Bjorn Hanging On to Slight Lead

By Sports NetworkJanuary 31, 2004, 5:00 pm
04 Johnnie Walker ClassicBANGKOK, Thailand -- Thomas Bjorn posted a 2-under 70 Saturday and holds a one-stroke lead through three rounds of the Johnnie Walker Classic. Bjorn completed 54 holes at 14-under-par 202.
Miguel Angel Jimenez, who briefly held the lead in the third round, fired a five-under 67 to move into second place at 13-under-par 203. Richard Green, Simon Yates and David Lynn share third place at 12-under-par 204. Ian Poulter and David Smail are one stroke further back at minus-11.
Bjorn battled throughout the round, hitting just six of 14 fairways and 11 of 18 greens in regulation. He missed the fairway at the first two holes, but managed to save par both times.
The two-time Ryder Cupper got up-and-down for par at the par-3 third and two-putted for par at the next. He finally got on the board with a six-foot birdie putt at the par-5 fifth at Alpine Golf and Country Club.
He two-putted for par on each of the next two holes. Jimenez, playing two groups ahead of Bjorn, tied him for the lead with a birdie at the seventh. Bjorn reclaimed the lead when he sank an 18-footer for birdie at the ninth.
Bjorn scrambled to up-and-down pars at Nos. 10 and 11 before a two-putt par at the 12th. He stumbled to his first and only bogey of the day at the 13th. Meanwhile, Jimenez birdied the 14th to move to minus-14, giving him a one-shot lead.
Jimenez stumbled to a bogey at the next, while Bjorn parred three straight holes as the duo shared the lead at 13-under. Jimenez closed with three consecutive pars of his own to finish at minus-13.
Bjorn was not done though. After narrowly missing a birdie putt at the 16th, he two-putted for birdie at the par-5 17th to reclaim a one-stroke lead. He lipped out his birdie try at the last to remain one ahead of the field.
'I've got to be satisfied to be leading the tournament,' said Bjorn, a seven- time winner on the European Tour. 'It was tough day, probably the hottest I've ever been on a golf course. It's tough when you come out after eight weeks and all of a sudden find yourself in this situation. I was 5-under par for the first seven holes on day one and have been leading the tournament pretty much ever since.'
The combination of his long lead, as well as the sweltering heat and humidity has worn on the Dane as well.
'That takes a little bit extra out of you,' Bjorn said. 'The heat just makes it a little bit difficult but I'm happy with the way I'm performing. I need a good rest tonight, that's for sure, and then I'll be ready for tomorrow.'
Jimenez was hot early in his round. He birdied three consecutive holes from the second to get to 11 under. The Spaniard notched back-to-back birdies from the sixth to grab his first share of the lead.
However, he cooled off considerably from there. He managed to par the next six holes before his birdie at the 14th and bogey at 15.
'You can't think about targets. It's about today and tomorrow and then next week and if things go well, the big targets take care of themselves,' said Jimenez, about the prospects of gaining a spot on the European Ryder Cup Team. 'My plan tomorrow is that I must give all I have, to play well and let things happen. You cannot do anything more. Of course I would like to get back onto the Ryder Cup Team but time will tell the answer.'
Ernie Els, the defending champion, remains in contention after shooting a 3-under 69. He is at 10-under-par 206 alongside Scott Gardiner, who also shot a 69, Marcus Fraser and Yong-Eun Yang, who each carded 6 under rounds of 66, as well as Raphael Jacquelin, Thongchai Jaidee and Adam Scott, who each posted rounds of 5-under 67.
Barry Lane, Colin Montgomerie and 2003 PGA Championship Shaun Micheel each notched rounds of 5-under 67. That trio stands at 9-under-par 207, and is joined there by Nick Faldo (72) and Miles Tunnicliff (68).
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    Van Rooyen holes putt after ball-marker ruling

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:50 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Erik van Rooyen was surveying his 10-footer for par, trying to get a feel for the putt, when his putter slipped out of his hand and dropped onto his ball marker.

    The question, then, was whether that accident caused his coin to move.

    The rules official looked at various camera angles but none showed definitively whether his coin moved. The ruling was made to continue from where his coin was now positioned, with no penalty.

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    This was part of the recent rules changes, ensuring there is no penalty if the ball or ball maker is accidently moved by the player. The little-used rule drew attention in 2010, when Ian Poulter accidentally dropped his ball on his marker in Dubai and wound up losing more than $400,000 in bonus and prize money.

    After the delay to sort out his ruling Friday, van Rooyen steadied himself and made the putt for par, capping a day in which he shot even-par 71 and kept himself in the mix at The Open. He was at 4-under 138, just two shots off the clubhouse lead.

    “I wanted to get going and get this 10-footer to save par, but I think having maybe just a couple minutes to calm me down, and then I actually got a different read when I sat down and looked at it again,” he said. “Good putt. Happy to finish that way.”

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    Lyle birdies last hole in likely his final Open start

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:32 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – If this was Sandy Lyle’s final Open appearance, he went out in style.

    Playing on the final year of his automatic age exemption, the 60-year-old Scot buried a 30-foot birdie on the last hole. He missed the cut after shooting 9-over 151 over two rounds.

    “I was very light-footed,” he said. “I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. To make birdie was extra special.”

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    Lyle, who also won the 1988 Masters, has missed the cut in his last eight majors, dating to 2014. He hasn’t been competitive in The Open since 1998, when he tied for 19th.

    To continue playing in The Open, Lyle needed to finish in the top 10 here at Carnoustie. He’d earn a future exemption by winning the Senior British Open.

    “More punishment,” he said.

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    DJ, Thomas miss cut at Open; No. 1 up for grabs

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:35 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The top two players in the world both missed the cut at The Open, creating the possibility of a shakeup at the top of the rankings by the end of the weekend.

    Dustin Johnson became the first world No. 1 since Luke Donald in 2011 to miss the cut at the year’s third major.

    Johnson played solidly for all but the closing stretch. Over two rounds, he was 6 over par on the last three holes. He finished at 6-over 148.

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    Thomas added to what’s been a surprisingly poor Open record. Just like last year, when he struggled in the second round in the rain at Royal Birkdale, Thomas slumped to a 77 on Friday at Carnoustie, a round that included three consecutive double bogeys on Nos. 6-8. He finished at 4-over 146.

    It’s Thomas' first missed cut since The Open last year. Indeed, in three Open appearances, he has two missed cuts and a tie for 53rd.  

    With Johnson and Thomas out of the mix, the No. 1 spot in the rankings is up for grabs this weekend.

    Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm all can reach No. 1 with a victory this week.

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    TT Postscript: Woods (71) makes cut, has work to do

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 3:32 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods shot a second consecutive even-par 71 Friday in the second round. And yes, he made the cut:

    • Tiger said all 71s are not created equal. On Thursday, he made three birdies and three bogeys. On Friday, he made four birdie and four bogeys. Which round was better? The first. His theory is that, despite the rain, conditions were easier in the second round and there were more scoring opportunities. He didn't take advantage.

    • This is the first time since the 2013 Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that Tiger shot par or better in each of the first two rounds of a major. That’s quite a long time ago.

    • Stat line for the day: 11 of 15 fairways, 13 of 18 greens, 32 total putts. Tiger hit one driver and two 3-woods on Thursday and four drivers on Friday, only one which found the fairway. An errant drive at the second led to him sniping his next shot into the gallery


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    • In his own words: “I could have cleaned up the round just a little bit. I got off to not exactly the best start, being 2 over through three, but got it back. The golf course was a little bit softer today, obviously. It rains, and we were able to get the ball down a little bit further, control the ball on the ground a little bit easier today, which was nice.”

    • At some point Tiger is going to have to be more aggressive. He will be quite a few shots off the lead by day’s end and he'll have a lot of ground to make up. Hitting irons off the tee is great for position golf, but it’s often leaving him more than 200 yards into the green. Not exactly a range for easy birdies.

    • Sure, it’s too soon to say Tiger can’t win a fourth claret jug, but with so many big names ahead of him on the leaderboard, it’s unlikely. Keep in mind that a top-six finish would guarantee him a spot in the WGC: Bridgestone Invitational in two weeks. At The Players, he stated that this was a big goal.

    • My Twitter account got suspended momentarily when Tiger was standing over a birdie putt on the 17th green. That was the most panicked I’ve been since Tiger was in contention at the Valspar.