No. 1 in play for McIlroy, Westwood

By Rex HoggardFebruary 26, 2012, 12:55 am

MARANA, Ariz. – As Rory McIlroy brushed past Lee Westwood just before lunch hour on Saturday at Dove Mountain the young Ulsterman couldn’t resist, “See you on the first tee tomorrow morning.”

WGC-Accenture Match Play officials could only dream of such a change in fortune.

This week golf’s version of March Madness has lost world No. 1 Luke Donald (early vacation), three-time champion Tiger Woods (vacationing putter) and Phil Mickelson (family vacation), although, given the 'Q' rating of some who advanced to the Elite Eight, Lefty may have thought to postpone his week off and make a run at his first WGC-Match Play title.

Yet as the day’s four matches ended with surprising swiftness, the dream semifinal bout between Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood began to seem more likely. By the time Martin Laird conceded the 16th hole to Westwood the best-case scenario was a reality.

“That’s the trouble with kids today – they think they are always right,” Westwood smiled when reminded of McIlroy’s prophetic comment.

He and the kid will tee off early Sunday playing for more than just an afternoon time in the championship match. Both players can overtake Donald, who lost in Round 1 to Ernie Els, atop the World Golf Ranking, with a victory this week.

That the duo were part of the same management shop until a high-profile split between McIlroy and International Sports Management chief Chubby Chandler only adds to the subtext, although both players were quick to downplay the significance of the perceived rift.

“We don’t spend as much time together as we did when we were in the same management group, but that’s understandable,” Westwood said. “But there’s nothing strained about the relationship between the two of us.”

Nor does Westwood imagine the possibility of becoming No. 1 will weigh on him Sunday, an opportunity somewhat mitigated by the fact he’s been there before – for 22 weeks, in fact – while McIlroy has not.

“I’ve been No. 1 a couple of times,” Westwood said. “He may be thinking about it, but my main goal is to play as well as I’ve been playing tomorrow morning and try and win that match.”

McIlroy had a similar take and also dismissed the notion that he would struggle against Westwood, who some considered something of a mentor to the Ulsterman. When asked if he considered the Englishman “a big brother,” McIlroy left no room for ambiguity.

“To be honest not really because you’re going to each tournament to try and win and beat each other. That’s what I always tried to do,” McIlroy said. “I’d look at Darren Clarke or Nick Faldo (as a big-brother type).”

Not that any of those undertones much matter to tournament officials, who have been snake-bitten in recent years by the Match Play’s capricious format. The Match Play is like fondue, an occasional treat and part-time curiosity but no one would want a steady diet of the stuff, particularly WGC officials who endured a second consecutive day of blowouts.

For the first time in the 14-year history of the event not a single quarterfinal match made it to the 17th hole, a reality so stark one half wonders why architect Jack Nicklaus even bothered with the last two holes at Dove Mountain.

Mark Wilson cruised past long-hitting Peter Hanson, 4 and 3; Hunter Mahan stunned Matt Kuchar, 6 and 5; McIlroy closed out rookie Sang-Moon Bae’s impressive Match Play run, 3 and 2; and Westwood finished the rout with a 4-and-2 victory over Martin Laird.

Yet from Saturday’s carnage comes opportunity. The all-American matchup of Mahan and Wilson will lead off the morning’s semifinal lineup, guaranteeing that for the first time since 2008 a player from the U.S. will advance to the final, followed by Westwood and McIlroy, the first time since 2000 two No. 1-seeded players from the same side of the bracket have played their way into a semifinal clash.

This much seems certain, if form holds it could be a quick Sunday. Since Friday, just one of the 12 matches have made it to the final hole, and a match hasn’t gone to extra holes since Wednesday’s opening round.

As a rule, blowouts aren’t best for any format, particularly a match-play tournament. Just ask the 30 or so fans huddled around the 18th green late Saturday afternoon. Either no one knew or no one cared that the matches, and the day, were over without a single meaningful shot played into the closer.

Officials can only hope for a little more action on Sunday at the 18th, not to mention the 17th hole, but at least they have the matchups that everyone wanted.

Watch live coverage of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship on Golf Channel, Sunday 8AM-1PM ET. NBC coverage can be seen live Sunday, 2-6PM ET.

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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.”