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Time is on their side: The new crop of major champs

By Randall MellApril 10, 2018, 11:30 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Patrick Reed could hear the storm coming.

All those roars Sunday at the Masters, they were like thunderbolts cracking all around him.

“I saw Jordan and Rickie storm up those leaderboards,” Reed said.

That would be Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, whose bold Sunday charges tested more than Reed’s shot making as he fought to hold them off and win his first major championship.

Spieth came from nine shots back to briefly catch Reed, with Fowler nearly catching him coming from five shots back.

“I knew it was going to be a dogfight,” Reed said. “It's just a way of God basically saying, 'Let's see if you have it.’ Everyone knows you have it physically, with the talent, but do you have it mentally? Can you handle the ups and downs throughout the round?”

Reed’s breakthrough victory in the majors is further evidence the golf gods are asking tougher questions than they ever have.

Further evidence that today’s players may be more explosive and more fearless than the game has ever seen.

Further evidence that the sport is richer and deeper with young talent than it’s ever been.

Reed keeps an epic new run of young major championship winners going. He’s the fourth different player age 27 or younger to win a major over the last four majors played. That’s never happened before in the modern era.

They’re making it tougher to win multiple majors.

Nine of the last 10 major championships have been won by first-time major winners.

The last four Masters have been won by first-time major champions.

This trend is emboldening Fowler and others who haven’t won a major to believe they can follow Reed’s footsteps at the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills in 10 weeks.

“I am ready to go win a major,” Fowler said. “But this was kind of the first major week that I understood that, and known that, and felt that.


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“So I'm ready to go. I'm really looking forward to this year and the three majors that are left.”

Rory McIlroy, who was looking to complete the career Grand Slam, got run over by Reed in their pairing together.

While McIlroy knows his golf history, he made a mistake trying to turn his major championship experience against Reed on Saturday evening, before Reed headed home to sleep on his first 54-hole lead in a major.

“I feel like all the pressure is on him,” McIlroy said. “He’s got to go out and protect that, and he’s got a few guys chasing him who are pretty big-time players. He’s got that to deal with and sleep on tonight.”

McIlroy is sharp guy, but, boy, did that tactic backfire.

McIlroy shot 74 and was pretty much irrelevant on the back nine.

While Reed may have a feistier edge than most of today’s young players, he could be the poster boy for the era’s fearless style of play.

“Patrick is not scared,” Fowler said. “He won’t back down. He’s a fighter.”

Reed reveled hearing so many prognosticators on Sunday morning pick McIlroy over him. It was like high-octane fuel for him. Same thing when he heard fans cheering more for McIlroy at the first tee, and later for Spieth and Fowler as they made their charges.

Spieth, 24, suggested after a fast start Thursday that owning a green jacket is a formidable difference maker once the first tee balls are in the air at Augusta National.

“Once you win here, you have an advantage over anybody who hasn't won here,” Spieth said.

That makes sense, but not as much sense as it used to make, at the Masters or in any other major.

Youthful bravado is trumping experience more than it ever has.

“Patrick is a member of the Masters club now,” Spieth said. “He’ll have a green jacket forever. His name is etched in history.”

At week’s start, Gary Player said he believed somebody in his 50s could win a major now, the way players today take such care of themselves.

Actually, with so much talented youth hoisting trophies now, that feat could be more difficult than ever.

At 47, Phil Mickelson was hoping to eclipse Jack Nicklaus as the oldest winner of the Masters. He arrived at Augusta National with momentum from a victory at the WGC-Mexico Championship last month, but he barely made the cut Friday. He left Sunday conceding that time is beginning to weigh on him on these major championship stages. He will turn 48 on Saturday of the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, where he will be looking once again to complete the career Grand Slam.

“I put a little bit too much pressure on myself in the majors now, because I know that I don't have a ton of time to win them, especially U.S. Opens,” Mickelson said. “But these next two U.S. Opens, Shinnecock and Pebble Beach, give me two really good opportunities. So, I need to get my game sharp.”

Tiger Woods is still putting his game back together after so much time away with his back issues, but he must have left Augusta National knowing Reed makes it harder to win here in the future, that all these young first-time winners are making it harder for anyone to win.

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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.