Rosy redemption

By Jason SobelSeptember 18, 2011, 11:38 pm

LEMONT, Ill. – Justin Rose prepared for the BMW Championship by finishing in a share of second place at a tournament one week earlier.

After two PGA Tour victories last season, it was his best result so far in 2011.

Never mind the fact that it came at an eight-man field. In something called the JR Challenge. And the “JR” stands for Justin Rose.

The “tournament” was Rose’s annual buddies’ trip with seven other guys he’s known since his schoolboy days in England, as they traversed some of Long Island’s most desirable golf courses – Sebonack, National, Garden City and Friars Head – in a continuous 72-hole Stableford scoring match.

“We play for a little trophy, but really it's just a good excuse to get together with my oldest friends, guys I've known since I was about 10 years old,” he said. “They'd be the guys that you'd call up if you ever needed something, English guys. They've known me through thick and thin, they've known me before I turned pro – just your real hard-core true friends.”

Even though he was playing off a plus-7 handicap, Rose unceremoniously finished behind his half-brother Brandon Harcus – not exactly a confidence-builder heading into one of the bigger weeks on the schedule.

Then again, as he joked on Sunday evening, “That got me back in contention.”

Rose had reason for levity after the final round at Cog Hill, as he parlayed that title contention into a two-stroke triumph for his third career PGA Tour victory.

Don’t underestimate the impact that one had on the other.

“I think mentally last week I got away from the grind of everything – the grind of the year, the grind of the FedEx Cup – and just hung out with some buddies and maybe that recharged my batteries,” Rose explained. “Even though I played golf four times, I think I came into this week a lot more refreshed.”

“It’s easy for players on the PGA Tour to start identifying with their world ranking, FedEx Cup number, the money list,” said his swing instructor Sean Foley. “To be around his mates from when he was 10 years old, you recognize what’s important. It’s not the day-in, day-out grind of golf. I think being able to go out with his mates and have some fun and decompress was helpful.

“Rosey sometimes needs to step away from it all and put it into perspective. I think that’s what he did.”

There’s an old joke about what professional golfers do when they go on vacation. In this instance – much like the rest of us – Rose chose to tee it up, which would be the leisure-time equivalent of a plumber unclogging toilets to unwind during his downtime.

Of course, if it helped him prevail over all other plumbers in the next competition, maybe it would all be worth it.

Such was the case for Rose, who posted ascending rounds of 63-68-69-71 to hold off John Senden in the final stanza. After a disappointing season that saw him on the outside looking in to reach the Tour Championship coming into the week, the result vaulted him into third place on the FedEx Cup standings

Rose entered the day with a four-stroke overnight lead and though he never relinquished it, he found himself up by just one with two holes to play. Just off the green on the 17th hole, he considered using his putter – or what he called “the chicken stick” – but instead went with the 54-degree wedge. And he holed it.

“I think the manner in which I won this tournament, it rates as high as the best tournament I've ever won, just by going wire to wire,” Rose contended. “To win at this level, with this strength of field, wire-to-wire, I think gives me a lot of confidence, and I think it's a big step up. Obviously being a playoff event puts it in that special category of tournaments, too.”

It was all aided by being in the right frame of mind, something garnered from his week spent away from competitive golf … playing in a golf tournament.

“I think mentally this is the best I've ever been in terms of being very under control with my emotions, being very calm, being very aware of the situation and feeling comfortable with it,” he said. “You know, as it turned out, I may have had better ball-striking weeks as a whole, but I think this week as a competitor and as a professional, I think it was probably my best-ever performance.”

It also gave him a sense of redemption. One week after losing to his half-brother at his eponymous event, Rose finally had bragging rights within his own family again.

“Yeah, I think so,” he said with a smile. “I think maybe I one-upped him this week.”

Turns out the JR Challenge may not have been named for Justin Rose after all. Following his share of second place finish one week earlier, the initials for that buddies’ trip just happened to stand for something else for the guy who rebounded to win his next start.

Just Right.

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Mullinax fires course-record 62 at Valero

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 9:01 pm

Trey Mullinax surged into contention during the third round of the Valero Texas Open, shooting a 10-under 62 that set a new course record on the AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio.

Mullinax started the day seven shots off the pace, but by the time he completed his round he had taken a one-shot lead with the overnight leaders still on the course. The former Alabama standout caught fire on the back nine, shooting a 7-under 29 despite a bogey after chip-ins for eagle on No. 14 and birdie on No. 16 to go along with an eagle on the home hole.

"It's probably one of the best rounds I've ever had," Mullinax told reporters. "To go out there and shoot 62 on a hard golf course is really good."

Mullinax appeared headed for a missed cut after a 74 in the opening round, but he bounced back with a second-round 68 to earn a weekend tee time and his third-round score broke the previous course record of 63 held by multiple players.

The 25-year-old finished 137th in FedExCup points last season, leaving him with only conditional status this season. His lone top-10 finish of the year came at the Valspar Championship, where he survived a Monday qualifier and went on to tie for eighth, and this marks only his third start since the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February.

"Obviously I would like to play a little more, but the tournaments I get in, I'm really excited about playing golf," Mullinax said. "I've loved every start I've gotten, and I'm very thankful to be in the position I'm in."

Mullinax holed a putt to clinch a national title for the Crimson Tide in 2014, and he finished T-9 at last year's U.S. Open at Erin Hills. But success has been fleeting among the professional ranks, meaning Sunday's opportunity to notch a career-best finish or breakthrough victory is nothing short of enticing.

"I'm sure you'll be nervous," Mullinax said. "To have a chance to win or just go play good golf is what I came here for, so that's what I'm going to do."

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Quiros maintains one-shot lead through 54 in Morocco

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 7:46 pm

RABAT, Morocco - A birdie on the last hole gave Alvaro Quiros a one-shot lead after three rounds of the Trophee Hassan II.

Quiros' birdie on No. 18 allowed the Spanish golfer to sign for an even-par 72 on Saturday to stay at 7-under par overall and clear of four players in second place.

South African pair Erik van Rooyen and Christiaan Bezuidenhout, France's Alexander Levy, and Finland's Mikko Ilonen were just a shot behind at 6 under heading into the final day at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Rabat.

Quiros is a seven-time winner on the European Tour, but went six years without a victory until last year with his triumph at the Rocco Forte Open in Italy.

Full-field scores from the Trophee Hassan II

He's seeking a wire-to-wire victory in Morocco after sharing the first-round lead with Bradley Dredge before taking it outright on Day 2.

Quiros had an on-off day in the third round - he said it was ''suddenly great shot, suddenly not so good'' - and carded four birdies and four bogeys to come out even and still hold on to his lead.

Van Rooyen shot 71, Bezuidenhout 68, Levy a 69, and Ilonen the best round of the week so far with his 6-under 66.

Ilonen had seven birdies and just a single bogey - on his first hole - to leap 23 places up the leaderboard and into contention for a first tour title since 2014 when he won the World Match Play Championship.

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M. Jutanugarn eyeing first win with L.A. Open lead

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:50 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn took the lead into the weekend at the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open in her latest bid to join younger sister Ariya as an LPGA winner.

Moriya Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Friday at Wilshire Country Club to get to 8-under 134 in the LPGA Tour's first event in Los Angeles since 2005. The 23-year-old from Thailand started fast with birdies on the par-5 second, par-4 third and par-3 fourth and added two more on the par-4 11th and par-5 13th.

Ariya Jutanugarn has seven LPGA victories.

Marina Alex was second after a 68.

Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open

So Yeon Ryu was 6 under after a 69, and fellow South Korean players Inbee Park(71) and Eun-Hee Ji (69). Park was the first-round leader at 66. Lexi Thompsonwas 3 under after a 71.

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng followed her opening 74 with a 67 to get to 1 under.

Ariya Jutanugarn (71) was even par, and Michelle Wie (70) was 1 over. Brooke Henderson, the Canadian star who won last week in Hawaii, had a 79 to miss the cut.

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Johnson, Moore co-lead Valero Texas Open through 36

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson was going nowhere in the Valero Texas Open when it all changed with one putt.

He made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole of the opening round to stay at 2 under. He followed with a big drive, a hybrid into 12 feet and an eagle. Johnson was on his way, and he kept right on going Friday to a 7-under 65 and a share of the 36-hole lead with Ryan Moore.

''You just never know. That's the beauty of this game,'' Johnson said. ''I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. You just never know.''

Moore had three birdies over his last five holes for a 67 and joined Johnson at 9-under 135.

They had a one-shot lead over Grayson Murray (69) and Andrew Landry (67).

Ben Crane (66), Martin Laird (65) and David Hearn (68) were three shots behind. Billy Horschel and Keegan Bradley shot 71 and were four shots behind at 5-under 139.

Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos

Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, had a short stay in his first time at the Texas Open since 2010. Garcia shot an even-par 72, and at one point became so frustrated he threw his driver into the shrubs.

Garcia finished at 2-over 146 and missed the cut.

It was the first time since 2010 that Garcia missed the cut in successive starts. That was the PGA Championship and, 10 weeks later, the Castello Masters in Spain. This time, he missed the cut in the Masters and Texas Open three weeks apart.

Johnson, a two-time winner of the Texas Open, appeared to be headed to a short week until the key par save on the 13th hole, followed by his eagle, par and three straight birdies. He began the second round Friday with five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, a sixth birdie on the par-4 first hole, and then an eagle on the short par-4 fifth when he holed out from a greenside bunker.

The only sour taste to his second round was a three-putt bogey from about 30 feet on his final hole. Even so, the view was much better than it was Thursday afternoon.

Moore thought he had wasted a good birdie opportunity on the par-5 14th hole when he left his 50-foot eagle putt about 6 feet short. But he made that, and then holed a similar putt from 8 feet for birdie on the next hole and capped his good finish with a 15-foot putt on the 17th.

''That was a huge momentum putt there,'' Moore said of the 14th. ''It was a tough putt from down there with a lot of wind. That green is pretty exposed and ... yeah, really short and committed to that second putt really well and knocked it right in the middle.''

The birdies on the 14th and 15th were important to Moore because he missed a pair of 10-foot birdie tries to start the back nine.

''So it was nice to get those and get going in the right direction on the back,'' he said.

The cut was at 1-over 145, and because 80 players made the cut, there will be a 54-hole cut on Saturday.