Gutty performance: Vertigo doesn't stop Day

By Will GrayJune 21, 2015, 3:04 am

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – As Jason Day crouched behind his ball on the 18th green, lining up his final putt of the day, there was a bobble. A slight moment of unsteadiness, a flash of uncertainty, as if all of this effort could still suddenly go for naught.

He reflexively reached out his hand for balance, collected himself and took a deep breath. 

After standing and checking his line once more, he rolled in the 6-foot putt and brought to a close one of the biggest tightrope walks in U.S. Open history.

Entering the third round at Chambers Bay, the question was not where Day stood on the leaderboard, but whether he would be able to suit up. Less than 24 hours earlier, the Aussie lay beside the ninth green with his tournament fate hanging in the balance, as a slip from a dizzy spell led to a lengthy delay and ultimately a diagnosis of benign positional vertigo.

There is no good time to battle such a plight, but a major championship has to be among the worst options – especially on a course as physically demanding as Chambers Bay.

But after a night of rest and treatment from his medical team, there stood Day on the first tee, ready to tackle the most grueling test in golf on a layout that would make him feel as if he were going up and down Seattle's Space Needle before the day was done.

Full-field scores: 115th U.S. Open

Eighteen holes later, capped by that final birdie that spurred the biggest cheer of the day from the grandstand lining the home hole, Day had conquered Mount Chambers and improbably earned a spot in Sunday’s final pairing.

“I said to him on [No.] 18, I said that was one of the greatest rounds of golf I’ve ever watched,” said caddie Col Swatton. “That was a super-human effort.”

While the end result netted a share of the lead alongside three others, the actual product was rife with nervous energy and bated breath. Day appeared unsteady on his feet from the opening hole, at times either leaning on Swatton for physical support or dropping to one knee to gather himself.

Swatton said there were times he thought he might have to stop his player, but the toughest hole was No. 4 – a 504-yard par 4 that rises 45 feet from tee to green. It was at that point that Day put his arm around Swatton and relied on his caddie, swing coach and mentor to guide his ascent.

“I just said, ‘You’ve got the heart of a lion. You’re going to show the world today that you’re going to be the greatest you can be,’” Swatton said. “And I said, ‘Look, let’s do it.’ And he just put his head down and kept walking one foot in front of the other. It was pretty impressive.”

Day bogeyed No. 4, his second blemish of the day. The following hole, playing partner Kevin Kisner offered to start getting the ball out of the hole for Day to save him from bending down to retrieve it. Day refused that offer, along with a similar one from Swatton, but then a funny thing happened – he appeared to grow steadier as the afternoon progressed and dropped only one more shot the rest of the round.

“I didn’t feel that great coming out early,” Day said in a post-round statement. “I felt pretty groggy just from the drugs that I had in my system, then kind of flushed that out on the back nine.”

Added Kisner: “He didn’t say much after a while, he was just feeling terrible. I think whatever medicine he’s taking just makes him feel worse, and he played unbelievable there coming in to make those three birdies. He impressed me.”

Those birdies came on Nos. 15, 17 and 18, rocketing Day to the top of the standings, but even during times of prosperity it was clear that the 27-year-old wasn’t quite right. He backed off his final tee shot, closed his eyes at points in between shots and continued to lean on Swatton to get him to the finish line.

 “The vertigo came back a little bit on the 13th tee box, and then [I] felt nauseous all day,” Day said. “I started shaking on [No.] 16 tee box and then I just tried to get it in, really. Just wanted to get it in.”

“The hardest part for him is just turning the head,” explained Swatton. “Every time he turns to look at the target, it takes a second for his eyes to steady up a little bit.”

The theater of Day’s finish recalled memories of Ken Venturi’s battle with heat stroke at Congressional in 1964, or more recently Tiger Woods’ one-legged triumph at Torrey Pines in 2008.

“I said to him, ‘They might make a movie about that round,’” Swatton said. “That was the greatest round I’ve ever watched. I’ve watched a lot of golf, and watching that was pretty special.”

After enduring one of the most harrowing moments in major championship history, Day now stands on the cusp of his breakthrough triumph, fittingly at an event where he has come so close in recent years. He has passed a monumental test, but one of even greater stature now awaits: one last climb across the cliffs and dunes of Chambers Bay, one more chance to erase the heartbreak of past near-misses.

Day answered the bell during the third round, and should he again rise to the occasion he could author one of the more improbable chapters in this tournament’s illustrious history.

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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.”