England the surprise team of International Crown

By Randall MellJuly 24, 2016, 1:16 am

GURNEE, Ill. – England relishes going up against the Goliaths of golf.

They’re thriving at the UL International Crown, where the Koreans and Americans are supposed to win and everybody else is a long shot.

Spain embraced the role in the biennial international team event two years ago, stunning everyone with a free-spirited blitz through pool play and then a sweep of Sunday singles to claim the inaugural title.

Now England is trying to follow the same script going into Sunday singles.

With a pair of routs of Thailand on Saturday, the English completed their second sweep of fourballs in three days. They clinched Pool B, no matter what happens with the two suspended fourball matches yet to be completed between Korea and Australia. England has lost just one of six matches this week.

The Korea/Australia matches, suspended by a passing storm, will resume Sunday at 8 a.m. ET.

England’s nine points lead the entire field.

“We’re the underdogs,” England’s Mel Reid said. “These are the best countries in the world, some of the best players in the world, and a lot of major champions in there, and we are top of our pool. We should all be very proud of ourselves and we should be taking a lot of confidence in the fact that we've beaten some very high-class players this week.”

As the seventh seed, England is specializing in upsets, although if you ask American Stacy Lewis, there are no upsets in this eight-team format, where fourballs and match play are proving great equalizers.

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Spain was the fifth seed going into the inaugural International Crown two years ago.

If England wins it all this week, the International Crown is going to feel like Cinderella’s playground.

“With this format, you take a player that's ranked 50 to 100 in the world, and they can go make seven or eight birdies in a round,” Lewis said. “They may not do it for four straight days and win a tournament, but they can do it for one day. That’s why this format, it opens it up for anybody to win. I don't think there's any team that you can say going into it that they're favored or not.”

Lewis was asked if the Americans and Koreans face more pressure than anyone else this week, because the expectations as the favorites are so much greater.

“Maybe last year, we went into it with a little bit of pressure, thinking we had to perform, but what I've realized with this format is that it really opens it to anybody,” Lewis said.

For the English, though, there’s definitely something freeing about an underdog role.

“For me, it’s an exciting opportunity for us,” Reid said. “It’s another team event, another match play situation, and it’s also an opportunity to prove people wrong. No matter what happens tomorrow -- obviously, we're going to give it the best shot that we have – we've proved a lot of people wrong already. I'm extremely proud of how we've done so far.”

Reid and Hull were in the spotlight again Saturday and delivered, defeating Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn and Moriya Jutanugarn, 3 and 1.

Hull was the star in the opening round, leading a sweep of the Americans with six birdies and an eagle in a fourball victory.

Reid was the story of the second round.

With Hull sidelined with an asthma attack on Friday, Reid played solo and nearly beat Japan’s best fourball team by herself, losing to a birdie at the last hole.

On Saturday, with Hull recovered and Reid full of new confidence, they went birdie-eagle-birdie on the back nine to take command of the match.

“I felt fresher today from the first tee; my asthma wasn't as bad,” Hull said. “We played awesome, so it was fun.”

Nobody had more fun than England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff. She was on fire teaming with Holly Clyburn to rout Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum and Porani Chutichai. They were 10 under in a nine-hole run in the middle of their round, making eight birdies and an eagle.

Shadoff went birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie in helping England take control.

“I've been striking the ball great for the last few months,” Shadoff said. “I think today was huge for my confidence, with the putts dropping finally. I'm really excited to get out there and play tomorrow.”

Nobody’s been hotter over two rounds, though, than the Americans Lexi Thompson and Cristie Kerr, who defeated Japan’s Ai Suzuki and Ayaka Watanabe, 4 and 2. Thompson and Kerr are a remarkable 22 under par over their last 31 holes.

After getting swept in the opening round, the Americans have won gone 3-0-1. They’re all members of the U.S. team that mounted the largest comeback in Solheim Cup history last fall.

“I think we actually play better with more pressure than less pressure,” Kerr said. “When our backs are up against the wall, we seem to play better.”

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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.”