Singh Dusts Woods Leads Big

By Sports NetworkJuly 30, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 Buick OpenGRAND BLANC, Mich. -- Vijay Singh fired a 9-under 63 in the third round Saturday to extend his lead to five shots at the Buick Open. Singh stands at 22-under-par 194, which tied the 54-hole scoring record that Kenny Perry set in 2001.
Zach Johnson climbed into second place at 17-under-par 199 thanks to a third- round, 7-under 65. He is two strokes clear of Masters runner-up Chris DiMarco, who posted a 6-under 66 on Saturday to get to minus-15.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods had three bogeys in his first four holes Saturday.
Tiger Woods lipped out a par putt on the 18th hole to close a round of 2-under 70. He stands eight shots behind Singh at 14-under-par 202. Woods was joined there by John Deere winner Sean O'Hair (66) and Chrysler Classic champion Geoff Ogilvy (65).
Singh, the reigning PGA Champion, came flying out of the gate with birdies on one and two, both from within 10 feet before he made it three straight as he birdied the third on Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club to move to 16 under, six clear of Woods.
The Fijian sank a 14-foot birdie try on the fifth and then birdied six as well. Despite his hot play, Singh only led Johnson by four strokes. Singh missed a short birdie try on seven, but then birdie eight to move to minus-19.
Singh sank a 13-foot birdie try on nine to move five clear of Johnson.
'You can't always play two nine holes of golf like I did the front nine,' Singh said. 'Otherwise, you'd be shooting 56s and 57s.'
Singh cooled down with back-to-back pars from the 10th. He drove within 30 yards of the green at 12 and got up and down for his birdie from there.
The world's second-ranked player two-putted for birdie at 13. After a pair of pars, Singh missed a short par putt on 16 to slip back to minus-21, but got that shot back with a 7-foot birdie putt on the 18th to lead by five entering the final round.
'It was incredible. The putter started working. It woke up finally,' said Singh, who has struggled with the putter this year. 'You know, I was very confident out there. I was very focused on what I was doing. I just went out there and played golf, and that's what I told myself today, go out and hit the shots and try to roll some putts in. They started going in.'
Singh has led 23 times after three rounds and gone on to win 15 of those tournaments. Singh, who won this crown in 1997, as well as last year, could become the first player to win this title three times and just the second back-to-back winner here.
'I don't know, it would be great if I could win it, but I've still got a hard 18 holes of golf to go,' said Singh, who could join Tony Lema as the only back-to-back winners here with a victory. 'It's a golf course where I have to go out there and make birdies as well. I cannot go out there and sit back and wait for the guys to catch me. I have to increase my lead if I can.'
Woods bogeyed three straight holes from the second to tumble to minus-9, seven shots back of Singh, who he played with on Saturday. He got one of those shots back with an up-and-down birdie on seven.
The world's No. 1 player then ran in a 30-footer for birdie on nine and parred 10 and 11 before catching fire.
He drove into a greenside bunker at the 12th and got up and down for birdie. Woods' most remarkable birdie came on the 13th. He tried to play a hard hook from the left rough with his second shot, but the ball carried long, right of the green into the water.
Woods took the lateral drop, which happened to be on the green and drained a bending 60-foot birdie putt to get to 13 under.
The 29-year-old then two-putted for birdie on the short 14th after driving the green. Woods two-putted for birdie on 16. He lost his drive well right at the last. Woods hit a stellar shot over several trees into a greenside bunker. However, he was unable to save par to finish at minus-14.
'The hardest thing in golf is to follow up a great round,' said Woods of his second-round 61. 'I had a hard time today unfortunately. I got off to just a terrible start, but put it back together though. I got it back in the round, and I was 3 under par, but the last hole summed up the whole day.'
Johnson opened with a birdie on the first and posted three birdies in a four-hole stretch from the fourth.
Around the turn. the 2004 BellSouth Classic champion birdie No. 10 to move to minus-15. Johnson birdied the 12th, then sank consecutive birdies from the 14th to get it to 18 under. He faltered to a bogey on the par-5 17th, though, before parring the last.
'You can't get caught up in what others are doing,' said Johnson of how Singh was playing. 'I think first and foremost, when you're hitting it well and putting it well, you can put up good numbers. So you have to stay within yourself. It's a matter of momentum out here and I fortunately got it early.'
Olin Browne fired an 8-under 64 to move to 13-under-par 203. He was joined in a tie for seventh by Jason Bohn (69) and Steve Lowery (68).
Briny Baird, Craig Barlow, Jeff Brehaut, Fred Funk, Larry Mize and 2003 champion Jim Furyk are one stroke further back at minus-12.
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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.”