Prammanasudh Out Front in Kansas
I expect to be here, said Prammanasudh, who fired a 69 for the second day to take the lead at 6-under 138 at Willowbend Golf Club. Now, its just a matter of getting it done.
Prammanasudh was tested on her first nine holes with three bogeys and three birdies. That included two back-to-back bogeys on holes 7 and 8, in which her approach shots came up short of the green. Both times, she ran her chips past the hole and failed to get up and down for par. But an 8-iron to 18 feet at the ninth green converted for birdie, allowing Prammanasudh to make the turn at 3-under and a share of the lead with Soo Young Moon of Keumsan, Korea, who fired an even-par 72 to finish at 3-under 141. Moon is tied for second with Isabelle Beisiegel of Norman, Okla., who carded a 70 in Saturdays second round.
The Kansas wind, blowing from an opposite direction on Saturday than on Friday, tested Prammanasudhs patience and club choices, but the Oklahoman assured herself that she wasnt alone in the guessing game of prairie golf.
There werent a lot of lower scores from the morning rounds, said the four-time NCAA All-American and current non-exempt member of the LPGA Tour. You know people are going to make bogeys when its that windy and you know that you just have to be patient.
Prammanasudh also drew on her experience to remind herself that you get a balance in windy rounds. True to her belief, the two consecutive bogeys from the last three holes on the front nine were countered with three birdies on the back nine with two at holes 16 and 18. Her 15-foot birdie at the 18th was a timely punctuation to a round that included 12 hit fairways, 13 greens and 28 putts.
Moons hot putter from Friday was gone and the Korean teen found herself struggling both on the greens and with her confidence.
My putts were weird and they were too short and too long, said Moon, 19, a non-exempt LPGA Tour member who won the seasons opening tournament at the Lakeland Futures Golf Classic. Everything was bad and it complicated my head.
Beisiegel, a native of Montreal who remained in Norman after playing golf at the University of Oklahoma, had a dizzying second-round 70 that featured seven birdies and four bogeys. On her final five holes, the Canadian birdied holes 14, 17 and 18, with bogeys at 15 and 16. It was a day that could have taken even more strange turns if her patience had drifted.
I kept my composure and stayed patient, she said. I was up and down, up and down, but it was fun.
Lisa Hall of Stoke-on-Trent, England fired a 69, and Seol-An Jeon of Seoul, Korea, who shot a 71, moved up the leader board for a fourth-place tie at 142 (-2). Jimin Kang of Seoul, Korea, who was one shot behind the leaders at 2-under 70 after the first round, withdrew after nine holes Saturday due to illness.
But while wind and will tested the field today on the 6,260-yard course, the tournaments leader knows Sundays final round will pose yet another trial. Prammanasudh has played in the final group on Sunday in her last two tournaments, trailing the leaders by one shot both times. Each time, she carded over-par final rounds and came up short of her first tournament victory.
In the past, I tried to force birdies, said Prammanasudh, who grabbed the second round lead with the same determination she had used to win 10 collegiate titles. Its very important that I get this done because Ive been here three weeks straight. Now, I just need to let them catch me.
Seventy-two players made the 36-hole cut at 151 (+7).
Bhatia loses U.S. Am match after caddie-cart incident
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – One of the hottest players in amateur golf had his U.S. Amateur run end Wednesday under unusual circumstances.
Akshay Bhatia, the 16-year-old left-hander who has been dominating the junior golf circuit over the past year, squandered a late lead in his eventual 19-hole loss to Bradford Tilley in the Round of 64.
Bhatia was all square against Tilley as they played Pebble Beach’s par-5 14th hole. After knocking his second shot onto the green, Bhatia and his caddie, Chris Darnell, stopped to use the restroom. Bhatia walked up to the green afterward, but Darnell asked what he thought was a USGA official for a ride up to the green.
“The gentleman was wearing a USGA pullover,” Darnell explained afterward. “I asked if I could get a ride to the green to keep up pace, and he said yes. So I hopped on the back, got up to the green, hopped off and thought nothing of it.”
Conditions of the competition prohibit players and caddies from riding on any form of transportation during a stipulated round unless authorized.
It turns out that the cart that Darnell rode on was not driven by a USGA official. Rather, it was just a volunteer wearing USGA apparel. A rules official who was in the area spotted the infraction and assessed Bhatia an adjustment penalty, so instead of winning the hole with a birdie-4 to move 1 up, the match remained all square.
Even more interesting was what Darnell said happened earlier in the match.
“I had already seen the other caddie in our group do it on the ninth hole,” Darnell said. “Same thing – USGA pullover, drove him from the bathroom up to the fairway – so I assumed it was fine. I didn’t point it out at the time because everything seemed kosher. He had the USGA stuff on, and I didn’t think anything of it.”
Bhatia won the 15th hole to go 1 up, but lost the 17th and 19th holes with bogeys to lose the match. He didn’t blame the outcome on the cart incident.
“What can you do? I’ll have plenty of opportunities to play in this tournament, so I’m not too upset about it,” he said. “It’s just frustrating because I deserved to win that match. That wasn’t the outcome I wanted, but I can’t do anything about it.”
Bhatia, of Wake Forest, N.C., has been a dominant force in the junior ranks, going back-to-back at the Junior PGA (including this dramatic hole-out), capturing the AJGA Polo, taking the Sage Valley Invitational and reaching the finals of the U.S. Junior.
1, 2, 3 out: Thornberry, Suh, Morikawa lose at U.S. Am
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The top three players in the world had a tough afternoon Wednesday at Pebble Beach.
Braden Thornberry, Justin Suh and Collin Morikawa – Nos. 1-3, respectively, in the World Amateur Golf Ranking – all lost their Round of 64 matches at the U.S. Amateur.
Thornberry lost, 2 and 1, to Jesus Montenegro of Argentina. As the No. 1 amateur in the world, the Ole Miss senior was in line to receive the McCormack Medal, which would exempt him into both summer Opens in 2019, provided he remains amateur. But now he’ll need to wait and see how the rankings shake out.
Suh and Morikawa could have played each other in the Round of 32, but instead they were both heading home early.
Suh, a junior at USC, never led in his 1-up loss to Harrison Ott, while Cal's Morikawa lost to another Vanderbilt player, John Augenstein, in 19 holes.
Englishman Matthew Jordan is the fourth-ranked player in the world, but he didn’t make the 36-hole stroke-play cut.
The highest-ranked player remaining is Oklahoma State junior Viktor Hovland, who is ranked fifth. With his college coach, Alan Bratton, on the bag, Hovland beat his Cowboys teammate, Hayden Wood, 3 and 2, to reach the Round of 32.
Fiery Augenstein outduels Morikawa at U.S. Amateur
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Around the Vanderbilt golf team John Augenstein’s nickname is “Flash,” and it’s easy to see why.
The swing loaded with speed.
The on-course charisma.
The big shot in the big moment.
The Commodores junior added another highlight to his growing collection Wednesday, when he defeated world No. 3 Collin Morikawa in 19 holes during a Round of 64 match at the U.S. Amateur.
Out of sorts early at Pebble Beach, Augenstein was 2 down to Morikawa after butchering the short seventh and then misplaying a shot around the green on 8.
Standing on the ninth tee, he turned to Vanderbilt assistant coach/caddie Gator Todd: "I need to play the best 10 holes of my life to beat Collin."
And did he?
“I don’t know,” he said later, smirking, “but I did enough.”
Augenstein won the ninth hole after Morikawa dumped his approach shot into the hazard, drained a 30-footer on 10 to square the match and then took his first lead when he rolled in a 10-footer on 14.
One down with three holes to go, Morikawa stuffed his approach into 16 while Augenstein, trying to play a perfect shot, misjudged the wind and left himself in a difficult position, short and right of the green. Augenstein appeared visibly frustrated once he found his ball, buried in the thick ryegrass short of the green. He told Todd that he didn’t think he’d be able to get inside of Morikawa’s shot about 6 feet away, but he dumped his pitch shot onto the front edge, rode the slope and trickled it into the cup for an unlikely birdie.
“Come on!” he yelled, high-fiving Todd and tossing his wedge at his bag.
“It was beautiful,” Todd said. “I’m not sure how he did that, but pretty cool that it went in.”
Morikawa answered by making birdie, then won the 17th with a par before both players halved the home hole with birdies.
On the first extra hole, Augenstein hit his approach to 15 feet while Morikawa left it short. Morikawa raced his first putt by 6 feet and then missed the comebacker to lose the match.
It may not have been the best 10-hole stretch of Augenstein’s career, but after that pep talk on 9 tee, he went 4 under to the house.
“He’s a fiery little dude,” Morikawa said of his 5-foot-8-inch opponent. “You don’t want to get him on the wrong side because you never know what’s going to happen. He’s not going to give shots away.”
The first-round match was a rematch of the Western Amateur quarterfinals two weeks ago, where Augenstein also won, that time by a 4-and-2 margin.
“It’s the most fun format and where I can be my true self – emotional and aggressive and beat people,” Augenstein said.
That’s what he did at the 2017 SECs, where he won the deciding points in both the semifinals and the finals. He starred again a few weeks later at the NCAA Championship, last season went 3-0 in SEC match play, and now has earned a reputation among his teammates as a primetime player.
“I’ve hit a lot of big shots and putts in my career,” said Augenstein, ranked 26th in the world after recently winning the Players Amateur. “I get locked in and focused, and there’s not a shot that I don’t think I can pull off. I’m not scared to fail.”
The comeback victory against Morikawa – a three-time winner last season at Cal and one of the best amateurs in the world – didn’t surprise Todd. He’s seen firsthand how explosive Augenstein can be on the course.
“He’s just fiery,” Todd said. “He does things under pressure that you’re not supposed to do. He’s just a special kid.”
Fowler (oblique) withdraws from playoff opener
The injury that slowed Rickie Fowler at last week's PGA Championship will keep him out of the first event of the PGA Tour's postseason.
Fowler was reportedly hampered by an oblique injury at Bellerive Country Club, where he started the third round two shots off the lead but faded to a tie for 12th. He confirmed the injury Tuesday in an Instagram post, adding that an MRI revealed a partial tear to his right oblique muscle.
According to Fowler, the injury also affected him at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he tied for 17th. After receiving the test results, he opted to withdraw from The Northern Trust next week at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey.
"My team and I feel like it's best not to play next week in the Northern Trust," Fowler wrote. "I will be back healthy and competitive ASAP for the FedEx Cup and more than ready for the Ryder Cup!!!"
View this post on Instagram
News got out last week that I was dealing with an oblique injury the past two tournaments...it was confirmed yesterday, via MRI, that I have a partial tear in my right oblique...my team and I feel like it’s best not to play next week in the Northern Trust...I will be back healthy and competitive ASAP for the FedEx Cup and more than ready for the Ryder Cup!!
Fowler is one of eight players who earned automatic spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team when the qualifying window closed last week. His next opportunity to tee it up would be at the 100-man Dell Technologies Championship, where Fowler won in 2015.
Fowler has 12 top-25 finishes in 18 starts, highlighted by runner-up finishes at both the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in the fall and at the Masters. He is currently 17th in the season-long points race, meaning that he's assured of starts in each of the first three playoff events regardless of performance and in good position to qualify for the 30-man Tour Championship for the fourth time in the last five years.