time it was held at this course near Edinburgh.

''We are pleased with this attendance,'' the R&A said in a statement. ''We believe the extremely warm weather put off some of our pay-at-the-gate customers. That is perhaps why, unusually, we had a higher attendance on Sunday in cooler weather than we did on Friday, which is normally the busiest day.

The weather was sunny most of the week, with temperatures generally in the 70s. It was overcast on Sunday, with highs only reaching the 60s.

Attendance for the final round was the highest of the week - 29,247. But that was still lower than all four rounds in 2002, when crowds exceeded 30,000 each day.

Organizers also noted that two other major sporting events may have hurt attendance - the Tour de France, won by Chris Froome in the second straight triumph for a British rider, as well as the Ashes cricket test between England and Australia.


SCOTTISH PROUD: No winning press conference at the British Open is complete without at least one provincial question.

One Scottish reporter had asked Phil Mickelson a week ago where he ranked his victory in the Scottish Open against all the other wins in his career. With the claret jug at his side, the reporter asked him to rank the British Open against the others.

''Winning Castle Stuart, at the time, was a big win for me,'' Mickelson said. ''But in seven days, it has gone down considerably.''

Another writer asked Mickelson if he had any Scottish heritage in his surname.

''I don't know,'' Mickelson said, and then said in his best (or worst) Scottish accent, ''I don't know. Maybe a wee bit.''

Another reporter went asked what took Mickelson so long to figure out how to play links golf. Instead of referencing Mickelson playing in his 15th British Open, he pointed out that Mickelson played a Walker Cup at Portmarnock and once said he was inspired by the links of Lahinch.3eee n

Yes, the reporter was Irish.


PAR SHOOTER: Padraig Harrington made 54 pars at the U.S. Open, and he made 50 pars in the British Open on a tough Muirfield course. That's usually the kind of golf that contends in major championships. Of course, it helps to make a few birdies along the way. That's where the Irishman was in short supply.

He only made six birdies in each championship.

Leave it to Harrington to realize during the final round Sunday that he had not made a single birdie on a par 3 or a par 4 the entire week. He desperately tried to change that, but his final chance was a 20-foot putt on the 18th that narrowly missed.

''And not to make a birdie on a par 4 or par 3 the whole week, what are the odds of that?'' he said. ''Seriously, what are the odds of that? You wouldn't have to be very good to at least stumble into a birdie at some stage.''

Harrington closed with a 70, making two birdies - on the par 5s, of course - and only one bogey on the par-3 13th when he pulled his shot into a bunker.

There were no bogey-free rounds all week at Muirfield. Harrington did not realize that during his final round, and he wish he didn't know when it was over.

''Really? Now you've upset me,'' he said. ''It would have been nice to achieve something.''

Out of the tournament, Harrington was chasing his own little goals. And so what annoyed him Sunday was missing a 10-foot birdie putt on the 17th. He was trying to play the final round without a 5 on his card.


VALUABLE LESSON: Matthew Fitzpatrick figures golf can only get easier from here on out.

After winning the silver medal as top amateur at the British Open, the 18-year-old said, ''I can't imagine any other amateur event ever being as hard as the course we've played this week.''

Fitzpatrick shot a 1-over 72 at Muirfield on Sunday to finish 10 over, five shots better than fellow amateur Jimmy Mullen.

''He doesn't miss many shots, hits it straight,'' said playing partner Fred Couples, who's nearly three times Fitzpatrick's age. ''As he gets bigger, he'll hit it a little further, but he hits it plenty far.''

Fitzpatrick's week on the big stage began with him being mistaken for Tiger Woods' ball-carrier on the range. It ended with him being labeled the next big thing in British golf. And like one of his predecessors, Luke Donald, he'll head to Northwestern University outside Chicago to play college golf.

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M. Jutanugarn finally joins sister in LPGA winner's circle

By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 1:42 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn won the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open by two shots for her first victory in six years on the LPGA Tour, joining sister Ariya as the second siblings to win on the tour.

The 23-year-old from Thailand shot a 3-under 68 for a 12-under 272 total Sunday at Wilshire Country Club in the tour's return to Los Angeles after a 13-year absence.

Jutanugarn won in her 156th start after three career runner-up finishes, including at the Honda LPGA Thailand in February. She had 21 top-10 finishes before winning.

Seven-time winner Ariya tied for 24th after a 70. She joined the predominantly Asian crowd to follow her older sister's final holes, crying as Moriya two-putted to close out the win.

Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam were the first sisters to win on the LPGA Tour.

Hall of Famer Inbee Park shot a 68 to tie for second with Jin Young Ko (70).

Park had opportunities, but she wasn't able to put pressure on Jutanugarn playing in the final threesome. However, Park will return to No. 1 in the world when the rankings come out Monday, knocking off top-ranked Shenshen Fang, who tied for 12th.


Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


Jutanugarn began the final round with a two-shot lead and never wavered in fulfilling the potential she first displayed as the LPGA Rookie of the Year in 2013. After a birdie at the second hole, she reeled off nine consecutive pars before sinking birdie putts at 12 and 13.

She overcame a tee shot that narrowly missed going out of bounds for another birdie at 15 to lead by three.

Jutanugarn ran into trouble on the par-4 16th. Her approach landed on the green and rolled off it, stopping inches from dropping into a bunker. Her chip shot ran well past the hole and her par putt just missed catching the edge of the cup. That left her with a short putt for bogey, her first in her previous 28 holes, trimming her lead to two shots.

Ko's tee shot on 18 landed about 4 feet from the hole, giving her a chance to cut Jutanugarn's lead to one shot with the Thai facing a long birdie attempt.

But Ko missed, leaving Jutanugarn room to maneuver. Her birdie putt came up a couple feet short, but she calmly parred the hole to win. Ariya rushed onto the green and joined others in emptying water bottles on her sister before they embraced.

So Yeon Ryu (68) finished fourth at 7 under. American Emma Talley (67) and Eun-Hee Ji (71) tied for fifth at 6 under, making Ji one of four South Koreans to place in the top five.

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After Further Review: Tour players embracing new ideas

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 23, 2018, 1:26 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On players embracing new ideas on the PGA Tour ...

PGA Tour players are trying to tell commissioner Jay Monahan something: They like new.

In the second year of the two-man team format at the Zurich Classic, 10 of the top 14 players in the world have signed up, including all four reigning major champions. It’s the first time all four have been in the same field since the Tour Championship. If the laid-back event offered world-ranking points – it doesn’t, and that’s part of the appeal – the winner would have received 62 points. That’s the same as the Genesis Open.

Sure, some sponsor obligations are involved in boosting the field here, but there’s no other way to look at this: Today’s PGA Tour players are not only willing to play events that are a departure from the 72-hole, stroke-play norm. They’re encouraging it. - Ryan Lavner


On Moriya Jutanugarn's breakthrough win ...

As much love as there is between the Jutanugarn sisters, it couldn’t have been easy for Moriya, watching her baby sister, Ariya, soar past her as one of the LPGA’s dominant stars the last few years. Mo, though, never betrayed an inkling of frustration or envy.

That’s what made Mo’s breakthrough LPGA victory Sunday at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open especially meaningful for everyone who has admired Mo’s devotion to her sister. Mo was always a fixture, waiting in the wings to celebrate whenever Ariya hoisted a trophy.

So emotions were high late Sunday, with Ariya waiting in the wings this time, with Ariya sobbing in Mo’s arms after the victory was secured. It was heartwarming for more than Apple, the mother who raised these talented, loving sisters. As always, Apple was there, too, soaking both her daughters in tears of joy. – Randall Mell


On the tough scheduling decisions facing the PGA Tour ...

According to multiple sources, officials at Colonial are poised to announce a new sponsorship agreement with Charles Schwab Corporation on Monday.

While this is good news for the folks in Fort Worth, Texas, who were in danger of finding themselves on the wrong side of timing, there remain some tough decisions to be made in the next few weeks.

If the PGA Tour’s plan is to end its season before Labor Day beginning in 2019, something must give. Currently, the Houston Open, a staple on Tour since 1946, and The National are without sponsors. When the music stops in a few weeks and the circuit announces the ’19 schedule, there’s a good chance one, or both, of those events will be the victims of bad timing. – Rex Hoggard

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Triplett hole-out wins Legends of Golf playoff

By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 12:12 am

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - Kirk Triplett holed out from a bunker for birdie on the first playoff hole Sunday in the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf to lift himself and partner Paul Broadhurst past Bernhard Langer and Tom Lehman.

''Well, you're trying to make it, but you know realistically it doesn't go in very often,'' Triplett said. ''You're trying to give your partner a free run at it. You don't want to hit it up there 20 feet past or do something silly. I'm just trying to hit it the right distance and get it on the right line.''

Langer and Lehman took it in stride.

''You kind of learn to expect it,'' Lehman said. ''These guys out here are so good and Kirk Triplett is a magician around the greens. The odds of making that shot are probably not good, but you certainly expect him to hit a great shot and he did and it went in.''

Lehman and Langer missed birdie putts after Triplett holed out.

''I kind of felt like we both hit pretty good putts, misread them, both of them,'' Lehman said. ''I hit mine probably too hard and Bernhard's was too soft, but you have to hand it to the guys who hit the shot when they have to hit it.''


Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf


Broadhurst and Triplett closed with a 6-under 48 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course to match Langer and Lehman at 24 under. Langer and Lehman had a 47, playing the front nine in alternate shot and the back nine in better ball.

The 56-year-old Triplett won his sixth PGA Tour Champions title.

''That's a big roller-coaster - three good shots and mine, right?'' Triplett said. ''I'm feeling a little dejected walking down that fairway there, a little sheepish. To knock it in it just reminds you, this game, you know, crazy stuff.''

Broadhurst claimed his third senior victory.

''I don't get too emotional, but that was something special,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said.

Spanish stars Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jose Maria Olazabal had a 48 to tie for third with 2017 winners Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco. Singh and Franco, the third-round leaders, shot 50.

Mark Calcavecchia-Woody Austin (48), John Daly-Michael Allen (49), Steve Stricker-Jerry Kelly (50) and David Toms-Steve Flesch (52) tied for fifth at 20 under.

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Mullinax (T-2) comes up short of maiden win

By Will GrayApril 23, 2018, 12:06 am

The Valero Texas Open saw an unheralded player break through to earn a maiden victory, but unfortunately for Trey Mullinax his day will have to wait.

Mullinax started the final round within a shot of the lead, having fired a course-record 62 during the final round. He trailed Andrew Landry by one shot for much of the final round while racking up six birdies over his first 11 holes, but a pair of late miscues meant the former Alabama standout had to settle for a share of second place, two shots behind Landry.

A final-round 69 marked a career-best finish for Mullinax, who is playing this season on conditional status and whose lone prior top-10 this season came after he Monday qualified for the Valspar Championship.

"I know my game's there, I'm playing really well," Mullinax told reporters. "Give all credit to Andrew, he played really well today, rocksteady. He was putting great, hitting great shots."


Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos


Given time to reflect, the 26-year-old will likely look back on the final two holes where nerves appeared to get the best of him. Looking to put some pressure on Landry, Mullinax chunked his pitch on the short 17th hole into a greenside bunker, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on the course.

Then Mullinax was unable to convert a 9-foot birdie putt on the final green, which would have forced Landry to make his 8-foot par putt to avoid a playoff. Afforded the luxury of two putts for the win, Landry rolled in his par save to cement a two-shot win.

"Made a bad bogey on 17, but just you've got to hit some bad shots," Mullinax said. "Would have liked to have got the putt on 18 to fall to put a little bit of heat on him, but this experience that I'm gaining right now is just going to help me down the road."