McCarron Leads Howell Lurks at Nissan
It is a frequent topic in the head of Charles Howell III. The 22-year-old has come close to victory several times, reaching out for the prize only to watch it slip from his grasp.
The third round brought back winning memories and put Howell in position again to win his first PGA Tour event. His 7-under 28 on the front nine of Riviera Country Club put him to 10-under-par in the Nissan Open and four shots behind leader, Scott McCarron (65).
McCarron holed a 50-foot eagle putt on the 17th hole after reaching the green in two shots.
The greens are fantastic, McCarron said. Usually at Riviera they are soft and bumpy because of rain. But they are running fast and feel really good.
Another supporter of the putting surfaces is Len Mattiace (67). He is two strokes behind McCarron and made birdies from 30, 40 and 50 feet.
It was one of the best days Ive ever had on the putting green, McCarron said.
Overnight leader Toru Taniguchi is one off the lead after a 67.
Howell's 28 was the second on a nine this year on the PGA Tour. Brent Schwarzrock shot 8-under 28 at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
There were many that thought Howell would have a bag full of trophies by now, but as he prepares to complete his 42nd tournament as a professional he has 18 top 10s, but no victories.
While most would obsess over that statistic, it barely registers to Howell, who has always concerned himself with his play.
Sure, it would be great to finally win one, Howell said. Winning, though is almost an accident.
Plus, Saturday, Howell had other pressing matters taking up space in his cranium. His friend Jesper Parnevik had given him a conundrum that Howell couldnt get out of his head.
It had to do with two men, two hotel rooms, two black boxes, two keys, one diamond and a thieving bell boy. Somehow the diamond has to get from man to man without the kleptomaniac bellboy stealing it.
The riddle served its purpose. It frustrated Howell to no end, because he couldnt solve it, but it also took his mind off of golf.
Its all I could think about, Howell said. I still havent figured it out.
Maybe Parnevik shouldnt tell him the answer. Howell spent the third round using Riviera as his own private parlor game, starting off eagle-birdie-birdie-birdie. By the time he got to 10 he was 7-under-par.
Ive never started off a tournament like that before, Howell said. It was important to me to get off to a good start, especially with how bad I played (Friday).
Bad for Howell is even par, so his 64 must have been spectacular.
It was a decent day, Howell said. I know that sounds crazy, but I should have birdied 11 and 17.
Instead he settled for pars on the par 5s, but did have two chip ins on the front nine.
Full-field scores from the Nissan Open
'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse
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.”
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.”
Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'
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.”
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
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.
“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.