Resilient Browne Shares Open Lead

By Sports NetworkJune 16, 2005, 4:00 pm
PINEHURST, N.C. -- Olin Browne, who fired a 59 in sectional qualifying, and Rocco Mediate each posted rounds of 3-under-par 67 on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the 105th U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2.
Retief Goosen, who collected his second U.S. Open crown last year at Shinnecock Hills, carded a 2-under 68 and is tied for third place with England's Lee Westwood and Brandt Jobe, who held sole possession of the lead at 4-under, but bogeyed 16 and 17.
Olin Browne
Olin Browne had five birdies and two bogeys in the first round.
Phil Mickelson, the runner-up to the late Payne Stewart in 1999 when Pinehurst last hosted this event, shot a 1-under 69. He is knotted in sixth place with 1996 U.S. Open champion Steve Jones, Luke Donald and K.J. Choi.
Mickelson was 2-under par, but dropped shots at both 15 and 16. At the closing hole, where Stewart sank the 15-footer for par to win six years ago, Mickelson ran home a 20-foot birdie putt to join the group at 1-under par.
'I am pleased with 1 under,' said Mickelson, the 2004 Masters winner. 'I'll take even par or better anytime in U.S. Open. I think we're in for a tough three more days.'
Tiger Woods, a two-time U.S. Open winner who tied for third six years ago, scrambled to an even-par 70. He only hit six fairways on Thursday, but managed to get into a tie for 10th.
'Anytime you shoot even par in the Open, you ought to feel pretty good,' said Woods, the reigning Masters champion. 'And especially this one. I need to be more in the fairway. But I just kept hanging in there and kept grinding.'
Woods' problems with the driver were evident right away as he landed on a cart path at the par-5 10th, his first on Thursday. He hit a fairway-metal with his second and was able to reach the fringe. Woods chipped to 12 feet and sank the birdie putt.
He ran into trouble midway through his front nine. At the par-3 15th, Woods dumped his tee ball in the front bunker and made bogey. One hole later, Woods missed the fairway and was angered when photographers snapped photos during his backswing. His ball landed in another bunker and he was unable to save par.
The No. 1 ranked player in the world birdied the par-5 fourth to get back to even-par on his round.
But Woods and the rest of the golf world is looking up at Browne and Mediate.
Browne, who played in the second group out Thursday morning, did not get off to an ideal start. He bogeyed the second hole, but rebounded with a 10-foot birdie putt at the fourth. Browne bogeyed No. 6, but closed out his front nine with a tap-in birdie at the par-3 ninth.
The 46-year-old squandered makeable birdie chances at 10, 11 and 12, but rolled in a pair of 20-footers for birdie at 13 and 14. Browne collected his third birdie in a four-hole span when his 18-foot birdie putt at 16 found the bottom of the cup.
'I kept my ball where I needed to today,' said Browne, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour. 'When I missed a shot, I missed it in the right place. It was a very comfortable day for me.'
It was almost a day that Browne did not see. He came close to withdrawing from his sectional qualifier after shooting a 73 in his first 18 of the 36-hole qualifier. He came back to fire 59 and is keeping the momentum from two weeks ago.
'I was probably five minutes from not being here,' admitted Browne, who tied for fifth at the 1997 U.S. Open. 'I decided to play nine and see how it went and I managed to shoot 30 on that nine, and ended up shooting 59. It was a fun day and I'm glad to be here and it's continuing.'
Mediate, who finished fourth at Southern Hills in 2001, drained a 4-foot birdie putt at the fourth, but his round did not take off until the back nine. He reached the green in two with a 3-wood at the par-5 10th, then converted the 15-footer for eagle to reach 3 under for the championship.
'I didn't think I could really reach,' admitted Mediate. 'It was real firm up front and it just carried. I walked up there and it was right in the middle of the green. I'm trying to lag and make a four, and it went right in the center.'
He dropped a shot at the 14th when his approach flew the green down a hill. Mediate hit a 6-iron to 7 feet at the 16th to set up birdie and match Browne in the lead.
'I felt good right away,' said Mediate, who has battled back problems the last year. 'I was coming in hoping to see a little better play. I was looking forward to it.'
Vijay Singh was seen favoring his knee late in his opening round on Thursday. He still managed to shoot an even-par 70 and is tied for 10th with Woods, Adam Scott, David Toms, Tommy Armour III, Toru Taniguchi and Bob Estes.
Ernie Els, a two-time winner, posted a 1-over 71 and is part of a logjam in 17th. Among the notable players tied with the South African are: Fred Couples, Adam Scott, last week's Booz Allen Classic winner Sergio Garcia, 2003 champion Jim Furyk, first-round co-leader in 2004 Angel Cabrera and Chris DiMarco, who lost in playoffs at the last two majors.
Related links:
  • Full Field Scores - 105th U.S. Open
  • Full Coverage - 105th U.S. Open

  • Tee Times - U.S. Open

  • Photo Gallery from Pinehurst
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    Next up for Koepka: Buddies and a bachelor party

    By Will GrayJune 24, 2018, 7:46 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Coming off a successful title defense at the U.S. Open, Brooks Koepka arrived at the Travelers Championship in need of a nap. It appears he won’t be getting one anytime soon.

    Koepka normally wakes up by 6 a.m. without using an alarm, but without much down time since his victory at Shinnecock Hills he slept in until 8:20 a.m. Sunday morning, prior to his 10:40 a.m. tee time. Any impact to his pre-round routine appeared negligible, as Koepka fired a 5-under 65 that included seven birdies over his first 13 holes.

    “I felt like today was kind of the first day I got everything back,” Koepka said. “I was definitely running behind, but it was nice to catch up on some sleep.”

    Koepka became the first U.S. Open winner to play the week after since Justin Rose in 2013, and he finished the Travelers at 9 under with four straight sub-par rounds. While he’s got some free time in the coming days, it won’t exactly be restful.

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    “We’ve got 11 guys that I’m pretty close with, so I’m looking forward to hanging out with them in Boston for a few days and then [getting] back down to West Palm for a night, and then we’re off to my best friend’s bachelor party,” Koepka said. “I was really hoping to get some rest, but I don’t know how much that will happen.”

    Last year, Koepka took a month off following his U.S. Open win at Erin Hills, only touched a club once, and still finished T-6 at The Open at Royal Birkdale. While this will be his final competitive start before Carnoustie, he expects to make a strong run toward a third major title next month in Scotland.

    “I’m shutting it down for a while. I don’t feel like I need to play,” Koepka said. “I feel like my game’s in a good spot, played really well this week. Just some stupid mistakes and mental errors. That’s all it was, lack of focus and low energy. To be honest with you, I’m not surprised. I did play well though, I putted well, and I’m somewhat pleased.”

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    Spieth ends busy stretch without top-10 finish

    By Will GrayJune 24, 2018, 7:39 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – There were no final-round heroics this time around for Jordan Spieth at the Travelers Championship.

    After taking the title last year with perhaps the most memorable shot of the year, Spieth appeared poised to make a robust defense of his title after an opening-round 63 gave him a share of the lead. But that proved to be as good as it would get, as he played the next three rounds in a combined 3 over to drop outside the top 40 on the final leaderboard.

    It marked the end of a pedestrian run of six events in seven weeks for Spieth, during which his best finish was a tie for 21st at the AT&T Byron Nelson.

    “A lot of cut-line golf, which is somewhat unusual historically for me, fortunately,” Spieth said after closing with a 1-under 69. “Kind of a grind, but I made actually a lot of progress where I needed to within the last few weeks.”

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Spieth has struggled to get on track on the greens this year, but he has started to turn a corner in recent weeks, specifically during a missed cut at the Memorial Tournament, and he picked up more than three shots on the field this week in strokes gained: putting.

    “My putting’s right on point where it needs to be. It’s getting better every single week,” Spieth said. “It’s the best it’s been in a couple years.”

    Unfortunately for Spieth, a slight uptick in putting has coincided with some regression from his normally reliable ball-striking. Of the 74 players who made the cut at TPC River Highlands, he ranked 61st in strokes gained: tee-to-green.

    “I’ve just got to kind of get my alignment back in order on the full swing. It’s tough when you swing and you think you hit a good shot, and you look up and the ball’s, it could be 15 yards right or 15 yards left, and it’s all because of alignment,” Spieth said. “It’s literally the same thing I went through with the putting. I’ve just got to find a way to get it back on track with the full swing.”

    Having concluded a busy stretch, Spieth noted that he now has “a few weeks off.” But still in search of his first quality chance to contend heading into a final round this year, he didn’t rule out the notion of adding a start before defending his title at Carnoustie next month.

    Spieth is not in the field for next week’s Quicken Loans National, but he won the John Deere Classic in both 2013 and 2015, which will be played the week before The Open.

    “As far as leading into The Open, we’ll see,” Spieth said. “Last year I went in after three weeks off and it didn’t hurt me. So I believe I can get the work in whether I’m playing or not, to get the repetitions.”

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    Chamblee comments on Choi's unique step-through swing

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 24, 2018, 3:55 pm

    The golf world found itself enamored with a largely unknown journeyman this weekend.

    Ho-sung Choi went from 554th in the world to No. 1 in the hearts of all those who swing the golf club just a little bit differently thanks to his run at the Korean Open.

    The 44-year-old with the exaggerated step through impact found himself two off the pace through 54 holes and in contention for one of two available invitations to this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.

    Choi fell out of the hunt for tournament title and the Open exemption with a final-round 74, but nonetheless left an impression with his tie for fifth.

    Asked about Choi's swing Saturday night, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee offered the following:

    "If Chi Chi Rodriguez and Gary Player had a golf school, what would their first professional golfer swing like? Voila," Chamblee said.

    "Both those legends had walk through finishes, but Ho Sung has taken this move to a new level with a borderline pirouette to keep from hanging back.

    "In an era when professional golfers get accused of having golf swings that all look alike, I’ve never seen anyone swing quite like Ho Sung Choi.

    "I can’t wait to try this on the range tomorrow."

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    Wallace holds off charges to win BMW International

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 3:43 pm

    PULHEIM, Germany - England's Matt Wallace shot a 7-under 65 to hold off a record-breaking charge from Thorbjorn Olesen and win the BMW International Open on Sunday.

    Wallace finished on 10-under 278 - just ahead of Olesen, Mikko Korhonen and 2008 winner Martin Kaymer, whose chances took a blow with a bogey on the 17th hole.

    ''I want to keep building on this,'' Wallace said after his third European Tour win. ''Obviously this gives me a lot of confidence to go on and play well and I want to kick on and hopefully do this in the bigger events from now on.''

    Full-field scores from the BMW International Open

    Olesen had played himself into contention with the lowest round in tournament history, with nine birdies and an eagle for an 11-under 61. It was the lowest round of his European Tour career and it gave the Dane a three-shot lead before the final group had even teed off.

    ''I was just trying today to go out there and build on my game, see if I could shoot a low score,'' Olesen said. ''Obviously as the round progressed I kept on thinking birdies and trying to make the round better. Finishing with four birdies was pretty nice.''

    Wallace turned in 34 but then made five birdies in seven holes from the turn to edge a shot past Olesen. He waited as Kaymer and Korhonen went close with rounds of 68 and 67, respectively.

    England's Aaron Rai and Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard finished joint-fifth with rounds of 69.