Mickelson wows, but Cabrera leads at Quail Hollow

By Will GrayMay 1, 2014, 10:38 pm

Birdies were plentiful Thursday at the new and improved Quail Hollow Club, where Phil Mickelson finally showed signs of life. Here's how things look after the opening round of the Wells Fargo Championship:

Leaderboard: Angel Cabrera (-6), Phil Mickelson (-5), Martin Flores (-5), Webb Simpson (-4), Jonathan Byrd (-4), Stewart Cink (-4), Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose among nine players at -3

What it means: Cabrera made the most of an early tee time, and by the end of the day he was still the man to beat as he looks to win a non-major on the PGA Tour for the first time. Mickelson briefly drew even with the Argentine, but even though a late bogey dropped him back he still appears to be in good position to record his first top-10 finish this season.

Round of the day: Cabrera has had a forgettable season, with seven missed cuts in nine starts and no top-40 finishes, but he took a big step toward rectifying that with an opening 66 at Quail Hollow. The two-time major champ notched seven birdies against just one bogey, including a stretch of four straight birdies from Nos. 9-13. Cabrera was third here in 2010 and after one round, he’s again in line for another high finish in Charlotte.

Best of the rest: Mickelson got off to a hot start, with six birdies across his first 12 holes to move in front before a bogey on the par-3 13th. He again tied Cabrera after another circle at No. 15, but his short par putt at the 17th caught the edge and lipped out. Despite the hiccup, Mickelson was left with a 5-under 67 that marks his lowest score since an opening 66 at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Biggest disappointment: Bill Haas was born in Charlotte and went to school at nearby Wake Forest, but despite the local ties he struggled to a 3-over 75 in the opening round. Haas was making his first start since a wrist injury forced him to withdraw from the RBC Heritage, and the former FedEx Cup champ made six bogeys on his round, including three straight from Nos. 16-18. While he finished with three birdies across his last five holes, he still faces an uphill battle just to make the cut.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Cabrera's name may currently occupy the top spot, but there are several big names still within striking distance after one round. In addition to Mickelson and Simpson, a Quail Hollow member who opened with a 4-under 68, both McIlroy and reigning U.S. Open champ Justin Rose carded rounds of 3-under 69.

Shot of the day: Martin Kaymer holed a 66-yard pitch for eagle at the par-4 eighth hole, an impressive shot that became even more impressive considering the fact that it followed an eagle at the par-5 seventh. The stretch buoyed Kaymer to a 3-under 69, and he became just the third player this season to record back-to-back eagles on the PGA Tour.

Quote of the day: "I holed some nice putts today, which was good to see. At least it tells me the stuff I'm working on is going in the right direction." - McIlroy

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Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.

Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.

Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

"I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."

Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:

Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.

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Immelman misses Open bid via OWGR tiebreaker

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:25 pm

A resurgent performance at the Scottish Open gave Trevor Immelman his first top-10 finish in more than four years, but it left him short of a return to The Open by the slimmest of margins.

The former Masters champ turned back the clock this week at Gullane Golf Club, carding four straight rounds of 68 or better. That run included a 5-under 65 in the final round, which gave him a tie for third and left him five shots behind winner Brandon Stone. It was his first worldwide top-10 since a T-10 finish at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.

There were three spots available into The Open for players not otherwise exempt, and for a brief moment it appeared Immelman, 38, might sneak the third and final invite.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

But with Stone and runner-up Eddie Pepperell both not qualified, that left the final spot to be decided between Immelman and Sweden's Jens Dantorp who, like Immelman, tied for third at 15 under.

As has been the case with other stops along the Open Qualifying Series, the tiebreaker to determine invites is the players' standing in the Official World Golf Rankings entering the week. Dantorp is currently No. 322 in the world, but with Immelman ranked No. 1380 the Swede got the nod.

This will mark Dantorp's first-ever major championship appearance. Immelman, who hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2013 Masters, was looking to return to The Open for 10th time and first since a missed cut at Royal Lytham six years ago. He will instead work the week at Carnoustie as part of Golf Channel and NBC's coverage of The Open.

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Stone (60) wins Scottish Open, invite to Carnoustie

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:06 pm

There's never a bad time to shoot a 60, but Brandon Stone certainly picked an opportune moment to do so.

Facing a jammed leaderboard in the final round of the Scottish Open, Stone fired a 10-under 60 to leave a stacked field in his wake and win the biggest tournament of his career. His 20-under 260 total left him four shots clear of Eddie Pepperell and five shots in front of a group that tied for third.

Stone had a mid-range birdie putt on No. 18 that would have given him the first 59 in European Tour history. But even after missing the putt on the left, Stone tapped in to close out a stellar round that included eight birdies, nine pars and an eagle. It's his third career European Tour title but first since the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December 2016.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

Stone started the day three shots behind overnight leader Jens Dantorp, but he made an early move with three birdies over his first five holes and five over his first 10. Stone added a birdie on the par-3 12th, then took command with a three-hole run from Nos. 14-16 that included two birdies and an eagle.

The eye-popping score from the 25-year-old South African was even more surprising considering his lack of form entering the week. Stone is currently ranked No. 371 in the world and had missed four of his last seven worldwide cuts without finishing better than T-60.

Stone was not yet qualified for The Open, and as a result of his performance at Gullane Golf Club he will tee it up next week at Carnoustie. Stone headlined a group of three Open qualifiers, as Pepperell and Dantorp (T-3) also earned invites by virtue of their performance this week. The final spot in the Open will go to the top finisher not otherwise qualified from the John Deere Classic.

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Daly (knee) replaced by Bradley in Open field

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 12:13 pm

Former champion John Daly has withdrawn from The Open because of a right knee injury and will be replaced in the field at Carnoustie by another major winner, Keegan Bradley.

Daly, 52, defeated Costantino Rocca in a memorable playoff to win the claret jug at St. Andrews in 1995. His lingering knee pain led him to request a cart during last month's U.S. Senior Open, and when that request was denied he subsequently withdrew from the tournament.

Daly then received treatment on the knee and played in a PGA Tour event last week at The Greenbrier without the use of a cart, missing the cut with rounds of 77-67. But on the eve of the season's third major, he posted to Twitter that his pain remains "unbearable" and that a second request for a cart was turned down:

This will be just the second time since 2000 that Daly has missed The Open, having also sat out the 2013 event at Muirfield. He last made the cut in 2012, when he tied for 81st at Royal Lytham. He could still have a few more chances to improve upon that record, given that past Open champions remain fully exempt until age 60.

Taking his place will be Bradley, who was first alternate based on his world ranking. Bradley missed the event last year but recorded three top-20 finishes in five appearances from 2012-16, including a T-18 finish two years ago at Royal Troon.

The next three alternates, in order, are Spain's Adrian Otaegui and Americans Aaron Wise and J.B. Holmes.