Royal retrospect

By Rich LernerJuly 18, 2011, 10:42 pm

Skinny guys aren’t everymen. Only the burly guys are. Iced tea drinkers aren’t everymen. Only the beer drinkers are. You probably know this but it’s never as simple as we in the press present it. Darren Clarke is complex – he does have a darker side beneath that killer smile. Come to think of it, maybe that does make him an everyman.

– Rickie Fowler outplayed and out-spirited Rory McIlroy and for the first time I thought maybe the gap between the two is not Grand Canyon-wide.

– Phil Mickelson was on his way to one of the greatest rounds in golf history. Seriously. He was 6 under through 10 in rough weather Sunday at a major. He’d wiped out a five-shot lead. And then, with one jack-hammered 2-footer at 11 it wasn’t one of the greatest rounds ever. But it was fun while it lasted, just like the ’09 Masters when he went nuts on the first nine before rinsing it at Rae’s Creek.

– If Sergio Garcia gripes about a lack of passion for the foul weather game, he gets ripped for being a whiner. Rory got a pass because eight-shot wins at a U.S. Open and a generally sunny personality buy you a pass.

– The recurring image from this Open for me is Clarke gracefully powering that longshoreman’s frame through the golf ball and through the bracing winds. Again and again and again.

– Tom Watson has become Shivas Irons, an almost mystical figure. And that’s what makes links golf so unbelievably cool. When it’s firm, 61-year-old guys aren’t at a huge disadvantage in terms of length. When it howls and spits, it becomes a test of reading wind, a test of maintaining rhythm and a test of attitude. Watson is peerless in those categories.

– A decade ago, Clarke was one of the few not just comfortable in Tiger’s imperious presence of 2000, but confident enough to kick Tiger around. And for that Tiger respected Darren. It’s no surprise that Tiger texted Darren his best wishes Saturday night.

– I want it to blow Sunday at a British Open the way I want it to snow on a Sunday at Lambeau Field in December.

– Rory may be the king in waiting. Clarke looks more like the Godfather.

– Who knew Miguel Angel Jimenez was Richard Pryor with a ponytail and a pitching wedge? In the parlance of the comedy world, his shtick killed all week.

– Look for Clarke to captain Europe at the 2016 Ryder Cup in the U.S. Fans here will have a hard time rooting against a team lead by Clarke, and that helps when you’re trying to win on foreign soil. Don’t be surprised to see either Thomas Bjorn or Paul McGinley get the nod in 2014 at Gleneagles in Scotland.

– Speaking of fun loving, beloved Ryder Cup captains, Clarke is now Sam Torrance with a major.

– Northern Ireland’s turning out major champions like the Dominican Republic turns out shortstops.

– One thing you want heading into a final round at a major is absolute confidence in your short putting early. Clarke grabbed it at the very first hole with that downhill, right-breaking putt that he absolutely throated for par. That set the tone and he was rock solid the rest of the way.

– There was so much Sunday that was vintage Phil, from the sublime start to the inexplicable yet semi-predictable miss at 11, to his discussion of Pelzian (Dave Pelz), mathematical theory on the fifth tee.

– Clarke was very good, but he was also very lucky at nine when his second shot skipped over those double-bogey death traps disguised as pot bunkers. You knew then it was his day.

– Colleague Brandel Chamblee unfurled this description of Dustin Johnson’s second shot at 14, “There’s Kent to the left and can’t to the right, as in can’t hit it there.” 

– How about Clarke as a lead television analyst someday?

– I find Tom Watson’s commentary helpful. One of these years ESPN will get four days out of him, but it might not be until he’s 70. He’s 61 and swings like he’s 21.

– Clarke’s win is a case of a guy getting his just due, a good talent with a good nature.

– Graeme McDowell won the U.S. Open after having left agent Chubby Chandler so there were whispers that maybe Chubby somehow held guys back, the inference being that if you wanted to have a good time then go hang with loveable Chubby but if you wanted to win majors think again. Then along came Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Rory and now Darren, Chubby’s first client going back 20 years. Just like that, it’s Chubby’s world and plenty of people will want in. And a good world it is.

– David Feherty announced he’s coming out of retirement for the PGA Championship in hopes of becoming the third straight major winner from Northern Ireland.

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Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.

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"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel to U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."

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Koepka looking to make hay on Horrible Horseshoe

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:26 pm

The Horrible Horseshoe - Nos. 3, 4 and 5 at Colonial Country Club - annually ranks as one of the toughest three-hole stretches on the PGA Tour.

Consider Brooks Koepka undeterred.

Last year's U.S. Open champ has played the stretch 2 over this week but knows that if he's going to have any chance at catching Justin Rose on Sunday, he's going to need take advantage of the par-5 first and then find a way to pick up shots on the Horseshoe.

"I feel like just need to get off to a good start on this golf course," Koepka said after a third-round 67 Saturday. "If you can get 2 or 3 under through six holes, I think you'll be right there."

Koepka will start the final round four behind Rose, as he looks to win for the first time since his maiden major victory last year.

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The big-hitter missed nearly four months this year with a wrist injury and is progressing quickly in his comeback despite dislocating his wrist on two different occasions over the last two months.

Koepka missed the cut with partner Marc Turnesa at the Zurich Classic in his competitive return before following up with a tie for 42nd at the Wells Fargo Championship and a tie for 11th at The Players Championship.

Now, thanks to a closing birdie Sunday, he finds himself playing alongside Rose in the final group on Sunday.

"I feel like my game is coming around," he said. "[At Zurich], I was five days into touching clubs. I am finally finding a rhythm and feel like I'm getting really close. ...

"Just want to get off to a good start [tomorrow]. That's really all I am trying to do. You put together a good solid round tomorrow, you never know what can happen. The important thing is we were just trying to get in that final group. I thought the putt on 18 was kind of big to get in that final group and play with Rosey."

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Rose leads Koepka, Grillo by four at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 9:06 pm

On the strength of a 4-under 66 Saturday, Justin Rose will take a four-shot lead over Brooks Koepka and Emiliano Grillo into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational. Here's where things stand through 54 holes at Colonial Country Club.

Leaderboard: Rose (-14), Koepka (-10), Grillo (-10), Corey Conners (-8), Jon Rahm (-8), Louis Oosthuizen (-8), J.T. Poston (-8), Ryan Armour (-8)

What it means: The fifth-ranked player in the world is 18 holes from his ninth PGA Tour victory and his second this season. Up one to start the third round, Rose extended his lead to as much as five with birdies on four of his first six holes. Through 54 holes, Rose has made 17 birdies and just three bogeys. The 2013 U.S. Open winner and 2016 Olympic gold medalist has a history of winning at iconic venues - Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional - and now looks to add Colonial to the list. He'll be chased on Sunday by Grillo, the young Argentinian who won his first Tour start as a member in 2015, and Koepka, last year's U.S. Open winner who continues to impress in his injury comeback despite ongoing wrist issues.

Round of the day: Corey Conners and Ted Potter both turned in 7-under 63. Potter was bogey-free and Conners came home in 6-under 29 on the back nine.

Best of the rest: Jon Rahm, Louis Oosthuizen, Brian Harman and Michael Thompson all signed for 64. Rahm called his six-birdie start the best 10 holes he's played so far this year.

Biggest disappointment: Jordan Spieth has finished second-first-second in the last three years at this event, but he's yet to find his normal Colonial form through three rounds. Spieth, who said Friday he was capable of shooting "10 or 12 under" over the weekend, shot even-par 70 Saturday. He sits in T-38 at 3 under for the week, 11 back.

Shot of the day: Rory Sabbatini closed out his third round Saturday with this eagle holeout from 134 yards at the 18th.

His colorful scorecard featured three bogeys, two birdies, a double bogey and that eagle. It added up to a 1-over 71. 

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McCarron closes with only bogey, shares lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 8:49 pm

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Scott McCarron, seeking a second senior major title to go with his 2017 Senior Players Championship, made his only bogey of the third round on the final hole to slip into a tie for the lead Saturday with Tim Petrovic in the Senior PGA Championship.

They were at 13 under par after Petrovic, seeking his first major, shot 65. McCarron has shared the lead through three rounds.

England's Paul Broadhurst, the 2016 British Senior Open winner, matched the best third-round score in tournament history with a 64. He was at 11 under.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, coming off his first major championship last week at the Regions Tradition, shot 65 and was 9 under.

Tom Byrum, who made a hole-in-one in shooting a 67, was in a group at 8 under.