Stricker, MacKenzie share Valspar lead; Spieth makes cut

By Doug FergusonMarch 12, 2016, 12:43 am

PALM HARBOR, Fla. - Jordan Spieth holed three shots from off the green and made the cut with one shot to spare Friday in the Valspar Championship.

Now he has to figure out how to catch up to Steve Stricker and Will MacKenzie.

Stricker, playing for only the fifth time this year, holed out from the 10th fairway for eagle and made a 60-foot birdie putt across the fourth green for a 5-under 66 that gave him a share of the lead with MacKenzie, who had a 67.

They were at 5-under 137, one shot ahead of Bill Haas (67), Graham DeLaet (66) and Daniel Berger (68).

Spieth is just happy to be joining them. He opened with a 76 and was in danger of missing the cut, especially when the wind began to pick up just as he was starting his second round on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook.

And then he hooked his tee shot on the par-5 opening hole into a bush, had to take a penalty shot and made bogey on the easiest hole on the course.

''I'm walking off that green going, 'Oh, boy. We can either somehow flip this one around today or ... I don't want that to be the key of me not being able to be here for the weekend.' I thought it was really strong what we did after that,'' he said.

Nearly five hours later, after he nearly holed a bunker shot on the 17th to save par, Spieth exhaled on the 18th tee and said with a smile, ''This was grinding today. I've got some good stuff coming on the weekend.''


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He wound up with a 68 and was at 2-over 144 to make the cut by one shot. That's all he was thinking about until he chipped in from behind the green on the 15th for a birdie, and his tee shot on the 16th narrowly cleared the water.

It was hard work, and there is plenty left.

More than just trying to make up seven shots on the weekend, he had 42 players in front of him.

Stricker began to cut back on his schedule a few years ago, and he had back surgery at the end of 2014 that limited his playing even more. But the strength is starting to return to the 49-year-old with the pure putting stroke, and he has looked solid for two days.

Stricker was tied for the lead early on Thursday until three straight bogeys late in his round. This time, he took the eagle and keep running, adding a short birdie putt on the par-5 14th and a 10-foot birdie on the 16th hole to catch MacKenzie.

''There are times I escaped with a few good breaks,'' Stricker said. ''Holing out on 10, you don't expect to do that. And that putt at No. 4 was going pretty quick, and that ended up going in. So some things evidently went my way. I'm starting to play a little better. Definitely putting better. And slowly, things are coming together.''

The large group at 3-under 139 included Justin Thomas, who hit a sharp slice to escape the trees on his first hole of the day (No. 10) and turned potential bogey into birdie on his way to a 67. Also at 139 were Augusta, Georgia, native Scott Brown (69), who has yet to play the Masters; past champion Retief Goosen and Charles Howell III, another Augusta native who had a 72.

Only eight shots separated the top and bottom of the leaderboard, leaving the weekend wide open.

That includes Spieth, the defending champion, whose first goal was get to Saturday. It wasn't easy, but he settled into his round with a 6-iron over the water to 5 feet on the third hole. He used the blade of his sand wedge to hole a birdie putt from the collar the par-5 fifth - the first time he has used that shot in competition - and putted one from off the green on No. 7 for another birdie.

He lost an easy birdie opportunity on the par-5 11th when he barely got out of a greenside bunker and was in deep rough. But he holed a 4-foot par putt that could have sent his momentum in the other direction, and despite missed birdie chances on the next three holes, the chip-in on the 15th was key.

''Today it was all about the cut,'' he said. ''All of a sudden I'm over the green on 15, kind of sitting down in the bluegrass rough just trying to hope to chip that one to tap-in range. ... Then all in all, we get finished and we're back in the tournament.''

Among those missing the cut were Keegan Bradley, who followed his 67 with a 79. It was more critical to Harris English and Webb Simpson, who were outside the top 66 in the world and will not qualify for the Dell Match Play in two weeks.   

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.

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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

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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.

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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.