Kisner, Martin lead list of rookie contenders

By Will GrayMay 9, 2015, 11:27 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The Players Championship is typically not a rookie’s paradise. It has traditionally rewarded experience and course knowledge, with veterans often rising to the top of the leaderboard.

Not this year.

There are 18 first-time participants this week, several of whom have played their way into contention with one round to go. The group is headlined by Kevin Kisner, who will join leader Chris Kirk in Sunday’s final pairing.

Kisner was on the wrong side of the cut line midway through his second round before rallying with a back-nine 31. He added a 67 in Round 3 and believes that earning a spot in the elite field at TPC Sawgrass proves he has what it takes to succeed.

“Everybody talks about pressure and nerves and all that, but we’ve been through it all,” Kisner said. “If we’ve gotten here, we’ve done Tour school, we’ve won tournaments. Just because it’s a bigger stage doesn’t mean we’re going to suck all of a sudden.”

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Kisner is still looking for his first victory after losing a playoff last month at the RBC Heritage, while fellow Players rookie Ben Martin recorded his breakthrough win earlier this season in Las Vegas. Martin will begin the final round alongside Kisner at 9 under, one behind Kirk. Martin is making his first start in this event, but the 27-year-old has previous Stadium Course experience from his days at Clemson.

“I’ve played the course eight or 10 times before, so I had a feel for it and kind of knew the layout a little bit coming in,” Martin said. “So I really don’t feel like it’s my first time playing.”

Kisner and Martin are the top rookies on the 54-hole leaderboard but not the only ones in contention. Justin Thomas set a tournament record with 10 birdies en route to a 65 that moved him to 8 under, and Ryo Ishikawa – who despite 19 starts in majors and 10 starts in WGC events has never teed it up here – is tied for 11th at 7 under.

“The first impression was everything is huge,” Ishikawa said. “The driving range is huge and the chipping green (is) bigger than I thought, but 17th green was smaller than I thought.”

The last first-timer to win this event was Craig Perks in 2002, although Jordan Spieth nearly accomplished the feat a year ago. With several rookies in the mix on a jam-packed leaderboard, that drought could end Sunday.

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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.