Branshaw Maintains Lead at Tour Championship

By Sports NetworkOctober 29, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 Nationwide Tour ChampionshipPRATTVILLE, Ala. -- David Branshaw carded a 3-under 69 on Saturday to move four strokes clear of the field after three rounds of the Nationwide Tour Championship. He completed 54 holes at 11-under-par 205.
Eric Axley shared the low round of the day with his 6-under 66. He stands alongside Steven Bowditch (70) at 7-under-par 209. Jon Mills, who was one of three leaders after the opening round, struggled to a 1-over 73. He is alone in fourth place at minus-6.
Jerry Smith posted the other 66 on Saturday. That got him to 5-under-par 211, where he was joined by Peter Tomasulo and Jim McGovern on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Capitol Hill.
This event features the top-61 players on the 2005 Nationwide Tour money list. Jason Gore, second on the money list, already made it to the PGA Tour via the 'battlefield promotion,' so the top-20 other players on the money list after the final round will head to the PGA Tour for the 2006 season.
Branshaw is 29th on the money list and needs a big finish this week to earn his playing privileges on the PGA Tour next year. He got off to a quick start with a birdie on the second.
The 36-year-old sank another birdie try on the fourth to get to 10 under, which was four strokes clear of Mills and McGovern at the time. Branshaw moved to 11 under with a birdie on No. 8. He kept rolling with a birdie on the par-4 11th.
He tripped to his first bogey at the par-4 14th when he missed a 5-foot par putt. Branshaw atoned for that mistake with a birdie on the 15th to get back to 12 under.
Branshaw stumbled to the second bogey of his round on the 16th after his tee shot to the par-3 found a greenside bunker. He parred his final two holes to lead by four after three rounds.
'It was a good round,' said Branshaw. 'I was fortunate to shoot 69. What made it hard was pretty much every putt I had was downhill putts.'
In the first 12 Tour Championships, seven of the 12 36-hole leaders have gone on to win the title. Branshaw is looking to make that eight of 13. A win would guarantee him his PGA Tour card for next year.
'Tomorrow will be a hard day, but you've got to put that out of your mind and just play golf,' Branshaw said. 'I'm good at having the same mindset for each tournament. I'd like to get in a fog tomorrow and be oblivious to everything going on.'
Axley began the day seven strokes behind Branshaw. He didn't look like he'd be flying into contention as he played his first five holes in 1 over. Axley righted the ship with birdies on Nos. 6 and 8 to move to 2 under.
Around the turn, Axley drained another birdie try at the 10th. After a bogey on 12, he really caught fire. The left-hander converted consecutive birdies from the 13th to get to 4 under. Axley then eagled 17 and birdied 18th to jump to 7 under within four of Branshaw.
'I've made a few more putts after that poor first round,' Axley said. 'I've been taking it one shot at a time. First things first, hit the fairway, then try to put it in the right position on the green and try to make a putt. I'm just trying to execute each shot and whatever comes of it, we'll go from there.'
Bowditch, who won the Jacob's Creek Open earlier this season, birdied the sixth and eight to make the turn at minus-7. He picked up another stroke on the 11th with the third birdie of his round.
The Australian tripped to back-to-back bogeys from the 14th to slide back to 6 under. Bowditch got one of those strokes back with a birdie at the last.
Ryan Armour is alone in eighth place at 4-under-par 212 after a 73. Bubba Dickerson and Steve LeBrun are one stroke further back at minus-3.
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    Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

    Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.

    Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.

    Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.

    Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

    "I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."

    Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:

    Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.

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    Immelman misses Open bid via OWGR tiebreaker

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:25 pm

    A resurgent performance at the Scottish Open gave Trevor Immelman his first top-10 finish in more than four years, but it left him short of a return to The Open by the slimmest of margins.

    The former Masters champ turned back the clock this week at Gullane Golf Club, carding four straight rounds of 68 or better. That run included a 5-under 65 in the final round, which gave him a tie for third and left him five shots behind winner Brandon Stone. It was his first worldwide top-10 since a T-10 finish at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.

    There were three spots available into The Open for players not otherwise exempt, and for a brief moment it appeared Immelman, 38, might sneak the third and final invite.

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    But with Stone and runner-up Eddie Pepperell both not qualified, that left the final spot to be decided between Immelman and Sweden's Jens Dantorp who, like Immelman, tied for third at 15 under.

    As has been the case with other stops along the Open Qualifying Series, the tiebreaker to determine invites is the players' standing in the Official World Golf Rankings entering the week. Dantorp is currently No. 322 in the world, but with Immelman ranked No. 1380 the Swede got the nod.

    This will mark Dantorp's first-ever major championship appearance. Immelman, who hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2013 Masters, was looking to return to The Open for 10th time and first since a missed cut at Royal Lytham six years ago. He will instead work the week at Carnoustie as part of Golf Channel and NBC's coverage of The Open.

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    Stone (60) wins Scottish Open, invite to Carnoustie

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:06 pm

    There's never a bad time to shoot a 60, but Brandon Stone certainly picked an opportune moment to do so.

    Facing a jammed leaderboard in the final round of the Scottish Open, Stone fired a 10-under 60 to leave a stacked field in his wake and win the biggest tournament of his career. His 20-under 260 total left him four shots clear of Eddie Pepperell and five shots in front of a group that tied for third.

    Stone had a mid-range birdie putt on No. 18 that would have given him the first 59 in European Tour history. But even after missing the putt on the left, Stone tapped in to close out a stellar round that included eight birdies, nine pars and an eagle. It's his third career European Tour title but first since the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December 2016.

    Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

    Stone started the day three shots behind overnight leader Jens Dantorp, but he made an early move with three birdies over his first five holes and five over his first 10. Stone added a birdie on the par-3 12th, then took command with a three-hole run from Nos. 14-16 that included two birdies and an eagle.

    The eye-popping score from the 25-year-old South African was even more surprising considering his lack of form entering the week. Stone is currently ranked No. 371 in the world and had missed four of his last seven worldwide cuts without finishing better than T-60.

    Stone was not yet qualified for The Open, and as a result of his performance at Gullane Golf Club he will tee it up next week at Carnoustie. Stone headlined a group of three Open qualifiers, as Pepperell and Dantorp (T-3) also earned invites by virtue of their performance this week. The final spot in the Open will go to the top finisher not otherwise qualified from the John Deere Classic.

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    Daly (knee) replaced by Bradley in Open field

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 12:13 pm

    Former champion John Daly has withdrawn from The Open because of a right knee injury and will be replaced in the field at Carnoustie by another major winner, Keegan Bradley.

    Daly, 52, defeated Costantino Rocca in a memorable playoff to win the claret jug at St. Andrews in 1995. His lingering knee pain led him to request a cart during last month's U.S. Senior Open, and when that request was denied he subsequently withdrew from the tournament.

    Daly then received treatment on the knee and played in a PGA Tour event last week at The Greenbrier without the use of a cart, missing the cut with rounds of 77-67. But on the eve of the season's third major, he posted to Twitter that his pain remains "unbearable" and that a second request for a cart was turned down:

    This will be just the second time since 2000 that Daly has missed The Open, having also sat out the 2013 event at Muirfield. He last made the cut in 2012, when he tied for 81st at Royal Lytham. He could still have a few more chances to improve upon that record, given that past Open champions remain fully exempt until age 60.

    Taking his place will be Bradley, who was first alternate based on his world ranking. Bradley missed the event last year but recorded three top-20 finishes in five appearances from 2012-16, including a T-18 finish two years ago at Royal Troon.

    The next three alternates, in order, are Spain's Adrian Otaegui and Americans Aaron Wise and J.B. Holmes.