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Shaken, grieving Haas returns after fatal crash

By Doug FergusonMarch 5, 2018, 8:05 pm

Bill Haas returns to golf this week knowing the Valspar Championship will be unlike any of the previous 347 times he has played on the PGA Tour.

The deep bruise on his left leg and the soreness in his right ankle have subsided. Still tender are memories of a friend, Mark Gibello, who was killed Feb. 13 on a winding road outside Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles when his Ferrari clipped another car and slammed into a pole.

Haas was the passenger.

''There's not many templates to go by on something like this,'' Haas said in his first interview since the accident. ''I was in a state of shock, disbelief. It was a tragic event, traumatic. I'm still unsure how to handle it. I keep going back to focusing on the Gibello family.''

He described the Gibellos as mutual friends he planned to stay with during the Genesis Open.

Haas and Gibello played golf the previous weekend at Los Angeles Country Club, where Gibello was a member and played a role in the club hosting the Walker Cup last year. Gibello was a close friend of Bill Harmon, the swing coach who works with Haas.

''It didn't take me long to realize how much his family loved him, how nice he was to me and my family,'' Haas said.

His wife, Julie, has kept in touch with Gibello's wife. The funeral service in Santa Monica, California, was Friday, the same day the final field was set for the Valspar Championship in Florida. Tiger Woods is playing for the first time. So is Rory McIlroy. That figures to deflect plenty of attention from Haas trying to get back to work.

The 35-year-old Haas returns with a greater appreciation of life and a level of support he never realized he had.

His golf bag remained in the Riviera locker room for the rest of the Genesis Open until it was shipped home to him in South Carolina. Haas hasn't practiced much. He played golf Sunday in Greenville and planned to leave Monday night for the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Florida.

''The amount of love and support and outreach I got from my peers and friends has been amazing,'' he said. ''At the same time, a friend of mine is not here anymore. ... There's just no real way to explain life, why it happens and how it happens. You can't take tomorrow for granted. You have to enjoy today and prepare for tomorrow. All that said, I still feel like I have to go compete. I can't just say golf doesn't matter. That's what I do. I think that's what Mark would want.

''He was a golf fan. He loved golf. He would want me to care about how I play.''

Haas has not responded to all of the phone calls and text messages because of the sheer volume, but he looks forward to being back out again among his golfing family.

Webb Simpson, a fellow Wake Forest alum, is among those who reached out to him.

''I remember waking up the morning after it happened. My wife got a text from Julie, and we were pretty emotional that morning,'' Simpson said. ''He hated it more than anything for that family. He needs to get over it mentally now probably more than physically, but I think it will be good for him to get out on tour.''

Simpson lost his father late last year and remembers how much it helped to get back inside the ropes.

''Time doesn't necessarily heal, but with time it gets easier,'' Simpson said.

Haas is a six-time winner on the PGA Tour, though he has gone three years since his last victory. He's best known for saving par from the shallow water at East Lake during a playoff he won at the Tour Championship to claim the FedEx Cup, and making the clinching putt in the Presidents Cup with his father, Jay, as the U.S. captain.

Along with leaning on his wife and his family, he has spent time with a therapist to cope with the wide range of emotions and the lingering questions.

''I don't know that I won't have recurring images and thoughts and feelings about that night,'' he said. ''Why was he taken and I wasn't? I ask, 'Why?' all the time. From the people who have reached out to me and the advice I've been given, you can't ask, 'Why?' in life. Life happens in ways you can't explain. There's no point in asking. It won't solve anything, and it only brings more questions.''

He doesn't know what to expect at Innisbrook, only that he wants to focus on golf as much as he can.

Haas will need a good week at Innisbrook to get into the Dell Match Play in two weeks. Otherwise, he'll take a few more weeks off.

''Once I get inside the ropes, I think there will be a sense of relief,'' he said. ''It's what I know best, to be competitive. Every time we tee it up, we want to do well. That's important to me. Hopefully, I can do that. I think I'll be able to do that.''

What makes him most anxious about his return is the reception he might get from friends and from fans.

''This needs to not be about me,'' he said. ''This has got to be about golf and the Gibello family.''


Ferguson is the golf writer for The Associated Press.

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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.”

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After 36, new Open favorite is ... Fleetwood

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 7:49 pm

With a handful of the pre-championship favorites exiting early, there is a new odds-on leader entering the third round of The Open at Carnoustie.

While Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner share the 36-hole lead, it's England's Tommy Fleetwood who leads the betting pack at 11/2. Fleetwood begins the third round one shot off the lead.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.

Tommy Fleetwood: 11/2

Zach Johnson: 13/2

Rory McIlroy: 7/1

Jordan Spieth: 8/1

Rickie Fowler: 9/1

Kevin Kisner: 12/1

Xander Schauffele: 16/1

Tony Finau: 16/1

Matt Kuchar: 18/1

Pat Perez: 25/1

Brooks Koepka: 25/1

Erik van Rooyen: 50/1

Alex Noren: 50/1

Tiger Woods: 50/1

Thorbjorn Olesen: 60/1

Danny Willett: 60/1

Francesco Molinari: 60/1