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Tiger's game plan goes out the window with 78

By Randall MellJune 15, 2018, 12:43 am

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – It was a lot more fun playing the U.S. Open with a broken leg.

That’s what it looked like Thursday with Tiger Woods making his much anticipated return to the championship he won a decade ago while playing with a pair of stress fractures in his left tibia and a bum left knee.

It took about a New York minute for Woods to remember the mental anguish a U.S. Open can also dish out.

After striping his opening tee shot down the middle, Woods made a triple bogey at the first.

He four putted the 13th on his way to back-to-back double bogeys.

He shot 8-over-par 78.

That’s the second highest score he has posted in this championship, his third worst in relation to par in any major.

“My game plan was not to make any `others,’ and I made three of them,” Woods said.

That is “others,” as in anything more than a bogey.

U.S. Open: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage

It was Woods’ first appearance in the U.S. Open since missing the cut at Chambers Bay three years ago, when he shot 80 and 76. If he doesn’t rally Friday, he’ll be looking at missing the cut for just the third time in his 20 U.S. Open starts.

“It's tough out there,” Woods said. “But, I mean, I shouldn't make two doubles and a triple, four-putt.”

Shinnecock Hills made erasing mistakes difficult. The brute punished the field. Woods knew he wasn’t alone taking a beating, and that’s what made his double bogeys on the back nine especially frustrating. He was grinding to keep himself in it, but he will start Friday nine shots back, tied for 102nd.

“After that start, shoot even par for the next 16 holes, and I'd be just fine,” Woods said.

Still a work in progress, still rebuilding from all those back surgeries, Woods, 42, has an uphill battle beyond this weekend. He saw that on Thursday. He played alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who shot 69 to get himself into a four-way share of the lead.

Johnson is standing in Woods’ way in more than this championship. He looks like a guy rounding back into his best form after winning the FedEx St. Jude Classic last week.

Woods has won three U.S. Opens, but he’ll need to muster something really special to make a run at his fourth. Apparently, that miracle win on one leg in ’08 at Torrey Pines is never far from his memory, because he talked about how one special round this week can get him back in the mix here.

“I kept reminding myself that Lanny [Wadkins] almost pulled himself into a playoff in '86, with a round in the mid-60s on Sunday,” Woods said. “So, it can be done. This golf course is kind of setting up for that right now.”

Wadkins was six shots back in ’86 and got himself into contention in the final round with a 65, but he ultimately fell two shots short of Raymond Floyd.

Woods looked confident on the first tee Thursday, drilling that opening drive down the middle. But, he pumped a wedge over the first green. He looked nervy back there, making a mess of the hole with his short game. He hit a flop that flopped too much, failing to cover a crest on the green before rolling back off. He did the same thing with his next putt, watching that one roll back to his feet.

Woods followed that triple bogey with a bogey at the second, but then he regrouped. He made seven pars and a birdie to get himself to 3 under, but Shinnecock seemed to wear him out.

At the 13th, Woods left a 40-foot putt 6 feet short, and then he three putted from there.

"I was worried about running the [first] putt by, because it's downhill on the other side,” Woods said. “Left it short, blocked the next one, and then blocked it again. Not very good.”

The frustration seemed to follow Woods to the 14th tee, where he pushed his tee shot right into the fescue, then hooked his second into the fescue on the other side of the fairway. He hacked his third shot short of the green and ended up missing an 8-footer for bogey.

“I think he played better than his score, for sure,” Johnson said. “It’s windy. It’s tough. He obviously got off to a rough start, but I thought he hung in there pretty good.”

Woods drove the ball well, hitting 9 of 14 fairways. Greens were tough to hit for the entire field, with Woods managing to hit just seven of them. He took 30 putts.

“It's frustrating because I'm hitting it well,” Woods said. “In the last, I think, four tournaments, I have not putted well. So, if I can putt like I did at the beginning of the year, we've got something. I just haven't done that.”

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Former DJ advisor found guilty in embezzlement case

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 12:38 pm

A federal jury has found Nathan Hardwick, a former advisor to Dustin Johnson, guilty of embezzling $26 million in funds from his now-bankrupt real estate closing firm, Morris Hardwick Schneider.

Per, citing, a 12-person jury convicted Hardwick of "one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, 21 counts of wire fraud and one count of making false statements to federally insured banks."

As for where exactly the money went, The Sun News of Myrtle Beach, once again citing, has the details:

"The alleged spending included $18.47 million on gambling, private jet travel and women from 2011 through August 2014. The prosecution submitted two binders of documentation as evidence that Hardwick spent $4.39 million on “female social companions,” including one testifying witness who claimed to have met him through"

"Other alleged expenditures described in testimony include more than $7 million at casinos, more than $3 million with a bookie, $680,000 for a luxury condo at The St. Regis Atlanta, $273,000 on a diamond ring, $186,000 on a deposit for a party on a private island, and $635,000 on a trip to the 2014 British Open for golfing buddies that included a customized jet and round at St. Andrews."

Johnson previously sued Morris Hardwick Schneider over a $3 million loan he believed to be an investment. Instead, Johnson argued, the money was going to make up for shortages created by Hardwick's embezzlement. Johnson later amended his suit to argue that Hardwick, who previously served on the board of the Dustin Johnson Foundation, was being used as a "pawn" by the firm's other partners. 

That suit was settled in 2016 for $2 million.

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Kang 'going with the flow,' one back of A. Jutanugarn

By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 9:43 am

SHANGHAI – Ariya Jutanugarn shot a 6-under 66 to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Buick LPGA Shanghai tournament on Thursday.

The Thai player had six birdies in a bogey-free round, including three straight on Nos. 4, 5, and 6.

''I always have so much fun when I play in Asia,'' said Jutanugarm, who added her key was ''just not to expect anything. Just go out have fun and enjoy everything.''

Sei Young Kim and Danielle Kang (both 67) were one shot back, with six other players only two shots off the lead.

Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai

The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

Kang credited her improved play to new coach Butch Harmon.

''We just kind of simplify the game a lot,'' the American said. ''Just trying to calm it down and get back to how I used to play. Just more feel golf. Thinking less mechanics and going with the flow.''

Kang tied for third last week at the KEB Hana Bank championship in Incheon, South Korea.

''Today's round went very smooth,'' Kang said. ''Coming off very good momentum after last week, and I've been hitting the ball really well, playing great. I've just been trusting my game and just keep giving myself birdie chances. They kept rolling in.''

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Sharpshooting Reavie (68) leads tough CJ Cup

By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 9:34 am

JEJU ISLAND, South Korea – Chez Reavie overcame cool, windy conditions for a 4-under 68 and a one-stroke lead after the first round of the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges on Thursday.

In the breezy conditions, the back nine of the course posed the most difficulty, but the 36-year-old American made two birdies and negotiated it in 35 after starting on the 10th tee, and then picked up three shots on his final nine.

Danny Willett and Si Woo Kim shot 69 while the large group at 70, and tied for fourth, included Ian PoulterNick Watney and Michael Kim.

Brooks Koepka, playing in his first tournament since being voted PGA Tour Player of the Year, shot 71 and was in a group three strokes behind and tied for 11th, which included Paul Casey and Hideki Matsuyama.

Jason Dufner and Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Defending champion Justin Thomas had a 73, as did Jason Day, Ernie Els and J.B. Holmes.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

Marc Leishman, who won last week's CIMB Classic in Malaysia, and Adam Scott had 75s.

Reavie's only PGA Tour win came at the 2008 Canadian Open, and he finished second in back-to-back starts last year in Phoenix and Pebble Beach, losing at Phoenix in a playoff.

''It was a great day, I hit the ball really well,'' Reavie said of Thursday's round. ''The wind was blowing really hard all day long so you had to really start the ball well and keep it out of the wind. Luckily, I was able to do that.''

Despite the windy conditions, Reavie found all 14 fairways off the tee and hit 15 out of 18 greens in regulation, which he felt was the key to a good score.

''It's tough because once you get above the hole with this wind, it's really hard to chip it close,'' he said. ''The more greens you can hit, the better and that was key to my game.''

Willett, who has struggled with injuries and form since winning the 2016 Masters and has dropped to No. 342 in the world, made five birdies and two bogeys in his 69. Willett has just one top-five finish since finishing second in the Italian Open in September 2016.

Having committed to play on the PGA Tour by taking up membership this season, Willet said it was important to make a quick start to the season.

''I've done two tours for a couple of years, and it's very difficult,'' Willett said. ''We committed to play on the PGA Tour, to play predominantly over here this year and next. It's nice to kind of get in and get some points early if you can.''

The second of three PGA Tour events in three weeks in Asia has a 78-player field and no cut. Only 19 players broke par on Thursday.

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Koepka takes edge over Thomas in race for world No. 1

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 5:50 am

Brooks Koepka got the inside track against Justin Thomas in their head-to-head battle this week for world No. 1.

Koepka shot 1-under 71 on Thursday at the CJ Cup, while Thomas shot 1-over 73.

Chez Reavie leads after 18 holes at Nine Bridges in Juju Island, South Korea, following a 4-under 68.

Koepka, currently world No. 3, needs to win this week or finish solo second [without Thomas winning] in order to reach the top spot in the rankings for the first time in his career. Thomas, currently No. 4, must win to reclaim the position he surrendered in June.

One week after 26 under par proved victorious in Malaysia, birdies weren’t as aplenty to begin the second leg of the PGA Tour’s Asian swing.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

In chilly, windy conditions, Koepka and Thomas set out alongside one another – with Sungjae Im (73) as the third – on the 10th hole. Koepka bogeyed his first hole of the day on his way to turning in even-par 36. Thomas was one worse, with two bogeys and a birdie.

On their second nine, Koepka was steady with two birdies and a bogey to reach red figures for the day.

"I felt like I played good. I hit some good shots, missed a couple putts early and kind put myself in a little bit of trouble on the back nine, my front, but rallied pretty nicely," Koepka said. "I felt like I found a bit of rhythm. But it's a difficult day, anything under par, level par is a good score out there today. I'm pleased with it."

Thomas, however, had two birdies and a double bogey on his inward half. The double came at the par-4 fourth, where he four-putted. He nearly made up those two strokes on his final hole, the par-5 ninth, when a wild approach shot [as you can see below] traversed the contours of the green and settled 6 feet from the hole. But Thomas missed the short eagle putt and settled for birdie.