Els Goosen Start Slow in Cape Town

By Golf Channel NewsroomDecember 6, 2001, 5:00 pm
Zimbabwe's Mark Cayeux reveled in a break from the critical eyes of his home fans to claim a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Vodacom Players Championship at the Royal Cape Golf Course in Cape Town, South Africa, Thursday.
Cayeux finished with three successive birdies to card a 7-under-par 65 and head the field by one shot from new U.S. Tour card holder Brenden Pappas, Wallie Coetsee, Henk Alberts, Omar Sandys and American Rick Hartmann Jr.
Headline attractions Ernie Els and Rory Sabbatini, who are paired together for the first two days, and U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen had to settle for less-than-spectacular scoring in close to perfect conditions.
Els finished with a 70 after reaching the turn at 3-under. Sabbatini needed birdies at both the par-5s coming home to post a 1-over-par 73, and Goosen fired a 69 with a birdie at the final hole.
Although the purse at the Players' Championship is one of the most lucrative on the Sunshine Tour, Cayeux said he felt under far less pressure to perform than during his abortive attempt to win the Zimbabwe Open on his home course in Harare ten days ago.
'There was a lot of pressure in Zimbabwe, but here it's like there's nothing actually happening,' Cayeux said after completing his round. 'The atmosphere is nice, but it's different to Zimbabwe. At home I had all the members saying 'You're going to win this week,' but there's none of that here.
'I was pretty relaxed out there. My swing is feeling good and after the way things went in Zim, I said to myself 'Hey, just be patient and your time will come.' Let's see if we can do it this week.'
Alberts' 67 represented something of a miraculous turnaround after the player was involved in a serious car crash on Wednesday. Alberts went to the hospital after the incident, and was still nursing a sore neck when he arrived for his early tee-off time.
'It was a hard day yesterday and my neck's still a bit, stiff but it helped me keep my head down out there!' Alberts laughed. 'You could say it was a case of 'beware the wounded golfer.' But the necks not too bad really.
'I think the whole thing might have motivated me a bit. It definitely did more positive things than negative things.'
Els, meanwhile, was clearly far from satisfied with his round, complaining afterwards that the putts just would not drop in the later stages.
'It was a pretty mediocre round,' he said. 'I played good the front nine and then the back nine the putts just wouldn't go in. It's just one of those things. It's a calm day - good for scoring - but it just didn't work out for me.'
Els also admitted that the play-off defeat to Sergio Garcia at the Nedbank Golf Challenge Sunday had also taken its toll.
'It's hard to put those things behind you just like that, but I think I coped OK today. I tried to get focused and really zoned in for the tournament, but a 70 is still under par and there's a long way to go.'
Defending champion Trevor Immelman appeared to be mounting a strong defense of his title, reaching 6-under before carding a six at the par-4 6th ' his 15th ' and following that with a bogey six at the easy 7th to sign for a 69.
I was playing beautifully out there, which was great because I havent been at my best this year, Immelman said. I dont know what happened at the end, but I think my evil little brother came out somewhere.
Nico van Rensburg and Englishman Danny Poulter both came up with a hole-in-one on day 1. Van Rensburg aced the 8th hole with a perfect 6-iron in a round of 70 while Poulter holed his tee shot at the tough 13th on the way to a 69.
Full Field Scores from the Vodacom Players Championship
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'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

“The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

“That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”

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Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:28 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.

“They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.

“The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”

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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.