Fisher Grabs Top Spot in China

By Sports NetworkNovember 26, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 Volve China OpenJIANGSU, China -- Ross Fisher posted his second straight round of 4-under 68 on Saturday to grab a one-stroke lead through three rounds of the Volvo China Open. Fisher completed 54 holes at 11-under-par 205.
Chawalit Plaphol, who held at least a share of the lead after each of the first two rounds, struggled to a 2-over 74. He was joined in a tie for second place at 10-under-par 206 by Oliver Wilson. Wilson, who played with Plapohl, managed one birdie and 17 pars for a 71 at Shenzhen Golf Club.
Asian Tour veteran Lian-Wei Zhang fired a 6-under 66 to move into fourth place at minus-nine. Soren Kjeldsen and Barry Lane each notched rounds of 5-under 67 to climb into a tie for fifth at 8-under-par 208. They were joined there by Miles Tunnicliff, who carded a 2-under 70 on Saturday.
Fisher, who is playing in just 11th European Tour event, got off to a slow start with a bogey on the second. He got that stroke back as he birdied the par-3 fifth.
The Englishman birdied the eighth for the third straight round, but faltered to a bogey at the next to turn at seven-under. Fisher caught fire on the back nine. He birdied the par-5 12th for the third round in a row.
Fisher, whose best finish on tour was a tie for sixth at the 2005 Aa St. Omer Open, moved to minus-9 with a birdie on the par-4 14th.
The 25-year-old ran in a long birdie putt on the 16th to grab a share of the lead. Fisher came right back with a 12-foot birdie putt on 17 to take the outright lead. He parred the last to remain there.
'This is very uncharted territory,' admitted Fisher. 'I played a few tour events last season, which has been a massive help to me, just to be out there competing with the big boys. I've won a few events, but I don't think anything can compare to this. It was pretty cool to see my name on the leaderboard Friday when I finished and to see it on top now is an awesome feeling.'
Plapohl struggled with his swing all day. He went bogey-birdie-bogey-birdie from the third before things took a turn for the worse. At the seventh, his drive stopped against a tree and he was forced to pitch out.
The Thailand native came up short with his third. Plapohl pitched within 7 feet, but could only two-putt for a double bogey that dropped him to 10 under. Plapohl found the fairway off the tee at the par-5 eighth, but sent his second shot well right of the green and into the water.
After taking his drop and knocking his fourth shot onto the putting surface, Plapohl two-putted for bogey. That dropped him to 9 under and a share of the lead with Wilson.
Plapohl steadied himself with three straight pars from the ninth. He got up and down for birdie at the par-5 12th to move back into the lead at minus-10. Plapohl could only par his final six holes to end one shot back.
'I just drove the ball badly all day,' Plapohl said. 'On the practice range, the swing didn't feel good and I carried that into the round. It got a bit better on the back nine and I managed to play a bit better. At least that kept me just one off the lead.'
Wilson seemed destine to post 18 pars during his round. He parred 15 consecutive holes to start the day. Finally on the par-3 16th, Wilson's 8-foot birdie putt curled into the cup as he moved to 10 under. He also parred the final two holes.
Gaurav Ghei carded a 5-under 67 to move to 7-under-par 209. He shares eighth place with Peter Lawrie, Jyoti Randhawa, Fredrik Widmark, Francois Delamontagne, Anders Hansen and Shiv Kapur.
Paul Casey and Kenneth Ferrie are among a group of five players one stroke further back at minus-6.
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    Watch: Na plays backwards shot and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”

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    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.  

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    Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 1:36 pm

    A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.

    Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.

    Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.

    And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”

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    Rory looking for that carefree inner-child

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:28 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eleven years later, Rory McIlroy cringes at the photo: the yellow sweater with the deep V-neck, the chubby cheeks and the messy mop that curled under his cap.

    “You live and you learn,” he said Wednesday, offering a wry smile.

    The last time McIlroy played at a Carnoustie Open, in 2007, he earned the Silver Medal as the low amateur. He tied for 42nd, but the final result had mattered little. Grateful just to have a spot in the field, courtesy of his European Amateur title, he bounced along the fairways, soaking up every moment, and lingered behind the 18th green as one of his local heroes, Padraig Harrington, battled one of his favorite players, Sergio Garcia. Waiting for the trophy presentation, he passed the time playing with Padraig’s young son, Paddy. On Wednesday, McIlroy spotted Paddy, now 15, walking around Carnoustie with his three-time-major-winning father.

    “He’s massive now – he towers over me,” he said. “It’s so funny thinking back on that day.”

    But it’s also instructive. If there’s a lesson to be learned from ’07, it’s how carefree McIlroy approached and played that week. He was reminded again of that untroubled attitude while playing a practice round here with 23-year-old Jon Rahm, who stepped onto each tee, unsheathed his driver and bombed away with little regard for the wind or the bounce or the fescue. McIlroy smiled, because he remembers a time, not too long ago, that he’d attack a course with similar reckless abandon.

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    “I just think, as you get older, you get a little more cautious in life,” said McIlroy, 29. “I think it’s only natural. There’s something nice about being young and being oblivious to some stuff. The more I can get into that mindset, the better I’ll play golf.”

    And so on the eve of this Open, as he approaches the four-year anniversary of his last major title, McIlroy finds himself searching for a way to channel that happy-go-lucky 18-year-old who was about to take the world by storm, to tap into the easygoing excellence that once defined his dominance.

    It’s been a year since he first hinted at what he’s been missing. Last year’s Open at Royal Birkdale was the final event of his long run with caddie J.P. Fitzgerald. The chief reason for the split, he said, had nothing to do with some of the questionable on-course decisions, but rather a desire to take ownership of him game, to be freed up alongside one of his best friends, Harry Diamond.

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    “I think sometimes I need to get back to that attitude where I play carefree and just happy to be here,” he said. “A golf tournament is where I feel the most comfortable. It’s where I feel like I can 100 percent be myself and express myself. Sometimes the pressure that’s put on the top guys to perform at such a level every week, it starts to weigh on you a little bit. The more I can be like that kid, the better.”

    It’s a decidedly different landscape from when the erstwhile Boy Wonder last won a major, in summer 2014. Jordan Spieth had won just a single Tour event, not three majors. Dustin Johnson wasn’t world No. 1 but merely a tantalizing tease, a long-hitting, fast-living physical freak who was just beginning a six-month break to address "personal challenges." Two-time U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka hadn’t even started playing in the States.  

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    “I think at this stage players have caught up,” Harrington said. “There’s many players who drive the ball comparable and have certainly eaten into that advantage. Rory is well on pace to get into double digits with majors, but it has got harder. There’s no doubt there’s more players out there who are capable of having a big week and a big game for a major. It makes it tough.”

    It’s not as though McIlroy hasn’t had opportunities to add to his major haul; they’ve just been less frequent and against stronger competition. In the 13 majors since he last won, he’s either finished in the top 10 or missed the cut in 11 of them. This year, he played in the final group at the Masters, and was on the verge of completing the career Grand Slam, before a soul-crushing 74 on the last day. His U.S. Open bid was over after nine holes, after an opening 80 and a missed cut during which he declined to speak to reporters after both frustrating rounds.

    “I’m trying,” he said Wednesday. “I’m trying my best every time I tee it up, and it just hasn’t happened.”

    A year after saying that majors are the only events that will define the rest of his career, he recently shrugged off the doom and gloom surrounding his Grand Slam drought: “It doesn’t keep me up at night, thinking, If I never won another major, I can’t live with myself.”

    Eleven years ago, McIlroy never would have troubled himself with such trivial questions about his legacy. But perhaps a return to Carnoustie, to where his major career started, is just what he needs to unlock his greatness once again.