Koepka shoots 67, leads by 1 in Memphis

By Will GrayJune 12, 2015, 11:38 pm

With many of the biggest names in the field already packing their bags in Memphis, a player who won already this year on Tour holds the top spot. Here's how things look at the halfway point of the FedEx St. Jude Classic, where Brooks Koepka leads by one shot:

Leaderboard: Koepka (-9), Austin Cook (-8), Steven Alker (-7), Russell Knox (-6), Chris Smith (-6), Scott Brown (-6), Greg Owen (-6), Fabian Gomez (-6)

What it means: Koepka began the round with a share of the lead, and while Alker briefly overtook him, the Kiwi closed bogey-double bogey to leave Koepka alone at the top. Cook, a sponsor invite who contended here a year ago as a Monday qualifier, lurks just off the pace, as do a host of players at 6 under. Phil Mickelson remains six shots back after a 1-under 69.

Round of the day: Cook has no PGA Tour status and only conditional status on the Web.com Tour, but with a closing birdie he played his way into the final group on the weekend for the second time this year. Cook carded seven birdies, including four in a row on Nos. 13-16, and will tee it up alongside Koepka on Saturday. 

Best of the rest: Knox has been on the fringe of contention for much of the season, and the Scot made a big run up the standings with a bogey-free 64. Knox started on the back nine and birdied four of his first seven holes, and at 6 under he heads into the weekend contending for his first PGA Tour win.

Biggest disappointment: Graeme McDowell added this event to boost his FedEx Cup chances, but the Ulsterman didn't find any answers in Memphis. McDowell missed the cut by eight shots after rounds of 76-73 and now heads to Chambers Bay still searching for his game.

Main storyline heading into Saturday: With a bevy of unknown players near the top, Koepka still appears the man to beat. He is the only player inside the top 10 currently ranked in the OWGR top 75, and his game appears to be peaking just in time for the U.S. Open. Cook is no stranger to the spotlight though, having played with Mickelson in the final group earlier this year in Houston en route to a T-11 finish.

Shot of the day: David Hearn offered an early highlight with an ace on No. 4, a 6-iron from 185 yards. His shot helped him to a 2-under 68 and was quickly followed by another hole-in-one, this one a 9-iron from 169 yards on No. 14 from Hudson Swafford.

Quote of the day: "We’re trying a new strategy, trying to play a little less aggressive, middle of the greens, and just understand that par is pretty good...If you can keep the bogeys off the scorecard around this place, you can make a bunch of birdies." - Koepka

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Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

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Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

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Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.

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“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

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Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.