Steve Stricker among trio of leaders at Deutsche Bank

By Doug FergusonSeptember 7, 2009, 4:00 am
DeutscheBank Logo 2007NORTON, Mass. – Steve Stricker was among eight players who had at least a share of the lead Sunday in the Deutsche Bank Championship. He also knew how much each shot mattered.

Standing in the 18th fairway, a stiff breeze in his face and the front of the green 230 yards away, about 5 yards longer than the maximum distance he usually gets out of his hybrid. He went for it anyway, and it paid off.

He was filled with uncertainty until the ball barely cleared a creek and bounced up to 5 feet for eagle, giving Stricker a 6-under 65 and a share of the lead with Retief Goosen and Sean O’Hair.

“I maxed that one out, and it turned out good,” Stricker said.

His chances to win on Labor Day are equally tenuous.

Sean O
Sean O'Hair birdied 18 Sunday to reclaim a share of the lead. (Getty Images)

Stricker has the goods; he already has won twice this year and finished one shot behind last week at The Barclays. Even so, there are two other guys tied for the lead who have won this year, and simply too many players within range for anyone to get a handle on how Monday will shake out at the TPC Boston.

O’Hair overcame a scratchy start with birdies on two of the last three holes for a 70. Goosen, a two-time U.S. Open champion, had a chance to take the outright lead until a chunky bunker shot that kept him from getting up-and-down for birdie at the par-5 18th. He settled for a 68 to join the other leaders at 13-under 200.

“I needed a day like this today to get back into it,” Stricker said.

Just about everyone else – except Tiger Woods – apparently had the same idea.

Woods struggled from the opening shot. He hit driver into the woods for a one-shot penalty, didn’t make a birdie until the 15th hole and shot 1-over 72. That left him nine shots behind in a tie for 30th. Woods did not speak to reporters, going to the locker room to have his back stretched before heading to the putting green.

The gallery still has a rooting favorite among those trying to win. Padraig Harrington, cheered wildly in a region with a large Irish population, knocked in a long birdie putt at the 18th for a 67 and was among those one shot behind, along with Scott Verplank (68) and Kevin Na (66).

“There’s a saying, ‘There’s 5 million people in Ireland and 40 million in the States,’ and I think those 40 million people live in Boston,” Harrington said. “There’s great support here. When you get people supporting you, you do feed off it and try to go with it, and it’s certainly helped me over the last three days.”

Jim Furyk, who had a share of the 36-hole lead with O’Hair, slumped to a 73 yet still was in the hunt. He was at 10-under 203.

No one stands out as the obvious favorite. All of them share one goal.

“You know someone is going to shoot a good score tomorrow,” Kevin Sutherland said after a 69 that put him in the group two shots behind. “You just need to be the guy who does it.”

Stricker had a chance to take over the top spot from Woods in the FedEx Cup last week in The Barclays until he missed a 10-foot par putt on the final hole that would have forced a playoff with Heath Slocum.

He’ll get another opportunity Monday, in small part to his bold play on the 18th.

“The only thing I had going for me is I had a little bit of a downhill lie that would keep the ball down a little bit,” Stricker said. “I hit it solid and it landed three or four paces short and just got up there very nicely.”

The top 70 advance to the third round of the PGA Tour Playoffs next week in Chicago, and Stricker has the best chance to overtake Woods atop the FedEx Cup standings. All he cares about is this week, which might be even more confusing than the points-based cup.

The winner can come from just about anywhere.

“I don’t expect guys like Stricker and Harrington and Goosen … to fall backwards, that’s for sure,” O’Hair said. “I don’t know how low you’re going to have to go, but you’re still going to have to have a nice round of golf. If I go out there and focus on me and get comfortable on the first tee and not take four or five holes to get going, I should be right there at the end.”

That wasn’t the case Sunday in sunshine and a mild breeze that was strong enough for players to continuously toss blades of grass in the air to figure out which way it was blowing.

O’Hair took three shots from 20 feet just short of the green at No. 1, hooked his tee shot on the par-3 third for another bogey and chopped up the par-5 seventh, quickly falling out of contention. That was his last bogey, however, and he had a strong finishing kick.

Even a player like Geoff Ogilvy, who birdied his last two holes for a 68 to finish four shots behind, was not ruling himself out. The four shots is not the issue. Perhaps a larger obstacle is the 12 guys in front of him.

“It’s the people,” Ogilvy said. “Six back and second place is probably better than being four back and in 20th place.”

The wind and firm greens made this the toughest day yet. Even after the cut was made (weeding out players not at their best), the average score was at 71.15, the first time all week it has played over par.

Even so, 29 players broke par.

“The guys managed to get it in the hole somehow,” Goosen said. “I’m happy to be on top of the leaderboard, and I hope for a good tomorrow and see where we stand.”

Woods attributed so many missed chances at Liberty National on putts that often broke multiple times before reaching the hole. He worked some on his short game during his three days at home, no more than usual.

“I really putted well on the weekend, I just didn’t make a lot of putts,” he said. “When you’re lipping out a lot of putts, you’re not putting poorly. Those greens were a tough read for a bunch of people.”

Woods has a hard time finding much fault with anything this year, except for not winning a major. His five victories are twice as much as anyone else, and he still holds the No. 1 stop in the FedEx Cup standings going into the second week of the playoffs.

The big surprise is Heath Slocum, who was planning a trip to Switzerland this week for the Omega Masters on the European Tour until he won last week at Liberty National. That moved him from second-to-last place at No. 124 to No. 3, right behind Woods and Stricker.

Players have been debating whether Slocum earned too many points, and they tried to balance his rocket rise with the notion that he did beat a field at The Barclays that included the top 124 players on the PGA Tour.

The top 100 qualified for the Deutsche Bank (minus Paul Casey, who is injured), and that number will be pared to the top 70 players in points going to the third round next week at the BMW Championship outside Chicago.

Woods is virtually a lock to at least contest for the $10 million prize that comes with the FedEx Cup, especially the way he has played over the last two months—two victories, two runner-up finishes.

“This last stretch, I think I’ve hit the ball pretty good,” Woods said. “I’ve putted well in stretches. Some people have alluded to other things, but that’s not too bad for my last four events. The overall year has been very consistent.”

He missed the FedEx Cup playoffs last year recovering from knee surgery. The last time he played the Deutsche Bank was in 2007, when he tied for second, four shots behind Phil Mickelson. Woods took nine more putts than Mickelson that day.

American Junior Golf Association

Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 11:03 pm

While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.

There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.

According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)

Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.

Getty Images

McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

12/1: Tony Finau

14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

20/1: Francesco Molinari

25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

Getty Images

Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.



“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

Her overall assessment of her day?

“It was a great experience,” she said.

Getty Images

Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.