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Fresh off a victory, Justin Thomas joins the 59 club

DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer   HONOLULU (AP) — Staring over the top of a bunker on his final hole, the prudent play for Justin Thomas might have been to make sure he got out of the sand and avoided a big number. But then, Thomas didn't care about a big number. It was about golf's magic number. 'This isn't a time for me to lay it up,' Thomas said Thursday at the Sony Open. He hit a 5-iron so clean and so high that it carried 207 yards into a light Pacific breeze to 15 feet on the par-5 ninth hole at Waialae Country Club. Thomas poured in the eagle putt for an 11-under 59, becoming the seventh player to post a sub-60 round in PGA Tour history. For a brief moment, he reacted as if it were little more than the perfect finish to a great opening round. He stretched out his putter that was still in his left hand, smiled and punched the air with his right fist. Only when he looked over at Jordan Spieth and Daniel Berger, the two witnesses to a 59 that Thomas made look easy, did the sense of history start to hit him. Berger thrust his arm in the air. Spieth, his best friend in golf since they were 13, crouched as the ball neared the cup and delivered a left-handed fist pump as both raced over to congratulate him. 'I think I got more excited from seeing them get excited than I did my putt going in,' Thomas said. 'I thought about it going up to the green. I'm like, 'If I make it, what am I going to do?' It's not like winning a tournament. You have three days left to try to play well. So I didn't really know how to react. I never had a putt on the last hole on a Thursday mean that much.' It was different from the feeling he had four days ago when he won the SBS Tournament of Champions at Kapalua. That was his third victory on the PGA Tour, and the 23-year-old Thomas is sure to win more. 'I don't have many chances to shoot 59,' he said. Jim Furyk was the last player with a sub-60 round when he closed with a record 58 at the Travelers Championship last summer. Furyk also had a 59 in 2013 at the BMW Championship, joining the exclusive group that includes Al Geiberger (1977 Memphis Classic), Chip Beck (1991 Las Vegas Invitational), David Duval (1999 Bob Hope Classic), Paul Goydos (2010 John Deere Classic) and Stuart Appleby (2010 Greenbrier Classic). This was special because he made it look so easy. He began by pitching in for eagle from 35 yards. Thomas never hit more than a 7-iron into the par 4s at Waialae on a perfect day for scoring — very little breeze, fast fairways and soft greens. That 7-iron was chipped under the trees and into a bunker on No. 8 when he was trying to save par. His only bogey came on his second hole, the par-3 11th, when his tee shot went into a bunker and he missed an 18-foot par putt. Duval was the only other player to shoot 59 with an eagle on the last hole. Furyk at Conway Farms is the only other player to shoot 59 with a bogey. Spieth was more nervous than Thomas and far more demonstrative. Thomas had a 30-foot birdie putt on No. 7 that looked good even when it was inches from the cup until burning the edge. Spieth clutched the back of his neck and was still asking how the putt didn't fall when he walked onto the next tee. He was talking to himself, of course. He gave Thomas his space. 'It's like sitting on the bench with a teammate throwing a perfect game,' Spieth said. 'It was awesome. What an awesome last five rounds he's had.' Thomas first thought about a 59 when he found an extra long tee at the par-5 18th and figured that was an omen for him to tee it high and hammer a high draw, which left him only an 8-iron into the green. He narrowly missed his eagle putt and settled for a 29. The way he was playing, he expected to go lower, and he did. 'When I was on 18, I thought about 59. I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing, but I just knew that I was driving it well,' he said. 'And if you drive it well out there, you can make a lot of birdies.' He followed with three birdies in four holes, and two years at Alabama was enough for him to start doing the math. 'He had full control of his golf swing,' Spieth said. Spieth and Berger were along for the ride. They all graduated high school in 2011 and grew up in junior golf. They were together a few weekends ago at a resort in Maui ahead of the Tournament of Champions. And they put on quite a show, with Spieth and Berger each shooting 65. On only three holes — No. 15, 5 and 8 — did someone in the group not make birdie or better. Their best-ball score was 17 under. Thomas started to think a 59 wasn't in the works when he was fooled on a 10-foot birdie chance on No. 5 and the putt on No. 7 somehow stayed out. He kept his hopes alive with a 10-foot par save on No. 8, knowing he could get home in two on the par-5 ninth hole. And then he hit into a bunker. 'I saw some sand flying and I was ready to punch something,' Thomas said. 'I was pretty upset about that, because I felt like all chances right there gone.' But then he saw Berger hit out of the bunker with a 4-iron, and Thomas took 5-iron and 'absolutely flushed it.' One putt later, he posted the eighth sub-60 score in history, and became the youngest to shoot 59. Thomas planned to go to the North Shore in the afternoon. Even watching from the beach, he can appreciate the feeling of catching a big wave. He's on one right now. .....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJan 13th, 2017

Fight mars A s 9th straight win, 7-2 over Astros

By The Associated Press Benches cleared and even the stands emptied during Oakland’s 7-2 victory over the Astros on Sunday, tempers flaring at last between the AL West rivals months after Houston’s sign-stealing scandal was brought to light by Oakland pitcher Mike Fiers. Oakland’s Ramon Laureano got hit by a pitch — for the third time in the three-game series — this one by Humberto Castellanos with one out in the seventh. Laureano began exchanging words with animated Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron, then left first base, threw down his batting helmet and began sprinting toward him. Astros catcher Dustin Garneau tackled Laureano before the A’s outfielder reached Cintron, and a wild scene ensued. Players rushed out of both dugouts to join the fray. A’s and Astros players who were sitting in the seats, observing COVID-19 social-distancing protocols, also rushed onto the field. Laureano was ejected by plate ump Ted Barrett. Oakland won its ninth straight, and Houston lost its fifth in a row. Matt Olson hit a three-run homer in the third and Matt Chapman connected the very next pitch, taking the score from 1-0 to 5-0 on consecutive offerings from Astros starter Cristian Javier (1-1). Robbie Grossman also homered and Mark Canha contributed an RBI single. A’s rookie left-hander Jesus Luzardo (1-0) earned his first major league win in his second career start. BRAVES 5, PHILLIES 2, 1st game; BRAVES 8, PHILLIES 0, 2nd game PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Ronald Acuna Jr. homered twice and Freddie Freeman also went deep to spoil Spencer Howard’s big league debut and Atlanta Braves completed a sweep of the doubleheader with an 8-0 win in the second game. Acuna also homered in Atlanta’s 5-2 victory in the first game. He had four hits in the second game and added his his fourth career multihomer game. The Phillies had waited since the restart to send Howard (0-1) to the mound. Freeman hit a two-run homer in the third for the early lead and Acuna had a solo shot to the opposite field in right for a 3-0 lead. Atlanta’s Max Fried (3-0) hummed along against the Phillies until needed to get out of a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the fifth. Acuna hit a two-run shot off Trevor Kelley for a 6-0 lead in the sixth. In the first game, Acuna hit a two-run homer off Deolis Guerra (1-1) and Adam Duvall had a three-run double to lead the Braves. Tyler Matzek (2-0) pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings for the win, and Mark Melancon worked a scoreless ninth for his third save. INDIANS 5, WHITE SOX 4, 10 innings CHICAGO (AP) — Delino DeShields snapped a tie with a perfectly placed squeeze bunt in the 10th inning to lift Cleveland. DeShields’ bunt drove in José Ramírez, who started the inning on second as part of baseball’s extra-inning rule for the pandemic-shortened season. Mike Freeman added a two-out RBI single that gave Cleveland a 5-3 lead. Veteran left-hander Oliver Perez got the final two outs following a 46-minute rain delay for his first save. It was just the fifth save of his 18-year career. Phil Maton (1-0) pitched a scoreless inning for the win. Jimmy Codero (0-1) allowed two runs, one earned, in the loss. José Abreu and James McCann homered for Chicago. ROYALS 4, TWINS 2 KANSAS CITY, Mo (AP) — Hunter Dozier hit a two-run single in his first at-bat since testing positive for COVID-19, and prized prospect Brady Singer earned his major league win to lead Kansas City. The Royals won their fourth in a row overall. The Twins lost all three at Kauffman Stadium and have dropped four straight. Dozier hadn’t played this season while recovering from the virus. He quickly delivered, putting the Royals ahead 2-0 in the first inning. Singer (1-1) allowed two runs and five hits in five innings. The Kansas City bullpen threw four shutout innings with Scott Barlow closed for his first save. Jose Berrios (1-2) went 5 1/3 innings giving up four runs. He allowed Maikel Franco’s leadoff homer in the sixth. RANGERS 7, ANGELS 3 ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Los Angeles Angels right fielder Jo Adell was charged with a rare four-base error when a fly ball from Texas’ Nick Solak popped out of the rookie’s glove and flew the few remaining feet over the fence in the Rangers’ win. The play was initially ruled a home run for Solak, but the official scorer changed it to an error after consulting with the Elias Sports Bureau. Texas completed a three-game sweep as Lance Lynn (2-0) earned his 100th career win, losing a shutout on Tommy La Stella’s two-run homer in the fifth. Shin-Soo Choo capped a four-run fourth with a two-run single that chased Angels starter Andrew Heaney (1-1). Rougned Odor ended an 0-for-18 skid with an RBI single for the first run in the fourth. BREWERS 9, REDS 3 MILWAUKEE (AP) — Christian Yelich homered, tripled and drew a bases-loaded walk Milwaukee got its first home victory. The Brewers avoided falling to 0-5 at home for the first time since 1970, the franchise’s inaugural season in Milwaukee. Justin Smoak broke out of a slump and delivered hits from each side of the plate during a six-run rally in the sixth that put the Brewers ahead for good. Milwaukee poured it on in the seventh with back-to-back homers from Keston Hiura and Yelich. Sonny Gray (3-1) gave up three hits to the Brewers’ first four batters of the sixth and left with the score tied and runners on the corners with one out. Michael Lorenzen replaced Gray and didn’t retire any of the four hitters he faced as the Brewers eventually built a 7-2 lead. Brent Suter (2-0) earned the win with two innings of shutout relief. METS 4, MARLINS 2 NEW YORK (AP) — Jacob deGrom dodged trouble for five innings, rookie Andrés Giménez had three hits and scored three runs, and New York won a home series for the first time this season. DeGrom (2-0) allowed two runs and seven hits, marking the 25th time in his past 27 starts he permitted three runs or fewer. Jesus Aguilar hit a two-run homer in the fifth for the Marlins, who lost their second straight after getting off to a 7-1 start despite 18 players testing positive for the coronavirus. Seth Lugo tossed a scoreless ninth for his third save. Pablo Lopez (1-1) allowed three runs — two earned — and five hits in five innings. RED SOX 5, BLUE JAYS 3 BOSTON (AP) — Mitch Moreland hit two home runs, including a walk-off shot over the Green Monster to lead Boston. Xander Bogaerts drew a two-out walk from Thomas Hatch (0-1) to set up Moreland’s game-winner. Matt Barnes (1-1) pitched a scoreless ninth to get the win. The Blue Jays now head to Buffalo, New York, where they’ll play their remaining home games at the site of their Triple-A affiliate across the Niagara River from Canada. Rafael Devers also homered for the Red Sox. RAYS 4, YANKEES 3 ST. PETERSURG, Fla. (AP) — Michael Perez had an RBI single with two outs in the ninth inning to lift Tampa Bay. Mike Brosseau started the ninth with a double off Zack Britton (0-1) but was thrown out at third on Brandon Lowe’s grounder. Lowe advanced to second on a wild pitch before Manuel Margot walked. After both runners advanced on Willy Adames grounder to first, Perez lined a single to right as the Rays took three of four from the AL East leaders. Brosseau and Lowe both homered in the seventh, when the Rays tied it at 3. Ryan Thompson (1-0) worked a perfect ninth for his first major league win. TIGERS 2, PIRATES 1 PITTSBURGH (AP) — Spencer Turnbull pitched seven strong innings and Miguel Cabrera singled home the tiebreaking run in the eighth for Detroit. Cabrera’s single to left-center field off Richard Rodriguez (0-1) scored Jonathan Schoop, who was hit by a pitch with two outs and took second on a wild pitch. Turnbull (2-0) allowed only one run and five hits while striking out four and walking two. Buck Farmer pitched a scoreless eighth inning and Joe Jimenez retired the side in order for his fifth save. PADRES 9, DIAMONDBACKS 5 SAN DIEGO (AP) — Dinelson Lamet was brilliant in taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning and Fernando Tatis Jr. continued his remarkable power surge with a two-run homer off winless Madison Bumgarner, who allowed four of San Diego’s club-record six long balls as the Padres beat Arizona. Manny Machado homered twice off Bumgarner. Wil Myers, Francisco Mejia and Ty France also went deep for San Diego. Lamet (2-0) had allowed only one baserunner, on a hit by pitch, until Kole Calhoun homered leading off the seventh. The right-hander struck out 11 and walked none in 6 2/3 innings. The Padres remain the only major league team without a no-hitter, having played 8,154 games since 1969 without one. With the Padres leading 9-1, Diamondbacks catcher Carson Kelly pitched a scoreless eighth. Bumgarner (0-3) has struggled with the Diamondbacks, who gave him an $85 million, five-year contract in December after he spent a decade with the San Francisco Giants, helping them win three World Series titles in five seasons. He allowed six runs and five hits in two innings. Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said the 31-year-old lefty exited after experiencing back spasms. DODGERS 6, GIANTS 2 LOS ANGELES (AP) — AJ Pollock and Mookie Betts each hit a three-run homer to rally Los Angeles past San Francisco. The Dodgers have won nine of 12, and they took two of three in the series from their NL West rivals. Their 29 long balls lead the majors. With the Dodgers trailing 2-0, Cody Bellinger singled off Giants starter Kevin Gausman with one out in the seventh inning and Justin Turner followed with a single off submariner Tyler Rogers (1-3). Max Muncy took a called third strike, but Pollock sent a full-count pitch to left-center for his fourth homer and a 3-2 lead. Betts’ shot in the eighth made it 6-2. Jake McGee (1-0) got the win with a hitless inning. Mike Yastrzemski had a two-run single in the fifth for the Giants. MARINERS 5, ROCKIES 3 SEATTLE (AP) — Justus Sheffield pitched six shutout innings for his first major league win, Dylan Moore hit a two-run homer and Seattle slowed down Colorado. Sheffield (1-2) gave up four hits without a walk and struck out seven in his longest stint this season. He worked his way out of a jam with a strikeout to end the fifth, then sat down two more Rockies in the sixth before reaching his pitch limit. Charlie Blackmon extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a first-inning double for Colorado. The loss snapped a three-game win streak for the Rockies, who had won seven of eight in August -- including two straight over the Mariners. Colorado starter German Marquez (2-2) allowed six hits in seven innings......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 10th, 2020

Dustin Johnson emerges from a pack to lead PGA Championship

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Dustin Johnson supplied the birdies, eight of them Saturday at the PGA Championship, the most he has ever made in his 157 rounds of major championship golf for a 5-under 65 and a one-shot lead. Brooks Koepka supplied the needle. Koepka recovered from three straight bogeys to salvage a 69 and stay within two shots of a leaderboard more crowded than any of San Francisco's congested highways. At stake is a chance to become only the seventh player to win the same major three straight times. He surveyed the cast of contenders, and focused on the guy at the top. “I like my chances,” Koepka said. “When I've been in this position before, I've capitalized. He's only won one. I'm playing good. I don't know, we'll see.” As he stepped away from the microphone, Koepka smiled and said to Jason Day, “How about that shade?” They laughed. Too bad this isn't a two-man show. The final round at Harding Park figures to be wide open, just like it was on a Saturday so wild that eight players had at least a share of the lead during the third round. Johnson lost his yardage book and still found his way through an enormous crowd of contenders. He made a double bogey on the ninth hole and still bounced back with a 31 on the tough, windy back nine. He needed all eight of those birdies on a day of low scores, long putts and endless possibilities. One possibility is Koepka hoisting the Wanamaker Trophy for the third straight year, which hasn’t happened since Walter Hagen won four in a row in the 1920s when it was match play. The last player to win any major three straight times was Peter Thomson at the British Open in 1956. Koepka was two shots behind on a board that features only two major champions among the top six. Scottie Scheffler, the PGA Tour rookie from Texas, ran off three straight birdies only to miss a 6-foot par putt on the final hole. He still shot a 65 and was one shot behind, in the final group at his first PGA Championship. Cameron Champ, who has the most powerful swing on tour, shot 67 and joined Scheffler one shot behind. Johnson was at 9-under 201 as he goes for his second major title. For all the chances he has had, this is only the second time he has led going into the final round. The other was down the coast at Pebble Beach, his first chance at winning a major. He had a three-shot lead in the 2010 U.S. Open and shot 82. Now he is more seasoned with experiences good (21 tour victories) and bad (five close calls in the majors). “I'm going to have to play good golf if I want to win. It's simple,” Johnson said. “I've got to hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens. If I can do that tomorrow, I'm going to have a good chance coming down the stretch. ... I'm just going to have to do what I did today. Just get it done." Among the cast of contenders are major champions like Koepka, Jason Day and Justin Rose, and fresh faces like Scheffler, Champ and Collin Morikawa. Also right there was Bryson DeChambeau, thanks to a 95-foot putt for birdie on his last hole. Turns out he can hit long putts, too. Missing from all this action is Tiger Woods, who didn't make a birdie until the 16th hole and is out of the mix for the fourth straight major since his emotional Masters victory last year. A dozen players were separated by three shots. Li Haotong, the first player from China to lead after any round at a major, was leading through 12 holes until his tee shot didn't come down from a tree. He made double bogey, dropped two more shots and finished four shots out of the lead. Johnson didn't have smooth sailing, either, especially when he couldn't find his yardage book. He thinks it slipped into the bottom of the golf bag, and he didn't feel like dumping his 14 clubs all over the ground to find it. Austin Johnson, his brother and caddie, had a spare yardage book. Johnson shot 65 even with a double bogey on the ninth hole. Mistakes like that might be more costly on Sunday with so many players in the mix. Even those who struggled — Rose, Daniel Berger, Tommy Fleetwood all settled for 70 — are only three shots behind. Adding to the drama will be the lack of atmosphere, this being the first major without spectators. Paul Casey said he still didn't feel nerves from the lack of people. Perhaps that helps with younger players in the hunt for the first time. It also could make it difficult for players to know what's happening around them without any cheers. Then again, Johnson won the U.S. Open in 2016 at Oakmont without knowing the score as the USGA tried to decide whether he should be penalized for a potential rules violation earlier in the round. He had to play the last seven holes without knowing his score. It's just one example of what Johnson has endured in the majors. There was a penalty that knocked him out of a playoff in the 2010 PGA at Whistling Straits for grounding his club in sand without realizing it was a bunker. He had a 12-foot eagle putt to win the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, only to three-putt for par and a silver medal. But he's back for another shot, and his game looks to be in order. He has the power, and on this day, he had the putting. “I definitely have experience in this situation that definitely will help tomorrow,” Johnson said. “I’ve been in the hunt a bunch of times in a major. I’ve got one major. ... Still going to have to go out and play really good golf.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 9th, 2020

Rahm s wild day ends with Memorial win and No. 1 ranking

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — The drama was more than Jon Rahm wanted. The result was what he always imagined. Rahm became the No. 1 player in the world Sunday with a victory in the Memorial in which he watched an eight-shot lead at the turn shrink to three shots with three holes to play, and then hit what he called the greatest shot of his life that turned into a bogey because of a penalty. All that mattered was that fist-bump — not a handshake — with Jack Nicklaus, and taking his place along his idol Seve Ballesteros as the only Spaniards to reach No. 1 in the world. With a two-shot penalty for his ball moving the length of a dimple on his chip-in behind the 16th green, Rahm closed with 3-over 75 for a three-shot victory over Ryan Palmer. Rahm got up-and-down on the final four greens, which made it feel even sweeter. “One of the best performances of my life,” Rahm said. “Yesterday was probably one of the best rounds of my life, and finished today with some clutch up-and-downs. As a Spaniard, I'm kind of glad it happened that way.” The fiery emotion is his hallmark. He showed it with a tee shot that sailed left into a creek on the 11th hole, Rahm slamming his club into the ground in a pique of anger. And it was evident with that ferocious fist-pump when his flop shot from deep rough behind the 16th green rolled into the cup. Birdie or bogey, it was a winner, a shot that would have made Ballesteros proud. “I still can't believe it, I'm not going to lie,” he told Nicklaus off the 18th green. With the penalty — Rahm had no idea it was an issue after his round, but accepted the penalty when he saw a video that zoomed in close on the ball — he finished at 9-under 279 for his 10th career victory, fourth on the PGA Tour. Muirfield Village played its toughest in 42 years, with only five players under par, the fewest for the final round since this tournament began in 1976. Rahm's 75 was the highest finish by a winner since Roger Maltbie shot 76 the inaugural year. The rough wasn't cut all week. The greens were allowed to go to the edge because they are being replaced. Crews already had stripped the entire fifth green as the leaders were on the back nine. Rahm looked to be playing a different course. He played bogey-free on the front nine with birdies on the two par 5s. That put him eight shots clear on his way to No. 1. And then he made bogey on the 10th. Not a problem. He yanked his tee shot into a creek on the par-5 11th, and that was a bigger problem based on how hard he slammed the club into the ground in a pique of anger. He made double bogey. Palmer made birdie on the 12th, and then Rahm made another bogey from the bunker on the 14th. Just like that, the lead was three shots. Only a week ago at Muirfield Village for the Workday Charity Open, Justin Thomas had a three-shot lead with three holes to play and wound up losing in a playoff to Collin Morikawa. Rahm was worried his tee shot might find the back bunker, though the rough was not a great option with how fast the greens were running. Rahm was thinking anything inside 10 feet would be good. This was perfect, the ball landing on the fringe and sliding down the slope into the cup. As for the penalty? “It doesn’t change the outcome of the tournament,” he said. “It just puts a little bit of an asterisk in it in the sense of I wish I could just keep that birdie because it was one of the greatest shots of my life, right?” The chip was similar — but from a different angle — to Tiger Woods chipping in from behind the 16th green when he won the Memorial for the fifth time in 2012. Woods, in his first competition since Feb. 16 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, shot 76 and tied for 40th. “Tough, tough conditions to start out my first week back, Thursday and Sunday,” Woods said. “But it was good to get the feel and the flow of competing again.” Matthew Fitzpatrick had a 68 for the low score of the final day to finish third. The consolation prize went to Palmer (74) and Mackenzie Hughes (72), who earned spots in the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in September as the leading two players from the top 10 who were not already eligible. Henrik Norlander could have taken the final spot with a par on the 18th, but he missed the fairway well to the right, couldn't reach the green and made bogey. Norlander and Hughes tied at 3-under 285, but the spot went to Hughes because he had the better world ranking. That ranking now starts with Rahm, who only four years ago was at the Memorial to receive the Jack Nicklaus Award as the nation's best college player. Now he's the best in the world, a ranking that McIlroy had since Feb. 9. “He deserves it,” McIlroy said after his tie for 32nd. “He's been playing great for a long time. Even the display this week, it's pretty impressive.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 20th, 2020

Koepka among those who have to catch up in FedEx Cup

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer The question was perplexing to Brooks Koepka, perhaps because it was missing specific context or because it takes a lot to make him worry. He was asked going into the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head if he felt any sense of urgency. “Urgency for what?” he replied. Koepka missed three months after a knee injury in October when he slipped on wet concrete at the CJ Cup in South Korea and had to withdraw. When he returned, he played five times — his only top-20 finish was a tie for 17th in Saudi Arabia — and then the COVID-19 pandemic shut down golf for three months. Having played only four PGA Tour events, he was No. 213 in the FedEx Cup standings. The only time he didn’t make it to East Lake for the FedEx Cup finale was in 2015, when he missed a month with an ankle injury. He finished 35th. Koepka was unaware that history is working against him this year. In the last 10 years, Jim Furyk is the only player to be outside the top 200 in the FedEx Cup standings with nine events remaining and reach the postseason. “I just go play golf, just keep doing what I’m doing,” Koepka said that day. “I feel like I’m playing good, so eventually it will come.” He closed with a 65 at Harbour Town to finish seventh and moved up 56 spots to No. 148. And then he withdrew the following week from the Travelers Championship out of caution when his caddie, Ricky Elliott, tested positive for the coronavirus. He returns to the Workday Charity Open this week having slipped seven spots to No. 155. Six tournaments are on the schedule between now and the start of the FedEx Cup playoffs. Furyk in 2016 turned it around with a runner-up finish at the U.S. Open. Only one major and one World Golf Championship remain on the schedule. Koepka has company in that regard. British Open champion Shane Lowry spent most of his time on the European Tour late last year and into the first month of 2020, so he has only seven starts on the PGA Tour and is at No. 148. C.T. Pan, who played in the Presidents Cup, has missed seven of nine cuts since January and is No. 182. Sergio Garcia is at No. 122. One week can change everything. Dustin Johnson, who missed the entire fall recovering from knee surgery, was off to a slow start before the pandemic and missed the cut at Colonial upon his return. Two weeks later, he won the Travelers Championship and moved up to No. 22. Koepka still has the World Golf Championship at TPC Southwind, where he won last year, and the PGA Championship, where he tries to become the first player to win three straight times in stroke play. There is time. Plus, he's not one to sweat such matters. BONES ON THE BAG Matt Fitzpatrick came over from England for the restart of the PGA Tour, and caddie Billy Foster stayed behind. The idea was for Fitzpatrick to get used to the protocols, and then Foster would join him for the World Golf Championship in Memphis, Tennessee, and the PGA Championship in San Francisco. Fitzpatrick used Cayce Kerr for three tournaments. And then he got an offer he couldn’t refuse for two weeks at Muirfield Village: Jim “Bones” Mackay, the longtime looper for Phil Mickelson who now does course commentary for NBC Sports. “I was absolutely shocked,” Fitzpatrick said. “Everyone knows his place in the game and how well he’s done. Even just walking around here, people are excited to see him back and on tour. For me, I was very taken aback.” It wasn’t an accident. Fitzpatrick has an endorsement with Workday, whose CEO knows Mackay and suggested he reach out to Fitzpatrick. They will be working together the next two weeks at the Workday Charity Open and the Memorial. LET’S PLAY TWO Muirfield Village is hosting different PGA Tour events in consecutive weeks, which hasn’t happened in 63 years. The last time was in 1957, when Roberto de Vicenzo won the All American Open against an 83-man field at Tam O’Shanter Club in Illinois. Dick Mayer won the World Championship of Golf on the same course a week later. That was the 10th straight season that the All American Open and World Championship of Golf were held at Tam O’Shanter in successive weeks. Lloyd Mangrum was the only player to win both events in the same year (1948). According to the PGA Tour, there was one other tournament held on the same course in back-to-back weeks. That was in 1956, when the Dallas Centennial Open and the Texas International Open were held at Preston Hollow to coincide with the 100-year anniversary of Dallas being founded. Both events were never played again. DRIVE ON Maybe some of the PGA Tour players should borrow the “Drive On” slogan from the LPGA Tour. That’s all they’ve been doing since the restart last month in Texas. Russell Knox drove his RV from the north Florida coast to Colonial, and then back toward the Atlantic coast to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. From there, he and his wife went north to Connecticut to the Travelers Championship. At that point, they hired a driver (they were passengers) for the trip to Detroit, and now they’re in Ohio. But they had company. One of his closest friends on tour, Brian Stuard, also bought an RV. “We’ve been traveling along with him,” Stuard said. “Decided to do it and really enjoy it so far. Not sure if we’re going to continue to do that. Those were some long drives. But it’s worth it once you get it there.” And then there’s Viktor Hovland. The Norwegian played at Oklahoma State and still lives in Stillwater, so he decided to take the four-hour drive to Colonial. “Then I just kept on thinking, ‘Well, what if I just take my car to all these tournaments?’ I looked it up, it’s 16 hours to Hilton Head. It’s 13 hours to Connecticut. ... Yeah, been having a lot of fun so far.” He drove through the night from Fort Worth, Texas, to Hilton Head and didn’t feel great when he arrived. He took in some views from Connecticut to Detroit. “It’s really nice just driving through New York and Pennsylvania,” he said. “It’s really hilly and a lot of cool views on the way.” DIVOTS Matt Fitzpatrick is hopeful fans will return, especially for the Masters — not so much for him, but his parents. “I know my parents really want to come watch that one,” he said. ... The Senior British Open, canceled this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will remain at Sunningdale next year. ... After his victory in Detroit, Bryson DeChambeau was listed as the betting favorite over Rory McIlroy in the three majors this year. STAT OF THE WEEK The last three PGA Tour events were won by players from the top 10 in world — Webb Simpson (9) at Hilton Head, Dustin Johnson (6) at Hartford and Bryson DeChambeau (10) at Detroit. The last time that happened was in the summer of 2018 when Johnson (1) won the Canadian Open, Justin Thomas (3) won the Bridgestone Invitational and Brooks Koepka (4) won the PGA Championship. FINAL WORD “I’ll be devastated if I don’t play well.” — Charles Barkley on playing the American Century Championship for celebrities......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 8th, 2020

Out of the Woods: Tiger emerges for TV match with Lefty, QBs

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer The purpose is to raise $10 million or more for COVID-19 relief efforts, and provide entertainment with four of the biggest stars from the PGA Tour and NFL. Another appeal to the Sunday made-for-TV exhibition, “The Match: Champions for Charity,” is a chance to see Tiger Woods swing a golf club for the first time in 98 days. Live golf is on television for the second straight Sunday, this one with the game's biggest headliner. Woods was last seen on television Feb. 16 at the Genesis Invitational, where he moved cautiously in California's chilly late winter weather and posted weekend rounds of 76-77 to finish last among the 68 players who made the cut at Riviera. He skipped a World Golf Championship in Mexico City, and said his surgically repaired back wasn't quite ready in sitting out the opening three weeks of the Florida swing. And then the pandemic took over, and there has been no place to play. This is a reasonable start. Woods and retired NFL quarterback Peyton Manning will face Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady, who won six Super Bowls with the New England Patriots and signed this year with Tampa Bay. The match will be at Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida. It is Woods' home course and about 20 minutes from Seminole, where last week Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff ushered golf's return to live television. What to make of Woods? His only interviews were with GolfTV, the Discovery-owned channel with whom Woods has a financial deal, and a playful Zoom call with the other match participants hosted by Ernie Johnson of Turner Sports, which is televising the match. He described his health in the April 9 interview with GolfTV as “night and day.” “I feel a lot better than I did then,” Woods said. “I've been able to turn a negative into a positive and been able to train a lot and get my body to where I think it should be.” Mickelson has missed the cut in four of his five tournaments this year — the exception was third place at Pebble Beach, where he started the final round one shot behind Nick Taylor and closed with a 75. Just like last week, rust is to be expected for players who haven't competed in two months — three, in the case of Woods. Manning, meanwhile, is retired and is a golf junkie. Brady remains employed, and this week got in some informal work with his new teammates in Tampa Bay. No fans will be allowed, just like last week at Seminole. One difference is the players will be in their own carts, whereas the four PGA Tour players last week carried their bags. But this is as much about entertainment as competition. It's the second edition of a match between Woods and Mickelson, the dominant players of their generation and rivals by name, but not necessarily by record. Woods has 82 career victories to 44 for Mickelson, leads 15-5 in major championships and 11-0 in winning PGA Tour player of the year. Mickelson won their first made-for-TV match over Thanksgiving weekend in 2018, a pay-per-view event that ran into technical problems and was free for all. Lefty won in a playoff under the lights for $9 million in a winner-take-all match. He also has a 5-3-1 advantage over Woods in the nine times they have played in the final round on the PGA Tour, most recently in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2012 when Mickelson shot 64 to a 75 for Woods. He also stopped two streaks. Woods was going for his seventh straight PGA Tour victory when Mickelson beat him at Torrey Pines in 2000. Later that year, Woods had won 19 consecutive times on the PGA Tour when he had at least a share of the 54-hole lead until Mickelson beat him at the Tour Championship. Woods, however, captured the streak that mattered, holding off Mickelson in the final group at the Masters in 2001 to hold all four professional majors at the same time. The banter was lacking in Las Vegas, and perhaps having Manning and Brady will change the dynamics. The broadcast includes Charles Barkley providing commentary and Justin Thomas, whom Woods has embraced, on the course as a reporter in his television debut. After this exhibition, golf has two weeks before the PGA Tour is set to return at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas. Mickelson plans to play. Woods has not said when he will return......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2020

Woods, Spieth, McIlroy lead star field in Japan

By Jim Armstrong, Associated Press INZAI CITY, Japan (AP) — With a field that includes Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy, the PGA Tour's first tournament in Japan has plenty of star power. The Zozo Championship, which begins on Thursday, will be held at the Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) east of Tokyo in Inzai City. It is part of three tournaments that make up the PGA Tour's Asia Swing, including the CJ Cup in South Korea won last week by Justin Thomas and the HSBC Champions in Shanghai next week. The Japanese tournament, co-sanctioned with the Japan Golf Tour, is a 78-man, no-cut field with a $9.75 million purse. The weather could prove to be a factor on the weekend. Japan is bracing for two more storms heading its way a week after a typhoon devastated the country's central and northern regions. A forecast for another typhoon has been downgraded to a tropical storm. Woods last played in an official tournament in Japan in 2006 at the Dunlop Phoenix, where he lost in a playoff to Padraig Harrington. He won the Dunlop Phoenix the two previous years. "It's going to be a lot of fun to be back here in front of fans that really understand and respect the game of golf," Woods said in a pre-tournament interview. "The game of golf is so strong here in Japan, and to have seen it grow like it has over 20-some odd years that I've been playing is very special." The Masters champion is making his first start in his 23rd season on the PGA Tour, needing one victory to reach 82 wins and tie the career record held by Sam Snead. Woods had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee two months ago — his fifth on the same problem spot. He played in the inaugural "The Challenge: Japan Skins" game on Monday at the same course and did not appear to be in any discomfort. Jason Day, who beat Woods in the Skins game, is also part of the field as well as Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama and Thomas, whose win in the CJ Cup was his 11th PGA Tour event and his second in South Korea. After his win in South Korea, Thomas now has two more wins over the last three seasons in Asia than any other player on tour. "There's something about Asia," Thomas said Wednesday. "I seem to do pretty well over here. I don't really know what it is. It's always a good time of year for me." McIlroy, who is playing in Japan for the first time in 11 years, said he wasn't concerned about playing on an unfamiliar course. "That's OK. I mean, I've won majors before by playing nine-hole practice rounds," McIlroy said. "Sometimes when you don't know a course, that's a better thing. You don't know where the trouble is and it doesn't enter your mind." There is an agreement in place to hold the Zozo Championship until at least 2025. The tournament sponsor has drawn a great deal of attention in the relatively conservative Japanese business world. Zozo chief executive Yusaku Maezawa, owner of the online Japanese retailer, is known for lavish spending on artworks, a Stradivarius violin and a future trip to the moon......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 23rd, 2019

Chile amateur goes from no big victories to Masters

DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer   HONOLULU (AP) — Toto Gana hit what he described as the 'best shot I've hit in my whole life,' a wedge to 3 feet for a birdie to win the Latin America Amateur Championship and earn a trip to the Masters in April. His best shot produced his biggest trophy. Asked what his greatest achievement in golf was before his victory in Panama, the 19-year-old from Chile said: 'I didn't have any achievements, to be honest. I had won a couple of tournaments at home when I was really, really young.' The Latin America Amateur completed its third year, a stroke-play tournament created by Augusta National, the USGA and the Royal & Ancient to spur growth in that part of the world. It follows the successful launch of the Asia Pacific Amateur. The Asia Pacific Amateur is producing a higher pedigree of champions — Hideki Matsuyama won twice, and the winner last year was Curtis Luck, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion. The last two Latin America winners were surprises — Gana and 16-year-old Paul Chaplet of Costa Rica last year. The other winner was Matias Dominguez of Chile, who was a junior at Texas Tech. Gana said the only hard part about his victory was beating Joaquin Niemann of Chile, one of his best friends who won the Junior World in 2015 at Torrey Pines. 'I really never thought I could win this tournament because all the other players have won many other tournaments, very big tournaments,' Gana said in a conference call after his victory Sunday. 'What I did was keep a cool head. When I saw that I had a chance to win, I believed in myself that I could do. And I gave it my all.' Chile will have a player represented at Augusta National for the second time in three years. The only other Chilean player at the Masters was Enrique Orellana, who missed the cut in 1964. Gana has flair, and he showed how much passion he has for golf when explaining how he got started. 'When I was a little boy, 8 years old, my stepfather taught me to play golf on the practice range,' he said. 'When I shot a really nice shot, I never quit.' Gana will be enrolling at Lynn University in Florida. ___ BLOOMING START: Justin Rose played the Sony Open as part of the new 'strength of field' regulation on the PGA Tour that requires players who played fewer than 25 events last year to add a tournament they had not played in four years. Rose was so excited about this year that he might have started earlier if he would have been eligible. He failed to win a PGA Tour event for the first time since 2009. But in a year slowed by injury, Rose geared himself for golf's return to the Olympics and won the gold medal in Rio. That was worth an exemption into the four majors (Rose already is eligible for them), but the PGA Tour did not offer a spot in SBS Tournament of Champions. 'I didn't inquire,' Rose said about Kapalua. 'But in my mind, I was surprised that it didn't count in a way, just because, why wouldn't it? It's a one-off thing.' He thought maybe the tour would only give a spot to Kapalua if the gold medalist was already a PGA Tour member, much like it treated the HSBC Champions early on in its World Golf Championships history. Rose chuckled, however, when he realized his history in Hawaii. 'It's funny enough, I don't have the right to say I should have been at Kapalua,' he said. 'Because I've won six years in a row and I've only been once.' A birdie on the final hole at the Sony Open gave him second place alone, which was worth $648,000. ___ PLAYING TO HIS STRENGTH: Jason Dufner is the defending champion at the CareerBuilder Challenger, where he won last year for the first time since the 2013 PGA Championship at Oak Hill. What changed? Very little. He attributed the drought to a neck and shoulder injury that he suffered at the 2014 Masters. Dufner tried to play through it all year until he was forced to pull out of his title defense in the PGA Championship at Valhalla, which kept him off the Ryder Cup team. Playing with the injury led to bad habits with his swing, which led to bad shots, too many memories of bad shots and eventually shattered confidence. 'People don't realize, once you start playing, you have to redo everything,' Dufner said. 'You see it with a lot of guys coming back. It takes them 6, 8, 12 months. I spent 2015 trying to get back to where I was.' Where he wants to be is one of the top ball-strikers in the game. As for putting? He manages. Dufner has finished no higher than No. 143 in the key putting statistic over the last four years, and while he has to pay attention to his setup, it's not as though he's going to abandon what got him here (his swing) to pour everything into becoming Jordan Spieth. 'I've been putting bad for 17 years,' he said. 'It's tough to change. I can hit it good enough to make up for it. I'll wait for my weeks where I putt good and try to win.' ___ THE RACE TO MEXICO: Mackenzie Hughes won the RSM Classic, and his first thought was going to the Masters. Now that it's beginning to sink, the Canadian rookie has reason to consider other tournaments that were not on his schedule at the start of the season. First up is the World Golf Championship in Mexico. The top 10 in the FedEx Cup standings through the Honda Classic are eligible for the Mexico Championship, and there are only six tournaments between now and then. That's also true for Pat Perez, who tied for third at Kapalua and is No. 3 in the FedEx Cup. Rod Pampling is at No. 6. The other World Golf Championships event in March is based off the world ranking, so those three players have much more to do for them to get into the top 64. One player who might have secured his spot was Kevin Kisner, who shot 60 in the third round of the Sony Open and wound up in a tie for fourth. That took Kisner from No. 51 to No. 41, making it difficult to fall that far in two months. ___ DIVOTS: Justin Thomas moving to No. 8 in the world means that six of the top 10 players are under 30. ... The Golf Writers Association of America has voted former PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem for the William D. Richardson Award for outstanding contributions to golf. For the GWAA's award for press cooperation, it was a tie between Ben Crenshaw and Stewart Cink. They will be honored at the GWAA annual awards dinner on April 5 in Augusta. ... The three courses used for the CareerBuilder Challenge — PGA West Stadium Course, PGA West Nicklaus and La Quinta — ranked among the top 10 in easiest courses on the PGA Tour last year. ... The fourth Latin America Amateur Championship will be played at Prince of Wales Country Club next year in Santiago, Chile. ... The European Tour now has eight events in its Rolex Series with China-based HNA Group signing a five-year deal to be title sponsor of the French Open. That will raise the purse to $7 million in line with other Rolex Series events. ___ STAT OF THE WEEK: Justin Thomas hit 34 drives that went at least 330 yards during his two weeks in Hawaii — 20 on the Plantation Course at Kapalua, 14 at Waialae Country Club. ___ FINAL WORD: 'If there's no defense, then you ought to be able to make birdies. If there's wind, you ought to be struggling.' — Kevin Kisner. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 18th, 2017

Big wins for Justin Thomas, proud moments for his father

DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer   HONOLULU (AP) — Justin Thomas used to call his father when he arrived at junior tournaments, and the conversation almost always started the same way. 'What's the number?' The father wasn't asking what score it would take to win, the length of the course or even the entry fee. The number in question was how many greens his son would be able to reach in regulation, and not just on the par 4s. 'I was guaranteed to hit driver into at least one par 3,' Thomas said. Mike Thomas was in the gallery along the ninth fairway at Waialae Country Club when his 23-year-old son nearly left his feet while launching a 358-yard drive, setting up a wedge into the par 5. It was only his seventh-longest drive during his time in paradise. This Aloha State adventure was the best two weeks of Thomas' career. He joined Ernie Els as the only players to sweep the Hawaii swing and became the first player since Tiger Woods in 2009 to win by at least three shots in consecutive weeks on the PGA Tour. Thomas rose to No. 8 in the world and he is the third-ranked American behind Dustin Johnson (No. 3) and Jordan Spieth (No. 5). 'Unforgettable,' Thomas said of the last two weeks. That goes for his parents, too, mainly because they had yet to see him win on the PGA Tour. His other two victories were in Malaysia, so Mike and Jani Thomas had to stay up until the early morning hours to watch him beat Adam Scott one year, Hideki Matsuyama the next. Watching in person with an ocean view is better. Mike Thomas has been the head pro at Harmony Landing outside Louisville, Kentucky, for the last 28 years, and golf is really all his son has ever known. Justin was not even 2 when his father gave him a cut-down driver with a wooden head to whack golf balls around the house and at Harmony Landing. As a toddler, when the boy wanted to play he would tell his mother, 'Bag of balls, bag of balls.' But the boy fell in love with golf by himself. 'I made sure there was no formal instruction until he asked for it,' Mike Thomas said. 'There were a lot more little lessons than big lessons.' Part of the reason is that he had a golf shop to run, members to serve and lessons to give. A larger part was that Mike Thomas had seen too many kids pushed too hard and he didn't want to be that parent. 'I decided that I wanted to be his best friend more than his father,' he said. 'There were times I had to get on him as a parent. But mostly we had just had a lot of fun.' Even now, when he takes time away from Harmony Landing to watch his son on tour, he stands quietly behind Thomas and caddie Jimmy Johnson without saying a word unless his son asks him to shoot video of a swing with his phone. They will look at it together. Mike Thomas tends to wait to see if his son can figure it out first. His fondest memories are not the tournaments he won as a junior, but the time they spent on the golf course in twilight hours, sometimes playing nine holes, other times creating games by seeing who could throw a golf ball closest to the pin. Golf has been in the family for three generations. Paul Thomas was the longtime club pro at Zanesville Country Club in Ohio who qualified for the 1962 U.S. Open at Oakmont. Mike Thomas played at Morehead State and competed in college against Kenny Perry, but his aspirations of playing the PGA Tour didn't last long. He spent one year on the mini-tours before working fulltime as a PGA professional. He took three jobs, in Ohio and Pittsburgh, before moving to Kentucky. Justin was in elementary school, still swinging away, when his father began a tradition of keeping golf balls from every tournament he won. There were 128 balls at Harmony Landing when they left for Hawaii. The father headed home with five more golf balls — and he wanted six. Two were from the victories at the SBS Tournament of Champions and the Sony Open, bringing the victory count to 130. A special display will hold the golf ball that Thomas rolled in from 15 feet for eagle on the final hole of his opening round for a 59. Another ball is from the 36-hole scoring record (123) he set on Friday, and the fifth is from the 72-hole record (253) Thomas set Sunday. 'I wanted the one after Saturday for the 54-hole record,' Mike Thomas said with a laugh. 'But Justin said that wasn't a record, it was only a tie.' It's tempting to think back to the toddler who said 'Bag of balls' the way most kids ask for candy, and see where his son is now. But only the stage has changed. 'The feeling is the same,' Mike Thomas said. 'I know this is the PGA Tour, but when he had a chance to win as an 8-year-old at a U.S. Kids event, it was like, 'This is really cool.' ... As a parent, I'm just glad he's healthy, I'm glad he's safe and I'm glad he's doing what he wants to do. What else could any parent want?' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 18th, 2017

Fowler returns to Abu Dhabi seeking upturn in form

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Rickie Fowler flew home from the 2016 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with more than just the Falcon Trophy. The win over a stellar field last January boosted Fowler's belief that a first major title was within sight. Lifting him to a career-high No. 4 in the rankings, it also sparked talk about whether he should be included in the conversation with golf's so-called 'Big Three,' which comprised Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy at the time. 'It would have been nice to kind of continue that form,' Fowler said Tuesday on his return to Abu Dhabi Golf Club. Instead, that proved to be the only victory of 2016 for Fowler, the United States' triumph in the Ryder Cup notwithstanding. His best finish at a major was a tie for 33rd at the U.S. PGA Championship and he ended the year ranked outside the top 10. U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama and — most recently — Justin Thomas are among those who have accelerated past Fowler, who said his dip in status is pushing him to play better in 2017. 'Golf's so deep right now,' Fowler said, 'and it will be nice if we can get Tiger back for a full season.' Fowler's chances of a successful defense of his Abu Dhabi title improved Monday when McIlroy — at No. 2, the highest-ranked player in the field — withdrew because of a rib injury. Still, the field remains strong, as always in this event which starts Thursday. The third-ranked Johnson is making his debut, while two more current major champions — Henrik Stenson and Danny Willett — are there, too. 'He's obviously one of the best players in the world,' Fowler said about McIlroy. 'It was fun to have him in contention with me last year here. 'Does that make me look at the tournament any differently? No. You know, it's one less top player in the world I'm going to have to beat, but the field here is one of the best fields on the European Tour.' Refreshed after spending time over Christmas and the new year with family and friends, Fowler cannot wait to get back on the course. Particularly after seeing Thomas — one of his best friends — winning back-to-back events in Hawaii. 'It's inspiring and motivating,' said Fowler, currently the world No. 14. Fowler's main focus is tailoring his schedule to give him the best chance at winning a major. He said that will mean playing events in the weeks leading up to the majors, rather than using that time to rest or work on the range. The Masters is already in his sights. He was renowned as a slow starter to seasons until last year, when he won in Abu Dhabi and then lost the Phoenix Open in a playoff to nearly reduce him to tears. That didn't translate to a good performance at Augusta National in April, though, as he opened with an 80 and failed to make the weekend. 'Obviously looking to peak,' Fowler said, 'getting the first few months going, heading the right direction and peak that first week of April.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 18th, 2017

Justin Thomas holds on to beat Hideki Matsuyama at Kapalua

br /> DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer   KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) — Justin Thomas kept reminding himself that a one-shot lead with two holes to play is never a bad place to be on the PGA Tour. Ignoring that his five-shot lead was nearly gone against Hideki Matsuyama, Thomas thought more about the great golf that had put him in this position Sunday at the SBS Tournament of Champions. He responded by hitting an 8-iron from 214 yards on a downhill lie that was so pure he stopped to admire it before it landed. It plopped down in front of the pin and settled 3 feet away for a birdie. Matsuyama three-putted for bogey, and Thomas was on his way to a comfortable victory at Kapalua that moved him into the conversation of golf's young stars. 'The best shot I hit this week,' Thomas said. 'There's a tree that's a little slanted, and it's a perfect aiming point. I just kind of aimed it there and made sure I held onto the club, if anything, to make sure my miss was right. ... And really, I just flushed it. As soon as it came off, I knew it was going to be perfect.' Matsuyama, going after his fourth straight victory worldwide, knew he needed to make his 30-foot birdie putt to stay in the game. He ran it 8 feet by, missed the par putt coming back and was out of chances when Thomas hammered another tee shot on the par-5 18th. Thomas closed with a two-putt birdie for a 4-under 69 and a three-shot victory, his second of the PGA Tour season that moved him to No. 12 in the world. His other two PGA Tour title were at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia. 'I think it's potentially floodgates opening,' said Jordan Spieth, his best friend in golf since they were teenagers. 'The guy hits it forever. He's got a really, really nifty short game. He manages the course well. He's playing the golf course the way it should be played, and honestly, he's taking advantage of the easier holes. 'It's awesome to see,' Spieth said. 'He's going to be tough to beat next week, too.' Spieth closed with a 65 and tied for third with Pat Perez (67) and Ryan Moore (71). Matsuyama, who made two soft bogeys on the front nine to fall five shots behind, made it more of a game than anyone expected. The 24-year-old from Japan holed a flop shot for eagle on the 14th hole, and then Thomas hooked a 4-iron into the hazard on the par-5 15th hole and made double bogey. Just like that, Thomas went from a five-shot lead to a one-shot lead, and Matsuyama had a 10-foot birdie putt on the 16th to tie for the lead. The putt narrowly missed, and Thomas answered with his 8-iron for birdie to end it. Matsuyama closed with a 70. 'My putter let me down there at 16, 17 and 18,' Matsuyama said. 'I tipped my hat to Justin. He played well all day long.' Thomas is the only player to beat Matsuyama over the last three months. In his last six tournaments worldwide, Matsuyama had four victories and a pair of runner-up finishes — both to Thomas, in Kuala Lumpur and Kapalua. Thomas, who finished at 22-under 270, said his immediate thoughts were booking a return trip to Kapalua next year for the winners-only event. 'It changes things going forward because I know I'm coming back here,' Thomas said. The scenery down the 18th toward the blue Pacific, where humpback whales spent the afternoon breeching and splashing their tails, was even better because his parents were watching him win for the first time. His father, Mike Thomas, is a longtime head pro in Harmony Landing in Kentucky who is still his coach. Spieth closed with a 65 to tie for third with Pat Perez (67) and Ryan Moore (71). Spieth and Jimmy Walker came down to the 18th to congratulate the winner. Thomas started the final round with a two-shot lead and no one got closer until his blunder on the 15th. One of the longest hitters in golf with his slight build, Thomas really did miss a shot until the ninth hole, and that's when he got a huge break. With the wind stiff and in his face, he got quick with his driver and hit a snap-hook into the knee-high weeds left of the fairway. He hit a provisional for a lost ball and was about ready to abandon the search when a TV spotter was summoned to give an indication where it went. They found the ball, and it was sitting up a few inches above the roots, allowing Thomas to at least hack out into the fairway. He followed with a 3-wood onto the green for a two-putt par after starting with a shot that made double bogey appear likely. Thomas wasn't so fortunate on the 15th. 'I stumbled more than I would have liked to do,' Thomas said. 'But it shows where my game is at right now. I had some woes there, but I stuck it out to still get it done.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 9th, 2017

Thomas takes 2-shot lead over Matsuyama in Kapalua

DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer br /> KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) — Justin Thomas, who as a skinny kid in Kentucky had to hit driver to reach a par 3 in junior golf, stood on the 14th tee at Kapalua trying to decide if 3-wood would be enough to drive the green on a par that was playing 287 yards up the hill. His caddie thought driver was the club, and Thomas took it from there. 'It needs to be something hot to run up there,' he said. 'And I just nuked it, and hit it low and just enough to scoot up the ridge.' The ball bounded onto the green to 20 feet, and Thomas made that for eagle . It was enough for him to take control Saturday at the SBS Tournament of Champions, ultimately leading to a third straight round of 6-under 67 and a two-shot lead over Hideki Matsuyama, who had a 66. Perhaps it's only fitting that those who will be in the final group. Thomas, who was at 18-under 201, is the only player to beat Matsuyama over the last three months. The 24-year-old from Japan has won four of his last tournaments dating to Oct. 16 at the Japan Open, a streak that includes seven-shot victories in Japan and at a World Golf Championships event in Shanghai. Thomas beat him by three at the CIMB Classic at Malaysia, and Matsuyama wasn't much of a threat that final round. He is now. 'If I'm near Hideki in the tournament, that's usually a pretty good thing on Sunday,' Thomas said. 'He's obviously a tremendous player and he's on an unbelievable run here the last five events. I actually had no idea I was the only one to beat him in the last five events, which is absurd, the fact he's won four of his last five. ... But there's a lot of great players out there. I just need to go take care of my job.' There might not be as many players to beat in this winners-only field after Thomas gave himself a little separation. Only five players were within five shots of the lead going into the final round, with Dustin Johnson seven shots back and world No. 1 Jason Day eight shots behind. Thomas was only mildly perturbed that his lead wasn't greater. Following his eagle on the 14th, he smashed another drive that caught the slope on the par-5 15th and rolled to the bottom of the hill, a 348-yard drive that left him only 180 yards to the elevated green. But his shot was a clunker coming out of the short rough, and while he hit a tough pitch to 6 feet, he read a fraction too much break in the putt and had to settle for par. 'I had 8-iron twice and made par,' he said of his week. On the short 16th, he pounded another drive within 60 yards of the pin, but his wedge came up well short and he missed from 15 feet. He also looked back to how he closed out the front nine, with a soft bogey on No. 7 and missed birdie chances of 10 feet on the par-3 eighth and a 3-footer on the par-5 ninth. 'I'm definitely not disappointed with today, but I left a lot out there,' Thomas said. Matsuyama made three birdies over his last five holes, starting with a chip-in on the 14th hole, to get into the final group as he goes for his fourth straight victory 'Justin doesn't have any weaknesses at all in his game,' Matsuyama said. 'He hits it long, has a marvelous short game, putts well, hits the ball well. We've got to go low tomorrow to be able to catch him.' Memorial winner William McGirt, one of 11 players playing the Plantation course at Kapalua for the first time, played bogey-free for a 66 and was four shots behind, along with Ryan Moore (71) and Jimmy Walker (70). Moore was tied for the lead until Thomas drove the 14th green for his eagle and Moore missed a 15-foot birdie putt. On the next hole, Moore's tee shot plugged into the steep face of a bunker and he had no choice but to pitch out sideways, leading to another bogey. Walker spent most of the gorgeous afternoon wincing over putts that kept burning the edges of the cup. 'Plenty of looks. Nothing went in,' Walker said. 'That's just kind of frustrating, especially the finish. I had a good look on 17, and then to not get that up-and-down on 18 is a bummer. ... I'm hitting the putts the way I feel like I need to hit them. They're just not going in.' Thomas has won twice in his three years on the PGA Tour, both in Malaysia. Jordan Spieth, meanwhile, had another double bogey, this one on his second hold. He ended with a three-putt par on the 18th for a 70 and was 10 shots behind. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2017

Walker enjoys the views and his game, takes lead at Kapalua

DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer br /> KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) — With a chance to take the lead at Kapalua, Jimmy Walker missed in the one spot he was trying to avoid. The way he was hitting his wedges Thursday, it really didn't matter. Walker hit a tough pitch to a tight pin on the elevated green to 3 feet for birdie on the par-5 15th, and he nearly holed a lob wedge from 78 yards on the final hole for an 8-under 65 that gave him a two-shot lead in the SBS Tournament of Champions. He's still three days away from atoning for a playoff loss to Patrick Reed two years ago at Kapalua, though it was an ideal start for the PGA champion in ideal conditions on the west end of Maui, except for a short burst of pineapple showers. Jim Herman got in one last round with his former employer — President-elect Donald Trump — a few days before Christmas, then came out to the Plantation course where he once got in a round of golf in tennis shoes and rental clubs while on his honeymoon. Herman, a former assistant at Trump National, was 6 under through 13 holes when his round stalled. Even with four wedges in hand over the final five holes, he had to settle for pars and a 67. Justin Thomas and Ryan Moore also were at 67. In his first competition in three months, Jason Day had a pair of three-putts but still managed a 70. Defending champion Jordan Spieth wasn't so fortunate. He never got his putter going, turned a birdie into bogey on the 15th and had to birdie the final hole for a 72. Walker had the Tournament of Champions in hand two years ago until Reed holed out from a fairway to start an unlikely rally and won in a playoff. Walker won the following week on Oahu at the Sony Open for the second straight time. 'I love the scenery. I'm a very visual person, so I enjoy looking out and watching the whales when I'm walking around. Just a pretty place,' Walker said. 'Everybody's in a good mood. I love stepping off the plane and the air is just awesome. Something does it for me here.' Walker was curious about a short club in his bad when he came to Kapalua, though it wasn't any of his wedges or his putter. He was so determined to be more accurate off the tee that Walker cut 2 inches off his driver while at home at Texas during the offseason. He liked the way it felt and had Titleist make him one without the duct tape. Hitting fairways is not a big issue on the expansive Plantation Course, though it showed his willingness to go old school to fix a longtime problem. This driver is 42 inches, just an inch shorter that a typical driver a generation ago. 'I didn't bring anything else, so this is the club I've got with me,' he said. 'This is a tough golf course for that because it's such a big place and you want to just kill it, and I had to keep reminding myself today why I put it in and why did it to hit the fairway, hit the middle of the fairway.' He was in the middle of the fairway on the 15th with caddie Andy Sanders reminding him to hit it hard, that through the green was better that leaving it at the bottom of a deep swale to the right. But with the ball below his feet, and the wind coming out of the left, he wound up bailing out. 'That was probably my favorite wedge shot,' Walker said. Daniel Berger made bogey on the par-5 18th and was at 68, along with Jason Dufner. The group at 69 included Dustin Johnson and Hideki Matsuyama, who is going after his fourth consecutive victory worldwide. Herman qualified by winning the Shell Houston Open and brought back strong memories. He abandoned the mini-tours, took a job at Trump's course in Bedminster, New Jersey and got married. The honeymoon was a cruise around the Hawaiian Islands, and he had seen enough of Kapalua that when the ship stopped on Maui, Herman headed for the Plantation course. 'I see the pictures on our computer all the time,' he said. Herman never imagined returning as a PGA Tour winner, but what a journey. He became Trump's regular partner, Trump encouraged him and helped back one last bid to play professionally, he finally got to the big leagues and made it back to Kapalua. The round with Trump was just before Christmas. They were partners. They won. Not much changed. 'He's the same guy to me,' Herman said. 'But now I get to call him Mr. President.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 6th, 2017

Congratulations flood in for Biden’s ‘historic’ win

Congratulations poured in for US president-elect Joe Biden from around the world, with Washington’s allies, particularly in Europe, seeing his win as a chance at a fresh start after the antagonistic years under Donald Trump. From the EU to the UAE president-elect Joe Biden has received congratulations from around the world (AFP/ MANILA BULLETIN) As crowds rushed into the streets of Washington and other cities in exuberant celebration after US networks declared Biden the winner, here are some reactions from across the globe:  – Germany – “Congratulations!” said Chancellor Angela Merkel. “I wish luck and success from the bottom of my heart. “Our transatlantic friendship is irreplaceable if we want to overcome the great challenges of our times,” she said in a tweet issued by a government spokesman. – France – French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: “The Americans have chosen their President. Congratulations @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris! We have a lot to do to overcome today’s challenges. Let’s work together!”  – Britain – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson congratulated Biden “on his election as President of the United States and Kamala Harris on her historic achievement. “The US is our most important ally and I look forward to working closely together on our shared priorities, from climate change to trade and security.” – European Union – In a joint statement, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, president of the European Council, which represents the leaders of EU member states, said: “We take note of the latest development in the electoral process.  “On this basis the EU congratulates President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on reaching enough Electoral Votes.”  – NATO – NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg described Biden as a “strong supporter of our Alliance”. Stoltenberg, who often had to adapt to President Donald Trump making unexpected announcements about US troop drawdowns from NATO deployments, said in a tweet he looked forward to working with Biden. “A strong NATO is good for both North America and Europe,” he said.  – Canada – Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: “I look forward to working with President-elect Biden, Vice President-elect Harris, their administration, and the United States Congress as we tackle the world’s greatest challenges together.” – Barack Obama – Former US president Barack Obama hailed Biden’s win as “historic and decisive” and appealed to Americans to overcome bitter divides and “find some common ground.” “Once every vote is counted, President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris will have won a historic and decisive victory,” Obama, Donald Trump’s White House predecessor, said in a statement. – Ireland – The republic’s prime minister Micheal Martin was one of the first to take to Twitter, tweeting: “I want to congratulate the new President Elect of the USA @JoeBiden. Joe Biden has been a true friend of this nation throughout his life and I look forward to working with him in the years ahead. I also look forward to welcoming him back home when the circumstances allow!”  – Greece – Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweeted: “Congratulations to US President-Elect @JoeBiden. Joe Biden has been a true friend of Greece and I’m certain that under his presidency the relationship between our countries will grow even stronger.” – Italy –  Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte tweeted: “Congratulations to the American people and institutions for an outstanding turnout of democratic vitality. We are ready to work with the President-elect @JoeBiden to make the transatlantic relationship stronger. The US can count on Italy as a solid Ally and a strategic partner.” – Spain – Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez tweeted: “The American people have chosen the 46th President of the United States. Congratulations @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris. We wish you good luck and all the best. We are looking forward to cooperating with you to tackle the challenges ahead of us.” – India – “Congratulations @JoeBiden on your spectacular victory!” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted. In a separate tweet to Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris, whose mother was Indian, Modi wrote: “Your success is pathbreaking, and a matter of immense pride not just for your chittis, but also for all Indian-Americans.” “Chitti” is a Tamil term of endearment for the younger sisters of one’s mother, which Harris used in her acceptance of the Democratic nomination for vice president. She is the first woman of color elected to the US vice presidency. – Nigeria – In his congratulations, President Muhammadu Buhari, leader of Africa’s most populous nation, called for “greater engagement” with the continent. He said he looked forward to “enhanced cooperation between Nigeria and the United States, especially at economic, diplomatic and political levels, including especially on the war against terrorism”. – Ukraine – President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted in English: “Congratulations to Joe Biden, Kamala Harris! Ukraine is optimistic about the future of the strategic partnership with the United States. Ukraine and the USA have always collaborated on security, trade, investment, democracy, fight against corruption. Our friendship becomes only stronger!”  – South Africa – President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Twitter his government looked forward to “working with you and deepening our bonds of friendship and cooperation”. – Iraq – President Barham Saleh extended “warmest congratulations” to Biden, describing him as “a friend and trusted partner in the cause of building a better Iraq. We look forward to working to achieve our common goals and strengthening peace and stability in the entire Middle East”. – Egypt – President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Egypt, the most populous Arab country, looked forward to “strengthening strategic bilateral ties between Egypt and the US in the interest of both countries and peoples”. – UAE –  “Congratulations to @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris on winning the US elections. Our sincere wishes for further development and prosperity for the American people. The UAE and USA are friends and allies with a strong historic partnership that we look forward to strengthening together,” tweeted Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsNov 8th, 2020

Column: Woods gets to see and hear how the other half lives

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. (AP) — Tiger Woods arrived at Olympia Fields for the first time in 17 years, this time with no one around to chase after his every move from the moment he stepped out of the car until he walked off the course. That's not a bad thing. He'll be in a red shirt on Sunday with about the same number of people. That's not good, at least not for him. Woods is learning after three tournaments what others have begun to realize over the last three months. Some players thrive on energy from the crowd as a pick-me-up. Now the reaction, the volume, is the same for a birdie as a double bogey. Woods is one of those players who feeds off noise. “Always have,” he said. “I've played in front of thousands of people ever since I turned pro 24 years ago. It's always been odd when I haven't played in front of people. In one way, it's been nice between tees not getting tapped or getting a glove pulled out of my pocket. Those are things I've had to deal with for a very long time. “But you hit good shots and you get on nice little runs ... we don't have the same energy, the same fan energy.” This is not his issue alone, nor is it the reason he has yet to finish in the top 35 in the three tournaments he has played since golf returned from the coronavirus-caused shutdown. Hitting good shots and making putts goes a long way in any environment. Graeme McDowell was walking along the ninth fairway in the middle of his second round last week at the TPC Boston when he said he felt like a “golf zombie.” “It's like I have no soul,” he said. The courses are different and look the same. They're empty. McDowell spoke of needing the adrenaline he gets from the crowd around the first tee at a U.S. Open or Ryder Cup. Maybe some players do better with no one watching, especially if they're on edge and need something to calm them down. McDowell isn't one of them. Neither is Rory McIlroy. He played the final two rounds with Woods, as big a draw as there is in golf, with hardly anyone watching. Woods began the final round with four straight birdies and the only buzz came from Twitter. McIlroy knows about ebbs and flows in his game. He once missed four out of five cuts and won three out of four tournaments, all in a span of four months in 2012. But his play since returning to an empty stage in June is worth noting. He had had seven consecutive top 5s, including a victory at a World Golf Championship, and reached No. 1 in the world. Since the return, he has seven straight tournaments out of the top 10 and has yet to reach the back nine with a chance to win. Coincidence? Maybe. Three months off surely cost him some momentum. “This is going to sound really bad,” McIlroy said, “but I feel like the last few weeks, I've just been going through the motions. ... And look, that's partly to do with the atmosphere and partly to do with how I'm playing. I'm not inspiring myself, and I'm trying to get inspiration from outside sources to get something going. I can definitely see where Graeme is coming from." That might allow McIlroy to reconsider what he once said about Woods. He played with Woods and Justin Thomas in the opening two rounds at Riviera a few years ago and was amazed by all the commotion around Woods. “I swear, playing in front of all that, he gives up half a shot a day on the field. Like, it's two shots a tournament he has to give to the field because of all that goes on around,” McIlroy said that day. “Whoever is teeing off at 8:30 in the morning doesn't get that and can just go about his business. He has to deal with that every single time.” McIlroy missed the point. If all that commotion costs Woods two shots to the field, what does it cost the players with him? Right now, nothing. Without spectators, has Woods lost an advantage he once had? “Absolutely,” Woods replied. "Anyone who has played in front of thousands of people, it is very different. That's always been one of the things I've become accustomed to. The guys who played with me, who haven't become accustomed to it, they have only experienced one round here and there. That's been every round I've played for over two decades. “That advantage — for me, and some of the other top players — trying to deal with all that noise and the movement, that experience is no longer there.” Nick Faldo touched on this when he was discussing the 10-year anniversary of Woods winning the 1997 Masters, a watershed moment in golf. Faldo said that when he slipped the green jacket on Woods that Sunday, he thought the Masters would be the only major he could win. Sure, Augusta National suited his game. “But also because the Masters was the only major that the media was kept outside the ropes,” Faldo said. "And I thought that was going to be his biggest challenge. Now it’s his greatest asset. Everyone joining him now on the weekend at a major goes into his world. That’s Tiger’s arena. Other guys will step into that arena one week and go back out. He’s there all the time. And good luck coming into his world.” It's a new world for everyone now. It's especially different for Woods, not so much for some of the players paired with him. For the less accomplished players who always wondered what it was like to be in his shoes, the absence of spectators has allowed Woods to see what it's like to be in theirs......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 26th, 2020

Johnson s big finish gives him 5-shot lead at TPC Boston

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer NORTON, Mass. (AP) — Dustin Johnson arrived at the TPC Boston this week, headed to the practice range and then looked at his swing coach. “He said, ‘Bro, what am I supposed to be working on again?’” Claude Harmon said Saturday as he watched his pupil set another personal record in The Northern Trust. Johnson isn't doing much wrong at the moment, a daunting prospect to the guys trying to chase him. His birdie-eagle finish gave Johnson a 7-under 64 and stretched his lead to five shots over Harris English and Scottie Scheffler. The finish would have come in handy the day before. Johnson was an astounding 11-under par through 11 holes Friday and had the golf world curious if he would go as low as 57 to set the PGA Tour record. Instead, he finished with seven straight pars for a 60, his best ever but not what it could have been. Johnson put that behind him and looked just as good. Instead of the fast start, it was a big finish. He rolled in a 20-foot birdie on the 17th, and then holed a 40-footer up a ridge and down toward the hole for eagle on the par-5 18th. That put him at 22-under 191, his lowest 54-hole by three shots. In his mind, there is still work to be done. “I'm in a great position and like where I’m at, but I’m still going to have to go out and shoot a good score,” Johnson said. “You can go low out here and guys are going low every day, especially with the conditions we have — perfect greens, golf course is in great shape and not a lot of wind.” Johnson knows better than to think it's over. Just an hour before he signed for his 64, he was tied for the lead until English made bogeys on the 16th and 17th and missed a 7-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a 66. He could also think back to the HSBC Champions in Shanghai three years ago, when he had a six-shot lead in the final round and lost to Justin Rose, matching a PGA Tour record. As well as he's playing, he's only thinking of going as low as he can. “Doesn't matter what the other guys are doing,” Johnson said. “I’m just going to play my game and I’ll be aggressive when I can be and be a little more conservative when I have to be.” Scheffler, coming off the 12th round of 59 or better on the PGA Tour, had a 67. He played in the final group with Johnson, just like he did two weeks ago on the final day of the PGA Championship. On this day, it was a final pair of two players who had the lowest rounds in TPC Boston history. Only one of them shot golf's magic number, and that wasn't a topic of conversation for either of them. “I just told him nice playing,” Johnson said. Scheffler said his text messages included one from Ben Crenshaw, a big supporter of all Texas Longhorns. Otherwise, as a local NFL coach might say, it was on to Saturday. “Yesterday was awesome and the only difference going into today was everybody was telling me good round still, and that’s pretty rare,” Scheffler said. “Once I got on the course, I didn’t think once about it.” Johnson is going for his second victory of the year and could go to No. 1 in the world — provided Jon Rahm doesn't finish second — for the first time since May 2019. Tiger Woods predicted Friday there would be low scoring in the third round, and he was right — just not from him or Rory McIlroy, a star pairing for the breakfast hour. Woods birdied the last hole for a 73. McIlroy made two triple bogeys in his round of 74. They get to play again Sunday morning. Johnson will be going for his fifth FedEx Cup playoff victory, and third in this event on a third course. What matters more is how he finishes the season. The FedEx Cup already features some of the best players in golf — Woods, McIlroy, Vijay Singh, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth among them — and Johnson wants to be on that list. Johnson set the target with four birdies in eight holes before heavy rain moved in and halted the third round for 45 minutes. It also softened a TPC Boston that was getting slightly firmer. He came back and hit to tap-in range for birdie on the 12th, and the had the great finish. Johnson needed a birdie on the 18th on Friday for his first 59, and said he regrets hitting driver off the tee with a shot that tumbled down a small slope into the rough. Lesson learned? Not really. With the rain, he opted for driver again, teed it low and hit this one perfect, setting up a 5-iron to the green and his long eagle putt......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 23rd, 2020

Morikawa quickly goes from college grad to major champion

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Collin Morikawa couldn't help but break into a smile, and not just because the shiny Wanamaker Trophy he won at Harding Park was positioned on a stand next to him. Just over 14 months ago, Morikawa went through commencement after his All-American career — on the golf course and in the classroom — across the Bay Bridge and up the road at Cal-Berkeley. Since then, he has played 28 tournaments around the world and already has three victories on the PGA Tour, one of them a major championship. In the last 50 years, only four other players won their first major before age 23 or younger — Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and Seve Ballesteros. He already is No. 5 in the world. That alone puts him among the elite, except that Morikawa didn't need to win the PGA Championship to feel that way. “When I woke up today, I was like, ‘This is meant to be.’ This is where I feel very comfortable,” Morikawa said. “This is where I want to be, and I'm not scared from it. I think if I was scared from it, the last few holes would have been a little different. But you want to be in this position.” Harding Park was not a place for the meek. Rare is Sunday at a major with so many possibilities at the beginning, at the turn and down the stretch. The drama was relentless. Nine players at one point could claim a share of the lead. There was Dustin Johnson, who started with a one-shot lead. The power of Tony Finau, Bryson DeChambeau and Cameron Champ was on full display. Jason Day brought the experience of winning majors and being No. 1 in the world. Morikawa embraced the moment and delivered the signature shot that allowed him to win a thriller. Actually, there were two moments. After catching a good break — even the most tested major champions need those — with a tee shot off a tree and into play on the 14th, he was short of the green and chipped in for birdie to take the lead. Two holes later, Paul Casey tied him with a nifty up-and-down for birdie on the 16th, where the tees were moved forward to 294 yards to entice players to go for the green. Morikawa thought back to the 14th hole at Muirfield Village during the Workday Charity Open, where he fearlessly hit driver in a similar situation — big trouble left, water right — and drilled it to 12 feet. His shot was the signature moment of this major, a driver that bounced just right and onto the green and rolled up to 7 feet below the cup. He made the eagle putt and was on his way to a two-shot victory with a 6-under 64, matching the lowest final round by a PGA champion. There were no spectators because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Casey must have felt like one. He was still on the 17th tee when he looked back and saw Morikawa's shot. “Nothing you can do but tip your cap to that,” Casey said. “Collin has taken on that challenge and pulled it off. That's what champions do.” He won at Muirfield Village last month not from that bold play on the 14th hole, but after Justin Thomas made a 50-foot birdie putt in the playoff. Morikawa answered with a 25-foot birdie of his own and won two holes later. He is comfortable in the most uncomfortable situations. It was Thomas who gave Morikawa more confidence than he needed. They got together for dinner at the Canadian Open last summer, Morikawa's first start since graduating from Cal. Thomas told him he was good enough, he would make it. Thomas knew from experience. He spent a year in the minor leagues before getting his PGA Tour card, went through a year of learning without winning and now has 13 wins, a major and twice has been No. 1 in the world. Morikawa didn't wait that long. He won the Barracuda Championship to earn a PGA Tour card. He won against a strong field for validation. Now he's a major champion. Young stars are emerging every year, and it was easy to overlook Morikawa. He was a runner-up two years in a row for the Hogan Award, given to the nation's best college player. Doug Ghim won in 2018, Matthew Wolff a year later. And it was Wolff who denied Morikawa a victory last year in Minnesota by making a long eagle putt on the last hole. Players know best. “There’s always a bunch of guys that rock up on the scene, and he didn’t necessarily get the most publicity out of the group he was in,” Casey said. “I know talent when I see it. I don't like the term ‘talent,’ but you know when somebody is good. And Collin was good. We could just tell. ... And we weren't wrong.” Morikawa grew up in Southern California with Wolff. He considers the Bay Area a second home from his time at Cal and the dozen times the Golden Bears played or had qualifiers at Harding Park, a public course that never was this tough. In just over a year — it feels less than that because of the three months golf was shut down because of the pandemic — he has emerged as a star without ever being surprised. He thought back to his debut 14 months ago and recalled being comfortable then. He tied for 14th. “There's a different sense of comfort now,” Morikawa said. Another big smile. A bright future......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 10th, 2020

Rays hold Yankees to 2 hits in 1-0 win

By The Associated Press ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Pinch-hitter Michael Perez hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning on his 28th birthday, six Tampa Bay pitchers combined on a two-hitter and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the AL East-leading New York Yankees 1-0 on Friday night. Yoshi Tsutsugo drew a leadoff walk from Adam Ottavino (2-1) in the eighth and went to second with one out when Kevin Kiermaier walked. Both runners advanced a base on a wild pitch before Perez put the Rays up 1-0 on his fly to center. Chaz Roe (2-0) went the final two innings for the win. Masahiro Tanaka allowed one hit and struck out five over five innings, retiring his final 13 batters after giving up a first-inning single to Yandy Diaz. The Yankees’ right-hander needed just 59 pitches in his second start after beginning the season on the concussion list after being struck in the head by Giancarlo Stanton’s liner during a July 4th summer camp simulated game. Three New York pitchers also limited the Rays to just two hits. MARLINS 4, METS 3 NEW YORK (AP) — Francisco Cervelli hit a three-run homer, Humberto Mejia impressed in his abbreviated major league debut and Miami kept up its surprising surge. The Marlins won their sixth in a row and improved to 7-1 — they’re 5-0 since missing more than a week because of the team’s coronavirus outbreak. Cervelli waved and pointed to the imaginary fans in the seating areas after hitting his second homer of the season. Jonathan Villar added an RBI double in Miami’s four-run second. Dominic Smith homered for the Mets, who have lost seven of nine. New York scored its other runs in the eighth on a throwing error by third baseman Brian Anderson and RBI single by J.D. Davis. Stephen Tarpley (2-0) pitched two innings for the win. Nick Vincent escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth and finished for his first save since 2016 with Seattle. Michael Wacha (1-2) allowed four runs and six hits in five innings. WHITE SOX 2, INDIANS 0 CHICAGO (AP) — Dylan Cease worked his way through five shutout innings, and the Chicago White Sox beat Aaron Civale and Cleveland. Cease walked the leadoff man four times and hit a batter, but wiggled out of trouble each time. The right-hander allowed two hits and struck out four. The Indians went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners on base, continuing a season-long problem and wasting a terrific start by Civale. They had won three in a row. Civale (1-2) allowed five hits, struck out five and walked one in seven innings. Cleveland played without manager Terry Francona and hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo. Francona missed his sixth straight game while addressing a gastrointestinal issue he has been dealing with for months. The team announced before the series opener that Van Burkleo had opted out of the 2020 season because of the coronavirus. RED SOX 5, BLUE JAYS 3 BOSTON (AP) — Alex Verdugo hit two solo homers over the Green Monster, Mitch Moreland had a two-run shot and Boston’s beleaguered staff rebounded to lift the Red Sox past Toronto. Verdugo also robbed Travis Shaw of a homer with a leaping grab and Moreland had a bases-loaded walk to help Boston win its second straight following a four-game losing streak. Cavan Biggio hit a solo homer, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette each had an RBI double for Toronto, which has dropped five of six. Moreland’s homer sailed just over the 380-foot sign at the edge of the Blue Jays’ bullpen in right off starter Tanner Roark (1-1) in the third inning for his fourth homer. Reliever Heath Hembree (2-0) got three outs for the victory and Brandon Workman the final three for his third save. ROYALS 3, INDIANS 2 KANSAS CITY, Mo, (AP) — Ryan McBroom hit a go-ahead homer in the sixth inning and Kansas City held Minnesota to a pair of solo homers. Nick Heath and Nicky Lopez also drove in runs for the Royals, who have won two straight after a six-game slide. Jakob Junis served up homers to Byron Buxton and Marwin Gonzalez before leaving with two outs in the fifth inning, and Greg Holland (2-0) led four relievers in holding down the Twins the rest of the way. Trevor Rosenthal retired the final three batters in order for his second save. Matt Wisler (0-1) served up McBroom’s homer as Minnesota lost a one-run game for the second consecutive night. REDS 8, BREWERS 3 MILWAUKEE (AP) — Trevor Bauer turned in another stellar outing, and Matt Davidson and Nick Castellanos homered to lead Cincinnati. Bauer (2-0) gave up three hits and one run in six innings while striking out 12. The Reds scored six runs in the second off Milwaukee starter Eric Lauer (0-1), ending a 24-inning scoring drought. Cincinnati had pushed across three runs before Davidson’s three-run homer, his first of the season, which barely cleared the wall in center field. The Reds (6-8) lost 13-0 to Cleveland on Thursday night, failing to score in the last 23 innings of the home-and-home series. PADRES 3, DIAMONDBACKS O SAN DIEGO (AP) — Zach Davies retired the first 13 Arizona batters, Fernando Tatis Jr. hit a leadoff homer and rookies Jake Cronenworth and Edward Olivares also went deep to lead San Diego. Davies (2-1) took a perfect game into the fifth before giving up consecutive one-out singles to Eduardo Escobar and David Peralta. He got out of the jam by retiring the next two batters on popups. Davies allowed three singles in 5 2/3 innings, struck out six and walked none. Four relievers finished the combined four-hitter for San Diego’s first shutout. Kirby Yates pitched the ninth for his second save in two chances. Luke Weaver (0-3) went only three innings, allowing two runs and two hits with three strikeouts and one walk. TIGERS 17, PIRATES 13, 11 INNINGS PITTSBURGH (AP) — Niko Goodrum drove in five runs, two on a double in a big 11th inning that sent Detroit past Pittsburgh. Both teams finished with 16 hits, surprising since each club had four players in the starting lineup batting under .190. Those numbers soon changed as Detroit played its first game in five days. Erik Gonzalez drove in six runs. He homered, doubled and singled twice as Pittsburgh lost for the eighth time in nine games and fell to 3-11. It was 12-all after nine innings and Jeimer Candelario broke a 13-all tie with an RBI single in the 11th. Austin Romine singled home another run and Goodrum capped the inning with his line drive to right field. Candelario finished with three hits and three RBIs. Rookie Bryan Garcia (2-0) got the win despite giving up the 10th-inning run. Dovydas Neverauskas (0-2) allowed all four runs in the 11th. ATHLETICS 3, ASTROS 2, 13 INNINGS OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Marcus Semien singled home the winning run in the bottom of the 13th to lift Oakland to its seventh straight win in a game that matched the longest this season with baseball’s new extra-innings rule. Alex Bregman hit an RBI double in the top of the 13th inning only for the A’s to tie it on Austin Allen’s single in the bottom half against Cy Sneed (0-2). J.B. Wendelken (1-0) worked three strong innings and the A’s finally delivered after squandering bases-loaded chances in the 10th and 12th. Houston lost its third straight. The Astros were supposed to visit Oakland months ago in late March for their first road trip of 2020 after a sign-stealing scam that blemished baseball during the offseason. Coronavirus delayed the Bay Area trip. Robbie Grossman hit a tying homer in the seventh and Gold Glove third baseman Matt Chapman made a terrific stop on Jose Altuve’s sharp grounder to keep the game tied in the 10th. ROCKIES 8, MARINERS 4 SEATTLE (AP) — Daniel Murphy had a key two-run single and later hit a two-run home run, Garrett Hampson and Charlie Blackmon added solo shots, and Colorado won for the sixth time in seven games. Murphy’s hit with two outs in the sixth ended the night for Seattle starter Yusei Kikuchi (0-1) and gave Colorado a 4-1 lead. Colorado then feasted on Seattle’s shaky bullpen. Hampson hit his first home run of the season with two outs in the seventh, and Blackmon led off the eighth with his third long ball. Murphy capped his night lining the first pitch from reliever Yohan Ramriez into the right-field seats with one out in the eighth. Colorado starter Antonio Senzatela (3-0) threw six strong innings, allowing two earned runs and struck out five. DODGERS 7, GIANTS 2 LOS ANGELES (AP) — Mookie Betts homered for the first time at Dodger Stadium, and Max Muncy, Will Smith and Edwin Ríos went deep to lead Los Angeles. The Dodgers have won three in a row and eight of 10. Betts was back in the lineup for the first time since injuring his left middle finger last Sunday in Phoenix. He didn’t waste any time, doubling in his first at-bat. He homered into the left-field pavilion in the third, tying the game 1-all. Two batters later, Justin Turner’s RBI single gave Los Angeles the lead for good, 2-1. The Dodgers pummeled Jeff Samardzija in the fourth. Muncy homered to the right-field pavilion leading off. Smith slugged his second homer of the season — both against the Giants — that eluded a leaping Darin Ruf in left field, extending the lead to 5-1. Samardzija (0-2) struggled again in the fifth, and was pulled after loading the bases with no outs. Samardzija was charged with six runs (five earned) and seven hits in four-plus innings. Dylan Floro (1-0) got the victory, giving up one hit in one inning with two strikeouts. RANGERS 4, ANGELS 3 ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Mike Trout homered again on his birthday, but Robinson Chirinos drove in two runs without a hit and Texas snapped a three-game losing streak. Trout turned 29, and homered for the fifth time in the seven big league games he has played on his birthday. The three-time AL MVP put the Angels up 2-0 in the first with his 444-foot drive over their bullpen in left-center. Chirinos had a sacrifice fly in the second inning, then walked with the bases loaded as part of a three-run fourth when the Rangers went ahead to stay when all of those runs were unearned. Jordan Lyles (1-1), one of three offseason additions to the Rangers rotation, struck out five in 5 1/3 innings. Rafael Montero, activated from the injured list earlier in the day, worked a perfect ninth for his first career save capped by Trout’s game-ending strikeout. Angels starter Griffin Canning (0-2) threw more balls (45) than strikes (43) while walking six batters in 3 2/3 innings. ORIOLES 11, NATIONALS 0 BALTIMORE (AP) — Even Chris Davis got in on the act for the suddenly slugging Orioles, doubling his season total by collecting two of Baltimore’s 19 hits and raising his average from .087 to .143 in a big win over Washington. Seven of the Orioles’ nine starting position players each got at least a pair of hits. José Iglesias led the way by going 4 for 4 with three RBIs, and Renato Núñez added a three-run homer to back left-hander Tommy Milone (1-1), whose six-inning outing was the longest by an Orioles pitcher this year. Milone, who was drafted by the Nationals in 2008 and briefly pitched for them in 2011 and 2018, allowed just three hits and didn’t walk anyone. The Orioles were coming off getting swept in four games at home by the cobbled-together, coronavirus-struck Miami Marlins. But after scoring a grand total of once through the first three games of that series, Baltimore put up seven runs in the finale Thursday, then kept on swinging well Friday against the reigning World Series champion Nationals and starter Aníbal Sánchez (0-2)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 8th, 2020

Nationals beat Blue Jays 4-0 in 10 in road game at home

By The Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — Adam Eaton’s bases-loaded chopper broke a scoreless tie in the 10th inning on a close play and Asdrúbal Cabrera followed with a three-run triple, helping the Nationals snap a three-game losing streak by beating the Toronto Blue Jays 4-0 Wednesday night. In a quirky game befitting this pandemic-altered, upside-down season, Toronto’s team played its “home opener” at Washington — batting in the bottom half of each inning, wearing its white uniforms, playing its players’ walk-up music and even blaring the song “OK Blue Jays,” the club’s traditional seventh-inning stretch staple. Toronto’s Nate Pearson, in his big league debut, and Washington’s Max Scherzer, in his 358th start in the majors, put up plenty of zeros. So did the relievers that followed. In the top of the 10th, though, Washington moved ahead on an odd-looking play. After starting with the automatic runner on second base Washington loaded the bags with two walks from Toronto’s sixth pitcher, Shun Yamaguchi (0-2). After two strikeouts, Eaton bounced a ball off the mound. Second baseman Cavan Biggio grabbed it and tried to dive glove-first at the bag, but was edged out by runner Andrew Stevenson. After a replay review of more than two minutes, the “safe” call was upheld, making it 1-0. Cabrera then homered. Daniel Hudson (1-0) got five outs for the win. DODGERS 4, ASTROS 2, 13 INNINGS HOUSTON (AP) — The Dodgers and Astros showed no carry-over from a fracas in the series opener that led to suspensions, and Edwin Ríos hit a two-run homer in the 13th inning to lift Los Angeles over Houston. No pitches were thrown above or behind any batters, nobody made any ugly faces and everyone remained in their respective dugouts. The loudest noise was the crack of Ríos’ bat when he took Cy Sneed (0-1) deep for a leadoff homer — a two-run drive under the new extra-innings rule that starts with an automatic runner on second base. The Dodgers played without manager Dave Roberts, suspended one game for his part in Tuesday night’s testy matchup that saw the dugouts clear. Bench coach Bob Geren managed the team in Roberts’ absence. Los Angeles used nine pitchers, but not Joe Kelly. The reliever was suspended for eight games by Major League Baseball after buzzing a fastball behind the head of Alex Bregman, then striking out Carlos Correa and mockingly taunting him by sticking out his tongue and pouting his bottom lip. TIGERS 5, ROYALS 4 DETROIT (AP) — JaCoby Jones hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the seventh inning, and Detroit’s bullpen came through again to beat Kansas City. A night after pitching six scoreless innings in a win over the Royals, the Tigers’ relievers held Kansas City without a baserunner for four. Detroit rallied from a 4-0 deficit thanks in large part to Jones, who doubled twice before connecting off Ian Kennedy (0-1) for his third homer. Jonathan Schoop also went deep for the Tigers. Maikel Franco hit two doubles and a single for Kansas City, and Whit Merrifield had two hits and scored twice. Bryan Garcia (1-0) earned his first big league win, one of four Detroit relievers who pitched in the game. Joe Jimenez worked the ninth for his fourth save. YANKEES 9, ORIOLES 3 BALTIMORE (AP) — The New York Yankees stepped in for the Miami Marlins and ruined Baltimore’s home opener, hitting three home runs to back right-hander Gerrit Cole. The Orioles were originally slated to launch the home portion of the abbreviated 60-game schedule against Miami, but the Marlins were ordered to take a hiatus after several players and coaches contracted COVID-19 over the weekend. New York was scheduled to play Philadelphia on Wednesday, but the Phillies’ season was put on hold as a precaution because they were Miami’s opponent in the opening series. So Major League Baseball thrust the Yankees and Orioles together while the Marlins and Phillies recover. Cole (2-0) gave up three runs and four hits in 6 2/3 innings to win his 18th straight decision. After DJ LeMahieu homered off Asher Wojciechowski (0-1) on the game’s second pitch, Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks both went deep in the third for a 5-1 lead. GIANTS 7, XXX 6 SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Mike Yastrzemski homered twice, the second a towering solo shot into McCovey Cove in the ninth inning, lifting San Francisco past San Diego. Donovan Solano had a three-run home run in the eighth and Alex Dickerson also went deep as the Giants rallied to beat the Padres, who entered the the game tied for the best record in baseball. Brandon Crawford added three hits for San Francisco. Manny Machado and Trent Grisham homered for San Diego. The Giants trailed 6-3 with two outs in the eighth before rallying. MARINERS 10, ANGELS 7 ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Kyle Seager drove in three runs, Dylan Moore hit a three-run homer and Seattle rallied from two late deficits. Moore connected during the Mariners’ five-run sixth, and Seager put the Mariners ahead for good with a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning of Seattle’s second victory of the season. Shohei Ohtani had a three-run homer, Mike Trout got three hits and Justin Upton hit his 300th career homer for the Angels, who have lost four of six. Brian Goodwin homered and added a two-run double that put the Angels ahead in the sixth. Seattle surged back in front by battering Los Angeles’ bullpen, which flopped mightily in a game featuring four lead changes. The Angels’ bullpen yielded eight runs — one more than it had given up in LA’s first five games combined. The Mariners made their decisive rally in the seventh against Jacob Barnes (0-1). Bryan Shaw (1-0) allowed five baserunners and gave up three runs in the sixth. Dan Altavilla pitched the ninth for his first save. WHITE SOX 4, INDIANS 0 CLEVELAND (AP) — Yasmani Grandal and Eloy Jiménez hit sacrifice flies and Chicago scored four runs in the ninth inning — three charged to ineffective Cleveland closer Brad Hand. The Indians got eight terrific innings from No. 5 starter Zach Plesac. He struck out a career-high 11, shut out the White Sox on three hits and continued a strong run of Cleveland pitching to start the season. Rookie Luis Robert hit a two-run single in the ninth as Chicago snapped a three-game losing streak and salvaged one game in the series. Chicago starter Lucas Giolito matched Plesac pitch for pitch through six, holding the Indians scoreless on four hits. It was a nice bounce back by the All-Star right-hander, who gave up a home run in Minnesota on his first pitch of the season and was touched for seven runs in 3 2/3 innings. RED SOX 6, METS 5 NEW YORK (AP) — Christian Vázquez hit a tying home run off Seth Lugo in the seventh inning and a two-run single against Justin Wilson in a three-run eighth, rallying Boston. Boston had lost four in a row following its opening day win over Baltimore -- the equivalent of 11 straight over a full season -- that included a pair of defeats to the Mets at Fenway Park. New York closed with a run in the ninth, when a diving stop by third baseman Rafael Devers helped Brandon Workman strand the bases loaded. Workman recovered for his first save of the year by striking out Yoenis Céspedes and retiring Robinson Canó on a soft liner to shortstop. Jacob DeGrom, throwing at up to 101 mph, extended his consecutive scoreless streak to 31 innings before allowing a pair of runs in the fourth but got his second straight no-decision, allowing two runs and three hits in six innings with four strikeouts. He left with a 3-2 lead, but Vázquez tied the score when he drove a hanging curveball from Lugo for his second home run this season. RANGERS 7, DIAMONDBACKS 4 ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) —Joey Gallo hit a tying, two-run homer in the eighth inning and Texas scored three more runs after that to snap a three-game losing streak. After Gallo lined an opposite-field shot to left off Andrew Chafin (0-1) for his second homer of the season, the Rangers loaded the bases with two outs. Elvis Andrus then hit a two-run single before Nick Solak added an RBI single. Todd Frazier hit his first homer and had two doubles for Texas, whose five-run inning accounted for only one run fewer than it had scored combined in their first four games in the new $1.2 billion stadium with a retractable roof. Jonathan Hernandez (1-0) got the win despite giving up two runs in the eighth, and Nick Goody worked a perfect ninth for his first save. ROCKIES 5, ATHLETICS 1 OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — German Márquez struck out eight over six impressive innings to bounce back after losing on opening day, and Colorado wrapped up a successful season-opening road trip. Charlie Blackmon delivered an insurance run with an RBI double in the eighth, then reached on an error in the ninth that led to a pair of runs. Garrett Hampson hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the fourth to help back Márquez (1-1). Carlos Estévez relieved Márquez and escaped the seventh unscathed with the tying run on second. Jairo Diaz struck out Robbie Grossman with the bases loaded in the eighth, putting Oakland at 0 for 14 with runners in scoring position during these two games. Matt Chapman homered in the bottom of the first for the A’s. Colorado came right back when Tony Wolters hit a tying single in the top of the second against Frankie Montas (0-1). BRAVES 7, RAYS 4 ATLANTA (AP) —Freddie Freeman homered and drove in three runs on a four-hit night, leading Atlanta in its home opener. Freeman, stricken with the coronavirus before the shortened season and became so ill that he feared for his life, has quickly reclaimed his place as one of the game’s most feared hitters. He hit his first homer of the season in the third, a two-run shot into the empty seats in right field, and added an RBI single that capped a three-run sixth after Tampa Bay pulled ahead with three runs in the top half. The Braves snapped Tampa Bay’s four-game winning streak. Tampa Bay scrapped out an unearned run off Mike Soroka in the fifth and pulled ahead for the first time in the sixth, doing the bulk of the damage after Darren O’Day (1-0) took over for the Atlanta starter. With two outs, Kevin Kiermaier drove in the tying run and Hunter Renfroe followed with a two-run single that put the Ray ahead 4-2. But the Tampa Bay bullpen couldn’t hold the lead. Andrew Kittredge gave up back-to-back doubles, retiring only one hitter before giving way to Oliver Drake (0-1). The funky right-hander had a chance to escape with the lead intact, but Willy Adames bobbled a high chopper by Ozzie Albies that was ruled an infield hit. Freeman followed with his fourth hit of the night, lining an RBI single to right-center. Albies was thrown out at third to end the inning, but Ender Inciarte had already crossed the plate with the go-ahead run. BREWERS 3, PIRATES 0 PITTSBURGH (AP) — Milwaukee’s Brandon Woodruff allowed one hit and struck out 10 while working into the seventh inning as the Brewers beat struggling Pittsburgh. Woodruff (1-1) retired 19 of 21 batters, allowing a swinging bunt single to Phil Evans in the first. Pittsburgh didn’t manage another baserunner until Evans walked leading off the seventh. Woodruff threw 92 of his 61 pitches for strikes against a lineup that is struggling to produce. The Pirates are hitting a majors-worst .171 during their 2-4 start. Ben Gamel gave Woodruff all the support he would need with a third-inning two-run homer over the right-field seats off Joe Musgrove (0-2). REDS 12, CUBS 7 CINCINNATI (AP) — Mike Moustakas and Nick Senzel homered in their returns from a COVID-19 scare, Nick Castellanos added a grand slam, and Cincinnati ended a four-game losing streak. Sonny Gray (2-0) extended his major league record to 35 consecutive starts allowing six hits or fewer. He gave up only Ian Happ’s double and fanned 11 as he pitched into the seventh inning. Moustakas and Senzel missed the last three games after feeling sick a day after teammate Matt Davidson went on the injured list because he tested positive for the coronavirus. After passing tests, they returned and helped the Reds to their best run total of the season. Kyle Hendricks (1-1) threw a three-hit shutout against the Brewers in the season opener but couldn’t make it through the fifth inning against Cincinnati. Moustakas had a two-run shot in the fourth, and Hendricks left after Eugenio Suárez’s bases-loaded single an inning later. TWINS 3, CARDINALS 0 MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Rich Hill pitched five scoreless innings in a smooth Minnesota debut, backed by Eddie Rosario’s homer and Nelson Cruz’s RBI double. Alex Avila, another Minnesota newcomer, had an RBI single. Taylor Rogers pitched a perfect ninth for his first save, and the Twins finished a two-game sweep to improve to 4-1. Currently the second-oldest player in the majors, the 40-year-old Hill needed only 68 pitches to pick up his first victory for a Twins team that signed him this winter with the assumption he’d be ready around midsummer after his recovery from elbow surgery. The Cardinals, after winning their first two games against Pittsburgh, have scored four runs on 15 hits over a three-game losing streak. Daniel Ponce de Leon (0-1) struck out eight over 3 2/3 innings......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 30th, 2020

Column: The revolving door at No. 1 in the world ranking

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer Jon Rahm is the No. 1 player in the world. The best player in golf? That depends on the week. Webb Simpson looked to be tough to beat when he won the RBC Heritage, giving him two victories, a runner-up finish and a third place in his last six PGA Tour events. But then Dustin Johnson won the Travelers Championship, renewing conversations that when he puts in the time, no one has a greater package of talent. During his two weeks off, however, golf became obsessed with super-sized Bryson DeChambeau and his 200 mph ball speed that carried him to victory in Detroit, his seventh straight top 10. And then two days after DeChambeau took a 10 — ideal for gymnastics, not so much for golf — on the 15th hole at Muirfield Village to miss the cut, Rahm built an eight-shot lead at the turn and held on for a victory at the Memorial that sent him to No. 1 in the world. For how long? Longer than Tom Lehman, for sure. Of the 24 players who have been No. 1 since the world ranking began in 1986, Lehman was there the shortest time — one week. And just his luck, he took that week off, so he never even played a tournament at No. 1 in the world. Rory McIlroy, whom Rahm replaced at No. 1, and Justin Thomas can return to the top if they win the World Golf Championship this week in Memphis, Tennessee. At least that's easier to track than two weeks ago, when five players at the Memorial had a mathematical chance of reaching No. 1. Whether the reason is depth or parity, it's become a revolving door that doesn't appear to be stopping anytime soon. Brooks Koepka started the year at No. 1, and McIlroy took over in February. Rahm was asked Tuesday if he considered them the best players in the world while they were at No. 1, and if he looks at himself that way now. “I think nowadays it's really tough to determine one player,” Rahm said. "Because yeah, Brooks is having a hard year right now. He's not playing his best. But he has won four majors in the last few years. Rory played amazing last year. It's hard to dictate one player alone. But it would be foolish of me to say that I'm not here thinking I'm the best player. “And I think all the great players out there who have got to this point are playing like they believe they're the best player,” he said. “In golf, you need to prove that every week.” McIlroy and Johnson have done that better than anyone over the last decade. McIlroy has reached No. 1 on eight occasions for a total of 106 weeks. Johnson has been there five times for a total of 96 weeks. During their longest stretches — 64 weeks for Johnson, 54 weeks for McIlroy — there was little argument. With Tiger Woods, there was no argument. Not since Woods in 2009 has a player started and finished a year without surrendering the No. 1 ranking. It was the eighth time Woods did that. Consider the 281 consecutive weeks Woods was No. 1, from the 2005 U.S. Open until the 2010 HSBC Champions. In the last 281 weeks, No. 1 has changed hands 27 times. Phil Mickelson was never on that list, and Rahm was quick to point out that playing against Woods in his prime certainly didn't help Lefty's cause. “But it still doesn't take away from what I've done,” Rahm said. “Now at the same time, getting here, it's great. I played great golf the last four years. ... It's not only to get here. but to stay here, hopefully for a long time.” Of the previous 23 players to reach the top of the ranking, seven won in their debut at No. 1. The most recent was Johnson in 2017 at the Mexico Championship, his second of three straight wins. The most timely belonged to Adam Scott, who had three chances to reach No. 1 by winning, and then got there during a week off. He returned and won at Colonial. The best was Ian Woosnam. He got to No. 1 in 1991 and then won the Masters. It's just a number. Rahm understands the world ranking enough to realize it's a product of two years, not one week. He should be proud, just as the 23 others before him. Thomas reached No. 1 after The Players Championship in 2018 and didn't play until the Memorial. He conceded to feeling a little different. “I just remember being a little more nervous because it's like all eyes are on you, and you're the best player in the world, so you feel like you should kind of play up to that,” he said. He tied for eighth. It could have been worse. Jordan Spieth missed the cut in his debut at No. 1. Adding to the volatility of the No. 1 ranking is the strength of the fields, which have been loaded with the world's best players since the restart and will remain strong with this World Golf Championship, the PGA Championship, the FedEx Cup playoffs and then the U.S. Open, all in the next two months. Getting to No. 1 is hard work. These days, staying there might be even harder......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 29th, 2020

Finau, Palmer share lead at Memorial as Tiger hangs on

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Tony Finau figured he was on the right track when he shot 59 at Victory Ranch last week in Utah. That kind of score isn't happening at Muirfield Village, where the greens are getting firmer by the hour. Finau still took enough confidence from playing with his kids at home during a week off, and it translated into 14 birdies over two days and a share of the 36-hole lead at the Memorial. Finau recovered from two bogeys after three holes of his second round Friday, making birdie on the rest of the par 5s and finishing with a wedge to 2 feet for birdie and a 3-under 69. That put him at 9-under 135 with Ryan Palmer (68), who had only one bogey over two rounds. The way Muirfield Village is playing, both are impressive. They were a shot in front of Jon Rahm (67), who has another chance to reach No. 1 in the world this week for the first time in his career. U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland had a 70 and was two behind. For Tiger Woods, it was a matter of making it to the weekend. Woods said his back felt stiff while warming up, and missing a pair of 3-footers didn't make him feel any better. He managed two birdies and a 7-foot par save on his final three holes for a 76 that allowed him to make the cut on the number at 3-over 147, matching his highest 36-hole score at the Memorial. “Not very good,” Woods said. “I three-putted two holes early, and whatever kind of momentum I was going to create, I stifled that early and fought it the rest of the day.” Finau elected to stay home last week instead of playing Muirfield Village twice in a row. He won't compare Victory Ranch with Muirfield Village, though it inspired him. He was 14-under par through 16 holes until making a bogey on the 17th hole and settling for his second sub-60 round away from the PGA Tour. “I don't know how many times I've been 14 under through 16 holes on a good golf course,” Finau said. “But it told me I was in good form and just told me how good I am at scoring. So I think I definitely carried some of that right into this week, and that confidence I think is pretty cool.” The cut of 147 matched the highest of the season — it also was 147 at Bay Hill. Among those going home was Bryson DeChambeau, who was in reasonable shape until hitting his tee shot into a hazard on the 15th, taking a penalty drop, hitting the next two out-of-bounds and making 10. It was his highest score on a hole in his career. DeChambeau came into the Memorial having finished in the top 10 in seven straight tournaments, and having 19 consecutive rounds at par or better. He left with rounds of 73-76, and without comment. Dustin Johnson shot 80-80 for the highest 36-hole score of his PGA Tour career Collin Morikawa, who won at Muirfield Village last week in a playoff over Justin Thomas, recovered from a 76 with a 70 to make the cut with one shot to spare. Thomas had a 67 and was six shots behind. The way Muirfield Village began to look Friday, the weekend at the Memorial might be more about hanging on than going low. The course is replacing all the greens after this week, so officials are letting them go. It doesn’t matter if they’re so fast the grass dies because they’re being ripped up, anyway. Brooks Koepka appeared to hit a solid bunker shot from right of the 16th green until it rolled out a few feet past the hole, and then a few more feet until it was off the green and resting against the collar of rough. That wasn't his biggest problem. Koepka dumped a shot in the water on his final hole at No. 9 and made double bogey for a 75. That put him at 3-over 147, same as Woods. Rory McIlroy shot 72, which goes in the book as a round of even par. It was anything but that. He hit into the creek and muffed a chip for a double bogey on the par-5 11th. He smoked a fairway metal to 8 feet for eagle on the par-5 fifth. He hit wedge to 10 feet for a pair of birdies. He chunked a wedge into a bunker and made bogey. He was at 2-under 142. “I don't know what it was,” he said. “It was a few birdies and an eagle thrown in there and a few mistakes. There's some good in there, some mediocre and there was some pretty poor shots. But I battled back well.” Palmer played the Workday Charity Open last week at Muirfield Village and missed the cut. Instead of staying in Ohio, he went home to Texas to work with swing coach Randy Smith, and he found a fix to whatever was holding him back. “One little, small flaw in my back swing,” Palmer said. He also did some work on the greens with Steve Stricker, and Palmer feels good enough about his chances on the weekend. Stricker didn't do too badly, either. The 53-year-old Ryder Cup captain had a 67 and was at 4-under 140, along with Jim Furyk, who turned 50 two months ago and shot 68......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 18th, 2020