Stadler Tops Top-Notch Leaderboard

By Sports NetworkJuly 28, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 U.S. Senior OpenKETTERING, Ohio -- Craig Stadler fired a 7-under-par 64 on Thursday to grab the first-round lead of the U.S. Senior Open at NCR Country Club.
Tom Purtzer is alone in second place after a 6-under-par 65. Loren Roberts, who made his Champions Tour debut last week at the Senior British Open, carded a 5-under-par 67 and has third, one shot better than 2001 U.S. Senior Open champion Bruce Fleisher.
Greg Norman
Greg Norman needed 33 putts, but still made his way to the top of the leaderboard early Thursday.
`Greg Norman, who also made his debut on the elder circuit last week at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club, opened with a 3-under-par 68 and is tied for fifth place with Senior British Open winner Tom Watson, Dick Mast, Wayne Levi and Bruce Summerhays.
'I knew yesterday I was playing very, very well, and it was just a matter of keeping it going,' said Norman, a two-time British Open winner. 'Not that I felt I putted poorly, I just felt like I didn't have the right speed of the greens. That was probably the only downfall or the weakest part of the game today. All in all I felt extremely comfortable.'
'I played a pretty solid round of golf,' said Watson. 'I made a pretty solid run on the back nine and a 68 is a good start in this Senior Open.'
All of these top players will be looking up at last year's leading money winner.
Stadler, the 1982 Masters champion, wasted little time in breaking into red figures. He started on the back nine Thursday at NCR and two-putted the par-5 10th green for a birdie. He made it two in a row with a 20-footer at No. 11, then the eight-time winner on the Champions Tour parred his next three holes.
At the difficult, par-3 15th, Stadler hit a 3-iron to 5 feet and converted the birdie try. Things briefly fell apart for Stadler at the par-4 18th when his 5-iron approach landed 40 feet right. He three-putted for a bogey to make the turn at 2-under-par 33.
Stadler holed a 20-foot birdie putt at the first after his drive landed in the rough. He two-putted for regular pars at two, three and four, but the 52-year-old caught fire late in his round.
At the par-5 fifth, Stadler reached the green in two and landed 25 feet from the hole. He missed that, but once again knocked a 3-wood to 25 feet with his second at the par-5 sixth. Stadler made that eagle try to reach 6 under par.
Stadler found the fairway with a driver at seven then hit a soft 8-iron to 6 feet. He drained that birdie putt, but never gave himself a good look at birdie the rest of the way. Stadler parred out for the first-round lead.
'I just put it in the fairway all day and hit some good iron shots, but the greens are so soft as you see, you just fire at the hole and it stays right there,' said Stadler, who is winless thus far in 2005. 'It's a playable golf course and obviously very scorable this afternoon.'
Stadler finished alone in fourth place at last week's Senior British Open, but the former Masters winner does not necessarily believe that this round has much to do with last week.
'I'm not a believer or disbeliever in momentum. I think it's just kind of a fact when you play well you tend to feed off that at times,' said Stadler. 'Carry-over from last week - with the positive attitude and the confidence, probably, with the golf game, I don't think so at all. It's completely different golf last week.'
Purtzer also began on the back nine and was 3 under through two holes with an eagle at 10 and a birdie at 11. He traded a birdie and a bogey the rest of the way on his first nine, but reached 5 under par thanks to a 4-foot birdie putt at one and a 12-footer at No. 2.
Things got a little hairy for Purtzer from there. He drove against a tree at the third, but hit his approach over the green. Purtzer chipped to 2 feet and he made the unlikely par save.
At the fourth, Purtzer drove into a bunker, then sailed 40 yards over the green with his second. He pitched his third from deep rough, 10 feet past the hole and once again saved an unbelievable par.
'You figure out how far you want to hit it and then make a swing and hopefully it comes off as you envision it, as you want it to,' said Purtzer, referring to his pitch at four. 'Not too many times do they come off like you want in that long of grass.'
He ran home a 12-foot eagle putt at No. 6, but pulled his drive at the seventh en route to a bogey.
'I really didn't know what to expect, and when you get off to a start like that, it kind of helps get your momentum, get some positive thoughts flowing,' said Purtzer, a two-time winner on the Champions Tour. 'So that definitely helped.'
Raymond Floyd, who won the 1969 PGA Championship at NCR, shot a 2-under-par 69 and headlines a group tied for 10th place. Jay Sigel, Rodger Davis and Morris Hatalsky are some of the players tied five shots behind Stadler.
Defending champion Peter Jacobsen was 2 under par with three holes to play, but tallied a bogey and a double bogey. He shot a 1-over-par 72 and is part of a group tied for 44th.
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    Woods on firing shot into crowd: 'I kept moving them back'

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:14 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It added up to another even-par round, but Tiger Woods had an eventful Friday at The Open.

    His adventure started on the second hole, when he wiped a drive into the right rough. Standing awkwardly on the side of a mound, he prepared for a quick hook but instead fired one into the crowd that was hovering near the rope line.

    “I kept moving them back,” he said. “I moved them back about 40 yards. I was trying to play for the grass to wrap the shaft around there and hit it left, and I was just trying to hold the face open as much as I possibly could. It grabbed the shaft and smothered it.

    “I was very, very fortunate that I got far enough down there where I had a full wedge into the green.”

    Woods bogeyed the hole, one of four on the day, and carded four birdies in his round of 71 at Carnoustie. When he walked off the course, he was in a tie for 30th, six shots off the clubhouse lead.

    It’s the first time in five years – since the 2013 Open – that Woods has opened a major with consecutive rounds of par or better. He went on to tie for sixth that year at Muirfield.

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    Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 2:30 pm

    Tiger Woods shot his second consecutive 70 on Friday at Carnoustie and enters weekend play at even par for the championship, still in contention for major No. 15.

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    Scott and Sunesson a one-week partnership

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 2:13 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Adam Scott has been in between caddies for the last month and went with a bold stand-in for this week’s Open Championship, coaxing veteran looper Fanny Sunesson out of retirement to work for him at Carnoustie.

    Sunesson caddied for Nick Faldo in his prime, as the duo won four major titles together. She also worked for Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia before a back injury forced her to retire.

    But for this week’s championship, Scott convinced the Swede to return to the caddie corps. The results have been impressive, with the Australian following an opening 71 with a second-round 70 for a tie for 16th place.

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    “It's been going great. Fanny is, obviously, a fantastic caddie, and to be able to have that experience out there with me is certainly comforting,” Scott said. “We've gotten along really well. She's picked up on my game quickly, and I think we think about things in a very similar way.”

    Scott was also asked about a potential long-term partnership between the duo, but he didn’t sound hopeful.

    “It's just for this week,” he said. “It would be up to her, but I don't think she's making plans of a comeback. I was being a bit opportunistic in contacting her and coaxing her out of retirement, I guess. But I think she's having a good week. We'll just take it one week at the moment.”

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    After tense Augusta Sunday, Rory ready to be aggressive

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 1:51 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy temporarily lost his superpowers during the Masters.  

    In one of the most surprising rounds of the year, he played tentatively and carefully during the final day. Squaring off against the major-less Patrick Reed, on the brink of history, with the backing of nearly the entire crowd, it was McIlroy who shrank in the moment, who looked like the one searching for validation. He shot a joyless 74 and wound up six shots behind Reed.

    No, the final round was nowhere near as dispiriting as the finale in 2011, but McIlroy still sulked the following week. He binge-watched TV shows. Devoured a few books. Guzzled a couple of bottles of wine. His pity party lasted a few days, until his wife, Erica, finally dragged him out of the house for a walk.

    Some deeper introspection was required, and McIlroy revealed a healthier self-analysis Friday at Carnoustie. He diagnosed what went wrong at Augusta, and then again two months later at the U.S. Open, where he blew himself out of the tournament with an opening 80.

    “I was worrying too much about the result, not focusing on the process,” he said. “Sunday at Augusta was a big learning curve for me because, even if I hadn’t won that tournament, but I went down swinging and aggressive and committing to every shot, I would have walked away a lot happier.”

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    And so McIlroy has a new mantra this week at The Open.

    Let it go.

    Don’t hold back. Don’t worry about the repercussions. Don’t play scared.

    “I’m committed to making sure, even if I don’t play my best golf and don’t shoot the scores I want, I’m going to go down swinging, and I’m going to go down giving my best,” he said. “The result is the byproduct of all the little things you do to lead up to that. Sometimes I’ve forgotten that, and I just need to get back in that mindset.”

    It’s worked through two rounds, even after the cool, damp conditions led McIlroy to abandon his ultra-aggressive strategy. He offset a few mistakes with four birdies, shooting a second consecutive 69 to sit just a couple of shots off the lead.

    During a sun-splashed first round, McIlroy gleefully banged driver on almost every hole, flying or skirting the bunkers that dot these baked-out, undulating fairways. He wasn’t particularly accurate, but he also didn’t need to be, as the thin, wispy rough enabled every player to at least advance their approach shots near the green.

    Friday’s weather presented a different challenge. A steady morning rain took some of the fire out of parched fairways, but the cooler temperatures also reduced much of the bombers’ hang time. Suddenly, all of the bunkers were in play, and McIlroy needed to adjust his driver-heavy approach (he hit only six) on the fly.

    “It just wasn’t worth it,” he said.

    McIlroy hit a few “skanky” shots, in his words, but even his bigger misses – on the sixth and 17th holes – were on the proper side, allowing him to scramble for par and keep the round going.

    It’s the fifth time in his career that he’s opened a major with back-to-back rounds in the 60s. He’s gone on to win three of the previous four – the lone exception that disastrous final round (80) at Augusta in 2011.

    “I don’t want to say easy,” he said, “but it’s felt comfortable.”

    The weekend gets uncomfortable for everyone, apparently even four-time major winners who, when in form, ooze confidence and swagger.

    Once again McIlroy has that look at a major.

    The only thing left to do?

    Let it go.