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Shinnecock tough, getting there even tougher for some

By Ryan LavnerJune 13, 2018, 5:15 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – When registering for this 118th U.S. Open, Philip Barbaree and LSU teammate Jacob Bergeron signed up for a 8:20 a.m. practice round Monday at Shinnecock Hills. They chose that time, specifically, because they wanted to play with one of their heroes, Rory McIlroy.

Barbaree arrived at the course with plenty of time to spare – he’s staying in a rental house on nearby Sebonack, about a mile away – but Bergeron wasn’t so fortunate. That tee time came and went, and he was still an hour away, stuck in traffic. What should have been a half-hour drive from the USGA’s official player hotel instead took nearly three hours.  

“After that,” Bergeron said, “I thought this was something that could be serious.”

A U.S. Open on Long Island usually means one thing – a long commute – and this week has been no exception.

Depending on the time of morning and afternoon, even the shortest trips can take upwards of an hour, as traffic on the side streets and highways grind to a halt. Many players rented houses in the Southampton area, but for those like Bergeron, an amateur who doesn’t have thousands to drop on a weeklong stay, the USGA made arrangements at two local host hotels. The only problem: They’re located west of the course, with stops along the dreaded State Road 27 and Montauk Highway. The typical summer traffic here only compounds the problem.

“One way in, one way out, I knew it was going to be a problem,” said Aaron Wise, who found a room at the Hamlet Inn, about two miles away. “So I wanted to make sure that I got as close as I could.”


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McIlroy can’t get much closer – three minutes, door to door – and after hearing so many horror stories, he described himself as “very fortunate.”

“It’s one of those things you’re going to have to set off early and try to beat the traffic,” he said. “It’s the way it is. Unfortunately, one of the things about this area is it’s a small piece of land and can only take so many people.”

On its official championship page, the USGA recommended that fans take the MTA Long Island Rail Road, hailing it as the “most convenient” method of transportation. That’s still an 85-mile trip from New York’s Penn Station that could take more than two hours.

The first three days here have been such a debacle that the USGA brought in Southampton Town chief of police Steven Skrynecki to make a few remarks during its annual Eve of the Open address. Skrynecki said that he’s been monitoring traffic patterns and has seen “significant improvements” over the past three days, and that he anticipated that much of the local trade traffic will dissipate over the weekend.

The gridlock has created consternation for those with early start times. Tiger Woods – who is staying at Sag Harbor and sleeping aboard his $20 million yacht named “Privacy” – said that he wouldn’t be surprised if a player is disqualified this week.

“There’s a good chance that someone might miss their time,” he said. “You get a little fender bender, it’s not inconceivable someone could miss their time.”

Jeff Hall, the USGA’s managing director for rules and championships, said the organization will send a text to players Wednesday night reminding them of the traffic concerns – as if they needed a reminder – and that traffic is not an “exceptional circumstance” that would circumvent a DQ.

“I’m pretty confident they will adjust their schedule accordingly to take the proper precautions,” Hall said.   

But that’s what has left Bergeron confused.

For that 8:20 a.m. practice round Monday, he departed his hotel at 6:30 – nearly two hours early – and didn’t arrive until well after 9. He ended up not playing with McIlroy, a four-time major champion, but instead with two other sectional qualifiers, the names of whom he couldn’t remember.

“Kind of a bummer,” he said.

Bergeron’s first-round tee time is 8:35 a.m., and he’s already begun to fret.

“What do I do?” he asked. “I could see if Philip has a spot on the couch. I could sleep in the locker room. I’d rather get here at 3 a.m. and take a nap than miss my time.”

Even still, the logistical nightmare hasn’t dampened Bergeron’s outlook for the week. He’s a rising sophomore at LSU, his entire career ahead of him, and he’s just qualified for his first major. He’s excited to play – assuming traffic allows him to get to the tee.

“I know the U.S. Open is supposed to be hard,” he said. “I just didn’t know that every other aspect would be, too.”

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Haas nearly shoots age in taking Champions playoff opener lead

By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 10:05 pm

RICHMOND, Va.  -- Jay Haas shot a 7-under 65 - missing his age by a stroke - to take a two-shot lead Saturday in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Trying to become the oldest winner in tour history, the 64-year-old Haas birdied the par-5 16th and 18th holes to get to 11-under 133 on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''I've been out here too long to know that I can learn to expect anything,'' Haas said. ''While I'm hopeful every day and I've been playing OK, the last couple weeks have not been very good, but this week has been much better. I love this golf course and it looks good to my eye. Most of the holes look like I'm going to hit a good shot, so I enjoy playing here.''

Mike Fetchick set the age record of 63 years to the day in the 1985 Hilton Head event. Haas is second on the list, taking the 2016 Toshiba Classic at 62 years, 10 months, 7 days for his 18th senior title.

''That's a good way to say I'm old, 'experience,''' Haas said. ''I think I'm very nervous most of the time when I play and today was no exception, but I continued to hit good shots and, hopefully, I can put one foot in front of the other, one shot at a time, do what I tell my son to do every time, you know? See if I can put some of those adages to work tomorrow.''


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


Stephen Ames and Scott Dunlap were tied for second after the round that started in light rain. Ames had a 67, and Dunlap shot 68.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer had a 66 to join Billy Mayfair (67) and Woody Austin (68) at 9 under. Langer won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the season points lead. The 61-year-old German star has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, California, and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, was tied for 23rd at 4 under after a 71.

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Sergio leads by 4 entering final round at Valderrama

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 20, 2018, 9:26 pm

Sergio Garcia closed with three straight birdies to shoot a 7-under 64 on Saturday, taking a four-shot lead into the third and final round of the Andalusia Valderrama Masters.

The tournament, which Garcia has won  twice (2017, 2011), was reduced to 54 holes because of numerous weather-related delays.

With his bogey-free round, Garcia moved to 10 under, four shots clear of Englishman Ashley Chesters, who shot a 1-under 70.


Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


"Hopefully we'll be able to play well tomorrow and get another win at Valderrama," Garcia said. "Hopefully I can finish it in style."

Chesters, however, is conceding nothing. "There's always a chance," he said. "There's not a lot of pressure on me."

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Ciganda, S.Y. Kim share lead in Shanghai

By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 9:28 am

SHANGHAI - Carlota Ciganda of Spain shot a 5-under 67 Saturday to share the lead with Sei Young Kim after the third round of the LPGA Shanghai.

Ciganda carded her fifth birdie of the day on the par-4 18th to finish tied with overnight leader Kim at 11-under 205. Kim shot a 71 with four bogeys and five birdies.

Ciganda is attempting to win her third LPGA title and first since the 2016 season, when she won two tournaments in a one-month span. Kim is chasing her eighth career LPGA win and second title of the 2018 season.

''I want to win because I didn't win last year,'' Ciganda said. ''I love playing in Asia. It's good for long hitters, playing quite long, so I'm quite comfortable.''


Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai


Angel Yin also birdied the final hole for a 68 and was a further stroke back with Brittany Altomare (69), Danielle Kang (71) and Ariya Jutanugarn (71).

Yin and Altomare have yet to break through for their first LPGA win. A win in Shanghai would make either player the ninth first-time winner of the 2018 season, which would tie 2016 for the third highest number of first-time winners in a season in LPGA history.

''I love competing,'' Yin said. ''That's why I'm playing, right? I'm excited to be in contention again going into Sunday.''

Local favorite Yu Liu was seventh after offsetting a lone bogey with four birdies for a 69.

Paula Creamer also shot a 69 and shared eighth at 8 under with Minjee Lee (70) and Bronte Law (71).

The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

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Koepka's pursuers have no illusions about catching him

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:50 am

Ahead by four, wielding his driver like Thor's hammer, Brooks Koepka is 18 holes from his third victory in five months and his first ascent to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking.

The tournament isn't over. No one is handing him the trophy and updating the OWGR website just yet. But it will likely take some combination of a meltdown and low round from someone in the chase pack to prevent a Koepka coronation Sunday in South Korea.

Thirteen under for the week, the three-time major champion will start the final round four shots ahead of his playing partners, Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, and five ahead of six more players at minus-8.

As is his nature, Poulter figures to be undaunted. The 42-year-old is fresh off a Sunday singles victory over Dustin Johnson at the Ryder Cup and in the midst of a career renaissance, having broken a five-year winless drought earlier this year. In one sense, it's Europe vs. the United States again, but this isn't match play, and Koepka, a guy who doesn't need a head start, has spotted himself a four-shot advantage.


Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

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"Tomorrow I'm going to need to make a few birdies. Obviously Brooks is in cruise control right now and obviously going to need a shoot a low one," Poulter conceded. "Do what I'm doing, just enjoy [it]. Obviously try and make as many birdies as I can and see how close we get."

Perez, in the group at 8 under par, isn't giving up, but like Poulter, he's aware of the reality of his situation.

"We're chasing Brooks, who of course obviously is playing phenomenally," he said. "A lot of the long hitters now when they get in contention, they hit that driver and they're really hard to catch. I'm not worried about it too much. It's going to be harder for me tomorrow than him, so I'm going to try and go out and just do my thing, hit some shots, hopefully hit some close and make some putts and we'll see. I don't expect him to come backwards, but hopefully I can try to go catch him."

Gary Woodland, also 8 under par, summed up the predicament best when he alluded to Koepka's perhaps advantageously aloof demeanor.

"You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can," he said. "You know, Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much, and he's playing so good, so you're going to have to go out and post a number."