With a little help from Tiger, Day prevails at Bay Hill

By Nick MentaMarch 21, 2016, 12:46 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Jason Day had watched Tiger Woods win eight times before at Bay Hill, and he wanted to do it, too.

After Day saved par from the greenside bunker on the 72nd hole Sunday, he finally had the chance to do something else he's watched Tiger do over and over again.

Day, with his son Dash by his side, walked up the hill left of the 18th green and found a familiar face sitting in a golf cart, waiting to greet him.

As Day later put it: “It’s great to shake the King’s hand.”

So what then, after all those years of thinking about it, did Day finally say standing face to face with Arnold Palmer?

“I just thanked him for what he's done for the game and what he's done for us as players,” said Day, who has risen from serious teenage troubles to late-20s stardom. “It's obviously very quick and brief but to be able to walk up there, and in the past be able to watch people walk up there, and have that special moment with the King, it's something that I've always wanted to do. Especially [after] watching Tiger in the past do it a lot, I've wanted to do that.

“It is one of those tournaments that, you know, the biggest guys usually win, and I was just very pleased to shake his hand,” he said.

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With his par on the 72nd hole and a round of 2-under 70, Day won his eighth PGA Tour title and his first Arnold Palmer Invitational. One shot back with two holes to play, he ripped a 5-iron from 222 yards and poured in a 12-foot birdie putt at the par-3 17th. He then edged runner-up Kevin Chappell for the title when he, unlike Chappell, managed to make par from the rough right of the fairway on 18.

After clearing gallery members out of the way, Day, knowing he needed par to win, set his sights on the back-left bunker.

“[Chappell] bogeyed, obviously, and I was nervous standing over that tee shot,” Day said. “I missed it right, but the first thing that came into my mind was hit it long in the bunker, the back-left bunker. At least it's straight down the grain. I can give myself an opportunity for par at least.”

He splashed his 30-yard bunker shot to just 4 feet, then rolled in the putt for par and the win.

“That's why he's been the No. 1 player in the world, and why I'm the 150th player in the world,” Chappell said, rather bluntly.

Day might well be on his way back to No. 1 again. Sunday’s win was his seventh on Tour since the start of the 2013-14 season. It’s the most for any player over that span. Jordan Spieth has six, and Rory McIlroy and Bubba Watson have five. Speaking of those names, Day just passed McIlroy to move back to No. 2 in the world. He’s close enough to start mounting a challenge to take back world No. 1 from Spieth.

Day has done all of this in the last two years – and especially in the last 12 months – with some help from a friend, another former No. 1 and his longtime idol. A guy who has gotten to shake Arnie’s hand an extra seven times.

Sitting with Dash on his lap and the API trophy to their right, Day said he’s been texting with Woods all week, soliciting his advice on how to win at Bay Hill. The two have been talking like this for a while now, and Day hasn’t been shy about crediting Woods for his breakthrough over the last year. The two were in contact right up to Day’s tee time on Sunday.

“Traded texts last night and this morning,” Day said. “It's the same thing ... He sends the same stuff to me, ‘Just be yourself and stay in your world,’ and for some reason it just means so much more.

“It gives me so much confidence that a person like that would believe in me. I was idolizing him ever since I was a kid and watching him in '97 win the Masters for the first time and all of a sudden I'm playing the Tour and I'm pretty close with him now.”

On top of the leaderboard after 18, 36 and 54 holes, Day is just the fourth player to win this event going to wire to wire with the outright lead, joining Mike Nicolette (1983), Paul Azinger (1988) and Fred Couples (1992).

Of course, Woods was the last player to win here wire to wire when he did it in 2002. But Tiger shared the lead after the first round. In the eight times he won this event, he never held the outright lead for all four rounds, like Day just did.

“I never knew that, and I will text him that tonight,” Day said with a smile. “You know, regardless if you win wire to wire or you win pretty or you win ugly, a win is a win. It's a great feeling and nothing beats winning.

“Like I said, he's been a big influence in my life ever since I was a kid," he said. "And to have his advice, to be able to go see him and practice with him and pick his brain about numerous things that I want to try and improve my game ... it’s been a big credit to him.”

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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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.”