A Masters to Remember

By John HawkinsApril 11, 2011, 4:55 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. –  Some of golf’s best major championships have featured a down-to-the-wire duel between two superstars – the 1977 British Open and 1999 U.S. Open immediately come to mind. Others are memorable because of their historic value, a market cornered by Tiger Woods in the current era. The 2000 PGA Championship produced an insatiable David vs. Goliath theme, and at the ’03 British, the little man (Ben Curtis) beat an entire valley full of giants.

From the feelgoods (1997 PGA) to the follies (1999 British), every major has an identity, some more appealing than others. The 2011 Masters may not have been the greatest golf tournament ever played, but it had to leave a lasting imprint on those who watched it. Ten players had a realistic chance to win once Rory McIlroy’s final-round struggles turned into a full-blown meltdown, making this one of the most unique Masters Sundays ever.

The constant shuffle atop the leaderboard bordered on chaotic, but the confusion only amplified the suspense. Perhaps the most amazing thing about all the tumult, particularly in the last hour, is that nobody lost the tournament. Charl Schwartzel flat-out won with birdies on each of the final four holes, an outrageous end to a remarkable day full of interesting improbabilities.

McIlroy’s closing 80 was the highest score by a 54-hole leader since Ken Venturi in 1956. It’s hard not to feel bad for the kid, but from this viewpoint, it’s also difficult to think the collapse won’t hurt him down the road. To miss so many short putts on the front nine but still hold a share of the lead on the 10th tee, then respond to the fresh start with one of the worst shots in Masters history, then yank a fairway wood into the maximum-security prison left of the 10th green and walk off with a triple bogey – name one other emerging superstar forced to carry such heavy baggage so early in his career?

Arnold Palmer and Greg Norman made a mess of majors in their day, but both had already won the game’s biggest titles before their train wrecks. McIlroy slept on the lead for three nights, a rarity at any tournament, much less one of this magnitude. Clearly, he didn’t have the mental stamina to finish the job Sunday. At least Sergio usually made it to the bitter end.

Like Garcia, McIlroy is a prodigious talent and still very young, although it’s worth noting that the artist formerly known as El Nino remains majorless. Handling adversity was never one of Sergio’s strengths, of course, and though McIlroy seems far more capable of dealing with this setback, golf is a funny game. Who would have thought Woods would blow a chance to revive his career by missing a handful of putts inside 5 feet?

For everything Tiger did on Sunday’s front nine to rush to the top of the leaderboard, you could make a case that this was his most uncharacteristic loss ever at a major. Throughout his 13-year stretch of dominance, the only short putt of consequence Woods failed to convert came on the 71st hole of the aforementioned ’99 U.S. Open. Two of the misses this past weekend clearly were inside 3 feet – at the 11th hole Saturday and 12th Sunday – but it was the 6-footer curler for eagle at the par-5 15th that severely damaged Woods’ pursuit of a 15th major title.

We saw a bunch of the old Tiger magic, but we also saw a guy who looked like an impostor in the red shirt. We saw a lot of guys play well down the stretch and a winner who played out of his mind, which all adds up to a Masters unlike any we’ve seen before.

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Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.

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"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel to U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."

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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.

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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.