The Old Fashioned Way
“Nearly half the field can qualify for an Open, that’s not on paper but it is damn near written in stone,” Fay said.
On Monday in central Ohio the sometimes pampered and privileged proved Fay’s point, playing 36 holes under warm skies for one of 15 spots next week at Pebble Beach. Eric Axley punched his ticket, shooting rounds of 64-63 to take medalist honors by a touchdown. Bo Van Pelt, perhaps the most consistent player on Tour this spring, will also make the trip, finishing tied for fourth.
Further punctuating Fay’s point was the play of Justin Rose, a first-time PGA Tour winning on Sunday up the road at Muirfield Village, who carded rounds of 68-72 and will miss the year’s second major. Rickie Fowler, who succumbed to Rose after holding the lead at the Memorial Tournament for the better part of 65 holes, also struggled on Monday (70-73) and will not play the Pebble Beach Open.
Between the fortunate and the fatigued, however, was the ultimate afterthought. Aaron Baddeley has been a Tour staple since 2003, a two-time winner in 2006 and ’07 and considered one of the best putters of his generation.
But somewhere along the way Baddeley lost his way, bolting his long-time swing coach for the stack-and-tilt method that came into fashion a few years ago. Last year just after the WGC-CA Championship the Australian ended the experiment and returned to Dale Lynch, who he had worked with since he was a 13 year old prodigy.
“I had some success with stack-and-tilt but I felt I was working hard and not getting the results I wanted,” Baddeley said early Monday at Brookside Golf & Country Club. “I wanted to get back to who I was before, more of a feel player. Seeing the shot.”
Baddeley’s progress has been steady, if not slower than he would have liked, but rounds of 69-67 on Monday left him tied for 10th place and bound for Pebble Beach.
The biggest improvement for Baddeley has been a dramatic jump in how far he hits the ball. Lynch said Baddeley’s technique began to fall into place during the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am earlier this year so his statistics don’t paint a complete picture, but he has still jumped from 92nd on Tour last year with a 287-yard average to 13th this season (293 yards).
“I’m 30 to 40 yards further (with his driver),” said Baddeley, who missed the cut at the 2000 Open at Pebble Beach, “When I started hitting it longer it was laughable how far it was going.”
Since last spring when Baddeley reunited with Lynch he has three top-10 finishes, most recently tied for third at the Valero Texas Open, has improved in nearly every major statistical category and, according to Lynch, he’s only recently started trusting his swing in competition.
“Everything we looked at was long-term which was very brave. He was willing to forego shot-term stuff,” Lynch said. “Six weeks ago his technique was great, but the next step was the mental hurdle of trusting the new swing. He’s there now.”
He’s also in the U.S. Open, earning his spot the old-fashion way. Fay would like that.
Molinari holds off McIlroy to win BMW PGA
VIRGINIA WATER, England - Rory McIlroy left his victory charge too late at Wentworth as Francesco Molinari delivered a clinic in front-running to win the BMW PGA Championship by two shots with a 4-under 68 on Sunday.
McIlroy, who led by three shots at halfway, entered the final round tied for the lead with Molinari on 13 under par but a Sunday shootout at the European Tour's flagship event never really materialized.
Instead, as McIlroy toiled to a 70 that was propped up by birdies on the par fives at Nos. 17 and 18, Molinari went bogey-free for a second straight day to claim the fifth victory of his career and the biggest since a World Golf Championship in Shanghai in 2010.
The Italian only dropped two shots all week and finished on 17-under 271, with McIlroy alone in second place. Alex Noren (67) and Lucas Bjerregaard (65) were tied for third place a stroke further back.
Molinari moved into the automatic qualifying places for the Ryder Cup, which he hasn't played since 2012 when Europe beat the United States in the so-called ''Miracle at Medinah.''
He'd previously had five top-10 finishes in the last six years at Wentworth, including being runner-up to Noren last year.
Four top finishers in Japan qualify for The Open
IBARAKI, Japan – Shota Akiyoshi of Japan shot a 2-under-par 70 on Sunday to win the Mizuno Open and qualify for The 147th Open.
Akiyoshi offset three bogeys with five birdies at the Royal Golf Club in Ibaraki, Japan, to finish 1 under overall and secure his first ever tournament win on the Japan Golf Tour.
Michael Hendry of New Zealand and Japanese golfers Masahiro Kawamura and Masanori Kobayashi were tied for second one stroke off the pace to also qualify for The Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, from July 19-22.
Hendry, who led the tournament coming into the final round, came close to forcing a playoff with Akiyoshi but dropped a shot with a bogey on the final hole when he needed a par to draw level.
Hendry will make his second appearance at The Open after qualifying at the Mizuno Open for the second year in a row.
Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way
Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.
Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.
And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.
“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.
Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.
Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.
Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.
Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.
“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.
Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.
A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.
It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.
There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.
Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.
The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.
Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.
“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”
Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why
In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.
Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.
With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.
"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.
So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.
"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.