Padraig Harrington stays on top at Firestone

By Doug FergusonAugust 7, 2009, 4:00 pm
WGC-Bridgestone - 125wAKRON, Ohio ' Having played two of his best rounds of the year at the Bridgestone Invitational, Padraig Harrington is willing to settle for something less on the weekend.
Ill take two more times under 70 on the weekend and well see how we get on, Harrington said Friday after following a 64 with a 1-under 69 to grab a one-shot lead over Tim Clark.
Paddy Harrington at WGC_Bridgestone Invitational
Padraig Harrington is rounding into form just in time to defend his championship next week at Hazeltine. (Getty Images)

Harrington, winless in official tour events since last years PGA Championship at Oakland Hills, was at 7-under 133. He led by two strokes after an opening 64, then came back with a 69, putting up subpar scores in consecutive rounds for the first time in four months.
Clark shot a 69 to stay in second place, and Scott Verplank was alone in third with his own 69 to get to 135.
Tiger Woods, chasing his seventh win in the Bridgestone, had an even-par 70 and was tied for 13th, five shots back. It is the first time he has ever been out of the top 10 after a round at Firestone Country Club.
The conditions might change soon. Thunderstorms were predicted for the weekend, which could change the dynamics on a course where the greens have gotten progressively harder and faster. With the Firestone South layout stretching to 7,400 yards, any substantial rainfall would likely make the course seem longer.
Harringtons drought coincided with swing changes he implemented after winning last years PGA, his third victory in five major championships.
Seldom in contention over the past few months, the Irishman conceded he is was overly afraid to make mistakes on Friday.
Thats always natural whenever youre out there in front, he said. Youre always cautious that, yes, youd like some birdies, but youre always aware that you dont want to drop shots. There were times that I was a little bit conservative.
In the final two rounds, he said he would pick his spots to take chances ' even though he didnt think anyone would be going terribly low at Firestone.
I just need to trust myself a little bit more, be a little more positive and hit the shots, he said.
More than most, Woods knows what Harrington has faced while tinkering with his swing. He has had doubters when he has reconstructed his.
You have to believe in what youre doing, absolutely. And you have to believe in what youre doing is right ' even though people tell you what youre doing is wrong, Woods said. Youve got to have the internal resolve to stick with what you believe is going to be right, and youre going to get better.
Neither Clark nor Verplank have won this year on the PGA Tour, either, although Clark made it to a playoff at the Colonial before losing to Steve Stricker.
The South African had never cracked the top 45 at Firestone the first four times he played it. But he has had a tie for sixth and a tie for 20th the last two years.
Clark admits that hes learned how to approach the layout.
I always used to try and do too much, he said. The last few years Ive realized you just have to get it in play, get it in the fairway, and from there you have a chance.
Verplank, whose best finish this year is a tie for fourth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, ran off 35 holes without a bogey until hitting it into the trees at the 18th on Friday.
I love coming here, particularly when its dry like this, Verplank said. The golf course sets up really good for me when it plays kind of firm and fast. When it starts raining and gets real soggy, then it starts getting a little bit too long for me.
Thats the worry for anyone who isnt a long hitter.
Prayad Marksaeng (70), Stricker (69) and Jerry Kelly (65) were at 136, with Woody Austin (68), Alvaro Quiros (65), Zach Johnson (70), Hunter Mahan (69), Mike Weir (66) and Robert Allenby (69) another shot back.
Woods is hanging around, too. His rounds of 68-70 match what he had the last time he played at Firestone two years ago when he ended up winning by eight shots. Woods missed the Bridgestone a year ago while recuperating from knee surgery.
You just have to be patient, said Woods, coming off a win at the Buick Open.
Asked if someone could shoot a 62 or 63 and pull away, Woods cracked, Yeah, its out there ' if you play 16 or 17 holes you can get it.
Just a shot behind Woods was Phil Mickelson in his return to the tour after spending six weeks with his wife as she fights breast cancer. Mickelson was encouraged by how things have developed the first two days ' and what it might portend for next weeks PGA Championship at Hazeltine.
The grass length is the same, the rough is similar, green surfaces are similar, same speed, same grass, said Mickelson, who toured Hazeltine last week. It couldnt be a better venue (to prepare) for Hazeltine.
Harrington, who has never won a World Golf Championship event, isnt thinking about next week. Not yet, anyway.
Break 70 on the weekend a few more times and I should be doing OK, he said.
Related Links:
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    By Golf Channel Public RelationsSeptember 21, 2018, 4:29 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. (Sept. 21, 2018) – GolfNow today announced its expansion into France – its first entree into continental Europe – via agreements with two of the country’s leading multi-course management companies. The arrangement provides golfers residing throughout GolfNow’s footprint – including the U.S., U.K., Ireland and Australia – with the ability to book tee times on GolfNow at nearly 50 golf courses throughout France.

    Coinciding with the growing anticipation of the 2018 Ryder Cup being contested next week at Le Golf National golf course outside of Paris, GolfNow’s agreements with Open Golf Club and UGOLF will showcase a collection of courses throughout France, which is considered to be one of the best countries in Europe to play golf due to its extensive variety of courses and year-round playing conditions. Tee times will be promoted across multiple GolfNow distribution platforms, depending on golfers’ geographic locations: GolfNow (U.S., U.K. and Ireland), Teeofftimes by GolfNow (U.K. and Ireland) and Qantas Golf Club by GolfNow (Australia).

    “We’ve been planning this day for some time and are excited about our expansion into France through great partnerships with Open Golf Club and UGOLF,” said Brian Smith, general manager, GolfNow & Emerging Businesses International. “We anticipate that U.S. golfers will be motivated to play in France because of what they see whilst watching the Ryder Cup. Golfers worldwide can easily book tee times via GolfNow for a future trip, and because the U.K. and Ireland remain the number-one source of all golf tourism in France, GolfNow and now can be part of any golfer’s travel planning.”

    “Open Golf Club is very happy to welcome GolfNow into France,” said Laurent Boissonnas, CEO, Open Golf Club. “As a leading high-end golf operator, we offer a portfolio of top quality courses, including three in the top-50 on the European continent. In addition to its famous ‘art de vivre,’ France offers a unique variety of golf courses and we are proud to give GolfNow customers the opportunity to discover them.”

    “UGOLF is proud to join the GolfNow marketplace and, thus, offering special access to its French golf courses to international golfers,” said Pierre-André Uhlen, Director General, UGOLF. “Customer satisfaction is a UGOLF priority and we strive to offer our golfers the best services and technology at the forefront of innovation.”

    Among the more than 600 golf courses throughout France, among the top-rated Open Golf Club courses that are making tee times available via GolfNow and TeeOffTimes are:

    • Golf des Yvelines – just 35 miles west of Paris, in the heart of the Île-de-France region and nearby Ryder Cup host Le National Golf, these two courses are nestled in a natural environment, bordering the forest of Rambouillet.
    • Le Touquet Golf Resort – An award-winning 45-hole golf destination, with its La Mer (The Sea) course among continental Europe’s Top 35 and ranked first in France.
    • Golf d’Hardelot – Home to Les Pins (The Pines), this 36-hole club is a top French golf destination located inside a lush forest and one of the most beautiful golfing sites in Europe.

    Among the top courses available on GolfNow and featured within the UGOLF portfolio are:

    • Golf de Courson – host of the French Open qualifiers for 12 years, this property offers two distinct, 18-hole designs of varying difficulty that were crafted by architect Robert von Hagge.
    • Golf du Château de Cely – located less than 50 miles south of Paris on the edge of the Fountainebleau Forest, this recently renovated gem has been transformed.
    • Château de Rochefort – Designed by famous British architect Fred Hawtree, this par 71 is surrounded by the natural beauty of a French forest in Yvelines.

    Reviews about golf courses located throughout France, including many that now can be booked via GolfNow, can be found at Golf Advisor, which currently features more than 700,000 golf course reviews of more than 15,000 golf courses around the world.

    About GolfNow

    GolfNow is an innovative technology company specializing in golf-related products and services that is creating frictionless ways for golfers and golf courses to better connect. GolfNow operates the largest online tee-time marketplace in the world, offering more than 3.5 million registered golfers a variety of ways to stay connected to their favorite courses and the ability to easily book tee times online and via mobile devices any time of day. With offices in Orlando, Fla., and Belfast, Northern Ireland, GolfNow also provides technology, support and marketing services to nearly 8,000 golf courses in 24 countries around the world. GolfNow is included in the suite of digital businesses owned by NBC Sports and managed by Golf Channel, which is available to more than 500 million viewers worldwide. For more information, go to GolfNow Business.

    About Open Golf Club

    Open Golf Club is the first high-end French golf management company. Founded in 1987, it provides management services to 55 internationally renowned golf courses in Europe, including the full management of 15 courses in France and Belgium, and a network of partners of 40 clubs in six countries, including France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland. Open Golf Club partnered with the French Golf Federation in hosting the 2018 Ryder Cup 2018 at Le Golf National.

    About UGOLF

    UGOLF is the leader in French golf course management, currently operating 50 golf courses in France and employing 700 people. Nearly 20,000 subscribers and 27,000 licensees trust UGOLF every year for golf enjoyment. UGOLF Academy trains 3,500 new golfers each year. Through its subsidiary, LeClub Golf, UGOLF operates a network of more than 140 golf courses in France, more than 300 golf courses in Europe and approximately 700 courses around the world. UGOLF is a subsidiary of Duval Group, a family-owned company operating in real estate, tourism and golf management.


    -NBC Sports Group-

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    Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

    By Tiger TrackerSeptember 21, 2018, 4:20 pm

    Tiger Woods is looking to close his season with a win at the Tour Championship. We're tracking him this week at East Lake Golf Club.

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    Fisher becomes first in Euro Tour history to shoot 59

    By Ryan LavnerSeptember 21, 2018, 11:29 am

    There’s never been a sub-60 score on the European Tour, and Oliver Fisher almost went two strokes better Friday at the Portugal Masters.

    Fisher’s 40-footer on the final green burned the edge, but he tapped in the short par putt to record the first 59 in tour history.   

    “It feels great,” he said after getting sprayed with champagne. “It was in the back of my mind all day.”

    It didn’t look like it.

    The 287th-ranked player in the world, Fisher made 10 birdies, an eagle and seven pars during his magical round.

    All of the other major pro tours have produced a 59 – nine times on the PGA Tour; once on the LPGA – but this was the first time that a player on the European Tour broke the sub-60 barrier. (There have been 19 rounds of 60.) Earlier this year, at the Scottish Open, Brandon Stone narrowly missed an 8-footer on the final green during the final round. This tournament has produced a few chances, as well, with both Scott Jamieson and Nicolas Colsaerts coming up just short over the past few years.

    Fisher went out in 28 at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course, then made three birdies in a row to start the back nine. He tacked on another birdie on 15 to give himself a shot at history, then played the closing stretch in 1 under. On 16, he needed a 20-footer for par after leaving his tee shot well short of the flag. He two-putted for birdie on 17 and then coolly made par on the last, after his birdie try from 40 feet just missed on the left edge.

    Two years ago, he arrived in Portugal needed a good result just to keep his card. He shot a final-round 64. 

    On Friday, he made tour history.

    “I kept that in the back of my mind, thinking things could be worse,” he said. 

    To this point, Fisher had a forgettable season. Ranked 72nd in the Race to Dubai, he didn’t have a top-10 in a stroke-play event since late February. His last four results: MC-T71-MC-MC. He opened the Portugal Masters with a 71 and was in danger of missing the cut.

    Now, improbably, he’s in position to score his second European Tour title, after capturing the 2011 Czech Open.

    “I tried to enjoy it,” he said. “It’s not often that we get a chance to shoot a really low one.”

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    Paisley (61) leads Tour Championship

    By Associated PressSeptember 20, 2018, 11:56 pm

    ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Chris Paisley birdied four of the last five holes for a 10-under 61 and the first-round lead Thursday in the season-ending Tour Championship.

    The South African Open winner in January for his first European Tour title, Paisley played the back nine first at Atlantic Beach Country Club, holing a bunker shot for an eagle on the par-5 18th. On the front nine, he birdied the par-3 fifth and finished with three straight birdies.

    ''I think just all around was really good,'' Paisley said. ''I hit it well off the tee, which gave me a lot of kind of short irons into the greens and opportunities. I hit a lot of really good iron shots close, and then a few other bonus kind of things happened where I holed the bunker shot on 18 and holed a long putt on No. 8.''

    The 32-year-old Englishman missed the cuts in the first three Tour Finals events after getting into the series as a non-member PGA Tour with enough money to have placed in the top 200 in the FedEx Cup. The final card went for $40,625 last year, with Paisley needs to finish in a two-way tie for fourth or better to mathematically have a chance to secure one of the 25 PGA Tour at stake.

    Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

    ''The nice thing was I won early in the year in Europe,'' said Paisley, a former University of Tennessee player. ''I've got the first two Final series events locked up, I think I'm in those. I'm not guaranteed to be in Dubai yet. But I just thought we have a house over here, my wife's American, my goal is to try to get on the PGA Tour, so it was a perfect opportunity to try and do it.''

    Cameron Tringale and Canadian Ben Silverman were two strokes back at 63. Tringale is tied for 83rd in the PGA Tour card race with $2,660, and Silverman is tied for 85th at $2,600.

    ''I hit a lot of good shots and made some good putts,'' Silverman said. ''Actually, it could have been lower, but I'm not complaining. Missed a couple putts inside 6x feet, but I'm not complaining at all, it was a great round.''

    Lucas Glover was at 64 with Ben Crane, Nicholas Lindheim, Matt Every, Trevor Cone, Denny McCarthy, Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez. Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez earned PGA Tour cards as top-25 finishers on the Tour regular-season money list, and McCarthy has made $75,793 in the first three Finals events to also wrap up a card. In the race for the 25 cards, Lindholm is 19th with $35,836, Every 30th with $25,733, Glover 40th with $17,212, and Cone 59th with $8,162

    The series features the top 75 players from the regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and Paisley and other non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top-25 finishers on the regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. The other players are fighting for the 25 cards based on series earnings.