Motivated by loss, Z. Johnson (66) leads Open

By Rex HoggardJuly 18, 2013, 4:22 pm

GULLANE, Scotland – Get on with it.

It is a distinctly English point of view but fits the situation here in Scotland, and Zach Johnson has embraced the philosophy, to say nothing of the breezy and bouncy way of playing the game on ancient links.

Less than four days ago, Johnson endured a painful first in his career, a playoff loss at an event that was his for the taking.

Johnson finished 72 holes at TPC Deere Run tied with eventual champion Jordan Spieth and David Hearn at 19 under but couldn’t convert a birdie putt in the playoff. He spent the better part of the next seven hours stewing about what could have been.

142nd Open Championship: Articles, videos and photos

“It disturbed him,” said Damon Green, Johnson’s longtime caddie. “The whole flight over, he was bothered by it because he’d never lost a playoff.”

Green told his man not to dwell on the overtime loss and consider the Open Championship his reason to move on. By the time the charter flight to Scotland had landed Johnson had turned the page.

He eschewed jetlag and headed straight to Muirfield for a nine-hole practice round on Monday and a new beginning. By the time he’d rounded the East Lothian links in 66 strokes on Thursday for the early clubhouse lead the John Deere seemed like a lifetime ago, or so Johnson would have one believe.

“Well, I had forgotten about it until you just mentioned it,” said Johnson, his tongue firmly planted in cheek.

The truth is, losses like the Deere don’t go away, and no one knows that better than Johnson. The former mini-tour player has carved out a stellar career on the back of disappointment.

From humble beginnings have come great things. Nine PGA Tour wins, including the 2007 Masters, and a regular spot on America’s cup teams stand as a testament to a player who is something of a throwback to an earlier time.

He doesn’t hit the ball as far as most in the big leagues and his Midwestern sensibilities have kept him clear of the spotlight, but when things are darkest Johnson is at his best – be it at a major championship or a charter flight with too much free time.

“You can be depressed for a day,” said Dr. Morris Pickens, Johnson’s sports psychologist who is with the front-runner this week in Scotland. “But there are worse things in life than losing a playoff. Just do the same thing you did last week.”

Message received.

Johnson was one of three players to go out in 31 on Day 1 and, unlike the other quick starters, he maintained that advantage on an increasingly difficult closing loop to finish at 5 under – the ghosts of TPC Deere Run blown clear into the Firth of Forth by a warm wind.

“This game demands resilience,” Johnson said when asked about the Deere heartbreak. “I felt great about last week. What I embraced is that I played great. The bottom line is I know I can play on these golf courses and I love them.”

Johnson proved that last year at Lytham, when he rode a wild week (65-74-66-75) to his first top-10 finish (T-9) at golf’s oldest championship.

That Muirfield is playing perfectly this week for the fairways-and-greens specialist also helped Johnson move on. A dry and hot spring has resulted in a brown and bouncy test that favors precision over power.

That a “quality shot” can end up 30 feet from a pin also favors Johnson, one of the Tour’s best putters.

“Lag putting,” Johnson said when asked his strengths on Thursday.

As Muirfield became more crusty with each gust on Day 1, Johnson reverted to a unique way of reading greens. “You have to pay attention to the color,” he figured.

If a putt was along one of the greener patches, for example, you could be more aggressive, but if the grass had turned a brownish hue it was best to putt defensively.

It almost reminded one of Augusta National in 2007, when the home of the Masters was similarly speedy and Johnson played every par 5 in three shots on his way to a green jacket.

It also helps that Johnson has a particularly attentive roommate this week. When Stewart Cink won the 2009 Open Championship at Turnberry he was more than a year removed from his last victory and dealing with his own demons.

“He is one of my very best friends,” Johnson said of Cink, who are sharing a house just down the coast in North Berwick. “It just so happens he’s won the claret jug.”

Cink knows a thing or two about resilience, and that might be the best club in Johnson’s bag this week. On this the English have it right, just get on with it.

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M. Jutanugarn finally joins sister in LPGA winner's circle

By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 1:42 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn won the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open by two shots for her first victory in six years on the LPGA Tour, joining sister Ariya as the second siblings to win on the tour.

The 23-year-old from Thailand shot a 3-under 68 for a 12-under 272 total Sunday at Wilshire Country Club in the tour's return to Los Angeles after a 13-year absence.

Jutanugarn won in her 156th start after three career runner-up finishes, including at the Honda LPGA Thailand in February. She had 21 top-10 finishes before winning.

Seven-time winner Ariya tied for 24th after a 70. She joined the predominantly Asian crowd to follow her older sister's final holes, crying as Moriya two-putted to close out the win.

Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam were the first sisters to win on the LPGA Tour.

Hall of Famer Inbee Park shot a 68 to tie for second with Jin Young Ko (70).

Park had opportunities, but she wasn't able to put pressure on Jutanugarn playing in the final threesome. However, Park will return to No. 1 in the world when the rankings come out Monday, knocking off top-ranked Shenshen Fang, who tied for 12th.

Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open

Jutanugarn began the final round with a two-shot lead and never wavered in fulfilling the potential she first displayed as the LPGA Rookie of the Year in 2013. After a birdie at the second hole, she reeled off nine consecutive pars before sinking birdie putts at 12 and 13.

She overcame a tee shot that narrowly missed going out of bounds for another birdie at 15 to lead by three.

Jutanugarn ran into trouble on the par-4 16th. Her approach landed on the green and rolled off it, stopping inches from dropping into a bunker. Her chip shot ran well past the hole and her par putt just missed catching the edge of the cup. That left her with a short putt for bogey, her first in her previous 28 holes, trimming her lead to two shots.

Ko's tee shot on 18 landed about 4 feet from the hole, giving her a chance to cut Jutanugarn's lead to one shot with the Thai facing a long birdie attempt.

But Ko missed, leaving Jutanugarn room to maneuver. Her birdie putt came up a couple feet short, but she calmly parred the hole to win. Ariya rushed onto the green and joined others in emptying water bottles on her sister before they embraced.

So Yeon Ryu (68) finished fourth at 7 under. American Emma Talley (67) and Eun-Hee Ji (71) tied for fifth at 6 under, making Ji one of four South Koreans to place in the top five.

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After Further Review: Tour players embracing new ideas

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 23, 2018, 1:26 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On players embracing new ideas on the PGA Tour ...

PGA Tour players are trying to tell commissioner Jay Monahan something: They like new.

In the second year of the two-man team format at the Zurich Classic, 10 of the top 14 players in the world have signed up, including all four reigning major champions. It’s the first time all four have been in the same field since the Tour Championship. If the laid-back event offered world-ranking points – it doesn’t, and that’s part of the appeal – the winner would have received 62 points. That’s the same as the Genesis Open.

Sure, some sponsor obligations are involved in boosting the field here, but there’s no other way to look at this: Today’s PGA Tour players are not only willing to play events that are a departure from the 72-hole, stroke-play norm. They’re encouraging it. - Ryan Lavner

On Moriya Jutanugarn's breakthrough win ...

As much love as there is between the Jutanugarn sisters, it couldn’t have been easy for Moriya, watching her baby sister, Ariya, soar past her as one of the LPGA’s dominant stars the last few years. Mo, though, never betrayed an inkling of frustration or envy.

That’s what made Mo’s breakthrough LPGA victory Sunday at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open especially meaningful for everyone who has admired Mo’s devotion to her sister. Mo was always a fixture, waiting in the wings to celebrate whenever Ariya hoisted a trophy.

So emotions were high late Sunday, with Ariya waiting in the wings this time, with Ariya sobbing in Mo’s arms after the victory was secured. It was heartwarming for more than Apple, the mother who raised these talented, loving sisters. As always, Apple was there, too, soaking both her daughters in tears of joy. – Randall Mell

On the tough scheduling decisions facing the PGA Tour ...

According to multiple sources, officials at Colonial are poised to announce a new sponsorship agreement with Charles Schwab Corporation on Monday.

While this is good news for the folks in Fort Worth, Texas, who were in danger of finding themselves on the wrong side of timing, there remain some tough decisions to be made in the next few weeks.

If the PGA Tour’s plan is to end its season before Labor Day beginning in 2019, something must give. Currently, the Houston Open, a staple on Tour since 1946, and The National are without sponsors. When the music stops in a few weeks and the circuit announces the ’19 schedule, there’s a good chance one, or both, of those events will be the victims of bad timing. – Rex Hoggard

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Triplett hole-out wins Legends of Golf playoff

By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 12:12 am

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - Kirk Triplett holed out from a bunker for birdie on the first playoff hole Sunday in the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf to lift himself and partner Paul Broadhurst past Bernhard Langer and Tom Lehman.

''Well, you're trying to make it, but you know realistically it doesn't go in very often,'' Triplett said. ''You're trying to give your partner a free run at it. You don't want to hit it up there 20 feet past or do something silly. I'm just trying to hit it the right distance and get it on the right line.''

Langer and Lehman took it in stride.

''You kind of learn to expect it,'' Lehman said. ''These guys out here are so good and Kirk Triplett is a magician around the greens. The odds of making that shot are probably not good, but you certainly expect him to hit a great shot and he did and it went in.''

Lehman and Langer missed birdie putts after Triplett holed out.

''I kind of felt like we both hit pretty good putts, misread them, both of them,'' Lehman said. ''I hit mine probably too hard and Bernhard's was too soft, but you have to hand it to the guys who hit the shot when they have to hit it.''

Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf

Broadhurst and Triplett closed with a 6-under 48 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course to match Langer and Lehman at 24 under. Langer and Lehman had a 47, playing the front nine in alternate shot and the back nine in better ball.

The 56-year-old Triplett won his sixth PGA Tour Champions title.

''That's a big roller-coaster - three good shots and mine, right?'' Triplett said. ''I'm feeling a little dejected walking down that fairway there, a little sheepish. To knock it in it just reminds you, this game, you know, crazy stuff.''

Broadhurst claimed his third senior victory.

''I don't get too emotional, but that was something special,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said.

Spanish stars Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jose Maria Olazabal had a 48 to tie for third with 2017 winners Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco. Singh and Franco, the third-round leaders, shot 50.

Mark Calcavecchia-Woody Austin (48), John Daly-Michael Allen (49), Steve Stricker-Jerry Kelly (50) and David Toms-Steve Flesch (52) tied for fifth at 20 under.

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Mullinax (T-2) comes up short of maiden win

By Will GrayApril 23, 2018, 12:06 am

The Valero Texas Open saw an unheralded player break through to earn a maiden victory, but unfortunately for Trey Mullinax his day will have to wait.

Mullinax started the final round within a shot of the lead, having fired a course-record 62 during the final round. He trailed Andrew Landry by one shot for much of the final round while racking up six birdies over his first 11 holes, but a pair of late miscues meant the former Alabama standout had to settle for a share of second place, two shots behind Landry.

A final-round 69 marked a career-best finish for Mullinax, who is playing this season on conditional status and whose lone prior top-10 this season came after he Monday qualified for the Valspar Championship.

"I know my game's there, I'm playing really well," Mullinax told reporters. "Give all credit to Andrew, he played really well today, rocksteady. He was putting great, hitting great shots."

Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos

Given time to reflect, the 26-year-old will likely look back on the final two holes where nerves appeared to get the best of him. Looking to put some pressure on Landry, Mullinax chunked his pitch on the short 17th hole into a greenside bunker, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on the course.

Then Mullinax was unable to convert a 9-foot birdie putt on the final green, which would have forced Landry to make his 8-foot par putt to avoid a playoff. Afforded the luxury of two putts for the win, Landry rolled in his par save to cement a two-shot win.

"Made a bad bogey on 17, but just you've got to hit some bad shots," Mullinax said. "Would have liked to have got the putt on 18 to fall to put a little bit of heat on him, but this experience that I'm gaining right now is just going to help me down the road."