Stupples Maintains Advantage

By Sports NetworkJuly 30, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Weetabix WomenBERKSHIRE, England -- Karen Stupples posted a 2-under 70 on Friday to extend her lead at the Women's British Open. She stands at 9-under-par 135 and leads by three strokes over three players at Sunningdale Golf Club.
The 9-under-par 135 tied the 36-hole record for this event, when it has been contested on a par-72 layout. Karrie Webb originally set the mark in 1997, while Catriona Matthew equaled the number in 2001.
Beth Daniel, the 47-year-old American who became the oldest winner on the LPGA Tour last year, shot a 3-under 69 and is tied for second place. Seol-An Jeon, who also carded a 69, and Jeong Jang, who shot a 68, joined Daniel at 6-under-par 138.
Defending champion Annika Sorenstam was in the hunt Friday, but stumbled late. Stupples already posted her 9-under-par total so Sorenstam knew what she needed to do when she teed off.
She tallied three front-nine birdies to get within two, but a pair of late bogeys and zero birdies on the back nine dropped her down the leaderboard.
Sorenstam, who can join Mickey Wright as the only players to successfully defend all four major titles, only managed a 1-under 71 and is part of group in fifth at minus-5.
'I still shot under par, so I have to look on the bright side,' said Sorenstam, who captured her second consecutive LPGA Championship title last month and repeated at the U.S. Women's Open in 1995-96 and at the Nabisco Championship from 2001-02. 'I lost a little ground, but then again I'm right there. There's two more days. It's not the end of the world by any means.'
Sorenstam will have to catch Stupples, a feat she accomplished last week.
Stupples, who won the season-opening Welch's/Fry's Championship with a historic, four-round total of 258, carded seven birdies in a flawless round on Thursday. Friday's round was also mistake-free, but thanks to different conditions, offered fewer birdies.
At the par-5 opening hole, Stupples knocked a 7-wood to 40 feet. She two-putted for birdie to reach 8 under par for the championship.
After one birdie in one hole, things cooled off for the 31-year-old from Dover, England. Stupples found a greenside bunker at the seventh and had little green to use. She blasted out to 8 feet and sank the par-saving putt.
'It was very, very boring,' admitted Stupples. 'Fairways and greens most of the way around today. And then if I missed the green, it was just on the fringe where I could putt real easily or chip real easily.'
Stupples gave herself good looks for birdie at the ninth and 10th. Her birdie try at nine never grazed the hole, but her putt at No. 10 circled the cup before rimming out.
Stupples parred her next six holes, then broke into red figures again at the 17th. She tried to run a 5-iron back to the hole, but due to overnight rain, the ball never got to the flag. Instead, Stupples drained the 40-foot birdie putt to get to 9 under.
So, is a two-birdie, no-bogey round boring?
'It can be,' said Stupples. 'It was frustrating at times, but I had a couple of good opportunities, they just didn't go in the hole. But I think if you can come through today and still be under par, even though things don't quite go according to plan, it's a good day.'
Stupples is bogey-free for the tournament and for the second week in a row, owns the 36-hole lead. At last week's Evian Masters, Stupples stumbled and came in fourth and this is her first reasonable chance at one of the majors.
'It's worked very well the last couple days,' said Stupples, referring to her strategy. 'I'll just be patient and see how it all pans out.'
Laura Davies needs a victory this week to become eligible for the Hall of Fame. She posted a 3-under 69 and is tied for fifth with Sorenstam, Laura Diaz (69), Jung Yeon Lee (72), Rachel Teske (69), Natalie Gulbis (71), Heather Bowie (69) and Paula Marti (66). That group is through two rounds at 5-under-par 139.
The 36-hole cut fell at 2-over-par 146 and among the notable players who will sit out the weekend are: Rosie Jones (148), Mi Hyun Kim (148) and reigning U.S. Open champion Meg Mallon (150).
Related Links:
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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.”