Bjorn Again in Redemptive Position

By Mercer BaggsAugust 13, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 PGA ChampionshipSPRINGFIELD, N.J. -- The Great Dane again eyes a seat on the throne of golfing greatness. And one can only wonder if great tragedy will befall him one more time.
Thomas Bjorn tied a mens major championship record Saturday, shooting 7-under 63 in the 87th PGA Championship to reach 5 under for the tournament.
This was a bonus. You set out on a day like this and you think, wow, youve got to just try and shoot a good number and get yourself into a position where you can do well for the tournament, he said. But now all of a sudden you bring yourself in a position where were starting to talk about (winning) the golf tournament.
Thomas Bjorn
Thomas Bjorn hopes to atone for his heartbreaking 2003 Open Championship loss with a come-from-behind PGA Championship victory.
All of a sudden, its a completely different mindset.
Thats an appropriate choice of words.
After starting the day 10 strokes off the lead, Bjorn is just one back, just 18 holes from winning his first major championship. There are many reasons to be optimistic. And many reasons to be apprehensive.
It all looked so very good for Bjorn in the 2003 Open Championship. He was leading the tournament through 69 holes, before hitting his tee shot on the par-3 16th into the right greenside bunker.
Three swings later, the ball was finally extracted.
Bjorn made double bogey, and then bogeyed the next. He ultimately finished one stroke behind winner Ben Curtis.
In the death of his dream to become a major champion, demons were born.
Those mental gremlins got the better of him the following year at the European Tours Smurfit European Open, when he walked off the course after playing his first six holes of the tournament in 4 over.
The demons have taken over, he muttered.
They appeared to have relinquished control after he won this years Dunlop Masters. It was his first victory in over three seasons, his first triumph since burying his confidence in the sands of Royal St. Georges.
But they soon resurfaced, grabbing his internal steering wheel with both hands, trying to drive him over the edge.
A year after he walked away prematurely, disheartened and confused, Bjorn returned to the European Open and managed a four-stroke lead through 54 holes. He then shot 14-over 86 on Sunday, making an 11 on the par-4 17th.
I got out there on a Sunday on a very, very difficult golf course and it just got away from me. I didnt believe in anything. I didnt have a shot that I could go to when I was under pressure, he said.
Bjorn went on to miss the cut in his next start at the Open Championship. Needing a bogey to make it to the weekend, he hit his drive on the expansive 18th out of bounds and made double.
Thats when he decided to take a professional break, and make a change in his swing.
With the help of new coach Simon Holmes, Bjorn worked on, among other things, completing his turn during the backswing.
I went on holiday with my family for just about two weeks, and then I went to London and worked with my coach and made some big decisions, he said. We took the camera out and we said, Alright, is this the way I want to swing it? I looked at some old stuff myself where I know I had been playing well and hitting it well, so just made those decisions.
The changes, just two weeks old, are still in a pubescent stage. Bjorn is happily surprised at how quickly things have come together. Sunday, which may be his most important round of golf ever, will be about trying to keep it all from falling apart.
I have to have a lot of belief in my golf swing, and sometimes I dont. I dont believe enough in my golf swing and I take all of my mental strength from there. And I have that certainly going in the right direction right now, he said.
I came here with no expectations, and thats what Im going to keep doing tomorrow. Try and stay in the moment and hit those golf shots and focus on the things that Ive focused on, because its obviously working. Well see how tomorrow pans out.
At this years Masters, Bjorn entered the final round trailing leaders Tiger Woods and Chris DiMarco by five strokes. He then closed in 81.
Heading into the final round at Baltusrol, Bjorn is clearly better positioned on the leaderboard, and seemingly better prepared physically and mentally.
Theres a lot of golfers out here that go through up-and-downs and you deal with it. If you want to be out here and you want to compete, you deal with your downs, he said.
You deal with it and you go from there, and thats what Im trying to do.
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    M. Jutanugarn eyeing first win with L.A. Open lead

    By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:50 am

    LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn took the lead into the weekend at the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open in her latest bid to join younger sister Ariya as an LPGA winner.

    Moriya Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Friday at Wilshire Country Club to get to 8-under 134 in the LPGA Tour's first event in Los Angeles since 2005. The 23-year-old from Thailand started fast with birdies on the par-5 second, par-4 third and par-3 fourth and added two more on the par-4 11th and par-5 13th.

    Ariya Jutanugarn has seven LPGA victories.

    Marina Alex was second after a 68.

    Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open

    So Yeon Ryu was 6 under after a 69, and fellow South Korean players Inbee Park(71) and Eun-Hee Ji (69). Park was the first-round leader at 66. Lexi Thompsonwas 3 under after a 71.

    Top-ranked Shanshan Feng followed her opening 74 with a 67 to get to 1 under.

    Ariya Jutanugarn (71) was even par, and Michelle Wie (70) was 1 over. Brooke Henderson, the Canadian star who won last week in Hawaii, had a 79 to miss the cut.

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    Garcia tosses driver, misses Valero cut

    By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

    It wasn't quite to the level of his watery meltdown earlier this month at the Masters, but Sergio Garcia still got frustrated during the second round of the Valero Texas Open - and his driver paid the price.

    Garcia had a hand in redesigning the AT&T Oaks Course along with Greg Norman several years ago, but this marked his first return to TPC San Antonio since 2010. After an opening-round 74, Garcia arrived to the tee of the short par-4 fifth hole and decided to get aggressive with driver in hand.

    When his shot sailed well left, a heated Garcia chucked the club deep into the bushes that lined the tee box:

    It took considerable effort for Garcia to find and retrieve the club amid the branches, and once he did things only got worse. He appeared to shank a chip once he got up to his ball, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on a demanding track.

    Garcia closed out his round with four straight pars, and at 2 over he eventually missed the cut by a shot. It marks the first time he has missed consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour since 2003, when he sat out the weekend at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Fort Worth Invitational and Memorial Tournament in successive weeks.

    Garcia entered the week ranked No. 10 in the world, and he was the only top-20 player among the 156-man field. He missed the cut at the Masters in defense of his title after carding an octuple-bogey 13 on the 15th hole during the opening round.

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    Johnson, Moore co-lead Valero Texas Open through 36

    By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

    SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson was going nowhere in the Valero Texas Open when it all changed with one putt.

    He made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole of the opening round to stay at 2 under. He followed with a big drive, a hybrid into 12 feet and an eagle. Johnson was on his way, and he kept right on going Friday to a 7-under 65 and a share of the 36-hole lead with Ryan Moore.

    ''You just never know. That's the beauty of this game,'' Johnson said. ''I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. You just never know.''

    Moore had three birdies over his last five holes for a 67 and joined Johnson at 9-under 135.

    They had a one-shot lead over Grayson Murray (69) and Andrew Landry (67).

    Ben Crane (66), Martin Laird (65) and David Hearn (68) were three shots behind. Billy Horschel and Keegan Bradley shot 71 and were four shots behind at 5-under 139.

    Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

    Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos

    Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, had a short stay in his first time at the Texas Open since 2010. Garcia shot an even-par 72, and at one point became so frustrated he threw his driver into the shrubs.

    Garcia finished at 2-over 146 and missed the cut.

    It was the first time since 2010 that Garcia missed the cut in successive starts. That was the PGA Championship and, 10 weeks later, the Castello Masters in Spain. This time, he missed the cut in the Masters and Texas Open three weeks apart.

    Johnson, a two-time winner of the Texas Open, appeared to be headed to a short week until the key par save on the 13th hole, followed by his eagle, par and three straight birdies. He began the second round Friday with five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, a sixth birdie on the par-4 first hole, and then an eagle on the short par-4 fifth when he holed out from a greenside bunker.

    The only sour taste to his second round was a three-putt bogey from about 30 feet on his final hole. Even so, the view was much better than it was Thursday afternoon.

    Moore thought he had wasted a good birdie opportunity on the par-5 14th hole when he left his 50-foot eagle putt about 6 feet short. But he made that, and then holed a similar putt from 8 feet for birdie on the next hole and capped his good finish with a 15-foot putt on the 17th.

    ''That was a huge momentum putt there,'' Moore said of the 14th. ''It was a tough putt from down there with a lot of wind. That green is pretty exposed and ... yeah, really short and committed to that second putt really well and knocked it right in the middle.''

    The birdies on the 14th and 15th were important to Moore because he missed a pair of 10-foot birdie tries to start the back nine.

    ''So it was nice to get those and get going in the right direction on the back,'' he said.

    The cut was at 1-over 145, and because 80 players made the cut, there will be a 54-hole cut on Saturday.

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    Daly-Allen team grabs Legends of Golf lead on Day 2

    By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 11:14 pm

    RIDGEDALE, Mo. - John Daly and Michael Allen took the second-round lead Friday in the cool and breezy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

    Daly and Allen shot an 8-under 46 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course with wind gusting to 15 mph and the temperature only in the high-50s at Big Cedar Lodge. They had three birdies on the front nine in alternate-shot play and added five more on the back in better-ball play to get to 13 under.

    ''Michael and I go back to the South African days in the late 80s and playing that tour,'' Daly said. ''We've been buddies since. He's just fun to play with. We feed off each other pretty good. And if he's not comfortable guinea-pigging on one hole, I'll go first.''

    On Thursday, they opened with a 66 on the regulation Buffalo Ridge course. They will rotate to the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course on Saturday, and return to Top of the Rock for the final round Sunday.

    ''I went to high school in Jeff City, so it's cool to have the fans behind us,'' Daly said.

    Allen won the PGA Tour Champions team event with David Frost in 2012 and Woody Austin in 2016.

    ''I'm just here to free up John,'' Allen said. ''It was fun. Luckily, I started making good putts today. We just want to keep the good times rolling.''

    Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf

    Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco were a stroke back along with Bernhard Langer-Tom Lehman and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett. Singh and Franco had a 7-under 32 in best-ball play at Mountain Top, and Lehman-Langer and Broadhurst-Tripplet each shot 6-under 48 at Top of the Rock.

    ''Part of the issue here is all the tees are elevated, so you're up high hitting to a green that's down below and the wind is blowing, and there is more time for that wind to affect it,'' Lehman said. ''If you guess wrong on the wind, you can hit a really good shot and kind of look stupid.''

    Former UCLA teammates Scott McCarron and Brandt Jobe were two strokes back at 11 under with Steve Flesch and David Toms and the Spanish side of Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez. McCarron-Jobe had a 47, and Jimenez-Olazabal a 48 at Top of the Rock, and Tom Flesch shot 34 at Mountain Top.

    First-round leaders Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik had a 52 at Top of the Rock to fall three shots back at 10 under. Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly also were 10 under after a 32 at Mountain Top. Jay Haas aced the 131-yard seventh hole at Mountain Top with a gap wedge. Haas and fellow 64-year-old Peter Jacobsen were 8 under after a 32.