A. Jutanugarn eyes her first major

By Randall MellJuly 30, 2016, 7:37 pm

WOBURN, England – The tears led her here.

The ache Ariya Jutanugarn endured losing the ANA Inspiration back in April has led her to this Sunday finish at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

This is where she took all the hard lessons learned in her collapse at Mission Hills and aimed them.

With a bogey-free 6-under-par 66 Saturday, Jutanugarn gives herself another chance to close out a lead in a major championship. At 16-under 200, she gives herself a chance to win her first major. She’s two shots ahead of Mirim Lee (69) and five ahead of Mo Martin (69).

“This is definitely her major to win if she can keep doing the things she did today,” said Gary Gilchrist, her swing coach. “This is a woman with enormous talent and ability. She’s swinging so positively, aggressively through the ball. It’s awesome to watch.”

Jutanugarn, 20, put on a power show even without a driver in her bag. She hit a 9-iron from 172 yards at the third hole to make birdie. She ripped a couple 2-irons past playing partner Catriona Matthew’s driver, but Jutanugarn also showed she’s about more than raw strength. This woman has a delicate touch around the greens. She missed three greens Saturday and got up and down every time. She chipped in from 100 feet at the eighth hole for birdie. She holed a 30-footer for birdie at the 10th hole, saved par burying a 10-foot putt at the 13th,  and dropped another 25-footer for birdie at the 14th.

“I didn’t hit my irons that good, but I made six birdies today,” Jutanugarn said. “I made a few long putts today.”

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Jutanugarn is among the leaders in every statistical category this week.

She’s 15th in driving distance without hitting a single driver. She’s seventh in fairways hit. She’s eighth in greens in regulation and sixth in putting.

Those all-around stats aren’t just a testament to Jutanugarn’s gifts. They’re a testament to her resolve.

Jutanugarn’s story is an impressive tale of reconstruction.

Exactly one year ago, she left the Women’s British Open at Trump Turnberry feeling miserable, frustrated having missed the cut.

It was her 10th consecutive missed cut.

A former teenage Thai phenom, she was lost.

Her confidence was gone.

She could barely keep her driver in play, and that was making her play with a fear she never felt before.

“I started playing scared,” Jutanugarn told GolfChannel.com last month. “I was scared I was going to miss cuts and focused on that.”

Jutanugarn went to work making herself competitive again, so much so that she got herself in contention at this year’s first major. She started Sunday at the ANA Inspiration one shot off the lead and built herself a two-shot lead with three holes to go. She looked unbeatable until her mind began racing down the stretch. She said she wasn’t nervous all day until those final holes. She stumbled home with three straight bogeys, snap-hooking her final tee shot into a lake to lose to Lydia Ko.

The loss was a large setback.

And so from there, another reconstruction began.

In tears in the Mission Hills clubhouse, she told her sister, Mo, she was going to do everything she could to learn to close out a victory under pressure. With the help of Vision 54s Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott, she came up with a new routine. Nilsson and Marriott showed her that while some players get too slow under pressure, she was getting too quick. They gave her a pre-shot smile as a trigger to calm her, slow her down and keep her in the moment.

Other players  have seen it work wonders.

“I think maybe she had been getting down on herself, but you can see the change in her demeanor,” Martin said. “She’s more positive, and there’s something so calm about her.”

Lexi Thompson sees the same thing.

“We’ve seen a different mentality from her on the golf course,” Thompson said. “You can really see it in her pre-shot routine. She has that smile. She really seems to get in a good place before she even walks into the shot.”

Gilchrist says Jutanugarn didn’t need major fixes to her swing when she came to him early in the spring, about the same time she went to work with Nilsson and Marriott on her mental game.

“It was more a mental hurdle for her than physical,” Gilchrist said.

Gilchrist says Jutanugarn is finding confidence in a good plan.

“Honestly, I think all she needed is for somebody to tell her everything’s going to be OK,” Gilchrist said. “For me, the key for a player is trust in what they’re doing.”

Jutanugarn’s trusting the plan, and that seems to be allowing all her gifts to come out.

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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.”