Watson, Simpson take different routes to 66

By Jason SobelJune 22, 2012, 12:37 am

CROMWELL, Conn. – Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson are close friends. They enjoy competing with each other on the course; they like spending time together off the course.

They are former Presidents Cup partners, leveraging that bond into a 3-1-0 record together at last year’s edition of the event.

They are the first two major champions of the 2012 season, with Bubba claiming the Masters and Webb taking the U.S. Open – the first major victory for each.

And they played together in the first round of the Travelers Championship on Thursday – alongside reigning PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley – posting identical totals of 4-under 66 that left them in a 10-way tie for fifth place, two strokes behind leader David Mathis.

“We had a good time,” Simpson said. “A lot of laughs and a lot of birdies.”

The two players are, it appears, completely identical. Except for one little thing: They’re total opposites.

File this one under the category of “more than one way to skin a cat,” as Watson and Simpson employed monumentally different approaches to TPC-River Highlands, reaching the same conclusion on the scorecard at day’s end.

There’s proof in the numbers:

• Watson leads the field in driving distance at 334 yards per poke. Simpson was a mere 51 yards farther back on average.

• Watson ranks near the bottom of the field with a driving accuracy percentage of 35.71. Simpson easily found more fairways, keeping it in the short stuff at a 57.14 percent clip.

• Watson had fewer total putts and fewer putts per green in regulation than his playing partner, but his strokes-gained putting number was 0.828. Simpson was more efficient with his flat stick, claiming 2.697 in the same category.

Golf’s newest Odd Couple even endured much different journeys on the road to the Travelers.

Watson was one of the game’s hottest players over the first four months of the season, with that Masters victory being just one of nine consecutive finishes of 18th or better to start the year. Since then, though, he’s missed the cut in two straight, the latest coming in a disappointing U.S. Open start.

Simpson, meanwhile, is fresh off the greatest moment of his career, surviving The Olympic Club and withstanding his fellow contenders to claim the year’s second major championship.

“There’s a lot of birdies to be made and it’s easy to go from a course like Olympic and come here and kind of shut your mind off and just hit golf shots,” Simpson explained. “But luckily the course played firm. It was playing difficult and they had a lot of tough pins, so I think that kind of played into my advantage.”

Even with that advantage, Simpson was pleased with his overall performance.

“I knew it was going to be a tough round to come out and really focus and put last week behind me,” he said. “But we got off to a good start as a group – two of us [Simpson and Watson] birdied one – and it was just fun playing with those guys. We just kind of fed off each other and just played a good, solid golf round.”

Coming off those two missed cuts, Watson was equally pleased to see his name back on a PGA Tour leaderboard.

“I'm very happy,” he said. “I didn't make any putts the last couple weeks that I missed cuts. Made some putts today, made some key putts today to keep the momentum going. Had a couple loose swings, but all in all it was a good day.”

One of Watson’s loose swings came with a wayward drive on the par-4 10th hole that found the left rough. From 137 yards, though, he extricated himself from trouble, holing the approach for eagle. He also added four birdies in the round, offset by just two bogeys.

“It was just a sand wedge,” he recalled. “Had to fly out about 125 because the ball's been bouncing today. No rain lately, so the ball was bouncing pretty good. And just came out right, and bounced perfect and somehow just trickled in.”

If you didn’t watch the proceedings, you could look at their final scores and placement on the leaderboard and think Watson and Simpson played similar, if not identical, rounds of golf on Thursday.

That couldn’t be further from the truth. No, the truth is, they used different journeys and different strategies to find the same conclusion.

But hey, you know what they say: Opposites attract.

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”