Harrington Shares Lead in Madrid

By Sports NetworkSeptember 15, 2006, 4:00 pm
European TourMADRID, Spain -- Padraig Harrington and Gary Orr both shot 7-under 65 on Friday to share the lead after two rounds of the Madrid Open.
Harrington and Orr stand at 12-under-par 132 for a one-shot lead over Ian Poulter, who had a 6-under 66 in the second round to reach 11-under 133.
Ignacio Garrido and Christian L. Nilsson also shot 66s and share fourth place with Ricardo Gonzalez (67) and Jean-Francois Lucquin (69) at 10-under 134.
Harrington went 4 under over his last three holes, capping the stretch with an eagle at the par-4 ninth, where he smashed a 403-yard drive downhill and made a 43-foot putt.
The eagle two capped a stellar round that also saw Harrington make seven birdies and two bogeys.
A member of the European team in next week's Ryder Cup, the Irishman is looking to do what he did before playing in 2004 -- win the week before the clash with the Americans.
'I do tend to play better towards the end of the year,' said Harrington, who claimed the German Masters a week before the Europeans won in 2004.
'But winning the week before the Ryder Cup is just coincidence. It's all about goals and focus. When you see the finishing line you know you've got to run a bit faster.'
Harrington heads to the weekend looking for his first European Tour title since winning the '04 German Masters. He won twice on the PGA TOUR last year.
'The putts have certainly dropped for me on the first two days,' he said, 'and I have made a lot of birdies which is good for the match-play format next week.'
Europe has two other Ryder Cup players in the field this week: Darren Clarke, who is competing for the first time since the death of his wife Heather from cancer on August 13, and Jose Maria Olazabal.
Clarke followed up his stunning 4-under 68 in the opening round with an even-par 72 on Friday, falling from a tie for ninth place into a tie for 35th while remaining at minus-4.
'I have put myself in the position of coming out to play this week and I have played well enough to be in contention,' said Clarke. 'I haven't scored well enough, but I have played well enough. I feel that way anyway. If I wasn't happy with my game then I would certainly say, but I am.'
Olazabal has been steady, shooting rounds of 71 and 70 to move into a tie for 42nd place at 3 under.
Orr, meanwhile, joined Harrington in the lead following a bogey-free round. The Scotsman had four birdies on the front nine, including three straight from the seventh, then added three more on the back, including one at the 18th.
He claimed both of his European Tour wins in 2000, at the British Masters and the Portuguese Open.
'There's a long way to go and a lot of guys in a good position, but if I can produce that kind of quality over the weekend I'll be looking good,' said Orr.
The cut line fell at minus-1 with 77 players making it to the weekend.
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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.

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    Kang on cheating allegation: 'I did the right thing'

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 1:26 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Three weeks after his playing partner claimed that he “cheated,” taking an improper drop at the Quicken Loans National, Sung Kang insisted Thursday that he did nothing wrong.

    Joel Dahmen tweeted that Kang cheated after a lengthy dispute about where his ball had last crossed the line of a hazard. A PGA Tour official ruled in Kang’s favor. Kang made par on the hole, shot 64 and earned one of the available spots in the Open Championship.

    Kang didn’t learn of the controversy until the next day, when he received an email from a PGA Tour communications official seeking comment. He researched online what the furor was about, then issued a brief statement through the Tour (which added its own statement, saying that there was “no clear evidence” to suggest that Kang dropped incorrectly).

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Kang said he tried to clear the air with Dahmen before the first round of last week’s John Deere Classic, but they never had the opportunity to discuss their differences.

    “I followed the rules official and I think I did the right thing,” Kang told a handful of reporters Thursday following his opening round at Carnoustie, where he shot a 2-under 69 to sit three shots off the early lead.

    Kang said he was hesitant to discuss the incident with reporters, because he said there clearly was a difference in opinions. He said he’d already told his side to South Korean news outlets but that “whatever I say, some people are going to trust it and some people are not going to trust it. Then I’ve got to think about it more and more when it’s not going to help my golf game.”

    “I really want to say a lot of things about it, the truth about what happened,” he added, “but I’m not going to say anything.”

    Kang said that he wouldn’t alter his approach when dealing with rulings in the future.

    “No. Why?” he said. “I did the right thing. There’s no point in changing.”

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    Kisner (67) enjoying 'frat' life, soccer matches with Jordan and Co.

    By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 12:49 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The frat house tradition continued this year at The Open, with a group of seven high-profile Americans rooming together for the week, including early first-round leader Kevin Kisner.

    Kisner explained after his opening 5-under 66 that the group – which includes Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler – has spent the week talking about how demanding Carnoustie is playing and enjoying the summer weather.

    “We're out there playing soccer at night and hanging out,” he said.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    To be clear, this isn’t a proper soccer match, but instead a penalty-kick situation with all but one player taking turns trying to score.

    “I just try to smash [Dufner] in the face,” Kisner laughed. “He's the all-time goalie.”

    Although Kisner said he’s always impressed with the athletic prowess of other players, Spieth has proven himself particularly adept on the impromptu pitch.

    “Jordan scored when Duf tripped, it was hilarious,” Kisner smiled. “[Spieth] is good until he sends it over the goal four houses over, and we've got to go knock on a neighbor’s door for the soccer ball.”

    The group is actually staying in two local houses that are next to each other, one with a large enough back yard and a soccer net, but perhaps not enough soccer balls.

    “We’re going to have to Amazon Prime a couple new balls to replace the ones we lost,” Kisner said.