No Picnic in Winning at This Beach
What a shot under the circumstances as two exhausted golfers who'd battled the elements and arguably the tour's most demanding layout in sudden-death at the Virginia Beach Open.
This tournament was Aaron Oberholser's for much of the back nine on Sunday until Kresge decided to turn things in his favor with a late run. The 16th hole was really his 'step on the gas' hole all week. Including the playoff, Kresge was 5-under par on the hole for the week. On the flip-side, Oberholser was just 1-under. And in regulation for the four rounds Kresge was 5-under on holes 15, 16 and 17 combined. Oberholser was just 1-under.
Take nothing away from Aaron, however. He was solid, if not brilliant, for much of the weekend. For the last three rounds he made just two bogeys on the back nine. Unfortunately for him, one of those came at the 18th Sunday, which gave Kresge the chance to get in the playoff to begin with.
The great thing about the Virginia Beach Open is that birdies don't come in great bunches. It, once again, served as a great measuring stick for early season golf. Nobody gets to 20-under here! And the fact that Oberholser couldn't get up-and-down at 18 in regulation and Kresge got it up-and-in to win at the 16th in the playoff speaks volumes about the pressure to make all the shots and not just all the putts.
Oberholser, now 12th on the Buy.Com Tour money list, said afterward that he wouldn't care to have any one shot back. And he shouldn't have an ounce of regret. He may just win the money title this year. He's that talented. Wins on the Canadian Tour and a near-miss at the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament two years ago signaled his promise. This week solidifies his climb.
As for Kresge - Wow. Remember, this is the guy called 'over the Cliff' Kresge for his slip into the lake at Q-School that very same year that Oberholser slipped up with two holes to play, missing out on his card. Kresge grew up on a course in Orlando, went to school at the University of Central Florida, and says his greatest golf moment was making a 25-footer to help his collegiate Golden Knights advance in the NCAAs a few years back.
Something tells me things have changed a bit. The chip on Sunday at Virginia Beach may just be the blast the 33-year old Kresge needs to prove he belongs with the best.
And if I were a betting man, I'd figure on both men finishing in the top 15 at year's end. As of now, all they have to do is stay there.
Fleetwood, with his fancy umbrella, fires 65 on Day 2
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tommy Fleetwood looked like an Open rookie when he set out on Friday under gray skies and a cold, steady rain.
Because the Englishman doesn’t have an equipment sponsor he made a quick turn through the merchandise tent for an umbrella – but at least he didn’t have to pay for it.
“We stole it,” he laughed when asked about his Open-brand umbrella. “We got one given for free, actually. We didn't steal it. We don't always carry an umbrella. So it just so happens this week that we've got a nice Open Championship [umbrella]. It looked quite nice, the yellow and the course.”
It was Fleetwood’s only rookie move on Day 2 at Carnoustie, posting a flawless 65 to move into an early tie for second place at 5 under par.
Fleetwood holds the competitive course record at Carnoustie, a 9-under 63 he shot last fall during the European Tour’s Dunhill Links Championship, but given Friday’s conditions and the difficulty of this course during The Open, his 65 on Friday might have been better.
“It's not a course record, but it's pretty good,” said Fleetwood, who was stroke behind leader Zach Johnson. “If you went out, you wouldn't really fancy being 6 under out there. So I think that's a good indication of how good it was.”
It was a dramatic turnaround for Fleetwood on Friday. He said he struggled with his ball-striking, specifically his tee shots, on Day 1, but he was able to turn things around with an hour-long session on the range following his opening round.
Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship
Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.
Tweets by GCTigerTracker
McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.
McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.
But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.
“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.
“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.
“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”
McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.
“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”
McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.
How The Open cut line is determined
Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.
The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:
• After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.
• There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.
• There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.
The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.