Garcia, Fowler among four Masters co-leaders

By Will GrayApril 7, 2017, 11:32 pm

After another day of blustery conditions, it's crowded atop the leaderboard at the Masters. Here's how things look at the halfway point, as four players share the lead - each in search of his first major title:

Leaderboard: Sergio Garcia (-4), Rickie Fowler (-4), Charley Hoffman (-4), Thomas Pieters (-4), William McGirt (-2), Justin Rose (-1), Fred Couples (-1), Jon Rahm (-1), Ryan Moore (-1)

What it means: Hoffman started the day with a four-shot lead, but he quickly came back to the pack with a 75 and at one point was passed by Garcia. PIeters and Fowler joined them in the afternoon wave, setting up an enticing weekend where conditions are expected to be a little bit easier and Rose is the only player among the top six who has already won one of golf's four biggest events.

Round of the day: Fowler contended last week in Houston, and he's again in the mix after a 5-under 67 in the second round. Fowler got things jump-started with a hole-out eagle from the bunker on No. 2, then added three more birdies before a watery bogey on No. 15 that he neutralized with another birdie on the very next hole.

Best of the rest: Garcia has had plenty of chances to snag that elusive major, but this may be his best in the last few years after a 3-under 69 gave him a share of the lead. Garcia's score was in question for part of his round after a scoring error on No. 10, but Garcia was ultimately absolved and played the last 15 holes in even par after opening with three straight birdies.

Biggest disappointment: Lee Westwood started the day in third place after an opening-round 70, but last year's runner-up has some work to do after fading with a 5-over 77 in the second round. Westwood opened with a bogey, one of eight he made in a round that concluded with four bogeys over his final five holes. At 3 over, he now trails by seven shots.

Main storyline heading into Saturday: It's difficult to pick five, let alone one. Each of the co-leaders have compelling angles, including PIeters who became the first Masters rookie to share the 36-hole lead since Brett Wetterich in 2007. But don't lose sight of the compelling group of Masters winners just four shots off the pace: Adam Scott, Phil MIckelson and Jordan Spieth, each of whom has a great chance to add to his collection in the champions' locker room.

Shot of the day: Branden Grace earned a piece of Augusta National crystal with his approach to No. 15, a 95-yard wedge that landed behind the hole and spun back in for an eagle. It turned out to be an important shot, given that Grace made the cut on the number at 6 over after a second-round 74.

Quote of the day: "I just feel like if I'm healthy enough to swing hard at it, I can play this course." - Couples, who trails by three shots on the 25-year anniversary of his Masters win.

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McIlroy 'committed to everything ... ran out of holes'

By Jay CoffinJuly 22, 2018, 7:08 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy summed it up: “I don’t really feel like it’s a defeat. I feel like it’s a good week.”

McIlroy, in search of his fifth major, tied for the lead at The Open late on Sunday at Carnoustie when he made eagle on the par-5 14th hole. An hour later, he had made five consecutive pars to close out a 1-under 70 and tie for second place with Justin Rose, Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele.

That group ended two shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. McIlroy thought it was realistic to squeeze one more shot out of his round, but he never though it was possible to squeeze out two.

“I committed to everything,” he said. “I hit the shots when I needed to. I made good swings on 17 and on 18. I just ran out of holes.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

McIlroy hasn’t played poorly this year, but this hasn't been a year that would rank as a total success. He took the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March and collected a second-place finish at the BMW PGA Championship. He had a legitimate chance to win the Masters before a terrible Sunday round, and then missed the cut at the U.S. Open last month at Shinnecock Hills.

Sunday at Carnoustie, McIlroy bogeyed two of his first five holes and quickly became an afterthought. When others faltered, McIlroy birdies Nos. 9 and 11, then eagled 14 to vault back into the picture.

“I’m happy with how I played,” he said. “I didn’t get off to a great start, but I hung in there, and I battled back.

“So I’ll look back at this week and be very encouraged about what I’ve done and the golf that I played. I feel like that will stand me in good stead for what’s coming up.”

McIlroy is scheduled to play the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in two weeks, followed by the PGA Championship and the FedExCup Playoffs.

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Edoardo, other pros congratulate Francesco on Twitter

By Grill Room TeamJuly 22, 2018, 6:54 pm

Francesco Molinari played a bogey-free weekend at Carnoustie to claim Italy's first claret jug.

His rock-solid performance in the final round earned him his share of social media plaudits.

Here's a collection of Twitter hat-tips, and we start off with Frankie's brother, Dodo.

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Woods: Fan who yelled had 'tipped back a few'

By Jay CoffinJuly 22, 2018, 6:37 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods stood on the 18th tee and thought he needed birdie to have a chance to win The Open. He pulled driver out of his bag, a sign he wanted to boot the ball as far down the fairway as possible.

Woods took a mighty swat and - right in the middle of his downswing - someone yelled. Woods flinched.

Luckily his ball still found a decent spot just off the right of the fairway.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I’ve had things like that happen a lot in my career with people who just tried to time it,” Woods said Sunday at Carnoustie after shooting 71 to tie for sixth place. “They tipped back a few, and it’s late in the day.

“Unfortunately, that’s part of what we have to deal with in today’s game. People are trying to yell out things to try to be on TV or be in social media or whatever it may be. That was too close to the game of play.”

Woods hit his approach to 6 feet and missed the birdie putt. He tapped in for par to shoot even par and finish 5 under for the week, in a tie for sixth.

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Pros melt down on Twitter as they watch Tiger

By Grill Room TeamJuly 22, 2018, 6:30 pm

Tiger Woods mounted a final-round charge and, for a little while, took the outright lead at Carnoustie on Sunday.

His fellow pros were watching and tweeting like your average fans.

We compiled some of their missives below:

Woods would go on to finish in a tie for sixth at 5 under par for the week.