Harrington survives PGA National's water torture

By Randall MellMarch 2, 2015, 7:13 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Thrills and spills defined Monday’s wild finish to the Honda Classic.

The final thrill was Padraig Harrington’s, the final spill Daniel Berger’s.

In a punishing conclusion at PGA National, where every contender seemed to need a life preserver in a sink-or-swim final round that extended over two grueling days, Harrington emerged the winner, beating Berger with a par at the second hole of their sudden-death playoff.

Harrington, 43, survived a five-day marathon of weather-delayed golf to claim his first PGA Tour title since the PGA Championship in 2008. He did so after Berger’s tee shot at the 17th hole in the Bear Trap sailed right, splashing down in the moat guarding that hole. Harrington won with a two-putt after stiffing a 5-iron to 3 feet, becoming the first player to win a PGA Tour event on a sponsor exemption since Lee Westwood won the FedEx St. Jude Classic in 2010.


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There was something cruelly apropos about this all ending with one last splashdown, because all that water around the Champion Course was such a large factor in the finish.

Ian Poulter took a share of the lead into the final round and then hit five balls in the water, still somehow managing to finish tied for third, a shot out of the playoff.

“It makes you feel pretty sick,” Poulter said. “I’ve handed one away, and it hurts.”

Patrick Reed held a share of the lead going to the 15th tee before – kerplunk – pushing his tee shot in the water there.

“It was a rough day,” Reed said.

Even Harrington was a bit waterlogged entering the playoff. He looked like he had this event won in regulation, taking a one-shot lead to the 71st hole before slicing his tee shot in the water. He needed to hole a clutch 15-foot birdie putt at the 72nd hole to go to extra holes with Berger, who closed hard and early with a 64.

“It’s hard to be the leader on this golf course,” Harrington said. “Just like it’s hard to be the leader in a major.”

How difficult did all the trouble make the Sunday/Monday finish? Harrington made two double bogeys in the final round and still won. He was five shots down with eight holes to play. Berger was nine shots back beginning the final round.

Harrington resumed the suspended final round at the eighth tee. In the end, he hit the shots he needed to win.

“I never have trouble hitting a big shot at a big time,” Harrington said.

Harrington needed a big shot to regain some relevancy in the game. Once ranked No. 3 in the world, he entered this week No. 297. He wasn’t eligible for last year’s Masters, and wasn’t this year, not until this victory. His exempt PGA Tour status also ran out this year. He has been playing the Tour on sponsor invites and as a past champion.

“There are no doubt low points in those years, because you know, in 2008, 2009, I'm very much in the penthouse,” Harrington said. “I wasn't quite down to the doghouse, but not far away from it.”

This was Harrington’s 30th worldwide title, his sixth PGA Tour victory, his second Honda Classic title, coming 10 years after his first.

Berger, a 21-year-old rookie from nearby Jupiter, finished the final round brilliantly, closing with back-to-back birdies to shoot 64. He missed a 13-foot birdie chance to win on the first playoff hole at No. 18.

“If you told me I was going to finish solo second when the week started, I'd probably take it,” Berger said. “Right now, not as happy as I wish I was. But it's just a good learning experience.”

Berger, the son of former tennis pro Jay Berger, a three-time ATP winner, saw a chance to play in his first Masters sink to the bottom of the lake along with his ball at No. 17 in the playoff. It was a disheartening finish for locals rooting for Berger, who grew up driving the range picker while working at Dye Preserve.

“I think this week shows, with the depth of the field and how many great players there are, that I can compete with the best in the world,” Berger said. “I know this won't be the last chance that I have to win, so just look at it like that.”

While Harrington relishes regaining exempt status and returning to the Masters, he isn’t allowing himself to dwell on that quite yet.

“A lot of things are being said about what this means going forward,” Harrington said. “The one thing you learn is you don't win as often as you think. I'm just enjoying winning the Honda Classic.”

American Junior Golf Association

Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 11:03 pm

While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.

There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.

According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)

Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.

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McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

12/1: Tony Finau

14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

20/1: Francesco Molinari

25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

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Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.



“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

Her overall assessment of her day?

“It was a great experience,” she said.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.