Els Shares Early Lead at Australian Open

By Sports NetworkNovember 22, 2001, 5:00 pm
Ernie Els, who saw his streak of seven straight seasons with a win on the PGA Tour end this year, grabbed a share of the first-round lead Thursday at the Australian Open.
The 32-year-old South African fired a 5-under-par 66 to join Australian Rod Pampling atop the leaderboard at The Grand Golf Club.
Brad Andrews birdied the last to finish alone in third place with a 67, while fellow Aussies Peter Lonard, Michael Wright and Brett Ogle each shot 68 to tie for fourth at minus-three.
Els, whose 32 victories worldwide include two U.S. Open titles, bolted out of the gate Thursday with a hole-out from the first fairway for eagle followed by a birdie at the second hole.
'It was a nice start wasn't it, 80 yards in with a wedge and birdied the next so it was the start I wanted,' Els said. 'I dont think I've ever had a start like that before.'
A bogey at the third hole was offset by a birdie at the fifth, and a birdie at the seventh lifted Els to a 4-under-par front nine of 31.
Els picked up another stroke on the inward stretch after mixing birdies at Nos. 10, 12 and 13 with bogeys at the 11th and 14th holes.
'On the whole I think I scrapped around with the last few holes but this course will really do that to you -- you've got to be very patient and disciplined out there,' he said. 'I didn't drive the ball all that well or as good as last week I don't think, but I was happy with the round regardless.'
Els is riding high after teaming up with reigning U.S. Open champ Retief Goosen to capture the WGC-EMC World Cup for South Africa last week in Japan. Although the win was unofficial, Els could use a victory here to extend his run of consecutive years with at least one win worldwide to 10.
Stuart Appleby, who slipped to two-over after a costly triple-bogey at the par-5 12th, notched four birdies over the last six holes to finish in a six-way tie at 2-under par.
Robert Allenby, Geoff Ogilvy and Gareth Paddison, a trio that finished 1-2-3, respectively, at last week's Australian PGA Championship, were among eight players to shoot even-par 71.
Former NCAA champion Charles Howell III, whose surprisingly strong first season on the PGA Tour in the U.S. has him currently 45th in the world rankings, is Down Under to solidify his position in the top-50 in order to qualify for the 2002 Masters.
Howell struggled to a 4-over 75 in the opening round and was tied for 62nd, while Denmark's Thomas Bjorn, ranked 23rd in the world, turned in a 76 for a share of 72nd place.
Full-Field Scores From the Holden Australian Open
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'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

“The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

“That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”

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Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:28 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.

“They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.

“The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”

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Ball headed O.B., Stone (68) gets huge break

By Mercer BaggsJuly 19, 2018, 2:14 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brandon Stone knew it when he hit it.

“I knew I hit it out of bounds,” the South African said following his opening round in the 147th Open Championship.

Stone’s second shot on the par-4 18th, from the left fescue, was pulled into the grandstands, which are marked as O.B. But instead of settling in with the crowd, the ball ricocheted back towards the green and nearly onto the putting surface.

Stone made his par and walked away with a 3-under 68, two shots off the early lead.

“I really didn’t put a good swing on it, bad contact and it just came out way left,” Stone said. “I feel so sorry for the person I managed to catch on the forehead there, but got a lucky break.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“When you get breaks like that you know you’re going to have good weeks.”

It’s been more than just good luck recently for Stone. He shot 60 in the final round – missing a 9-foot birdie putt for the first 59 in European Tour history – to win last week’s Scottish Open. It was his third career win on the circuit and first since 2016. It was also just his first top-10 of the season.

“A testament to a different mental approach and probably the change in putter,” said Stone, who added that he switched to a new Ping Anser blade model last week.

“I’ve been putting, probably, the best I have in my entire life.”

This marks Stone’s sixth start in a major championship, with his best finish a tie for 35th in last year’s U.S. Open. He has a missed cut and a T-70 in two prior Open Championships.