Flanagan Survives Four-Man Playoff

By Sports NetworkApril 29, 2007, 4:00 pm
Nationwide TourRICHMOND, Va. -- Nick Flanagan needed three playoff holes to earn his first Nationwide Tour win Sunday at the Henrico County Open.
 
Flanagan, the 2003 U.S. Amateur champion, birdied the third extra hole to defeat Chris Baryla for the title. Roland Thatcher and Bryn Parry had been eliminated on the first two extra holes.
 
Flanagan carded a 2-under 70 in the final round to finish at 13-under-par 275. Baryla, Parry's playing partner, matched that 70, while the final pairing of Parry and Thatcher each carded final-round 71s to force the extra session.
 
Back at the 18th for the third playoff hole, Baryla found a greenside bunker with this second shot. Flanagan's second bounced just over the green into the rough.
 
Baryla blasted out to 4 feet, then Flanagan chipped within a foot. Baryla's birdie putt never touched the hole as he pulled it left. He tapped in for par then stepped aside as Flanagan tapped in for birdie and his first tour title.
 
'That's about the longest half-foot putt I've ever had,' joked Flanagan, who picked up $81,000 for the win. 'I hit the ball well all week, didn't putt too great, but got away with it. I'm very, very happy.'
 
At the 18th in regulation, Thatcher had the best chance to win, but two-putted for par from 18 feet out. The other three all got up and down for par to head into the playoff at The Dominion Club.
 
Parry was the lone player to miss the fairway off the tee at the 18th, the first playoff hole. He laid up, then knocked his third to about 50 feet. The other three players all found the short grass of the tee and putting surface with their second shots to the par-5.
 
Baryla played his third after Parry and Thatcher. Baryla knocked his eagle effort within a foot and tapped in for birdie to eliminate Parry, who left himself 7 feet for par. Thatcher and Flanagan safely two-putted for birdie to extend the playoff.
 
'I'm disappointed I didn't have a go at it there at 18,' admitted Parry. 'The lie was iffy and seeing how this turned out I wish I had a go at it.'
 
At the par-3 ninth, Thatcher left himself over 50 feet for birdie before Flanagan pulled his tee ball into the left rough and Baryla knocked his tee ball to 45 feet.
 
Thatcher hit a poor first putt leaving himself 10 feet for par and he missed that to drop out of the playoff. Flanagan pitched within a foot and tapped in for par, while Baryla two-putted for his par.
 
Then the former U.S. Amateur champion hoisted the trophy.
 
The playoff could have been even bigger as Chris Smith (68), Greg Chalmers (69) and Brad Elder (70) shared fifth place at 12-under-par 276.
 
Flanagan had an up-and-down front nine, where he carded four birdies and three bogeys. He birdied 14 and 15 to grab the lead at 14-under, but bogeyed 16 to get in at 13 under.
 
Baryla posted three birdies and a bogey on the front nine to turn in 13 under. The Canadian birdied 12, but gave that shot back at 13. Baryla bogeyed 15, but rebounded with a birdie at 16 to join Flanagan in the house at minus-13.
 
Parry birdied the second, as did Thatcher, to remain tied for the lead at 13 under. Parry flew out in front with three straight birdies from the fourth to pull four strokes clear of the field.
 
However, Parry three-putted for bogey at seven. He got that stroke back with a birdie on nine, but bogeyed the next and found more trouble at 11. Parry's tee shot came up short in the water. He hit the green with his third, but two-putted for double-bogey. Parry parred the final seven holes to gain entry into the playoff.
 
'I did hit a good shot there,' said Parry of his approach at 11. 'I guess I was hitting it so good I was hedging my bets that I could hit it close and I probably didn't need to. I hit a good shot and I'm going to have to live with that.'
 
Thatcher faltered to a bogey on seven to slide back to 12 under. He grabbed a piece of the lead with a birdie on 12, but fell one back as he bogeyed 15. Thatcher regained a piece of the lead and eventually a spot in the playoff thanks to a 25-foot birdie putt at 16.
 
Nicholas Thompson, winner at the HSBC New Zealand PGA Championship, and Livermore Valley Wine Championship winner Omar Uresti ended in a tie for eighth at 10-under-par 278. They were joined there by Rick Price and David Sanchez. Five more players were one stroke further back at minus-9.
 
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    Berger more than ready to rebound at Travelers

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:54 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Daniel Berger hopes that this year he gets to be on the other end of a viral moment at the Travelers Championship.

    Berger was a hard-luck runner-up last year at TPC River Highlands, a spectator as Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him in a playoff. It was the second straight year that the 25-year-old came up just short outside Hartford, as he carried a three-shot lead into the 2016 event before fading to a tie for fifth.

    While he wasn’t lacking any motivation after last year’s close call, Berger got another dose last week at the U.S. Open when he joined Tony Finau as a surprise participant in the final group Sunday, only to shoot a 73 and drift to a T-6 finish.


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    “It was one of the best experiences of my professional golf career so far. I feel like I’m going to be in such a better place next time I’m in that position, having felt those emotions and kind of gone through it,” Berger said. “There was a lot of reflection after that because I felt like I played good enough to get it done Sunday. I didn’t make as many putts as I wanted to, but I hit a lot of really good putts. And that’s really all you can do.”

    Berger missed the cut earlier this month to end his quest for three straight titles in Memphis, but his otherwise consistent season has now included six top-20 finishes since January. After working his way into contention last week and still with a score to settle at TPC River Highlands, he’s eager to get back to work against another star-studded field.

    “I think all these experiences you just learn from,” Berger said. “I think last week, having learned from that, I think that’s even going to make me a little better this week. So I’m excited to get going.”

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    Rory tired of the near-misses, determined to close

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:46 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy has returned to the Travelers Championship with an eye on bumping up his winning percentage.

    McIlroy stormed from the back of the pack to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, but that remains his lone worldwide win since the 2016 Tour Championship. It speaks to McIlroy’s considerable ability and lofty expectations that, even with a number of other high finishes this season, he is left unsatisfied.

    “I feel like I’ve had five realistic chances to win this year, and I’ve been able to close out one of them. That’s a bit disappointing, I guess,” McIlroy said. “But at least I’ve given myself five chances to win golf tournaments, which is much more than I did last year.”


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    The most memorable of McIlroy’s near-misses is likely the Masters, when he played alongside Patrick Reed in Sunday’s final group but struggled en route to a T-5 finish. But more frustrating in the Ulsterman’s eyes were his runner-up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, when he led by two shots with eight holes to go, and a second-place showing behind Francesco Molinari at the BMW PGA Championship in May.

    “There’s been some good golf in there,” he said. “I feel like I let Dubai and Wentworth get away a little bit.”

    He’ll have a chance to rectify that trend this week at TPC River Highlands, where he finished T-17 last year in his tournament debut and liked the course and the tournament enough to keep it on his schedule. It comes on the heels of a missed cut at the U.S. Open, when he was 10 over through 11 holes and never got on track. McIlroy views that result as more of an aberration during a season in which he has had plenty of chances to contend on the weekend.

    “I didn’t necessarily play that badly last week. I feel like if I play similarly this week, I might have a good chance to win,” McIlroy said. “I think when you play in conditions like that, it magnifies parts of your game that maybe don’t stack up quite as good as the rest of your game, and it magnified a couple of things for me that I worked on over the weekend.”

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    Sunday run at Shinnecock gave Reed even more confidence

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:08 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – While many big names are just coming around to the notion that the Travelers Championship is worth adding to the schedule, Patrick Reed has been making TPC River Highlands one of his favorite haunts for years.

    Reed will make his seventh straight appearance outside Hartford, where he tied for fifth last year and was T-11 the year before that. He is eager to get back to the grind after a stressful week at the U.S. Open, both because of his past success here and because it will offer him a chance to build on a near-miss at Shinnecock Hills.

    Reed started the final round three shots off the lead, but he quickly stormed toward the top of the leaderboard and became one of Brooks Koepka’s chief threats after birdies on five of his first seven holes. Reed couldn’t maintain the momentum in the middle of the round, carding three subsequent bogeys, and ultimately tied for fourth.


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    It was a bittersweet result, but Reed is focusing on the positives after taking a couple days to reflect.

    “If you would have told me that I had a chance to win coming down Sunday, I would have been pleased,” Reed said. “I felt like I just made too many careless mistakes towards the end, and because of that, you’re not going to win at any major making careless mistakes, especially on Sunday.”

    Reed broke through for his first major title at the Masters, and he has now finished fourth or better in three straight majors dating back to a runner-up at the PGA last summer. With another chance to add to that record next month in Scotland, he hopes to carry the energy from last week’s close call into this week’s event on a course where he feels right at home.

    “It just gives me confidence, more than anything,” Reed said. “Of course I would have loved to have closed it out and win, but it was a great week all in all, and there’s a lot of stuff I can take from it moving forward. That’s how I’m looking at it.”

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    Koepka back to work, looking to add to trophy collection

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 8:53 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Days after ensuring the U.S. Open trophy remained in his possession for another year, Brooks Koepka went back to work.

    Koepka flew home to Florida after successfully defending his title at Shinnecock Hills, celebrating the victory Monday night with Dustin Johnson, Paulina Gretzky, swing coach Claude Harmon III and a handful of close friends. But he didn’t fully unwind because of a decision to honor his commitment to the Travelers Championship, becoming the first player to tee it up the week after a U.S. Open win since Justin Rose in 2013.

    Koepka withdrew from the Travelers pro-am, but he flew north to Connecticut on Wednesday and arrived to TPC River Highlands around 3 p.m., quickly heading to the driving range to get in a light practice session.

    “It still hasn’t sunk in, to be honest with you,” Koepka said. “I’m still focused on this week. It was just like, ‘All right, if I can get through this week, then I’m going to be hanging with my buddies next week.’ I know then maybe it’ll sink in, and I’ll get to reflect on it a little bit more.”


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    Koepka’s plans next week with friends in Boston meant this week’s event outside Hartford made logistical sense. But he was also motivated to play this week because, plainly, he hasn’t had that many playing opportunities this year after missing nearly four months with a wrist injury.

    “I’ve had so many months at home being on the couch. I don’t need to spend any more time on the couch,” Koepka said. “As far as skipping, it never crossed my mind.”

    Koepka’s legacy was undoubtedly bolstered by his win at Shinnecock, as he became the first player in nearly 30 years to successfully defend a U.S. Open title. But he has only one other PGA Tour win to his credit, that being the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open, and his goal for the rest of the season is to make 2018 his first year with multiple trophies on the mantle.

    “If you’re out here for more than probably 15 events, it gives you a little better chance to win a couple times. Being on the sidelines isn’t fun,” Koepka said. “Keep doing what we’re doing and just try to win multiple times every year. I feel like I have the talent. I just never did it for whatever reason. Always felt like we ran into a buzzsaw. So just keep plugging away.”