Both co-medalists lose on wild day at U.S. Amateur

By Ryan LavnerAugust 14, 2014, 12:36 am

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – After surviving a 17-for-4 playoff early Wednesday, Nathan Smith joked that first-round opponent Lee McCoy was probably “licking his chops that he gets the old guy” in the Round of 64 at the U.S. Amateur.

Not exactly.

Afterward, McCoy was licking his wounds.

During a thrilling tussle between a 20-year-old Georgia standout and a 36-year-old financial adviser, it was Smith, the old guy, who prevailed in 19 holes at Atlanta Athletic Club.

“The media center at the U.S. Am,” Smith said, walking into the clubhouse. “I didn’t think this existed.” 

It’s been five years since Smith reached match play, nearly a decade (2005) since he won a match.

Smith said all the right things afterward – that he was just excited to be here, that he had nothing to lose, that McCoy has a tremendous future (which he does). But don’t let the aw-shucks demeanor fool you.

“I saw the (bracket) and saw a four-time Mid-Am winner and a guy that’s played in the Masters four times,” McCoy said, “and I was like, 'I get to play the grizzled veteran in the first round. Fantastic.'

“I don’t think he had his best stuff today, and neither did I. He just scored unbelievably well, like a veteran would.” 

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Both medalists - McCoy and Arkansas junior Taylor Moore - are gone after the first day. So are several of the Amateur’s biggest names, including Western Amateur winner Beau Hossler, Walker Cupper Jordan Niebrugge, and former No. 1-ranked junior Scottie Scheffler.

“It just goes to show you that it’s two different golf tournaments,” said McCoy, who shot 8-under 135 over two days here, then (including the usual concessions) shot 74 Wednesday and fell in overtime.

Meanwhile, Moore lost, 3 and 2, to little-known Jesse Heinly, the 940th-ranked amateur in the world who recently graduated from tiny Concordia University in Portland and had spent his last few months working, playing and seeing what’s next in life. 

“I love playing match play,” he said, “just because it wipes out the score; just because it’s 1-on-1.”

Smith and McCoy’s 1-on-1 battle was the best of the day.

One down with two to play, Smith smoothed a 6-iron to 6 feet on the daunting, over-water, par-3 17th, then scrambled for par on the last after an errant tee shot.

On the 19th hole, McCoy almost instantly regretted his club choice on the 454-yard first. Under any other circumstance, he can’t hit a 3-wood 310 yards – “I’m not a big guy,” he reminded us – but sure enough, with the adrenaline flowing, he found the right fairway bunker.

“I had a feeling I was going to,” he said. “I couldn’t make myself pull 5-wood.” 

Both players missed the green with their approach shots. McCoy had the easier third shot, but his chip from short of the green came up 10 feet shy and he missed the putt. Smith blasted out to 3 feet for an easy par. 

“You can’t commend him enough for making those two numbers that he did there,” McCoy said. “So I don’t feel like I beat myself. I got beat, and that’s a better feeling than the other way.”

Smith will move on to play Brandon McIver in the Round of 32. If he wins that match against the Oregon junior and 2014 U.S. Open participant, Smith will reach the third round for the first time since 2000. 

“It just seems like the U.S. Amateur every year, no matter my age, just keeps getting better and better,” he said. “The fields are so deep. There’s just so many guys, and they’re all so good.”

None more impressive Wednesday than the old guy. 

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”

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After 36, new Open favorite is ... Fleetwood

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 7:49 pm

With a handful of the pre-championship favorites exiting early, there is a new odds-on leader entering the third round of The Open at Carnoustie.

While Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner share the 36-hole lead, it's England's Tommy Fleetwood who leads the betting pack at 11/2. Fleetwood begins the third round one shot off the lead.

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

Tommy Fleetwood: 11/2

Zach Johnson: 13/2

Rory McIlroy: 7/1

Jordan Spieth: 8/1

Rickie Fowler: 9/1

Kevin Kisner: 12/1

Xander Schauffele: 16/1

Tony Finau: 16/1

Matt Kuchar: 18/1

Pat Perez: 25/1

Brooks Koepka: 25/1

Erik van Rooyen: 50/1

Alex Noren: 50/1

Tiger Woods: 50/1

Thorbjorn Olesen: 60/1

Danny Willett: 60/1

Francesco Molinari: 60/1