For Day, the tougher the course, the better

By Will GrayJuly 1, 2016, 11:43 pm

AKRON, Ohio – Consider it Oakmont Light.

Two weeks after players battled the elements on what is considered by many the toughest course in the country, they have gathered this week at Firestone Country Club for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

A compacted schedule has bumped this event from early August to the heart of the summer. The rains that have often plagued this event are nowhere to be seen; the fairways are firm, the greens are fast and the winds are swirling.

In other words, it’s not offering much of a U.S. Open letup.

“On a scale of 10? Ten,” said William McGirt, who held the opening-round lead but backed up with a second-round 74. “Trying to figure out the wind was impossible.”

The stat line bears out the notion that even the players near the top of the leaderboard are simply holding on for dear life. Jordan Spieth has found only 15 of 36 greens in regulation, relying instead on par saves - many improbable, but which Spieth seems to pull off with stunning regularity.

It was a similar story for David Lingmerth, who hit only six greens Friday but still managed a 3-under 67 in the second round to vault into second place.

“It’s a grind,” Lingmerth said. “You have to really pay attention to every shot, because any little mistake and you put yourself in a terrible spot and your number can easily get away from you.”

The South Course is an old-school brute of a layout. Over the course of 36 holes, it has weeded out several competitors, even among an elite field.

WGC-Bridgestone Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

But it has also created a situation that plays right into the hands of the best player in the world.

Jason Day set a major scoring record with his win last year at the PGA Championship. He can go low – really low, as he showed with wins earlier this year at Bay Hill and TPC Sawgrass.

But deep down, the Aussie embraces a difficult test. He thrives on the grind-it-out approach required in the game’s biggest events, and he brought that mentality with him this week to Ohio, where he holds a one-shot lead over Lingmerth after a second-round 69.

“If I had to pick, if I could play a lot of U.S. Opens every year, I’d love to because I feel like I play the U.S. Opens good,” Day said. “This field is starting to feel that way because it’s difficult to hit fairways and you have to get it up around the greens to save yourself.”

As Day sees it, a difficult course means players are tested as much mentally as they are physically. A two-part examination gives him an extra opportunity to distance himself from the pack.

“Sometimes you’re out there and you’re not quite, not quite in it, and you’ve got to refocus and readjust yourself and push out all the negative thoughts,” he said. “Everyone goes through it out there on the golf course, and that really shows how much grit you have deep down inside to get that thing done, and trying to want it more than everyone else.”

Based on the results of the last year or so, it’s clear that Day lacks neither grit nor desire. He has rallied for some wins and coasted to others, but the message throughout his rise to the top spot in the world rankings has remained the same: He simply wants more.

A search for more wins turned into a quest for a major. That begat a chase for the world No. 1 ranking, and now Day, having ticked off each of the previous boxes, is looking at bigger-picture items like Hall of Fame credentials and the influence he can have on his peers simply by racking up hardware.

“I’ve just got to really try to focus on winning, and if I can do that and win a lot, then hopefully over time it happens, and then you get that kind of aura effect, I guess, and people know that you’re around,” he said. “Greg Norman had it, Tiger Woods had it. There’s been a few people in this world that have had that in this game of golf. It’s difficult to attain, but definitely the only way to do it is to win.”

He has a great chance to add to his trophy collection this weekend, and to become the first player since Woods in 2013 to win two WGC events in the same season. But that opportunity has not come easily, as even Day has not been immune to the difficult conditions and swirling winds.

Par, though, is a good score this week. It’ll continue to be a good score on a course expected to remain firm and fast for the weekend.

It’s a scenario that is reminiscent of the most recent major, and it’s one where Day is now in the driver’s seat in his quest for, simply, more.

“If I can give myself the opportunities, I’m hoping I can stretch that lead over 54 holes,” he said. “And then hopefully by 72, I can stretch that lead even more.”

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”