Williams Makes an Age-Old Point in Telkom PGA

By Golf Channel NewsroomJanuary 26, 2002, 5:00 pm
Sunshine TourJan. 26, 2002 -- Sometimes, Chris Williams will tell you, you need a kick in the pants to wake up. The 42-year-old still bears the spike marks of losing his exemption on the Sunshine Tour last season. It plucked him from a comfort zone of 22 solid years spent on the tour.
 
Ironically, it was exactly what Williams needed to surge into a three-stroke lead going into Sunday's final round of the Telkom PGA Championship.
 
Williams, who has not dropped a shot in his last 46 holes of tournament golf, followed up his course record 64 in the second round with an equally impressive 65 in the third round to stand at 13-under par 203.
 
The strength of his performance was enough to shock the in-form Tim Clark, who started the round three clear of the field, into a modest 73 on a day when the duo dominated the Woodhill Country Club layout.
 
It was a classic case of age versus youth, with Williams having just spent the previous day voicing his displeasure with how technology is removing skill from the game.
 
'The character of the golf professional is changing,' Williams said with the authority of someone who hit his first golf shot for money way back in 1978.
 
'The youngsters don't have to practice as hard anymore. In the old days, if you hit it short you went to the gym to get stronger. Today, if you're short you buy a new driver or use a new ball.'
 
As an exercise in psychological warfare, it was certainly enough to unnerve the 'Just Do It' brigade at Woodhill on Saturday.
 
With Clark slipping into par mode for the first 10 holes of his round, Williams surged through the field with five birdies for an outward nine of 31 and the joint lead with the reigning South African Open champion at 11-under.
 
Both birdied the par-five 11th to move to 12-under. But Clark finally relented with a double-bogey six at the 13th, courtesy of poor lie in the rough, to drop to 10-under. He managed to salvage a birdie at the 16th, and then dropped at the last to finish the day in a four-way tie on 10-under.
 
Williams entrenched his lead with a birdie at the par-five 17th, leaving him in line to claim his second PGA title following the triumph at the Wanderers in 1985.
 
'I've watched that video at home a couple of times. It was a wonderful moment in my life,' said Williams, who also lost to Zimbabwe's Tony Johnstone in a play-off for the 1989 PGA title.
 
'While I was out there today I tried to remember what it felt like to win in 1985. Strange thing is I believe I'm a better golfer than I was then.
 
'The golf I'm playing here is a revelation for me. I've never had such low scores back-to-back. To be aged 42 and see that I can still compete with these youngsters is a great encouragement.'
 
It also signals a return to the form which saw Williams voted the Asian Tour's Player of the Year in 1998 for his unprecedented two victories on the tour that year in the Volvo Masters of Malaysia and FedEx PGA Championship in Singapore.
 
'I haven't been in contention for a while,' said Williams.
 
'I'll be somewhat nervous and excited on the first tee in the final round. I just need to control my thinking. I have the experience and I must use it.'
 
Hennie Otto carded a 68 to leave him well-placed on 10-under alongside Clark, Titch Moore and Douglas McCabe.
 
Otto, who is swinging remarkably well for a man still recovering from a back operation, is hoping to erase the memory of his disqualification from last year's tournament.
 
The stocky professional was tied for the second round lead last year before being disqualified for removing a distance marker which impeded his swing on the fourth hole.
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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 2:30 pm

Tiger Woods shot his second consecutive 70 on Friday at Carnoustie and enters weekend play at even par for the championship, still in contention for major No. 15.


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Scott and Sunesson a one-week partnership

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 2:13 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Adam Scott has been in between caddies for the last month and went with a bold stand-in for this week’s Open Championship, coaxing veteran looper Fanny Sunesson out of retirement to work for him at Carnoustie.

Sunesson caddied for Nick Faldo in his prime, as the duo won four major titles together. She also worked for Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia before a back injury forced her to retire.

But for this week’s championship, Scott convinced the Swede to return to the caddie corps. The results have been impressive, with the Australian following an opening 71 with a second-round 70 for a tie for 16th place.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“It's been going great. Fanny is, obviously, a fantastic caddie, and to be able to have that experience out there with me is certainly comforting,” Scott said. “We've gotten along really well. She's picked up on my game quickly, and I think we think about things in a very similar way.”

Scott was also asked about a potential long-term partnership between the duo, but he didn’t sound hopeful.

“It's just for this week,” he said. “It would be up to her, but I don't think she's making plans of a comeback. I was being a bit opportunistic in contacting her and coaxing her out of retirement, I guess. But I think she's having a good week. We'll just take it one week at the moment.”

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After tense Augusta Sunday, Rory ready to be aggressive

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 1:51 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy temporarily lost his superpowers during the Masters.  

In one of the most surprising rounds of the year, he played tentatively and carefully during the final day. Squaring off against the major-less Patrick Reed, on the brink of history, with the backing of nearly the entire crowd, it was McIlroy who shrank in the moment, who looked like the one searching for validation. He shot a joyless 74 and wound up six shots behind Reed.

No, the final round was nowhere near as dispiriting as the finale in 2011, but McIlroy still sulked the following week. He binge-watched TV shows. Devoured a few books. Guzzled a couple of bottles of wine. His pity party lasted a few days, until his wife, Erica, finally dragged him out of the house for a walk.

Some deeper introspection was required, and McIlroy revealed a healthier self-analysis Friday at Carnoustie. He diagnosed what went wrong at Augusta, and then again two months later at the U.S. Open, where he blew himself out of the tournament with an opening 80.

“I was worrying too much about the result, not focusing on the process,” he said. “Sunday at Augusta was a big learning curve for me because, even if I hadn’t won that tournament, but I went down swinging and aggressive and committing to every shot, I would have walked away a lot happier.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


And so McIlroy has a new mantra this week at The Open.

Let it go.

Don’t hold back. Don’t worry about the repercussions. Don’t play scared.

“I’m committed to making sure, even if I don’t play my best golf and don’t shoot the scores I want, I’m going to go down swinging, and I’m going to go down giving my best,” he said. “The result is the byproduct of all the little things you do to lead up to that. Sometimes I’ve forgotten that, and I just need to get back in that mindset.”

It’s worked through two rounds, even after the cool, damp conditions led McIlroy to abandon his ultra-aggressive strategy. He offset a few mistakes with four birdies, shooting a second consecutive 69 to sit just a couple of shots off the lead.

During a sun-splashed first round, McIlroy gleefully banged driver on almost every hole, flying or skirting the bunkers that dot these baked-out, undulating fairways. He wasn’t particularly accurate, but he also didn’t need to be, as the thin, wispy rough enabled every player to at least advance their approach shots near the green.

Friday’s weather presented a different challenge. A steady morning rain took some of the fire out of parched fairways, but the cooler temperatures also reduced much of the bombers’ hang time. Suddenly, all of the bunkers were in play, and McIlroy needed to adjust his driver-heavy approach (he hit only six) on the fly.

“It just wasn’t worth it,” he said.

McIlroy hit a few “skanky” shots, in his words, but even his bigger misses – on the sixth and 17th holes – were on the proper side, allowing him to scramble for par and keep the round going.

It’s the fifth time in his career that he’s opened a major with back-to-back rounds in the 60s. He’s gone on to win three of the previous four – the lone exception that disastrous final round (80) at Augusta in 2011.

“I don’t want to say easy,” he said, “but it’s felt comfortable.”

The weekend gets uncomfortable for everyone, apparently even four-time major winners who, when in form, ooze confidence and swagger.

Once again McIlroy has that look at a major.

The only thing left to do?

Let it go.

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Z. Johnson may have to pay for the jet home

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 1:23 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Zach Johnson will have some bragging rights when he gets back to the ultimate golf frat house on Friday after a second-round 67 moved him into the lead at The Open.

Johnson is rooming with Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Kevin Kisner, Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler this week at Carnoustie. It’s a tradition that began two years ago at Royal Troon.

Kisner joked on Thursday after he took the first-round lead that the perks for the house/tournament front-runner were limited: “I probably get to eat first,” he said.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


There is, however, one running wager.

“Two years ago we, I don't know if you call it bet, but agreement that, if you win, you get the jet and you buy it, so we go home,” said Johnson, who added that because of varying travel arrangements, the wager might not be needed this year. “I didn't pay last year. Somebody else did.”

Spieth won last year’s championship at Royal Birkdale.

Despite the expense, Johnson said he didn’t know how much it costs to charter a private flight back to the United States, but it’s a good problem to have.

“I’d be happy to fork it over,” he smiled.