Scott squanders chance for Bay Hill title, No. 1 ranking

By Rex HoggardMarch 23, 2014, 11:49 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Tiger Woods was a no-show this week for his annual central Florida annuity, the byproduct of a back that continues to cause aches throughout the golf world, while Adam Scott at least waited until the weekend to go AWOL.

Following a course-record-tying 62 on Day 1 at Bay Hill, the would-be world No. 1 slowly, steadily, painfully back-pedaled his way into one of the more disappointing finishes of his career, squandering a seven-stroke advantage to begin the weekend on his way to a three-shot loss to Matt Every at a tournament that had all the markings of a coronation.

Major champions close. Players on the brink of overtaking Woods atop golf’s mathematically mad rankings don’t drop nine shots over two days to the 94th-ranked player whose primary claim to fame as a professional was, at least until Sunday, a 2010 arrest for possession of marijuana.

On the eve of the final round Scott acknowledged as much.

“I just don’t think you get the chance that much, because there are so many guys playing well,” Scott said on Saturday. “If I only win one tournament in the peak time in my career it’s no different than the rest of my career so far. I’ve got to start closing at a better rate.”

But on Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Scott blew the save ... there’s no other way to slice it up.

With a three-stroke advantage over Keegan Bradley, and four clear of Every, Scott bogeyed the first hole for the second consecutive day, added another at the third and by the 12th hole he was trailing for the first time all week.

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, videos and photos

Scott didn’t make a birdie on his closing loop on a breezy Sunday afternoon. When pressed for the root of his ills he figured it was his putter – the same club that betrayed him late last year when he lost the Australian Open to Rory McIlroy – which should shoulder the blame.

“I really think the putting has let me down on both those occasions,” said Scott, who has now failed to convert his last two 54-hole leads. “That needs to be tightened up and probably shows that I need to do a bit more work on it to hold up under the pressure.”

To hear Scott talk late Sunday one came away with the distinct feeling that the 2016 ban on anchoring can’t get here soon enough.

On paper, Scott’s take has merit. After needing 23 and 29 putts in Rounds 1 and 2, respectively, he batted his way around Bay Hill on the weekend needing a combined 63 putts, including a particularly deflating three-putt from 19 feet at the 16th hole that turned what could have been a three-stroke swing into an end game.

Every, who claimed his first PGA Tour title thanks to a closing 70 for a 13-under total, fanned his drive into the trees right of the 16th fairway, hit another tree with his second shot and had to chip out with his third. A two-putt bogey dropped him to 14 under and two ahead of Scott, who answered by rifling his second shot at the par 5 to 19 feet.

But Scott missed the eagle attempt, and his 4-footer for birdie. A hole later his broom-handle putter let him down again, this time from 7 feet for par.

Scott would finish with a 76, completing a 3-over-par weekend to finish alone in third place behind Bradley, who also endured a sloppy start (he was 3 over through three holes) but pulled to within a shot when Every bogeyed the last.

From what is considered in these parts the “Tiger putt,” the spot about 30 feet left of the hole at No. 18 where Woods beat Sean O’Hair in 2009, Bradley’s tying attempt remained high.

“(Caddie Steve Hale) said, ‘That’s bogey when Matt putted (at No. 18), birdie and we have a playoff.’ I was actually thinking about the Tiger putt before I putted, but I remember his breaking into the hole,” Bradley said. “I just love that moment.”

Whether Scott has a similar affinity for those types of high-pressure episodes will now be a talking point over the next two weeks in the run-up to the Masters.

His playoff victory last year at Augusta National seemed to evaporate the cloud that hung over Scott for much of his career that suggested he was too soft to win when the pressure was on.

Ending the Aussie “duck” in such dramatic fashion, however, has now given way to familiar rumblings. Recent history and short-term memories now cite Scott’s loss at the Australian Open, where he led McIlroy by four shots heading into the last lap, and now the Arnold Palmer Invitational as Exhibits A and B.

But as tough as the critics can be, it is Scott who will likely spend the next fortnight playing tag with the darkest recesses of his psyche.

“Sometimes you’ve got to be hard on yourself. Sometimes you don’t,” Scott said. “I had an opportunity here to run away with an event and really take a lot of confidence. I’m taking confidence anyway from just some good play. But some opportunities you’ve got to take.”

Four international victories, including the Masters, in the last 12 months appeared to indicate we’d seen the last of the softer side of Scott, that the days of missed opportunities and unmitigated miscues were a thing of the past.

Scott chose to look at the moment as a trophy half full, figuring only bad memories are born from painful association. But the questions, however unfair and shortsighted, will linger, at least until the Masters.

American Junior Golf Association

Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 11:03 pm

While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.

There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.

According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)

Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.

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McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

12/1: Tony Finau

14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

20/1: Francesco Molinari

25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

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Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.

“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

Her overall assessment of her day?

“It was a great experience,” she said.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.