Stock watch: Buying Bae, selling Guan

By Ryan LavnerMay 20, 2013, 7:00 pm

Each week on, we'll examine which players' stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


Surprise winners: Entering the Nelson, Sang-Moon Bae had just one top-10 in 30 starts since his playoff loss last spring in Tampa. So, naturally, the 26-year-old South Korean out-dueled one of the world’s most explosive players on a windswept day and captured his maiden PGA Tour title. Only Michael Thompson and Derek Ernst were left unimpressed.

Red numbers: This last week alone saw '59 Watches' on every major circuit. Sweat stains, sundresses and scary-low scores – it’s the annual rite of summer in pro golf.

Peter Uihlein: The 2010 U.S. Amateur champion (and son of Acushnet Co., boss Wally Uihlein) took an unconventional route after joining the play-for-pay ranks in late 2011, heading to such faraway locales as Kenya and Kazakhstan instead of grinding on the mini-tours in the U.S. Did the 23-year-old expect his first pro win to come in Portugal? Of course not. But the well-traveled Uihlein showed young pros everywhere there is more than one way to prepare for the Big Show.

Cal men: The Golden Bears set a NCAA single-season record last weekend with their 11th win of the season. Each starter, 1 through 5, has earned medalist honors at least once this season, and in sophomore Michael Kim (four wins, no finish outside the top 11) Cal also boasts the country’s best player. Monday night's Ben Hogan Award ceremony should cement that.


Keegan Bradley: OK, we’re not really selling. He’s still one of the top four prospects in the sport, an immensely talented player despite his bizarre pre-shot routine. But during the final round of the Nelson, and with Tuesday’s anchoring decision looming, Keegs squandered one final chance to defiantly hoist his belly putter in victory. That sound you heard? The blue coats exhaling.

Guan Tianlang: The Memorial Tournament justified the kid’s exemption by saying, essentially, that if the Asia-Pacific Amateur winner earns a berth in the Masters, then he should receive a spot in Jack’s event, too. But frankly, this story now bores me. The curiosity is gone. It’s impressive, of course, but we know what we are getting with the 14-year-old – few birdies, a chance to make the cut – and it’s time to give more deserving players an opportunity.

Anchoring: A final decision will be handed down Tuesday, after an oft-contentious comment period that lasted much longer than 90 days, but this announcement carries about as much suspense as Tiger with a six-shot lead. Your move, Commish.

Going low: Buying and selling this week. Every golf observer has heard this axiom: “It’s hard to back up a low round with another good one.” Apparently so. Keegan Bradley opened with 60 in Dallas and didn’t win. Anna Nordqvist carded a third-round 61 in Mobile and still couldn’t chase down Jennifer Johnson. And Chesson Hadley began his final round on the Tour with an 8-under 27, but stalled for a disappointing 63 and T-3 finish. Weird.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 2:30 pm

Tiger Woods shot his second consecutive 70 on Friday at Carnoustie and enters weekend play at even par for the championship, still in contention for major No. 15.

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Scott and Sunesson a one-week partnership

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 2:13 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Adam Scott has been in between caddies for the last month and went with a bold stand-in for this week’s Open Championship, coaxing veteran looper Fanny Sunesson out of retirement to work for him at Carnoustie.

Sunesson caddied for Nick Faldo in his prime, as the duo won four major titles together. She also worked for Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia before a back injury forced her to retire.

But for this week’s championship, Scott convinced the Swede to return to the caddie corps. The results have been impressive, with the Australian following an opening 71 with a second-round 70 for a tie for 16th place.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“It's been going great. Fanny is, obviously, a fantastic caddie, and to be able to have that experience out there with me is certainly comforting,” Scott said. “We've gotten along really well. She's picked up on my game quickly, and I think we think about things in a very similar way.”

Scott was also asked about a potential long-term partnership between the duo, but he didn’t sound hopeful.

“It's just for this week,” he said. “It would be up to her, but I don't think she's making plans of a comeback. I was being a bit opportunistic in contacting her and coaxing her out of retirement, I guess. But I think she's having a good week. We'll just take it one week at the moment.”

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After tense Augusta Sunday, Rory ready to be aggressive

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 1:51 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy temporarily lost his superpowers during the Masters.  

In one of the most surprising rounds of the year, he played tentatively and carefully during the final day. Squaring off against the major-less Patrick Reed, on the brink of history, with the backing of nearly the entire crowd, it was McIlroy who shrank in the moment, who looked like the one searching for validation. He shot a joyless 74 and wound up six shots behind Reed.

No, the final round was nowhere near as dispiriting as the finale in 2011, but McIlroy still sulked the following week. He binge-watched TV shows. Devoured a few books. Guzzled a couple of bottles of wine. His pity party lasted a few days, until his wife, Erica, finally dragged him out of the house for a walk.

Some deeper introspection was required, and McIlroy revealed a healthier self-analysis Friday at Carnoustie. He diagnosed what went wrong at Augusta, and then again two months later at the U.S. Open, where he blew himself out of the tournament with an opening 80.

“I was worrying too much about the result, not focusing on the process,” he said. “Sunday at Augusta was a big learning curve for me because, even if I hadn’t won that tournament, but I went down swinging and aggressive and committing to every shot, I would have walked away a lot happier.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

And so McIlroy has a new mantra this week at The Open.

Let it go.

Don’t hold back. Don’t worry about the repercussions. Don’t play scared.

“I’m committed to making sure, even if I don’t play my best golf and don’t shoot the scores I want, I’m going to go down swinging, and I’m going to go down giving my best,” he said. “The result is the byproduct of all the little things you do to lead up to that. Sometimes I’ve forgotten that, and I just need to get back in that mindset.”

It’s worked through two rounds, even after the cool, damp conditions led McIlroy to abandon his ultra-aggressive strategy. He offset a few mistakes with four birdies, shooting a second consecutive 69 to sit just a couple of shots off the lead.

During a sun-splashed first round, McIlroy gleefully banged driver on almost every hole, flying or skirting the bunkers that dot these baked-out, undulating fairways. He wasn’t particularly accurate, but he also didn’t need to be, as the thin, wispy rough enabled every player to at least advance their approach shots near the green.

Friday’s weather presented a different challenge. A steady morning rain took some of the fire out of parched fairways, but the cooler temperatures also reduced much of the bombers’ hang time. Suddenly, all of the bunkers were in play, and McIlroy needed to adjust his driver-heavy approach (he hit only six) on the fly.

“It just wasn’t worth it,” he said.

McIlroy hit a few “skanky” shots, in his words, but even his bigger misses – on the sixth and 17th holes – were on the proper side, allowing him to scramble for par and keep the round going.

It’s the fifth time in his career that he’s opened a major with back-to-back rounds in the 60s. He’s gone on to win three of the previous four – the lone exception that disastrous final round (80) at Augusta in 2011.

“I don’t want to say easy,” he said, “but it’s felt comfortable.”

The weekend gets uncomfortable for everyone, apparently even four-time major winners who, when in form, ooze confidence and swagger.

Once again McIlroy has that look at a major.

The only thing left to do?

Let it go.

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Z. Johnson may have to pay for the jet home

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 1:23 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Zach Johnson will have some bragging rights when he gets back to the ultimate golf frat house on Friday after a second-round 67 moved him into the lead at The Open.

Johnson is rooming with Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Kevin Kisner, Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler this week at Carnoustie. It’s a tradition that began two years ago at Royal Troon.

Kisner joked on Thursday after he took the first-round lead that the perks for the house/tournament front-runner were limited: “I probably get to eat first,” he said.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

There is, however, one running wager.

“Two years ago we, I don't know if you call it bet, but agreement that, if you win, you get the jet and you buy it, so we go home,” said Johnson, who added that because of varying travel arrangements, the wager might not be needed this year. “I didn't pay last year. Somebody else did.”

Spieth won last year’s championship at Royal Birkdale.

Despite the expense, Johnson said he didn’t know how much it costs to charter a private flight back to the United States, but it’s a good problem to have.

“I’d be happy to fork it over,” he smiled.