Sugai Sterling at Senior British

By Sports NetworkJuly 27, 2002, 4:00 pm
NEWCASTLE, Northern Ireland -- Noboru Sugai carded a 2-over 73 Saturday but managed to increase his lead to six strokes as conditions made play difficult at the Senior British Open. Sugai moved to 6-under-par 207 for the tournament with one round to play.
Canadian John Irwin posted a 3-over 74 to finish in second place at even-par 213. South Africa's John Bland followed at 1-over-par 214 while John Chillas of Scotland and five-time British Open winner Tom Watson were at 2-over-par 215.
Strong winds plagued Royal County Down as only one player shot even-par. Sugai started with a three-stroke lead and seemed undeterred by the gusts with two birdies over his first four holes to move to 10-under.
As his competitors faltered, Sugai dodged the wind and had a six-shot lead through seven holes. However, the Japanese player could not escape the conditions for long. Sugai ran into trouble with back-to-back double bogeys starting at the eighth to make the turn at minus-6.
Sugai's lead stood at three but he added to his advantage with a birdie at the 12th. He recorded another birdie at the 16th to return to 8-under before closing with back-to-back bogeys from the 17th.
The 52-year-old's challengers also found trouble coming in. Bland bogeyed his final two holes while Chillas closed with a pair of double-bogeys.
Sugai, who has won four times on the Japan Golf Tour and three times on the Japan Seniors Tour, is looking to make a name for himself outside his home country.
With a six-shot edge heading into Sunday's final round, Sugai can become the first wire-to-wire winner of the Senior British Open since Gary Player accomplished the feat in 1988.
'I still can't believe what's happening,' said Sugai. 'I felt a lot of pressure when I had those two double-bogeys but now I want the wind to blow, blow, blow because I hit the ball nice and low.'
Watson was five shots off the pace to start the round but the 52-year-old got off to a dismal start with four bogeys over his first six holes. Watson made a brief recovery on the back side with three birdies but a bogey and a double-bogey squashed his efforts.
'The course won, I'm afraid,' said Watson, who is making his debut in the tournament. 'It's as simple as that. I didn't put up much of a challenge. Now it's up to Mr. Sugai. It's his tournament to win or lose.'
Christy O'Connor, Jr., who won this event in 1999 and 2000, posted a round of 2-over 73 to finish at 3-over-par 216. Japan's Katzunari Takahashi was one shot further back at 4-over-par 217 after a round of 77.
David Oakley and Nick Job share eighth place at 5-over-par 218. They were followed by John Morgan and Russell Weir, who are knotted at 6-over-par 219.
John McTear of Scotland, the only player to shoot par, finished at 7-over-par 220 for the tournament. McTear had five birdies on his round to go along with five bogeys for a 71.
'It was very tough out there,' said McTear, who could have shot below par if not for bogeys on the last two holes. 'Normally, I hit my shots low so that helps.'
McTear was joined by David Huish, Priscillo Diniz, Mike Miller, Ross Metherell, Seiji Ebihara and Malcolm Gregson in a tie for 12th.
Full-field scores from the Senior British Open
Getty Images

Paisley (61) leads Tour Championship

By Associated PressSeptember 20, 2018, 11:56 pm

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Chris Paisley birdied four of the last five holes for a 10-under 61 and the first-round lead Thursday in the season-ending Tour Championship.

The South African Open winner in January for his first European Tour title, Paisley played the back nine first at Atlantic Beach Country Club, holing a bunker shot for an eagle on the par-5 18th. On the front nine, he birdied the par-3 fifth and finished with three straight birdies.

''I think just all around was really good,'' Paisley said. ''I hit it well off the tee, which gave me a lot of kind of short irons into the greens and opportunities. I hit a lot of really good iron shots close, and then a few other bonus kind of things happened where I holed the bunker shot on 18 and holed a long putt on No. 8.''

The 32-year-old Englishman missed the cuts in the first three Tour Finals events after getting into the series as a non-member PGA Tour with enough money to have placed in the top 200 in the FedEx Cup. The final card went for $40,625 last year, with Paisley needs to finish in a two-way tie for fourth or better to mathematically have a chance to secure one of the 25 PGA Tour at stake.

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

''The nice thing was I won early in the year in Europe,'' said Paisley, a former University of Tennessee player. ''I've got the first two Final series events locked up, I think I'm in those. I'm not guaranteed to be in Dubai yet. But I just thought we have a house over here, my wife's American, my goal is to try to get on the PGA Tour, so it was a perfect opportunity to try and do it.''

Cameron Tringale and Canadian Ben Silverman were two strokes back at 63. Tringale is tied for 83rd in the PGA Tour card race with $2,660, and Silverman is tied for 85th at $2,600.

''I hit a lot of good shots and made some good putts,'' Silverman said. ''Actually, it could have been lower, but I'm not complaining. Missed a couple putts inside 6x feet, but I'm not complaining at all, it was a great round.''

Lucas Glover was at 64 with Ben Crane, Nicholas Lindheim, Matt Every, Trevor Cone, Denny McCarthy, Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez. Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez earned PGA Tour cards as top-25 finishers on the Tour regular-season money list, and McCarthy has made $75,793 in the first three Finals events to also wrap up a card. In the race for the 25 cards, Lindholm is 19th with $35,836, Every 30th with $25,733, Glover 40th with $17,212, and Cone 59th with $8,162

The series features the top 75 players from the regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and Paisley and other non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top-25 finishers on the regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. The other players are fighting for the 25 cards based on series earnings.

Getty Images

McIlroy likely to join PGA Tour PAC next year

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:28 pm

ATLANTA – The upside of the PGA Tour’s sweeping changes to next year’s playoff finale, along with a host of other significant changes to the schedule, seems to be more engagement in circuit policy by top players.

Jordan Spieth served on the player advisory council this season and will begin his three-year term as one of four player directors on the policy board next year, and Justin Thomas also was on this year’s PAC.

Those meetings might become even more high profile next year.

Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“I'm not on the PAC. I'm probably going to join the PAC next year. Nice to sort of know what's going on and give your input and whatever,” Rory McIlroy said following his round on Thursday at the Tour Championship.

McIlroy said he spoke with Tour commissioner Jay Monahan about the transition to a strokes-based format for the Tour Championship starting next year. Given his take on Thursday to the media it must have been an interesting conversation.

“I like it for the FedExCup. I don't necessarily think it should be an official Tour win. I don't know how the World Ranking points are going to work,” said McIlroy, who is tied for fifth after a first-round 67 at East Lake. “There's a lot of stuff that still needs to be figured out. But in terms of deciding the FedExCup, I think it's good.”

Getty Images

Thomas (67) happy to feel no pain in wrist

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:03 pm

ATLANTA – When Justin Thomas arrived at East Lake he didn’t have very high expectations.

After injuring his right wrist during the final round of the BMW Championship he spent last week in south Florida getting therapy after being diagnosed with a case of tendinitis and little else.

He said he didn’t hit a full shot last week and didn’t expect much out of his game at the finale, but was pleasantly surprised with his play following an opening 67 that left him tied for fifth place and two strokes off the lead. But most of all he was pleased that he didn’t feel any pain in his wrist.

Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“I thought that I may not be playing very well because of my preparation being able to hit as few balls as I have, but no, in terms of pain, it's not an issue,” he said.

Thomas explained that he tested the wrist earlier this week to be sure he was pain-free and conceded he considered not playing the Tour Championship in order to be as healthy as possible for next week’s Ryder Cup.

“If it would have hurt at all, I wouldn't have played,” said Thomas, who will be a rookie on this year’s U.S. team. “No. 1 most important part is my future and my career. I don't want to do anything that's going to put me out for a while. But to me, second most important is Ryder Cup. I would rather not play this week and play the Ryder Cup and be fresh and make sure I'm going to get as many points for the team as possible.”

Getty Images

Fowler 'pain free' and tied for Tour Championship lead

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:01 pm

ATLANTA – The most important member of Team USA at next week’s Ryder Cup may be the team trainer.

Justin Thomas began the season finale nursing a case of tendonitis in his right wrist and Rickie Fowler skipped the first two playoff events after being slowed by a right oblique injury.

Neither player seemed impacted by the injuries on Thursday at the Tour Championship, with Thomas tied for fifth at 3 under and Fowler tied for the lead with Tiger Woods at 5 under par.

Current FedExCup standings

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“I needed the 2 1/2 weeks or so of just sitting around really not doing a whole lot,” said Fowler, who tied for eighth last week at the BMW Championship. “It was definitely the right call. If I would have played through the first or second playoff events, there was really no benefit, especially looking at the ultimate goal being ready for the Ryder Cup and to have a chance to be here at East Lake.”

Being rested and pain-free is a vast improvement over how he felt at the PGA Championship last month, when he underwent therapy before and after each round and had to wear tape just to play.

“It's nice to be back swinging pain-free because I wouldn't have wanted to deal with how it felt during PGA week for a continued amount of time,” said Fowler, who finished his day with a bogey-free closing nine to secure a spot in Friday’s final group with Woods.