Who doesn't belong?

By Jason SobelAugust 13, 2011, 1:36 am

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – At the exact same time in the middle of Friday afternoon, two men made the turn on opposites sides of the Atlanta Athletic Club.

If you didn’t know their identities, the juxtaposition would have been laughable.

One was well over par, easily on his way to missing the cut, but surrounded by mass amounts of bystanders craning their necks in an effort to witness the carnage. The other was climbing the leaderboard, midway through the best round of the day, and nary an observer was around to take notice.

The player scuffling along hasn’t won a tournament in two years, having been mired in an injury-riddled season that only saw him return to action one week ago. The guy without any fanfare has already won a tournament this season and is fresh off another title contention last week.

It made no sense at all.

Until you realize, of course, that the former was Tiger Woods – or at least a reasonable facsimile of the man who has won 14 major championships – and the latter was PGA Tour rookie Keegan Bradley, who couldn’t have been happier about the silence.

“I mean, it felt like a Hooters Tour event. It was great,” Bradley said after firing a 6-under 64. “It was a relaxing atmosphere.  It didn't feel like a major, to be honest with you.”

Not that he would know. The 93rd PGA Championship is Bradley’s first career major appearance and yet he’s tied for the 36-hole lead with Jason Dufner going into the weekend.

Go ahead. I’ll wait while you Google those guys and try to figure out if, well, this actually has turned into a Hooters Tour event by mistake.

Still waiting…

OK, trust me now? The truth is, Bradley and Dufner may not be Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler in their up-and-comer status, but they’re both very good ball-strikers and players who have put together impressive if not under-the-radar seasons so far this year.

The bigger story, though, is that major championships are no longer the domain of the one-named superstars. No longer can we explain the contenders simple by calling out “Tiger” or “Phil” or “Ernie” or “Vijay.” Instead, it’s “Keegan” and “Jason” and “D.A.” and “Scott.”

Even the guys who are established world-class players, like Jim and Steve – that would be Furyk and Stricker, obviously – aren’t exactly world-beaters. In the olden days – say, five or 10 years ago – experience was a virtue at the majors, but that isn’t the case any longer.

We already know that each of the last six major champions have been first-time winners. Chances are, No. 7 will be crowned on Sunday evening.

Entering the weekend, there is only one major title (Furyk) among the top 13 players on the leaderboard and three (Furyk, Davis Love III, Trevor Immelman) among the top 25.

All of which is just fine with the newbies.

“I'm sure it would be different if Phil was up there or those other guys,” Bradley admitted. “But not in a bad way. These guys are all great players. It's not like they've just kind of stumbled up there. They've been out here a long time. They're great players. They've contended in tournaments. D.A. Points won Pebble this year. They're great players, just like Phil and Tiger are. Probably tomorrow … will be a little more relaxing than if I was playing with Tiger or Phil, but they're great players.”

“There's a lot of good guys out here,” Dufner added. “That's one thing that I've learned – this is my sixth year out here – there's tons and tons of guys that can play golf out here. The networks and the media maybe focus on bigger names for a reason. That's who people want to see. People want to see Tiger Woods; people want to see Phil Mickelson. But there's other guys that can really, really play golf out here and that are really good that you've never heard of.”

While the masses may ridicule the current leaderboard as “Glory’s Last Potshot,” the standings going into the weekend mirror what we’ve seen taking place in this sport for many years. Fields are deeper than ever and the gap between No. 1 and No. 100 is smaller than ever.

Sure, big names like Tiger and Phil may move the needle, but the Q-rating of those in contention right now doesn’t necessarily stand for “quiet” or “quixotic.”

No, these are “quality” players and they’re proving it on the major championship stage once again – even if very few outside the ropes have been paying attention.

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Koepka looking to make hay on Horrible Horseshoe

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:26 pm

The Horrible Horseshoe - Nos. 3, 4 and 5 at Colonial Country Club - annually ranks as one of the toughest three-hole stretches on the PGA Tour.

Consider Brooks Koepka undeterred.

Last year's U.S. Open champ has played the stretch 2 over this week but knows that if he's going to have any chance at catching Justin Rose on Sunday, he's going to need take advantage of the par-5 first and then find a way to pick up shots on the Horseshoe.

"I feel like just need to get off to a good start on this golf course," Koepka said after a third-round 67 Saturday. "If you can get 2 or 3 under through six holes, I think you'll be right there."

Koepka will start the final round four behind Rose, as he looks to win for the first time since his maiden major victory last year.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

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The big-hitter missed nearly four months this year with a wrist injury and is progressing quickly in his comeback despite dislocating his wrist on two different occasions over the last two months.

Koepka missed the cut with partner Marc Turnesa at the Zurich Classic in his competitive return before following up with a tie for 42nd at the Wells Fargo Championship and a tie for 11th at The Players Championship.

Now, thanks to a closing birdie Sunday, he finds himself playing alongside Rose in the final group on Sunday.

"I feel like my game is coming around," he said. "[At Zurich], I was five days into touching clubs. I am finally finding a rhythm and feel like I'm getting really close. ...

"Just want to get off to a good start [tomorrow]. That's really all I am trying to do. You put together a good solid round tomorrow, you never know what can happen. The important thing is we were just trying to get in that final group. I thought the putt on 18 was kind of big to get in that final group and play with Rosey."

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Rose leads Koepka, Grillo by four at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 9:06 pm

On the strength of a 4-under 66 Saturday, Justin Rose will take a four-shot lead over Brooks Koepka and Emiliano Grillo into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational. Here's where things stand through 54 holes at Colonial Country Club.

Leaderboard: Rose (-14), Koepka (-10), Grillo (-10), Corey Conners (-8), Jon Rahm (-8), Louis Oosthuizen (-8), J.T. Poston (-8), Ryan Armour (-8)

What it means: The fifth-ranked player in the world is 18 holes from his ninth PGA Tour victory and his second this season. Up one to start the third round, Rose extended his lead to as much as five with birdies on four of his first six holes. Through 54 holes, Rose has made 17 birdies and just three bogeys. The 2013 U.S. Open winner and 2016 Olympic gold medalist has a history of winning at iconic venues - Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional - and now looks to add Colonial to the list. He'll be chased on Sunday by Grillo, the young Argentinian who won his first Tour start as a member in 2015, and Koepka, last year's U.S. Open winner who continues to impress in his injury comeback despite ongoing wrist issues.

Round of the day: Corey Conners and Ted Potter both turned in 7-under 63. Potter was bogey-free and Conners came home in 6-under 29 on the back nine.

Best of the rest: Jon Rahm, Louis Oosthuizen, Brian Harman and Michael Thompson all signed for 64. Rahm called his six-birdie start the best 10 holes he's played so far this year.

Biggest disappointment: Jordan Spieth has finished second-first-second in the last three years at this event, but he's yet to find his normal Colonial form through three rounds. Spieth, who said Friday he was capable of shooting "10 or 12 under" over the weekend, shot even-par 70 Saturday. He sits in T-38 at 3 under for the week, 11 back.

Shot of the day: Rory Sabbatini closed out his third round Saturday with this eagle holeout from 134 yards at the 18th.

His colorful scorecard featured three bogeys, two birdies, a double bogey and that eagle. It added up to a 1-over 71. 

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McCarron closes with only bogey, shares lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 8:49 pm

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Scott McCarron, seeking a second senior major title to go with his 2017 Senior Players Championship, made his only bogey of the third round on the final hole to slip into a tie for the lead Saturday with Tim Petrovic in the Senior PGA Championship.

They were at 13 under par after Petrovic, seeking his first major, shot 65. McCarron has shared the lead through three rounds.

England's Paul Broadhurst, the 2016 British Senior Open winner, matched the best third-round score in tournament history with a 64. He was at 11 under.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, coming off his first major championship last week at the Regions Tradition, shot 65 and was 9 under.

Tom Byrum, who made a hole-in-one in shooting a 67, was in a group at 8 under.

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Watch: Rose one-arms approach, makes birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 26, 2018, 7:25 pm

Justin Rose appears to have taken a course in Hideki Matsuyama-ing.

Already 3 under on his round through five thanks to a birdie-birdie-birdie start, Rose played this approach from 143 yards at the par-4 sixth.

That one-armed approach set up a 6-foot birdie putt he rolled in to move to 4 under on his round and 14 under for the week, five clear of the field.