Singh Back on Center Stage

By Mercer BaggsJune 13, 2003, 4:00 pm
OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. -- Vijay Singh proved two things Friday: One, his golf game is finely tuned. Two, his truth-telling skills need some serious work.
 
Despite being heckled by a fan on the 14th hole, Singh tied a major championship scoring record, shooting 7-under 63 at Olympia Fields.
 
He became the fourth player to shoot 63 in the U.S. Open. Two players have done it in the Masters Tournament; seven at the Open Championship, and eight at the PGA Championship, including Singh in 1993 at Inverness.
 
Singh is tied for the 36-hole lead alongside Jim Furyk. Their 7-under-par 133 total is also a new U.S. Open record.
 
You get the feeling that somewhere dark and smoky, United States Golf Association officials are huddled together, devising a plan to alter the current tide of their crown jewel.
 
Records are falling and career-low scores are being registered in bulk in the 103rd edition. But normalcy seems to be returning to the top of the leaderboard.
 
Following a day dominated by supporting cast characters, the game's leading men are moving to the front of the stage.
 
Jonathan Byrd (66) and Australian Stephen Leaney (68) share third place at 5-under, while a host of marquee names are right behind.
 
Defending champion Tiger Woods shot 66 to get to 4-under. Hes tied for fifth place with Nick Price (65), Justin Leonard (70), Argentine Eduardo Romero (66) and Swedens Fredrik Jacobson (67).
 
Also in the mix are Tom Watson (72), Darren Clarke (69), David Toms (67) and Ernie Els (70). All are at 1-under par. Phil Mickelson (70) and Masters champion Mike Weir (67) are in at even par.
 
Sixty-eight players made the cut, which fell at 3-over-par 143, a new aggregate record. The lowest cut in relation to par is 1-over, at Medinah in 1990.
 
Players agreed that the number of low scores ' Woody Austin had the most anonymous 64 in major championship history Friday to get to 2-under ' is not due to a simple layout, but rather due to soft conditions.
 
There isnt a player in this tournament that would call a U.S. Open course easy, said Furyk. The greens are just a little soft now and thats why youre seeing good scores.
 
Singh was brilliant in his play Friday. He eagled the par-5 first by chipping in from 30 feet. That got him to 2-under for the tournament, and he turned on the same number. He then torched the backside in 5-under 29, tying yet another U.S. Open record.
 
Neal Lancaster shot 29 in the final round at Shinnecock in 1995, and again in 1996 in the second round at Oakland Hills.
 
Singh was at 5-under for his round and the tournament when he hit his tee shot on the par-3 14th to five feet. As he approached the green a fan reportedly yelled out, Annika would have made it.
 
The remark was made in reference to Singh being quoted at the Byron Nelson Classic as saying he hoped Sorenstam would miss the cut in the Colonial.
 
The fan was escorted from the greenside bleachers, to which Singh raised his putter and smiled. After his round, he refused to comment on the matter, saying the incident ' though clearly seen on TV ' never happened at all.
 
I went on to make my putt and birdied the next one, too, is as close as Singh came to an acknowledgement.
 
Upon birdieing 15, Singh was at 7-under. He had a pair of makable birdie putts coming home, but missed them both. He also bogeyed the par-5 sixth, in what could have been an even more exceptional score.
 
Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf were the last two men to shoot 63 in this event, doing so in the first round at Baltusrol in 1980, which Nicklaus won. Johnny Miller set the mark in the final round of his victory at Oakmont in 1973.
 
Singh has been vilified by some for his anti-Annika remarks, yet he continues to show no signs of distraction on the course. He won the Nelson and then skipped the Colonial ' for which he was further criticized, and went on to say he wouldnt enter the interview room unless he was leading an event or won it. He returned at the Memorial, two weeks ago, and tied for fourth.
 
I have focused on what Im doing, and thats playing the golf course and golf tournaments, he said. And I dont read too much newspapers. I just dont let things like that bother me.
 
Aside from the obvious encounter at the 14th Friday, fans at Olympia Fields didnt seem to harbor any ill feelings towards him. He was greeted with a thunderous applause when he capped off his round.
 
It felt like the last day of the Open, he said. The ovation on 17 was bigger than the one on the 18th.
 
While Singh is looking to add the third leg of the Grand Slam to his resume ' he won the 1998 PGA Championship and 2000 Masters ' Furyk is seeking his first major victory.
 
I put myself in great position, he said. Now my goal is to get myself in a good position for late Sunday.
 
Woods feels the same way. He is trying to become the first player since Curtis Strange, in 1988 and 89, to successfully defend his title. Friday, he furthered his cause by making six birdies and two bogeys. He failed to make a birdie in the first round.
 
I hit the ball a little bit better. Its a little bit easier to score when youre in the fairway, said Woods, who improved his fairways hit from six in the first round to 10 in round two.
 
All you have to do, just keep yourself in the red and keep moving up. Its always tougher on the weekend.
 
Watson wasnt able to conjure up his opening-round magic, but the 53-year-old kept alive the opportunity to claim major No. 9.
 
Yes, I can, the 1982 champion replied when asked if he could still win this event. A lot of things have to go my waybut I have a chance.
 
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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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    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.”

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    Kisner not expecting awkward night with Spieth

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:33 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It might get awkward in that star-studded rental house Saturday night.

    Two of the three Open co-leaders, Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner, are sharing a house this week near Carnoustie. Though it’ll be late by the time they both get back to the house Saturday night, they’ll have plenty of time to kill Sunday morning, with their tee times not until nearly 3 p.m. local time.

    “Everybody is probably going to get treatment and eating and trying to find a bed,” Kisner said. “I’m sure there’ll be some conversations. There always are. Everybody has a few horror stories or good laughs over something that happened out there. That will probably be the end of it.”

    One thing they’re almost certain to discuss is the weather.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    After three days of mostly benign conditions, Sunday’s forecast calls for warm temperatures and wind gusts up to 25 mph.

    “When you watch any TV, that’s all they talk about – how Sunday’s coming,” Kisner said. “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.”

    Zach Johnson is also in the house – along with Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Jimmy Walker and Jason Dufner – and he rode to the course Saturday with Kisner, with whom he played in the final group, at 4 p.m. It’s unclear whether the co-leaders Sunday will have a similar arrangement.

    This is the third year that Spieth and Co. have shared a house at The Open, though Kisner is a new addition to the group.

    “It’s the end of the week,” Kisner said. “Everybody’s got a lot of stuff going on. Everybody’s going their separate ways tomorrow. Tomorrow morning we’ll all sit around and laugh on the couch and talk about why that guy’s making so many birdies.”