And Then There Were Two

By Mercer BaggsJanuary 6, 2001, 5:00 pm
No. 21 vs. No. 55, that's who'll face-off in the finals of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Pierre Fulke and Steve Stricker advanced into the 36-hole final by defeating Ernie Els and Toru Taniguchi, respectively, in Saturday's semi-finals.
Fulke, the 21st seed, topped top-seeded Els 2-and-1, while Stricker disposed of 30th-seeded Taniguchi by the same count at the Metropolitan Golf Club in Melbourne, Australia.
Fulke and Stricker will battle Sunday for the $1-million first-place prize, with the runner-up cashing half of that. Els and Taniguchi will tangle in the consolation match, with the winner earning $400,000 and the loser garnering $300K.
After struggling to defeat Craig Stadler 1-up in Saturday morning's quarterfinal match, Els continue his wayward play in the afternoon.
Despite winning the third hole to go 1-up, the South African found himself 1-down by the turn, thanks to back-to-back birdies by Fulke at the eighth and ninth holes.
A bogey at the 10th pulled Els all-square, as Fulke carded a double-bogey six, but a three-putt par at the par-5 12th cost him a chance at remaining there. Fulke carded a birdie to regain a 1-up advantage, and then dropped in a 20-foot curler for birdie at the 15th to move to 2-up with three to play.
Following a halve at the 16th, Els played the shot of the week at the par-4 17th, threading a five-iron through a gap between two trees to within 15 feet of the hole.
Unfortunately for Els, he missed the birdie attempt that would have prolonged the match. Instead, Fulke, who won the 2000 Scottish PGA and Volvo Masters, calmly sank a five-foot par save for a 2-and-1 victory.
'We both played pretty scruffy,' said Fulke, 'but beating Ernie, regardless of the score, in match play is pretty phenomenal.'
After beating Nick O'Hern in 20 holes in the quarterfinals, Stricker won the first hole in his afternoon match with Taniguchi and never looked back.
Prior to losing the first hole of the semi-finals, Taniguchi had yet to trail in the tournament, which for him spanned 68 holes. This match however, the Japanese player trailed throughout.
Stricker built a 3-up lead through 11 holes, before Taniguchi made a late run, capturing the 12th and 13th holes to get within 1-down.
The turning point proved to be at the par-4 16th. Having pulled his tee shot into the left trees, Stricker was forced to play his second shot left-handed. The 33-year-old, using the toe of his club, chipped back into the fairway some 160 yards from the flag, and then proceeded to knock his third shot to within 12 feet of the cup.
Stricker made his par save to halve the hole and remain 1-up. He carried that momentum to the par-3 16th, where he stuck his tee shot to six feet for birdie and another win.
Stricker then forced a halve at the 17th to win his match 2-and-1.
'That first match really took a lot out of me, but I came out in the afternoon a lot more relaxed,' said Stricker, who is seeking his first win since the 1996 Western Open. 'I'm gonna have to go home and try to relax and come out with a fresh attitude tomorrow.'
Having advanced into the finals, Stricker is guaranteed to earn more money this week than he did all of last season ($418,780).
Sunday's 36-hole final will be reminiscent of the first Match Play Championship, in which 24th-seeded Jeff Maggert defeated 50th-seeded Andrew Magee in 38 holes.
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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.”

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After 36, new Open favorite is ... Fleetwood

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 7:49 pm

With a handful of the pre-championship favorites exiting early, there is a new odds-on leader entering the third round of The Open at Carnoustie.

While Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner share the 36-hole lead, it's England's Tommy Fleetwood who leads the betting pack at 11/2. Fleetwood begins the third round one shot off the lead.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at

Tommy Fleetwood: 11/2

Zach Johnson: 13/2

Rory McIlroy: 7/1

Jordan Spieth: 8/1

Rickie Fowler: 9/1

Kevin Kisner: 12/1

Xander Schauffele: 16/1

Tony Finau: 16/1

Matt Kuchar: 18/1

Pat Perez: 25/1

Brooks Koepka: 25/1

Erik van Rooyen: 50/1

Alex Noren: 50/1

Tiger Woods: 50/1

Thorbjorn Olesen: 60/1

Danny Willett: 60/1

Francesco Molinari: 60/1