Streelman, Hoffman, LeBrun share 36-hole Heritage lead

By Will GrayApril 19, 2013, 9:58 pm

After being treated to benign scoring conditions Thursday, players were greeted by blustery, swirling winds Friday at Harbour Town, where birdies were hard to come by. Here's the skinny heading into the third round of the RBC Heritage, where three names sit atop a crowded leaderboard:

The leaderboard: Kevin Streelman (-6), Charley Hoffman (-6), Steve LeBrun (-6), Bill Haas (-5), Luke Donald (-5), Graeme McDowell (-4), Marc Leishman (-4), Rory Sabbatini (-4)

What it means: Having claimed his maiden victory last month in Tampa, Streelman is once again in position to lift a trophy this week at Harbour Town. He's joined at the top by Hoffman, who tied for third at the Valero Texas Open in his most recent start, and LeBrun, a veteran still in search of his first top-10 finish on the PGA Tour.

Round of the day: After unexpectedly missing the cut at Augusta National, McDowell is once again back on the first page of a PGA Tour leaderboard after a 4-under 67 Friday. The Ulsterman began the day slowly, parring each of his first four holes, but birdied three of the next five to ignite his round. After five birdies and only one bogey Friday, McDowell sits at 4-under overall and will begin the weekend just two shots off the pace.

Best of the rest: Following a 4-over 75 Thursday, Matt Jones appeared to be headed for an early exit from Hilton Head. The Australian rebounded Friday, though, notching seven birdies en route to a 4-under 67, tying McDowell for low round of the day honors. Jones closed with birdies on four of his final eight holes, and after tumbling down the leaderboard Thursday he will now start Saturday's third round at even par overall.

Biggest disappointment: With seven career top-10 finishes at Harbour Town, Ernie Els was considered a possible contender by many entering the week. Instead, the South African is heading home early after a pair of 2-over 73s, missing the cut at Hilton Head for the third year in a row. After leading the field in putting at Augusta National, Els managed just three birdies in 36 holes this week.

Main storyline heading into Saturday: Who can emerge from a crowded leaderboard? The list of players currently within three shots of the lead – 23 in total – includes an assortment of established veterans, grinding journeymen and younger players still looking to break through. With questionable weather conditions expected throughout the weekend, the tournament remains wide open with two rounds still to play.

Shot of the day: A runner-up earlier this year in Puerto Rico, Jordan Spieth is now a special temporary PGA Tour member, hoping to play his way to a full Tour card for the 2013-14 season. His second round got off to a hot start at Harbour Town when, after his second shot to the par-5 second came up 30 yards short of the green, Spieth found the hole with his subsequent pitch shot. The eagle helped him to an outward 32 Friday, and at 3-under 139 Spieth heads into the weekend firmly in contention.

Quote of the day: “I thought par was going to be a good score on every hole. I knew if you could make 18 pars and shoot a 71, it was going to be a good day.' – Leishman, following an even-par 71 during the second round that included two birdies and two bogeys.

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Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.

Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.

Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

"I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."

Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:

Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.

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Immelman misses Open bid via OWGR tiebreaker

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:25 pm

A resurgent performance at the Scottish Open gave Trevor Immelman his first top-10 finish in more than four years, but it left him short of a return to The Open by the slimmest of margins.

The former Masters champ turned back the clock this week at Gullane Golf Club, carding four straight rounds of 68 or better. That run included a 5-under 65 in the final round, which gave him a tie for third and left him five shots behind winner Brandon Stone. It was his first worldwide top-10 since a T-10 finish at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.

There were three spots available into The Open for players not otherwise exempt, and for a brief moment it appeared Immelman, 38, might sneak the third and final invite.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

But with Stone and runner-up Eddie Pepperell both not qualified, that left the final spot to be decided between Immelman and Sweden's Jens Dantorp who, like Immelman, tied for third at 15 under.

As has been the case with other stops along the Open Qualifying Series, the tiebreaker to determine invites is the players' standing in the Official World Golf Rankings entering the week. Dantorp is currently No. 322 in the world, but with Immelman ranked No. 1380 the Swede got the nod.

This will mark Dantorp's first-ever major championship appearance. Immelman, who hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2013 Masters, was looking to return to The Open for 10th time and first since a missed cut at Royal Lytham six years ago. He will instead work the week at Carnoustie as part of Golf Channel and NBC's coverage of The Open.

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Stone (60) wins Scottish Open, invite to Carnoustie

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:06 pm

There's never a bad time to shoot a 60, but Brandon Stone certainly picked an opportune moment to do so.

Facing a jammed leaderboard in the final round of the Scottish Open, Stone fired a 10-under 60 to leave a stacked field in his wake and win the biggest tournament of his career. His 20-under 260 total left him four shots clear of Eddie Pepperell and five shots in front of a group that tied for third.

Stone had a mid-range birdie putt on No. 18 that would have given him the first 59 in European Tour history. But even after missing the putt on the left, Stone tapped in to close out a stellar round that included eight birdies, nine pars and an eagle. It's his third career European Tour title but first since the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December 2016.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

Stone started the day three shots behind overnight leader Jens Dantorp, but he made an early move with three birdies over his first five holes and five over his first 10. Stone added a birdie on the par-3 12th, then took command with a three-hole run from Nos. 14-16 that included two birdies and an eagle.

The eye-popping score from the 25-year-old South African was even more surprising considering his lack of form entering the week. Stone is currently ranked No. 371 in the world and had missed four of his last seven worldwide cuts without finishing better than T-60.

Stone was not yet qualified for The Open, and as a result of his performance at Gullane Golf Club he will tee it up next week at Carnoustie. Stone headlined a group of three Open qualifiers, as Pepperell and Dantorp (T-3) also earned invites by virtue of their performance this week. The final spot in the Open will go to the top finisher not otherwise qualified from the John Deere Classic.

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Daly (knee) replaced by Bradley in Open field

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 12:13 pm

Former champion John Daly has withdrawn from The Open because of a right knee injury and will be replaced in the field at Carnoustie by another major winner, Keegan Bradley.

Daly, 52, defeated Costantino Rocca in a memorable playoff to win the claret jug at St. Andrews in 1995. His lingering knee pain led him to request a cart during last month's U.S. Senior Open, and when that request was denied he subsequently withdrew from the tournament.

Daly then received treatment on the knee and played in a PGA Tour event last week at The Greenbrier without the use of a cart, missing the cut with rounds of 77-67. But on the eve of the season's third major, he posted to Twitter that his pain remains "unbearable" and that a second request for a cart was turned down:

This will be just the second time since 2000 that Daly has missed The Open, having also sat out the 2013 event at Muirfield. He last made the cut in 2012, when he tied for 81st at Royal Lytham. He could still have a few more chances to improve upon that record, given that past Open champions remain fully exempt until age 60.

Taking his place will be Bradley, who was first alternate based on his world ranking. Bradley missed the event last year but recorded three top-20 finishes in five appearances from 2012-16, including a T-18 finish two years ago at Royal Troon.

The next three alternates, in order, are Spain's Adrian Otaegui and Americans Aaron Wise and J.B. Holmes.