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Garcia grouped with Horschel, Kim at Valero

By Will GrayApril 17, 2018, 5:01 pm

The PGA Tour returns to Texas this week for the Valero Texas Open, the third of five tournaments played this year in the Lone Star State. Here's a look at a few of the marquee groupings for the first two rounds at TPC San Antonio, where Sergio Garcia headlines the field on a course he helped re-design several years ago (all times ET):

8:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:40 p.m. Friday: Kevin Chappell, Xander Schauffele, Pat Perez

Chappell returns to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time, having edged Brooks Koepka last year with a 72nd-hole birdie for his maiden win. He'll be joined for the first two rounds by Schauffele, the Tour's reigning Rookie of the Year who won twice in 2017, and Perez, who won the CIMB Classic in the fall and finished T-4 at Kapalua.

8:50 a.m. Thursday, 1:50 p.m. Friday: Adam Scott, Jimmy Walker, Jhonattan Vegas

Scott won this event back in 2010, the first time it was held at TPC San Antonio. He has only played once since, finishing T-23 in 2011, but now the Aussie returns in search of his first top-10 finish since June. Joining him will be Walker, a local resident who outlasted Jordan Spieth to win in 2015, and Vegas, whose Texas ties include a residence in Houston and his college career in Austin.

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1:40 p.m. Thursday, 8:40 a.m. Friday: Charley Hoffman, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar

Hoffman has dominated at this event for more than a decade, with 10 top-15 finishes from 2006-16 highlighted by his victory over Patrick Reed two years ago. Johnson's two victories in this event both came at nearby LaCantera (2008-09), while Kuchar is teeing it up for the seventh straight start in San Antonio, where he finished T-4 in 2014.

1:50 p.m. Thursday, 8:50 a.m. Friday: Sergio Garcia, Billy Horschel, Si Woo Kim

Garcia worked with Greg Norman to re-design the AT&T Oaks Course back in 2010, but that year also marks his only appearance in San Antonio since 2004. He returns this year as the lone player in the field ranked inside the top 20 in the world and will play the first two rounds with Horschel, who won last year in Dallas and finished T-5 last week, and Kim, the reigning Players champ whose balky putter cost him down the stretch of a playoff loss last week at Harbour Town.

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Ball headed O.B., Stone (68) gets huge break

By Mercer BaggsJuly 19, 2018, 2:14 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brandon Stone knew it when he hit it.

“I knew I hit it out of bounds,” the South African said following his opening round in the 147th Open Championship.

Stone’s second shot on the par-4 18th, from the left fescue, was pulled into the grandstands, which are marked as O.B. But instead of settling in with the crowd, the ball ricocheted back towards the green and nearly onto the putting surface.

Stone made his par and walked away with a 3-under 68, two shots off the early lead.

“I really didn’t put a good swing on it, bad contact and it just came out way left,” Stone said. “I feel so sorry for the person I managed to catch on the forehead there, but got a lucky break.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“When you get breaks like that you know you’re going to have good weeks.”

It’s been more than just good luck recently for Stone. He shot 60 in the final round – missing a 9-foot birdie putt for the first 59 in European Tour history – to win last week’s Scottish Open. It was his third career win on the circuit and first since 2016. It was also just his first top-10 of the season.

“A testament to a different mental approach and probably the change in putter,” said Stone, who added that he switched to a new Ping Anser blade model last week.

“I’ve been putting, probably, the best I have in my entire life.”

This marks Stone’s sixth start in a major championship, with his best finish a tie for 35th in last year’s U.S. Open. He has a missed cut and a T-70 in two prior Open Championships.

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Kang on cheating allegation: 'I did the right thing'

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 1:26 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Three weeks after his playing partner claimed that he “cheated,” taking an improper drop at the Quicken Loans National, Sung Kang insisted Thursday that he did nothing wrong.

Joel Dahmen tweeted that Kang cheated after a lengthy dispute about where his ball had last crossed the line of a hazard. A PGA Tour official ruled in Kang’s favor. Kang made par on the hole, shot 64 and earned one of the available spots in the Open Championship.

Kang didn’t learn of the controversy until the next day, when he received an email from a PGA Tour communications official seeking comment. He researched online what the furor was about, then issued a brief statement through the Tour (which added its own statement, saying that there was “no clear evidence” to suggest that Kang dropped incorrectly).

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Kang said he tried to clear the air with Dahmen before the first round of last week’s John Deere Classic, but they never had the opportunity to discuss their differences.

“I followed the rules official and I think I did the right thing,” Kang told a handful of reporters Thursday following his opening round at Carnoustie, where he shot a 2-under 69 to sit three shots off the early lead.

Kang said he was hesitant to discuss the incident with reporters, because he said there clearly was a difference in opinions. He said he’d already told his side to South Korean news outlets but that “whatever I say, some people are going to trust it and some people are not going to trust it. Then I’ve got to think about it more and more when it’s not going to help my golf game.”

“I really want to say a lot of things about it, the truth about what happened,” he added, “but I’m not going to say anything.”

Kang said that he wouldn’t alter his approach when dealing with rulings in the future.

“No. Why?” he said. “I did the right thing. There’s no point in changing.”

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Kisner (67) enjoying 'frat' life, soccer matches with Jordan and Co.

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 12:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The frat house tradition continued this year at The Open, with a group of seven high-profile Americans rooming together for the week, including early first-round leader Kevin Kisner.

Kisner explained after his opening 5-under 66 that the group – which includes Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler – has spent the week talking about how demanding Carnoustie is playing and enjoying the summer weather.

“We're out there playing soccer at night and hanging out,” he said.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

To be clear, this isn’t a proper soccer match, but instead a penalty-kick situation with all but one player taking turns trying to score.

“I just try to smash [Dufner] in the face,” Kisner laughed. “He's the all-time goalie.”

Although Kisner said he’s always impressed with the athletic prowess of other players, Spieth has proven himself particularly adept on the impromptu pitch.

“Jordan scored when Duf tripped, it was hilarious,” Kisner smiled. “[Spieth] is good until he sends it over the goal four houses over, and we've got to go knock on a neighbor’s door for the soccer ball.”

The group is actually staying in two local houses that are next to each other, one with a large enough back yard and a soccer net, but perhaps not enough soccer balls.

“We’re going to have to Amazon Prime a couple new balls to replace the ones we lost,” Kisner said.