Fathauer finds positive attitude, first-ever 54-hole lead

By Will GrayNovember 14, 2015, 10:20 pm

PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico – The grinding lifestyle of professional golf can produce a wide spectrum of emotions.

When things are going well, the hours spent on the range feel justified. Credit is given to the routine, to the preparation, and the schedule can float seamlessly from one event to the next.

But when the results dry up, the daily trips to the course simply seem like a burden.

It is in that latter mindset that Derek Fathauer found himself just a few weeks ago. While many of the top-tier players had been away from competition for weeks, Fathauer essentially had no off-season. A disappointing year on the PGA Tour necessitated a trip to Web.com Tour Finals, where his playing status wasn’t secure until the fourth and final event.

From there, it was off to the Frys.com Open, and the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open after that. The grind rolled right along, but the scores weren’t there, and deep down, Fathauer knew something was amiss.

So he took a break and did some soul-searching.

“The week before Jackson (Sanderson Farms Championship) I just kind of took the entire week off at home and actually went to my parents’ house,” Fathauer said. “Relaxed, didn’t golf, just kind of got away. Sort of something clicked, I think.”

OHL Classic at Mayakoba: Articles, photos and videos

A shift in attitude has paid immediate dividends this week at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, where Fathauer now finds himself equipped with a 54-hole lead for the first time. After rounds of 65-66-66, he is one shot clear of Jason Bohn and three ahead of a group that includes Graeme McDowell and Russell Knox.

Fathauer comports himself with a carefree mindset, one that he explained extends to every athletic pursuit – except golf, where he invests himself in the end result, perhaps to a fault. He felt he was “fried out of (his) mind” after missed cuts in Napa and Las Vegas, and simply wasn’t having fun on the course.

“Just didn’t want to play golf,” he said. “It might have been the last month, just didn’t want to play, didn’t want to be here. It was just too much to handle. Just too much pressure I was putting on myself, and it wasn’t fun and it hadn’t been fun for the last couple of years.”

Fathauer’s talent has never been in doubt, as evidenced by his 2014 results that saw him win the Web.com Tour Championship and earn fully-exempt status on the PGA Tour. But that potential has yet to translate into low scores, as the 29-year-old netted just one top-10 finish last season.

That trend has reversed itself quickly this week, where Fathauer has strung together three straight sub-70 rounds for the first time in 59 PGA Tour starts.

The epiphany for Fathauer came when he began to separate his attitude from the total written on the scorecard.

“Tried to change my mindset instead of being so caught up in the outcome of the golf,” he said. “Like, I’m lucky to do this for a living, I need to enjoy it. I don’t need to take it so serious. That’s kind of the mindset I’ve had the last two weeks, and it’s kind of working.”

While Fathauer holds the pole position, his lead is far from safe on a course that is expected to yield more low scores amid soft conditions. His closest pursuer, Bohn, has been a mainstay on leaderboards already this season, with a pair of top-three finishes to his credit.

He also has some unfinished business here in Mexico, where he held the 54-hole lead a year ago. A disappointing final-round 74 followed, Bohn drifted back to a T-7 finish and he still has not won since the 2010 Zurich Classic.

“I remember I don’t want to do what I did last year on Sunday. I didn’t play very good,” Bohn said after a third-round 65. “Really I’ve got to embrace it. I just want to relax, have some fun, realize where I am. Hopefully knock on the door enough times, I’m going to get a victory.”

The chase pack also includes McDowell, who might be leading were it not for the opening hole at El Camaleon, which he has played in 5 over through three rounds. The other 17 holes have gone according to plan, though, and despite a year-long slump, the Ulsterman enters the final round with a chance to close the calendar on a high note.

“The takeaway is that the game’s in really good shape apart from two driver swings today,” McDowell said. “It’s kind of a work in progress, but it’s getting there.”

But the man to beat is Fathauer, who stands on the cusp of a breakthrough victory in a sport that he is enjoying once more.

“I think if I just go out and do what I came here to do, I’d like to see where it puts me at the end of the day,” he said. “Because if I just stick to my plan, I’ll be happy no matter what happens.”

American Junior Golf Association

Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 11:03 pm

While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.

There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.

According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)

Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.

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McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

12/1: Tony Finau

14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

20/1: Francesco Molinari

25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

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Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.

“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

Her overall assessment of her day?

“It was a great experience,” she said.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.