Notes Kresge Inspired Bates Major

By Mercer BaggsAugust 29, 2003, 4:00 pm
NORTON, Mass. -- Cliff Kresge had a share of the first-round lead of the Deutsche Bank Championship until Justin Rose eagled his final hole to push ahead.
 
It would have been the first time that the 34-year-old Floridian would have owned at least a share of the lead at the conclusion of any stage in a PGA Tour event.
 
That would be kind of cool, leading the tournament after the first round, said the Nationwide Tour graduate, who shot 6-under 65. I guess its great to be in the lead, but obviously Sunday is what it most important. I will take any lead I can.
 
Kresge is a two-time winner on the developmental tour. He has recorded three top-10 finishes this season, and has already secured his PGA Tour playing privilege for 2004.
 
That helps me go out and play golf a little more freely and not be so worried about whether or not I am going to have a job next year, said Kresge, who entered this week 76th on the money list.
 
A tie for 10th at the U.S. Open and a tie for sixth at the Western have helped establish that security. Because of his play at the Western, Kresge got an exemption into the Open Championship. His week ended quickly when he missed the cut at Royal St. Georges, but it was the beginning that he remembers fondly.
 
I played a practice round with Ben Curtis out there, so we laughed and talked about how much it was going to take to keep your card and he said that he was playing a little better and blah, blah, blah, and hes still got time, Kresge recalled. And I will be darned, he wins the tournament.
 
I would say the same thing at the PGA. Shaun Micheel, hes been out here for many years, hes a good, solid player, but never really a marquee-type player. When guys do that, that gives people like myself more incentive and more confidence that it could be done.
 
PAT ON THE BACK
 
Dont tell Pat Bates the major season is over.
 
Bates, who was born in St. Louis, Mo., and was a three-time All-America selection at the University of Florida, considers this weeks event very much a homecoming.
 
Bates played the North Atlantic mini-tour following his exodus from Gainesville, Fla., and won the 1993 Massachusetts Open.
 
That was my breakthrough as a professional, he said. Maybe this would be my breakthrough on tour.
 
Bates opened play at the TPC of Boston in 5-under 66. He is three off the 18-hole lead.
 
Bates is in his second consecutive season on the PGA Tour, and third overall. He finished 206th on the 1995 money list and was relegated to the now Nationwide Tour. After five unsuccessful attempts to get back to the big league ' he played in only five events in 1999 due to season-ending neck surgery ' he graduated from the developmental tour when he won three times in 2001.
 
Bates played in 29 events last year, making 17 cuts and squeaking inside the top 125 in earnings at No. 123.
 
He enters this week at 109, having made 14 cuts in 26 starts. And with a lot of the top-ranked players taking time off over the next month, This is a big stretch for me, he said.
 
Bates concluded his first round Friday with a six-foot par putt. He raised his fist in celebration, and was loudly applauded by those around the green. After signing his scorecard, Bates signed several autographs and was treated to, Keep it up, Pat! and Way to go, Pat! as he left the scene.
 
One middle-aged woman even asked for a kiss on the cheek. He graciously obliged.
 
I still know a lot of people from here. This is like home, he said.
 
Ive never played in any majors, he added. This is my major.
 
FAX ON, FAX OFF
 
Brad Faxon has played the TPC of Boston course more than anyone else -- he estimates 10 times since the course opened in June -- in the field, but it didn't help Friday.
 
Faxon opened in 4-over 75.
 
'It was pretty tough,' said Faxon, who played in the afternoon when the winds were considerably stronger. 'Club selection was tough. It was much more difficult than this morning.
 
'I struggled a little bit -- lucky to finish where I am.'
 
As a native Rhode Islander, Faxon is a fan favorite at this event. When he putted out for birdie on the par-5 18th, those left in the greenside bleachers gave him a solid ovation.
 
'It was nice,' he said. 'Hopefully, I'll shoot a low score tomorrow. I certainly don't want to miss this.'
 
One of those following Faxon in the gallery was his 95-year-old paternal grandfather. Faxon said his grandfather got a chance to meet his playing competitor on Friday, British Open champion Ben Curtis.
 
'He said, 'You surprised everyone, Ben,' I think he called him Mr. Curtis,' Faxon said with a smile.
 
SINGH-ING A NEW TUNE
 
Vijay Singh shot 6-under 65 Friday to finish two shots off the lead.
 
Singh, who has won twice this season, made six birdies and no bogeys, and credited a new belly-putter to much of his success.
 
'I changed from Scotty Cameron to Bobby Grace,' said Singh, who had 28 putts in Round 1. 'It should be called 'Amazing Grace.''
 
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    Schauffele just fine being the underdog

    By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

    Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

    Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

    Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

    “All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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    Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

    Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

    So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

    Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

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


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Jordan Spieth: 7/4

    Xander Schauffele: 5/1

    Kevin Kisner: 11/2

    Tiger Woods: 14/1

    Francesco Molinari: 14/1

    Rory McIlroy: 14/1

    Kevin Chappell: 20/1

    Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

    Alex Noren: 25/1

    Zach Johnson: 30/1

    Justin Rose: 30/1

    Matt Kuchar: 40/1

    Webb Simpson: 50/1

    Adam Scott: 80/1

    Tony Finau: 80/1

    Charley Hoffman: 100/1

    Austin Cook: 100/1

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    Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

    By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

    For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

    By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

    But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

    As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

    “This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

    Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

    As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

    After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

    “I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

    But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

    Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

    “I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

    There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

    Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

    And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

    As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

    “We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

    Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

    Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

    The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

    Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

    It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

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    Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

    One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

    McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

    McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

    “I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”