Stat attack!: Open Championship review

By John AntoniniJuly 20, 2014, 7:17 pm

Perhaps it’s appropriate that Rory McIlroy has curly hair, for like the little girl with the curl, when McIlory is good, he is very, very good. And at the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, McIlroy was every bit of very, very good.

McIlroy’s 17-under 271 total at Royal Liverpool was the fourth-lowest total in relation to par in the history of the Open Championship, and he needed an eagle on the final hole to match Tiger Woods for the best score in relation to par in major-championship history. Woods shot 19 under at the 2000 Open Championship at St. Andrews. With his par on the final hole, McIlroy’s total marks the 10th time since 1990 that a player has finished at 17-under or better in a major.

The lowest winning scores at the Open Championship in relation to par

 To par Player   Year Venue 
 19 under Tiger Woods  2000  St. Andrews 
 18 under  Tiger Woods 2006  Royal Liverpool
 18 under  Nick Faldo  1990  St. Andrews 
 17 under  Rory McIlroy  2014  Royal Liverpool 
 16 under  Louis Oosthuizen  2010  St. Andrews 

Lowest score in relation to par in a major championship since 1990

 To par Player  Major
 19 under Tiger Woods 2000 Open Championship 
 18 under  Tiger Woods  2006 Open Championship 
 18 under  Tiger Woods
2006 PGA Championship 
 18 under   Tiger Woods   2000 PGA Championship 
 18 under   Bob May  2000 PGA Championship 
 18 under   Tiger Woods  1997 Masters 
 18 under   Nick Faldo  1990 Open Championship 
 17 under   Rory McIlroy  2014 Open Championshp 
 17 under   Steve Elkington  1995 PGA Championship 
 17 under   Colin Montgomerie  1995 PGA Championship 

McIlroy’s victory comes on the heels of Martin Kaymer’s rout at the U.S. Open. Kaymer led for all four rounds at Pinehurst. Prior to McIlroy, the last wire-to-wire winner at the British Open (with no ties) was Tiger Woods in 2005.

Open Champions with wire-to-wire victories (no ties)

 Year Player 
 2014  Rory McIlroy
 2005 Tiger Woods 
 1973  Tom Weiskopf 
 1934  Henry Cotton 
 1932   Gene Sarazen 
 1927 Bobby Jones 
 1912 Ted Ray 

It is the first time since 1903 that the U.S. and British Open had wire-to-wire winners in the same year. Although in 1903, when Willie Anderson won the U.S. Open and Harry Vardon won the Open Championship, Vardon was not the sole leader all four days, having shared the opening-round lead with Sandy Herd.

McIlroy also ran the table at the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional, and this marks the second time he led a major at the end of every round, joining Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Raymond Floyd as the only players to do that more than once.

The Open marks the sixth time McIlroy held the 54-hole lead (or co-lead) at a PGA Tour event and fourth time in a major championship. It was his fourth win in such events.

McIlroy with the 54-hole lead at PGA Tour events 

 Tournament Finish
 2014 Open Championship Won
 2014 Honda Classic Lost playoff
 2012 PGA Championship Won
 2012 Honda Classic Won
 2011 U.S. Open Won
 2011 Masters T-15

McIlroy dominated on the par-5 holes at Royal Liverpool, especially on Saturday when he made eagle on the 16th and 18th holes to take what became an insurmountable lead of six strokes into Sunday’s final round. For the week, McIlroy was one of four players to shoot 12 under on the par-5 holes.

Scoring leaders on the par-5s at the Open Championship

 Player Scoring on par 5s 
 Rory McIlroy 12 under 
 Paul Casey  12 under
 Francesco Molinari  12 under 
 Victor Dubuisson 12 under

Long-term, it won’t soon be forgotten how well Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler played at the Open Championship. Their 15-under 273 totals would have been good enough to win all but three Opens since 2000. Fowler, who also finished T-2 in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, is the only player to finish in the top five of all three majors in 2014. He’s the sixth player to do that since 1990. Fowler and Ernie Els in 2000 are the only players to finish in the two at both Opens in the same year since 1980.

Players who were in the top five at the Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship since 1990

 Year Player  Masters  U.S. Open  Open Championship
 2014 Rickie Fowler  T-2  T-2 
 2005 Tiger Woods  Won  Won 
 2004 Phil Mickelson  Won 
 2000  Tiger Woods Won Won 
 2000 Ernie Els  2 T-2  T-2
 1990 Nick Faldo  Won  T-3  Won 

Fowler is also one of three players to finish in the top 15 in this year’s first three major championships.

Players with top-15 finishes in all three majors in 2014 

 Player  Masters  U.S. Open  British Open 
 Rickie Fowler T-5  T-2  T-2 
 Adam Scott T-14  T-9  T-5 
 Jim Furyk T-14  T-12 

Garcia was second in a major championship for the fourth time, but he looks more confident than he has at any time since he first finished second to Tiger Woods at the 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah, when he scissor-kicked his way up the leaderboard. Along the way he became downcast as the defeats, most notably in his playoff loss to Padraig Harrington at the 2007 Open Championship at Carnoustie, took their toll. After a third-round 75 at the 2012 Masters took him out of contention, a frustrated Garcia told Spanish reporters he’s “not good enough ... I don't have the thing I need to have,” to win majors. That appears to have changed, as Garcia's confidence has grown as he has matured. The T-2 at Liverpool was Garcia’s sixth top-three in a major, only Lee Westwood has more top-three finishes at majors without winning. 

Most top-threes at major championships without winning

 Player Top threes 
 Lee Westwood 
 Sergio Garcia  6
 Colin Montgomerie  6
 Doug Sanders  6
 Harry Cooper  5
 Bruce Crampton
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Koepka: Second-place finishes becoming 'annoying'

By Al TaysMay 28, 2018, 12:02 am

Brooks Koepka didn't go down without a fight.

Trailing Justin Rose by four shots going into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational, Koepka shot his second 7-under 63 of the week - and made up precisely one shot. He finished solo second at 17 under par, three shots behind Rose.

He could only marvel at the Englishman's performance in closing with a 6-under 64.

"It was pretty impressive," he said. "Justin played well. Hat's off to him. Any time you can come into a lead with four shots and play the way he did today, that's impressive."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Although Koepka was pleased with his own play - especially his putting - he said it felt "annoying" to come in second. Again.

"I feel like we've had so many second-place finishes," he said. "Always seem to run into a buzz saw, whatever it is."

Since May of 2016, Koepka has five solo second-place finishes and one T-2. But he also has a U.S. Open title, won last year at Erin Hills. He'll attempt to defend that title June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills. "It's nice to finally be playing well and get going into the season," he said. "Kind of peaking right where I need to be."

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Minjee Lee birdies 18 to win on her birthday

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:59 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Minjee Lee's task was simple: A birdie on No. 18 would win her the tournament. It was a manageable par 5, the easiest hole on the course in the final round.

After a good drive, her second shot came closer to trouble than much of the gallery probably realized.

''I almost clipped the tree,'' Lee said. ''I overcut it a little bit, but it finished out in a good position.''

Lee's shot came to rest just to the right of the green, and from there it was a simple chip and putt for the birdie that gave her a one-stroke win over In-Kyung Kim at the LPGA Volvik Championship on Sunday. Lee, who turned 22 on Sunday, won for the first time since 2016. It was the Australian's fourth career victory.

Lee three-putted for a bogey on No. 17, dropping into a tie with Kim, who finished her round about the same time. So Lee needed a birdie to win on 18. The 18th hole was 470 yards Sunday. There were 44 birdies there in the final round.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

''The tee was up,'' she said. ''I was pretty confident that I could get there in two if I had a good drive.''

Lee made her winning putt from about 3 feet. She finished at 4-under 68 and 16 under for the tournament. Kim (67) shot a 32 on the back nine and birdied No. 18, but it wasn't enough to force a playoff at Travis Pointe Country Club.

''I kind of knew that 16 was the number and I mean, I give my best,'' Kim said. ''I make some good shots and birdies.''

Moriya Jutanugarn (65) finished third at 14 under.

Lee took a two-stroke lead into the final round, and that was her margin over playing partner Stacy Lewis before Lewis (71) bogeyed No. 7 and 8. Kim emerged as the biggest threat to Lee when she birdied four of the first five holes on the back nine. Lewis is playing four months' pregnant with her first child.

Kim and Lee were briefly tied at 15 under, but then Lee made a tap-in birdie on the par-5 14th, while Kim bogeyed 15. Lee saved par on 15 despite a wayward drive into a bunker.

''I wasn't sure where I was score-wise then. That par 5 is reachable in two, so I think a lot of people would have made birdie there,'' Lee said. ''The next tee shot I just pulled into the bunker. ... I think that was really important for me to hole that par putt just to keep the momentum going.''

Lee had gone 38 consecutive holes without a bogey before making one on the par-4 17th. That, combined with Kim's birdie on 18, left the two golfers tied, but Lee still had the 18th to come.

Su Oh (68) and Lindy Duncan (69) finished at 13 under, and Megan Khang (67) was another stroke back. Lewis finished at 11 under along with Ariya Jutanugarn (69) and Danielle Kang (70).

Lewis birdied three of the first six holes, but Lee did as well.

''It's hard to get close when somebody does that,'' Lewis said. ''She played great all day and played solid. When she needed to make a par putt, she did, and didn't make any mistakes.''

Lee lost this event by one stroke last year. Shanshan Feng, the 2017 winner , finished tied for 21st this time.

The LPGA has had a different winner in each of its 13 tournaments this year. The U.S. Women's Open starts Thursday at Shoal Creek.

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Spieth: Improvement is 'right around the corner'

By Al TaysMay 27, 2018, 10:50 pm

Not that Dallas native Jordan Spieth didn't enjoy the two-week home game that is the AT&T Byron Nelson and the Fort Worth Invitational - he certainly did. But he's eager to get out of town, too.

"It was a great showing these last couple weeks by the fans," Spieth said after closing with a 2-under 68, a 5-under total and a T-32 finish. "Obviously extremely appreciative here in DFW. Wish I could do more. These couple weeks can be a bit taxing, and it's awesome to kind of have that support to carry you through.

"So, you know, I had a great time these couple weeks on and off the golf course as I always do, but I'm also really excited to kind of get out of town and kind of be able to just go back to the room and have nothing to do at night except for get ready to play the next day."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Spieth will have that experience this coming week in Dublin, Ohio, site of the Memorial. He's hopeful of improving on his T-21, T-32 finishes the past two weeks, and he thinks the main thing holding him back - his putting - is ready for a turnaround.

"I think good things are about to come," he said. "I feel a good run coming for the second half of the season. Today was - each day I've felt better and better with the wedges and the putter and the short game; today was no different. My only bogey being just kind of trying to do too much on a par-5; 3-wood into the hazard.

"So, you know, I'm getting into where I'm not making bogeys, and then soon - the not making bogeys is great, and soon I'll get back to the five, six birdies around and shoot some low rounds.

"So I know it's right around the corner."

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Broadhurst fires 63 to easily win Senior PGA

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:45 pm

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Paul Broadhurst wishes he had played this well in his 23 years on the European Tour.

''I know a lot more about my swing now and I guess you get that with age and experience,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said after shooting an 8-under 63 on Sunday to win the Senior PGA Championship by four strokes and match the best 72-hole score in tournament history.

Broadhurst finished at 19-under 265 at Harbor Shores for his second senior major victory. The 63 was the best fourth-round score by a winner. Rocco Mediate also shot 19 under at Harbor Shores in 2016.

Also the 2016 British Senior Open winner, Broadhurst led the field with 26 birdies and passed third-round co-leaders Tim Petrovic and Mark McCarron with a 4-under 31 on the back nine.

Petrovic was second after a 69. McCarron had a 70 to tie for third at 14 under with Jerry Kelly (65).

Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship

Broadhurst earned a career-high $585,000 for his fourth PGA Tour Champions victory and moved to the top of the money list. He won six times on the European Tour, was a 1991 Ryder Cup player for Europe and has three European Senior Tour victories.

''It was really a special week,'' he said. ''It got a little bit tense out there. I knew I was playing well but I didn't seem to making any progress against Tim Petrovic. He was side-by-side on the back nine it seemed.''

He learned his lead was three strokes standing on the 18th tee when his caddie asked a television announcer.

''So we put my driver away and reached for the rescue club,'' he said. ''If I made a 5 there that would be fine.''

Broadhurst started the round two strokes behind Petrovic and McCarron, birdied the first hole and was tied with Petrovic for the lead by the turn. He took his first lead with a birdie on the 12th hole, led by two after 16 and birdied the final two holes, including a dramatic 40-foot putt for birdie at the 18th hole.

''I guess it would have been a bit of anti-climax if I would have three-putted the last green, but that would have given Tim a chance of holing his second shot,'' he said. ''I actually spoke to my caddie about that going down the last - we don't want to three-putt and five him the opportunity because stranger things have happened in golf. To see it go in the middle of the hole was just a special feeling.''

Petrovic said missed birdie putts on Nos. 7 and 8 were costly, but it might not have mattered with the way Broadhurst was playing.

''In hindsight it was all for naught,'' he said. ''He was so far ahead of us. Hat's off the guy. It was a great week - we just got beat. When he made the putt on 18 ahead of us I almost started clapping in the fairway and waving a white towel. It was well-deserved. That was great playing. He won the championship for sure.''

Broadhurst shot 72 in the first round, started rolling in putts with a 66 in the second round and was 15 under on the weekend. In addition to the leading 26 birdies, he topped the putts per greens in regulations numbers for the tournament as well with a 1.574 average.

''I wasn't aware I made that many birdies,'' he said. ''That's pretty impressive around this course.''

He said his game has long been unpredictable.

''I'm not blessed with a consistent swing like Bernhard Langer, but when it's on, it works,'' he said. ''If I'm putting well, then anything can happen, really.''