DeLaet handling yips, aiming for Olympic medal

By Rex HoggardAugust 11, 2016, 6:05 pm

RIO DE JANEIRO – Graham DeLaet picked up right where Canada left off in the last Olympic golf competition, perched near the top of a leaderboard in his quest to win the country’s second gold medal.

That Canada’s reign as Olympic golf champions has stretched 112 years was nothing DeLaet seemed interested in addressing.

“We are the defending champions,” DeLaet said with a sly smile after a first-round 66 left him alone in second place early on Day 1 at the Olympic Golf Course.

Technically, DeLaet was correct. Canadian George Lyon won the individual competition at the 1904 Games in St. Louis, although the United States took the team gold medal. But even that detail doesn’t stand up to a semantics debate since golf’s return to the Olympics this year doesn’t include a team competition.

While the historical significance of DeLaet’s Olympic opening may be an interesting footnote – in fact, it’s why officials sent DeLaet out in the day’s first group alongside Brazil’s Adilson da Silva and Ben An, whose parents were both Olympians –the Canadian’s 5-under card was much more compelling when considered in competitive context.

Widely considered one of the game’s best ball-strikers, DeLaet endured the worst of professional hardships this season when a bout with chipping yips ran him away from the PGA Tour and in search of answers.

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DeLaet withdrew from the Memorial in June, sending a social media missive afterward: “I'm dealing with incredible anxiety while chipping/pitching right now. It's not fun.”

He took more than a month off and arrived early in Rio unsure how his game would hold up under the Olympic pressure.

“Everything is feeling better and better all the time,” said DeLaet, who hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation on a blustery first day in Rio. “I know that when I finally get through the whole thing, it's just going to be a little blip on my radar when I look back on my career.”

DeLaet’s outlook on this week’s competition has taken a similarly “big picture” approach. While some of the game’s top players chose to pass on the Olympic experience, most citing concerns over the Zika virus for their withdrawals, the 34-year-old never wavered on his commitment to playing in Rio.

Asked on Thursday if he ever had second thoughts, DeLaet’s answer came quick, “No.” In fact, the father of twins who were born last November said he was already looking forward to 2020 when the Games will be played in Tokyo.

“It's different for a golfer because we played last week, we come down here for a week, we're in Greensboro [N.C.] next week type of thing and the playoffs start right away,” he said. “But when you see how much this means to the other athletes, they have been working at this for four straight years, you can see how much it means to them, and the pride and the excitement that they have.”

If DeLaet was in the minority heading into this year’s Games with such zeal, being a part of the Olympic experience has only solidified his desire to make this more than just a South American cameo. His chipping yips may just be a blip in his career, but winning a gold medal would reach well beyond Rio.

Winning a medal may still be an abstract notion to most golfers in this week’s field, but for DeLaet such an accomplishment would transcend his country’s unique history with Olympic golf or the relative uncertainty associated with the game’s return.

On Tuesday, he visited the Canada House in the athlete’s village and was joined on the shuttle bus by his country’s rugby sevens women’s team fresh off their bronze medal winning performance.

“We got to hold [the medals],” he said. “That's when it really kind of became real to me how amazing it would be to get that chunk of medal. Obviously gold would be incredible, but I think bringing home anything would be really, really special.”

Conditioned as most professional golfers are, DeLaet tempered his excitement after just one round. “I’m only 25 percent done,” he said.

But there’s something about this week that undercuts the old cliché. “One shot at a time,” may work on any given week among the play-for-pay ranks, but the Olympic call is hard to ignore when everything around you is a reminder of what awaits.

That holds particularly true for a player like DeLaet who has been tested to his competitive core this season by the yips and is considered to be among the best players on Tour without a victory, which is something of a backhanded compliment.

Winning a medal – pick a medal, any would do – would qualify as a career-changing, if not life-changing, event for DeLaet.

“We do this for a living week‑in and week‑out, but there was something different about that first tee shot today,” DeLaet said. “We said as we were walking off the first tee, this is pretty cool, first time in over a hundred years, and we're kind of the lead group. It was nice.”

Lyon’s victory in 1904 was a similarly unique story. The last Olympic gold medal-winning golfer hadn’t started playing the game until he was 38 years old and declined to accept his gold medal in St. Louis.

More than a century removed from that last Olympic exchange not a lot has changed other than the guy from Moose Jaw has every intention of keeping his medal, whatever color it might be.

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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.”