Davis hopes McIlroy runs away with the Open

By June 18, 2011, 1:00 am

BETHESDA, Md. – Thanks to Rory McIlroy, Friday was a bad day for a few of the sacred cows of the USGA’s national championship.

McIlroy became the first player in U.S. Open history to reach 13 under par at any point in the championship. He became the fifth man in 111 U.S. Opens to reach double digits under par – the fourth in the last 12 Opens.

If the USGA lived up to its country club legend, then executive director Mike Davis should be sitting in a lair, pounding his fist on the desk and yelling at his subordinates to make the Ulsterman pay for daring to thump his course.

Instead, Davis sat back in his chair inside the rules trailer at Congressional and was enjoying the action on 20 different camera angles beamed to a big screen TV. He was genuinely happy.

What gives?

“I think what Rory did the last two days is fantastic,” Davis said Friday. “One of the things we always look at is that we want it to be a stern test but we want to make sure every part of it rewards good shots. In some ways, to be honest, when I see it, I love it, because I know he was just not missing shots. It rewarded him. In that sense, it’s great.

 “When you look at [McIlroy's] score and then look at the other 155 players, you say, ‘Here’s somebody that just played flat out great.’ It was like Tiger in 2000 at Pebble Beach,” he said.

In fact, Davis was hoping the 22 year old could have finished with a par instead of double bogey. He said, “Part of me thought it was too bad when he double bogeyed the last hole. To go 35 holes without a bogey, then finish how he did, that was too bad.”

There are no plans to exact revenge on McIlroy.

“Contrary to what people think, we don’t mess around with it.”

He added, “With the greens at these speeds, there are only so many places we can put the hole locations. There’s really not much we can do, even if we wanted to.”

Davis points to a piece of paper on a clipboard. It’s a spreadsheet with 18 lines – one for each hole – and a ton of boxes. Laid out in the boxes are the pin placements for all four championship rounds and even spots for a hypothetical playoff. They’re already set in stone and won’t change.

The five pin locations were selected months ago during a Davis visit to Congressional. He spied five possible spots for the holes but never assigns a day to them. The week before, in his final walk through, Davis sets the rotation for each hole. No magic, no revisionism.

On some of the greens, Davis got his highly-publicized wish of getting to 14 on the Stimpmeter. They settled into the mid-13s by the end of the day.

“I’m happy with how the course is playing. I wish the greens were firmer, only because I think it creates a more interesting event,” he said.

There will be no water applied overnight Friday at Congressional and the rough will be cut. In this Open, Davis can run the Subair system with confidence, knowing he won’t dry out the greens too much.

“Last year at Pebble in that last round – if I had it to do over again given the weather conditions – I would have put more water on the greens,” Davis said.

The USGA is not trying to embarrass players, they’re trying to identify them, Davis said with a modern spin.

“I actually get concerned sometimes when it’s overly tough,” he said. “Yes, it’s a great test, but you just don’t want to see pars, bogeys, bogeys, bogeys. That’s why you saw all of the par 5s reachable in two shots today. We could’ve made them harder, but we like those risk-reward shots.”

In four of the last 12 Opens, a player has identified himself as particularly outstanding – even if their status under par is fleeting. Only Tiger Woods has finished an Open double digits under par. That was not on Mike Davis’ watch, but since 2006, he concedes that there is a chance his way of doing things at the national championship has created the possibility of better scoring.

“I think you can make an argument that it’s probably – all things being equal – easier to score with this graduated rough if you’re really playing well versus really playing well the other way.

“I would argue there’s room for more shot making skills. We’re playing wider U.S. Open courses than we used – they were so narrow before. So if you’re playing well, there’s a chance to score very well.”

That’s what McIlroy is doing right now and, if he is to win the U.S. Open, then Mike Davis wants to see a blowout.

“In a way, I would rather Rory just run away with this thing versus him win by four. If he’s only going to win by four, then I want him to fall back a little closer.”

That said – a common qualifier in delicate situations like the reputation of a major championship – it can be safe to say that this will not be a regular occurrence.

“Personally, I don’t really care about scores. I care much more about how a course was playing,” he said. “But, there’s a tradition – a mystique and a trademark – to the U.S. Open. If you started seeing double digits under par win every year, then people would start saying, ‘What has changed?’”

Getty Images

Fisher becomes first in Euro Tour history to shoot 59

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 21, 2018, 11:29 am

There’s never been a sub-60 score on the European Tour, and Oliver Fisher almost went two strokes better Friday at the Portugal Masters.

Fisher’s 40-footer on the final green burned the edge, but he tapped in the short par putt to record the first 59 in tour history.   

“It feels great,” he said after getting sprayed with champagne. “It was in the back of my mind all day.”

It didn’t look like it.

The 287th-ranked player in the world, Fisher made 10 birdies, an eagle and seven pars during his magical round.

All of the other major pro tours have produced a 59 – nine times on the PGA Tour; once on the LPGA – but this was the first time that a player on the European Tour broke the sub-60 barrier. (There have been 19 rounds of 60.) Earlier this year, at the Scottish Open, Brandon Stone narrowly missed an 8-footer on the final green during the final round. This tournament has produced a few chances, as well, with both Scott Jamieson and Nicolas Colsaerts coming up just short over the past few years.

Fisher went out in 28 at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course, then made three birdies in a row to start the back nine. He tacked on another birdie on 15 to give himself a shot at history, then played the closing stretch in 1 under. On 16, he needed a 20-footer for par after leaving his tee shot well short of the flag. He two-putted for birdie on 17 and then coolly made par on the last, after his birdie try from 40 feet just missed on the left edge.

Two years ago, he arrived in Portugal needed a good result just to keep his card. He shot a final-round 64. 

On Friday, he made tour history.

“I kept that in the back of my mind, thinking things could be worse,” he said. 

To this point, Fisher had a forgettable season. Ranked 72nd in the Race to Dubai, he didn’t have a top-10 in a stroke-play event since late February. His last four results: MC-T71-MC-MC. He opened the Portugal Masters with a 71 and was in danger of missing the cut.

Now, improbably, he’s in position to score his second European Tour title, after capturing the 2011 Czech Open.

“I tried to enjoy it,” he said. “It’s not often that we get a chance to shoot a really low one.”

Getty Images

Paisley (61) leads Web.com Tour Championship

By Associated PressSeptember 20, 2018, 11:56 pm

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Chris Paisley birdied four of the last five holes for a 10-under 61 and the first-round lead Thursday in the season-ending Web.com Tour Championship.

The South African Open winner in January for his first European Tour title, Paisley played the back nine first at Atlantic Beach Country Club, holing a bunker shot for an eagle on the par-5 18th. On the front nine, he birdied the par-3 fifth and finished with three straight birdies.

''I think just all around was really good,'' Paisley said. ''I hit it well off the tee, which gave me a lot of kind of short irons into the greens and opportunities. I hit a lot of really good iron shots close, and then a few other bonus kind of things happened where I holed the bunker shot on 18 and holed a long putt on No. 8.''

The 32-year-old Englishman missed the cuts in the first three Web.com Tour Finals events after getting into the series as a non-member PGA Tour with enough money to have placed in the top 200 in the FedEx Cup. The final card went for $40,625 last year, with Paisley needs to finish in a two-way tie for fourth or better to mathematically have a chance to secure one of the 25 PGA Tour at stake.

Full-field scores from the Web.com Tour Championship

''The nice thing was I won early in the year in Europe,'' said Paisley, a former University of Tennessee player. ''I've got the first two Final series events locked up, I think I'm in those. I'm not guaranteed to be in Dubai yet. But I just thought we have a house over here, my wife's American, my goal is to try to get on the PGA Tour, so it was a perfect opportunity to try and do it.''

Cameron Tringale and Canadian Ben Silverman were two strokes back at 63. Tringale is tied for 83rd in the PGA Tour card race with $2,660, and Silverman is tied for 85th at $2,600.

''I hit a lot of good shots and made some good putts,'' Silverman said. ''Actually, it could have been lower, but I'm not complaining. Missed a couple putts inside 6x feet, but I'm not complaining at all, it was a great round.''

Lucas Glover was at 64 with Ben Crane, Nicholas Lindheim, Matt Every, Trevor Cone, Denny McCarthy, Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez. Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez earned PGA Tour cards as top-25 finishers on the Web.com Tour regular-season money list, and McCarthy has made $75,793 in the first three Finals events to also wrap up a card. In the race for the 25 cards, Lindholm is 19th with $35,836, Every 30th with $25,733, Glover 40th with $17,212, and Cone 59th with $8,162

The series features the top 75 players from the Web.com regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and Paisley and other non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top-25 finishers on the Web.com regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. The other players are fighting for the 25 cards based on series earnings.

Getty Images

McIlroy likely to join PGA Tour PAC next year

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:28 pm

ATLANTA – The upside of the PGA Tour’s sweeping changes to next year’s playoff finale, along with a host of other significant changes to the schedule, seems to be more engagement in circuit policy by top players.

Jordan Spieth served on the player advisory council this season and will begin his three-year term as one of four player directors on the policy board next year, and Justin Thomas also was on this year’s PAC.

Those meetings might become even more high profile next year.

Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“I'm not on the PAC. I'm probably going to join the PAC next year. Nice to sort of know what's going on and give your input and whatever,” Rory McIlroy said following his round on Thursday at the Tour Championship.

McIlroy said he spoke with Tour commissioner Jay Monahan about the transition to a strokes-based format for the Tour Championship starting next year. Given his take on Thursday to the media it must have been an interesting conversation.

“I like it for the FedExCup. I don't necessarily think it should be an official Tour win. I don't know how the World Ranking points are going to work,” said McIlroy, who is tied for fifth after a first-round 67 at East Lake. “There's a lot of stuff that still needs to be figured out. But in terms of deciding the FedExCup, I think it's good.”

Getty Images

Thomas (67) happy to feel no pain in wrist

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:03 pm

ATLANTA – When Justin Thomas arrived at East Lake he didn’t have very high expectations.

After injuring his right wrist during the final round of the BMW Championship he spent last week in south Florida getting therapy after being diagnosed with a case of tendinitis and little else.

He said he didn’t hit a full shot last week and didn’t expect much out of his game at the finale, but was pleasantly surprised with his play following an opening 67 that left him tied for fifth place and two strokes off the lead. But most of all he was pleased that he didn’t feel any pain in his wrist.

Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“I thought that I may not be playing very well because of my preparation being able to hit as few balls as I have, but no, in terms of pain, it's not an issue,” he said.

Thomas explained that he tested the wrist earlier this week to be sure he was pain-free and conceded he considered not playing the Tour Championship in order to be as healthy as possible for next week’s Ryder Cup.

“If it would have hurt at all, I wouldn't have played,” said Thomas, who will be a rookie on this year’s U.S. team. “No. 1 most important part is my future and my career. I don't want to do anything that's going to put me out for a while. But to me, second most important is Ryder Cup. I would rather not play this week and play the Ryder Cup and be fresh and make sure I'm going to get as many points for the team as possible.”