A. Jutanugarn smiles all the way to first major title

By Randall MellJuly 31, 2016, 8:26 pm

WOBURN, England – Talk about a winning smile.

Ariya Jutanugarn’s smile embodies the terrific story of how this broken player put herself back together again.

Though she looked like she was going to run away early with the Ricoh Women’s British Open Sunday, it was fitting she had to overcome another dose of adversity on another nerve-wracking back nine, that she had to overcome a final test of her resolve.

It was fitting she smiled through every daunting challenge this crazy day presented.

Jutanugarn started smiling as part of a new pre-shot routine after she collapsed in April at the ANA Inspiration, the season opening major. The smile was a “trigger” Vision 54s Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott gave Jutanugarn to remind her to slow down, calm down and focus when the pressure mounted in big events.

So when all hell started breaking loose on the back nine Sunday, Jutanugarn kept smiling.

“When I get really excited or nervous, I know what I have to do,” Jutanugarn said.

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Jutanugarn shot an even-par 72 to become the first man or woman from Thailand to win a major championship. She finished at 16-under 272, three shots better than Mirim Lee (73) and Mo Martin (70).

“I really wanted to win a major, and I did, so I'm very proud of myself,” Jutanugarn said.

Jutanugarn beat more than the 143 other players in the field this week at Woburn Golf Club. She beat all the demon memories lined up against her.

A year ago, Jutanugarn left the Women’s British Open miserable, frustrated missing the cut. It was her 10th consecutive missed cut. Once a teenage phenom who seemed destined for stardom, she was lost. And when she finally thought she had fought her way back this spring, she blew a two-shot lead over the final three holes at the ANA Inspiration, creating more doubts.

“Ariya shows us all you can go through tough times in life, but you can come back,” said Gary Gilchrist, her swing coach. “She bounced back with her determination, with her self-belief.”

With Nilsson, Marriott and Gilchrist helping, Jutanugarn rebuilt her swing and her confidence. She needed all her gifts Sunday after building a six-shot lead on the front nine and then nearly losing it on the back nine.

With a double bogey at the 13th hole, Jutanugarn watched Mirim Lee move within a shot of her, but Jutanugarn didn’t crack with the pressure mounting.

“I was still nervous, but I’m pretty sure I learned a lot from [ANA],” Jutanugarn said. “Because after I felt nervous, I knew what to do.”

Jutanugarn’s smile reminded her to avoid the pitfalls that cost her at the ANA, to slow down and stay in the moment.

“She was so different than at the ANA,” Nilsson said. “She had the tools to manage herself.”

Jutanugarn rebounded from her double bogey with one solid shot after another and with a clutch 25-foot birdie putt at the 17th to put her back up by two shots with one hole to play.

“Today, she knew she would be more nervous,” Marriott said. “She took more breaths with long exhales and slowed down a little bit.”

Moriya Jutanugarn, Ariya’s older sister and fellow tour pro, saw how down Ariya was after missing her 10th consecutive cut a year ago at the Women’s British Open.

“Her mind wasn’t going right,” Moriya said. “She was everywhere. She had too many worries. She was really stressed, but this year’s completely different. She said this year she was just going to play her game and show everyone her style of golf.”

Jutanugarn’s practiced pre-shot smile embodied the winning plan Ariya put together with her team’s help.

Peter Godfrey, Jutanugarn’s caddie, saw how it worked after the double bogey.

“She never changed her attitude all through the day, whether she made birdie or double bogey,” Godfrey said.

The victory is Jutanugarn’s fourth this season.

Early last year, she was No. 124 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. She’s projected to move three spots to No. 3 with this win, behind No. 1 Lydia Ko and No. 2 Brooke Henderson. The top three players in the world are now 19, 18 and 20 years old, respectively.

Ariya’s mother, Narumon, was beaming for all of Thailand afterward.

“I’m proud for Thailand,” she said with Moriya translating. “I hope this inspires more young girls in Thailand to take up golf.”

Gilchrist believes Jutanugarn is only beginning to show what she’s capable of achieving.

“Ariya’s confidence is going to go to another level with this victory,” Gilchrist said. “This girl was cruising in fourth gear today. She’s got a fifth gear and a sixth gear.”

Jutanugarn also has a winning smile that won’t quit.

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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.”