Castro ties course record; Woods, Rory in mix

By Will GrayMay 9, 2013, 11:01 pm

With sunny skies and nary a breath of wind, players were able to take full advantage of a defenseless Stadium Course during the opening round of The Players Championship. Here's the skinny heading into Friday's second round, where an unheralded sophomore finds his name atop the leaderboard:

The leaderboard: Roberto Castro (-9), Rory McIlroy (-6), Zach Johnson (-6), Tiger Woods (-5) Steve Stricker (-5), Hunter Mahan (-5), Webb Simpson (-5)

What it means: Birdies were falling in bunches Thursday, as receptive greens and calm conditions gave players every advantage over what is traditionally one of the more penal courses on Tour. Castro is staked to a three-shot lead after equalling the course record previously held by Fred Couples and Greg Norman, but both of the top two players in the world lurk just a few shots off the pace.

Round of the day: Playing his first competitive round at the Stadium Course, Castro went low behind some expert approach shots. Beginning on the back nine, he caught his stride in the middle of the round, playing a nine-hole stretch from No. 14 to No. 4 in 7 under. Castro did not drop a shot all day, instead recording seven birdies and an eagle despite not making a putt over 10 feet all day.

Best of the rest: Among the early wave of players in the opening round, McIlroy got around the Stadium Course without dropping a shot. Starting on the back nine, the Ulsterman birdied five of his first eight holes Thursday and ultimately reached 15 of 18 greens in regulation. Beginning the week with a 6-under 66, he appears in position to play the weekend for the first time at TPC Sawgrass after missing the cut in each of his prior three appearances.

Biggest disappointment: Making his first start since winning the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Billy Horschel came to TPC Sawgrass riding streaks of four straight top-10 finishes and 23 consecutive made cuts. Both appear in serious jeopardy after Thursday's round, though, as the Jacksonville resident carded a 4-over 76 despite four birdies, carding a double-bogey 6 at both Nos. 10 and 18.

Main storyline heading into Friday: With both McIlroy and Woods off to uncharacteristically strong starts on what both described as a 'tricky' venue, who can best capitalize on the momentum during Friday's second round? Woods is among those who will be off early Friday morning, perhaps motivated by a closing bogey to cap his round of 67, while McIlroy will wait until the afternoon wave. Several strong contenders join the duo on the first page of the leaderboard after 18 holes, though, including major champions Johnson and Simpson.

Shot of the day: A winner earlier this year at the Honda Classic, Michael Thompson came to the lengthy, par-3 eighth hole at even par, having bogeyed three of his last seven holes. That slumped turned around in a hurry, though, as the Alabama resident aced the 231-yard hole with a 3-iron en route to a 3-under 69 Thursday. It marked the first hole-in-one at the Players Championship since 2008, and the first ace on the eighth hole since 2000.

Quote of the day: 'I felt like I had to go out there and shoot something in the 60s today. Most of the guys were under par in that morning session.' – Woods, whose 5-under 67 matched his lowest round at TPC Sawgrass since the final round in 2007.

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Four top finishers in Japan qualify for The Open

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:19 am

IBARAKI, Japan – Shota Akiyoshi of Japan shot a 2-under-par 70 on Sunday to win the Mizuno Open and qualify for The 147th Open.

Akiyoshi offset three bogeys with five birdies at the Royal Golf Club in Ibaraki, Japan, to finish 1 under overall and secure his first ever tournament win on the Japan Golf Tour.

Michael Hendry of New Zealand and Japanese golfers Masahiro Kawamura and Masanori Kobayashi were tied for second one stroke off the pace to also qualify for The Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, from July 19-22.

Hendry, who led the tournament coming into the final round, came close to forcing a playoff with Akiyoshi but dropped a shot with a bogey on the final hole when he needed a par to draw level.

Hendry will make his second appearance at The Open after qualifying at the Mizuno Open for the second year in a row.

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."