Lefty Trails by One in Scotland

By Sports NetworkJuly 13, 2007, 4:00 pm
2006 Barclays Scottish OpenGLASGOW, Scotland -- Frenchman Gregory Havret fired a 7-under 64, while Spain's Jose Manuel Lara managed a 65 on Friday. That put the pair into a tie for the second-round lead of the Scottish Open.
The duo is knotted at 10-under-par 132, one shot clear of world No. 3 Phil Mickelson.
The three-time major winner, and co-leader after round one, shot a 3-under 68 on Friday at Loch Lomond. Mickelson is playing this week to prepare for next week's British Open Championship, but now has the benefit of trying to pick up some momentum with a win.
'I am looking forward to it' said Mickelson. 'It's going to be a lot of fun. I hit a few bad shots but I was able to keep it in play, make a few pars and a couple of birdies coming in.'
Mickelson was 1-under par after his opening nine, but he reached 8-under par for the championship thanks to a short birdie putt at the par-5 13th, a hole he eagled on Thursday.
He had a good look at birdie from 7 feet at the 15th, but missed, then found some trouble. Mickelson drove into the rough at 16, but saved par. He missed the putting surface at the par-3 17th and it was his vaunted short game to the rescue. The left-hander chipped to 3 feet and converted the birdie putt.
At the closing hole, Mickelson found the fairway off the tee, then stiffed his approach 7 feet from the hole. He sank the birdie putt to get within one of the lead.
'I was very fortunate to have shot under-par today,' said Mickelson. 'I wasn't hitting it where I wanted to. Hopefully I can get it turned around for the weekend to have a chance.'
Fellow American Boo Weekley (66), Simon Khan (67) and Andres Romero (67) share fourth place at 8-under-par 134.
Havret started well on Friday with two birdies in his first four holes. He parred the remaining five holes before the turn, then went on a run that vaulted him up the leaderboard.
He birdied four in a row from the 11th to move into the lead on his own at minus-9. Havret grabbed the clubhouse lead at 10-under par with a birdie at the par-4 16th.
Havret has played very well in recent weeks with a tie for 15th at the Open de France and a share of third last week at the European Open. He credited the turn in success to a belly putter.
'I went to my flat and was searching around and I saw the belly putter and said, 'oh, why not give it a try' because I was struggling a little bit on the greens. And since that my putting is a lot, lot better,' said Havret, whose only win on tour came at the 2001 Italian Open.
Lara did not start as well as his fellow co-leader; instead he birdied three out of four to close his front nine at Loch Lomond. He dropped a shot with a bogey at 10, but joined Havret in first with a spurt on the back nine.
He drained an 18-foot eagle putt at the 13th to get to minus-8. Heavy rain came into Loch Lomond, but the Spaniard collected back-to-back birdies at 15 and 16 to get into a share of first.
Lara has battled an Achilles injury all year and found the cure -- acupuncture.
'I had tried everything and was getting desperate. They said it was coming from my back and I had all sort of tests done but the only thing that made me feel better was the acupuncture,' said Lara, who picked up his only European Tour victory earlier this season at the Hong Kong Open.
Three-time major winner Ernie Els got back into the tournament on Friday. He shot a 5-under 66 and is tied for seventh place with Pelle Edberg (68), Miles Tunnicliff (67) and Steve Webster (67). The group is knotted at 7-under-par 135.
Mickelson's fellow first-round co-leaders struggled on Friday. Graeme Storm (72), Soren Hansen (73) and Lee Westwood (74) all plummeted out of the top 15.
U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera posted a 1-under 70 in round two and made the cut on the number at 1-under-par 141.
Among those unfortunate players who will not be around on the weekend are: Retief Goosen (143), Trevor Immelman (143), Colin Montgomerie (143) and 2006 winner Johan Edfors (149).
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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.”