Walker-Cooper Captures First Victory

By Futures Tour MediaMarch 29, 2003, 5:00 pm
Futures TourSEBRING, Fla. -- Non-exempt LPGA Tour player Lee Ann Walker-Cooper of Cary, N.C., fired a three-under-par 69 for a 211 (-5) to capture her first-ever professional victory at the Florida Hospital Futures Golf Classic in Sebring, Fla.
Fellow non-exempt LPGA Tour player and second-round leader Lisa Strom of Huntersville, N.C., shot a 73 (+1) for a 213 (-3) to finish in second alone. In third was Michele Vinieratos of Altamonte Springs, Fla., who shot a 73 (+1) for a 214 (-2) at the Sun N Lake Golf and Country Club.
Heavy rains and thunderstorms halted second-round play for a period of one hour and 50 minutes and play was suspended last night at 6:25 p.m. At that point, Walker-Cooper, who was tied for the first-round lead at 70 (-2), only completed 11 holes and returned this morning at 7:00 a.m. to finish the remainder of her round. She ended with a 72 (E) and was tied for fifth at two-under-par 142 heading into the final round, two shots behind Strom.
Two hours later, Walker-Cooper was on the course again, one group in front of Strom. She made steady pars until a birdie on the par four 386-yard seventh hole. She turned at three-under-par for the tournament and was trailing non-exempt LPGA Tour member Stacy Prammanasudh of Enid, Okla., by one shot. Prammanasudh started the day tied for second at three-under-par 141 and was playing in the same group as Strom.
On the back nine, Walker-Cooper made 12-foot birdie putt on 12, allowing her to take the outright lead for the first time at four-under-par. She followed up with another birdie on 16 and was holding a two-shot lead over Strom.
'I had no idea I was leading until I saw the leaderboard on 15,' beamed Walker-Cooper, who recorded one top-10 finish on the Futures Tour last year. 'I was pretty nervous, but I was handling it much better than I usually do. I was just being patient and trying not to get a head of myself. I just wanted to go out there and play consistent.'
Walker-Cooper bogeyed 17, but came back with a birdie on the par five 520-yard final hole, hitting her eight iron from 123 yards to six feet, to solidify her victory at five-under-par 211.
Strom headed into the final round with a one-shot lead at 140 (-4). She bogeyed one and eight and was two shots shy of Walker-Cooper at the turn. Strom made steady pars until a birdie on 16, sending her to three-under-par. She found herself within one shot of Walker-Cooper, who bogeyed 17, but was unable to catch the leader and finished with a 213 (-3).
'I knew I had to make that birdie putt on 18,' stated Walker-Cooper. 'Lisa is a very strong player and I would not have been surprised if she would have made an eagle on the final hole to tie me. I had 22 putts today and that was really the key to this win.'
Prammanasudh was leading on the front nine at four-under-par until she bogeyed 10 and 11, putting her two shots short of Walker-Cooper. She came back with a birdie on 13, but suffered two more bogeys on 15 and 17. Prammanasudh finished tied for fourth at 215 (-1) with Patti Rizzo of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Ju Kim of Seoul, Korea.
Last season, Walker-Cooper made $9,010 in 17 events. In two tournaments the year, she has already made $8,731 and has moved to second on the Futures Tour Money List. Walker-Cooper credits her success to her father, Joe Cooper and golf coach Ted Kiegiel of the Carolina Country Club.
The emotional 31-year-old Walker-Cooper commented, 'This victory means a lot to me. Ted and I have been working really hard on my game over the past three years and we have come a long way together.
'This win is dedicated to my dad. I have been playing golf since I was thirteen and if wasnt for my fathers faith and confidence in my ability, I would not be here where I am today. He has been with me through everything.'
Last October, Walker-Cooper returned to the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament and tied for 51st to re-gain non-exempt status for 2003 LPGA Tour. She was also member of the LPGA during 2000 and 2001 seasons.
After the upcoming Tampa Bays Next Generation Futures Golf Classic in Tampa, Fla., Walker-Coopers plans are to return home and Monday qualify for the upcoming LPGA Tour events, beginning with the Chick-fil-A Charity Championship hosted by Nancy Lopez in Stockbridge, Ga. However, with her first professional win under her belt, Walker-Coopers plans could change and she may choose to play in Futures Tour tournaments instead.
'This win has changed everything,' said Walker-Cooper. 'I have the confidence in myself to know that I can actually win out here. I am going to discuss it with my dad and determine what the next step is. Who knows, I might change my mind and head out to the Futures Tour tournament in Wichita and miss the LPGA tournaments. I have a lot to think about now.'
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Schauffele just fine being the underdog

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

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

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Jordan Spieth: 7/4

Xander Schauffele: 5/1

Kevin Kisner: 11/2

Tiger Woods: 14/1

Francesco Molinari: 14/1

Rory McIlroy: 14/1

Kevin Chappell: 20/1

Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

Alex Noren: 25/1

Zach Johnson: 30/1

Justin Rose: 30/1

Matt Kuchar: 40/1

Webb Simpson: 50/1

Adam Scott: 80/1

Tony Finau: 80/1

Charley Hoffman: 100/1

Austin Cook: 100/1

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Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

“This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

“I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

“I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

“We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

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Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”