The Open. Zach Johnson Wins Play-Off

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Zach Johnson wins the The Open Championship, and the title of Champion Golfer of the Year, in a three-way play-off on the Old Course at St Andrews in Scotland.

The Open

Zach Johnson, The Champion Golfer of the Year / Getty Images

Zach was tied with Marc Leishman and Louis Oosthuizen at the end of play in regulation at -15 under par for the Claret Jug tournament. That led to a four hole play-off, in which Zach birdied the 1st and 2nd holes, they all made bogey on the road hole the 17th, Zach and Louis both made par on the 18th, giving Zach the tile. Marc did not pay so well in the extra holes, after he had equaled Zach’s final round of -6 under par 66. Louis had a more modest last round of -3 under par 69, holing a birdie putt on the last to get into the play-off.

Zach spoke to reporters saying he was very pleased to be part of golfing history, having his name on the Claret Jug;

“I feel blessed to be the champion, I feel honored to part of the history of this game and to don my name on that trophy, especially with the names before me.”

“Humbling and surreal are two words that come to mind.”

“I can’t play any better than what I did. I had a lull on Friday and Saturday, but nothing significant, but stayed in it and waited for the opportunities and made a few.”

“I am fairly speechless right now. Dreams have been realised and goals accomplished.”

“I’m humbled, I’m honored to be your Open Champion and your champion golfer of the year.”

Jordan Spieth came up one shot short of the play-off, and his attempt at the grand slam. The famous Road Hole, the 17th was his undoing, carding a bogey while in a tie for the lead.

Jordan and Jason Day finished the tournament at -14 under par, and tied in fourth position.

Winner of the Silver Medal for the best amateur player went to American Jordan Niebrugge who finished on a wonderful score of -11 under par for the competition.

Irish amateur Paul Dunne, who led the tournament at the start of play today had a nightmare final round +6 over par 78, and dropped down the leaderboard to finish at -6 under par.

The Open. An Irish Amateur Shares the Lead.

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An Irish amateur Paul Dunne shares the lead at The Open Championship with Louis Oosthuizen and Jason Day at the end of round three on Sunday, at a calm St. Andrews.

The Open

Paul Dunne / Getty Images

Paul Dunne shot a bogey free third round -6 under par 66, to share the clubhouse lead at -12 under par for the tournament. Louis and Jason both had -5 under par 65’s to join Paul at the top of a congested The Open Championship leaderboard.

Paul is the first amateur since the legendary Bobby Jones to lead The Open after 54 holes, Bobby went on to lift the Claret Jug at St Andrews in 1927.

Louis played alongside Paul, and this to say of the young mans talent;

“He’s played unbelievable golf, that second shot on 17 was one of the best I’ve seen.”

“I think he made me so nervous on my second shot because I was going a completely different route, low, running up there, and I tugged it a little bit to the left. But it was an amazing shot. He deserved to birdie that.”

Paul was asked if he could win The Open, he replied;

 “I don’t see why not. I’m well capable of shooting the scores that I need to win if everyone else doesn’t play their best.”

“Whether it happens or not, I can’t really control. I can just go out and try to play my game and see where it leaves me at the end of the day. Hopefully I play great again and post a good number.”

“It’s surreal I’m leading The Open, but I can easily believe that I shot the three scores that I shot.”

“If we were playing an amateur event here, I wouldn’t be too surprised by the scores I shot. It’s just lucky that it happens to be in the biggest event in the world.”

“Hopefully I can do it again tomorrow, but whether I do or not, you know, I’ll survive either way.”

In fourth place on his own is Masters Tournament and US Open Champion Jordan Spieth, who brought his grand slam dream back to life with a third round -6 under par 66, which has given him a tournament total of -11 under par, and just one shot back going into the final round tomorrow. History beckons.

Jordan insists he is not really thinking about it;

“It hasn’t come up in my head while I’ve been playing yet.”

“I can’t speak for tomorrow given it’s the last round and if I have a chance coming down the stretch, if it creeps in, I’ll embrace it. I’ll embrace the opportunity that presents itself.”

“I don’t look at it as a negative thing, I look at it almost as an advantage.”

“Why should it add more pressure in a negative way? If it adds more pressure, it just makes me feel like this is something that’s a little more special, let’s go ahead and get the job done.”

“I know it’s easier said than done, but when you say added pressure, most people associate that with negativity or something that can hinder what’s comfortable.”

“For me, I think it could be advantageous. You hit the ball a little bit further, you can really get your mind around a more specific target and block out other things.”

Fifth position belongs to another Irishman, the three-time Major winner Padraig Harrington, he posted a bogey free third round -7 under par 65, to reach -10 under par in the competition, and definitely has given himself a chance of grabbing another Major title. He joked with the media about this not being the final round;

“I always wanted to shoot 65 on Sunday at an Open. Unfortunately there’s another round to go.”

There are no less than nine players tied at -9 under par, in sixth place for the tournament; Australians Marc Leishman and Adam Scottanother amateur, American Jordan Niebrugge, Sergio Garcia from Spain, Justin Rose and Danny Willett from England, South African Retief Goosen, and two more Americans, Robert Streb and Zach Johnson.

Marc shot the low round of the day, a -8 under par 64, to put him in position to win his first Major.

Retief, the two-time US Open champion, was happy with his position;

“Three, four shots off the lead going into tomorrow is a good place to be.”

 “I’m feeling great. I have no back pain. I’d rather play bad golf and have no back pain than good golf and back pain and not being able to sleep or anything else.”

“I’ve had a good run in my career, but it’s nice to be up there and hopefully have a good day tomorrow, see where we end up.”

Longtime leader Dustin Johnson, who battled through the bad weather, collapsed in the calm conditions of the third round, carding +3 over par, and dropping to -7 under par for the tournament, and tied in 18th place, with his chances of picking up The Open Championship title in tatters.

John Deere Classic. Super Spieth Wins

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A super performance from Jordan Spieth wins him the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run in play-off against Tom Gillis.

John Deere Classic

Jordan Spieth / Getty Images

Jordan was tied at the top of the John Deere Classic leaderboard with Tom Gillis on -20 under par, and won the second play-off hole with a par. He said he now has momentum gong into next week at St.Andrews, and does not care how it comes;

“I came here for a reason, and we accomplished that reason, and certainly have some momentum going into next week.”

“To be able to shoot twenty under in three rounds is nice momentum.”

“The finish, when I really didn’t feel like tee to green I had much Sunday, gives me a lot of momentum to draw on if I don’t have my best stuff. “

“I’ve got plenty in the tank.”

“Leading into the Masters, those couple of weeks right before could have taken a lot out of me with a runner-up finish and then a playoff loss. And we rebounded nicely.”

“This tournament means a lot to me, this is a tournament I truly love.”

“I need to fine tune my driver. I love where my putter is at. My pace control, my speed is awesome right now.”

Tom spoke about advancing age;

“When you’re going to be 47, the window is closing.”

 “What I saw Sunday, and the last three days, I’d have to say makes me think I’ve still got some tread on the tires left.”

Consolation for Tom he secured the one spot available at The Open from the John Deere Classic, via his  performance at the tournament, and will be at St Andrews next week.

Zach Johnson and last weeks winner Danny Lee tied in third place at -19 under par. Danny was penalized for an infringement early in his round.  He was on the fourth hole when he marked his tee shot and lifted his ball to clean it, believing  that the tournament was still operating under the clean and place rules. It cost him a place in the play-off.

Zach was standing over a 30 foot putt on the par three 16th hole, just as he made his swing a loud explosion knocked him out of his stride. A successful putt would have tied him at -20 under;

“I don’t know if it was like a pipe bomb or a backfire from a boat.”

“I don’t have any idea, but I know it was loud, and I know I was about ready to hit my putt.”

Finishing tied fifth for the competition at -18 under par were; Chris Stroud, Johnson Wagner and Justin Thomas.

 

 

 

Travelers Championship. Brian Harman Ahead of Bubba.

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Brian Harman is ahead of Bubba Watson as they go into the final round of the Travelers Championship, at TPC River Highlands.

Travelers Championship

Brian Harman / Getty Images

Brian shot a bogey free third round, in the rain, -5 under par 65, to top the leaderboard on the third day of the Travelers Championship with a -14 under par tournament total.

He will take a one shot lead into the final round tomorrow, where he will be paired once again with that other lefty, Bubba, who preceded him as a standout left-hander for the University of Georgia Bulldogs. Brian is looking forward to having some fun once again with his rival, and friend, Bubba;

“Bubba’s a lot of fun to play golf with.”

“He was a little before me at Georgia, so I always looked up to him, was always really proud of the way he was doing and we were always rooting for him at Georgia.”

“I’ve never played particularly well in the rain, but I try to look at today and we got a break.”

“The weather was not as bad as I thought it was going to be.”

Bubba shares second place at -13 under par with Graham DeLaet; Bubba got lucky, to shoot -2 under par today while Graham cruised round the course in -6 under par 64.

Bubba mentioned Brian after their round today, and also the lucky bounce off a tree;

“He’s a solid player, it sounds funny saying this, but he’s like a little bulldog.”

“It hit the tree and everybody roared, I had to ask the camera guy, and he said it was in the bunker.”

Graham had back surgery for a pinched nerve in 2011, a problem that he says still bothers him;

“The last couple months I’ve been moving really well and feeling a lot better.”

“My golf game is coming around too, which is nice.”

Lurking behind the top three is a group of three players on -11 under par, Paul Casey, Zach Johnson and Brandt Snedeker.

Brandt had been having some problems with his putting, which was frustrating, but today he carded a -7 under par 63;

“Funny, people gave me a hard time about my putting last year and it was bad, as bad as it’s ever been on Tour”

“But the thing is, I was hitting it the best I’ve ever hit it on Tour. So it was frustrating to say the least.”

“The putter’s been consistent all year.”

There is a storm moving into to Connecticut, and officials said Sunday’s final round will be played in threesomes, going off the 1st and 10th tees beginning at 11:30 a.m. So Bubba and Brian will be joined in the last grouping by Graham DeLaet.

 

 

 

Waste Management Phoenix Open. Martin Laird Loves Scottsdale.

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Martin Laird loves Scottsdale, he leads the Waste Management Phoenix Open after three rounds at TPC Scottsdale.

 Waste Management Phoenix Open

Martin Laird / Getty Images

Martin carded a third round -3 under par 68 and leads the Waste Management Phoenix Open by three shots with a -13 under par tournament total. With all the young players around him Martin said he felt pretty old, and was happy to roll in a few putts;

“I felt like an old man in the group, it’s been a long time since I have been the first one hitting every shot every hole.”

“Today was a little bit of everything, hit some of the best shots I have had all week, and also hit some of the worst shots.”

“It’s always nice when you’re making some putts, and I poured in a few nice ones today.”

“I putted solid the first two days. I didn’t really miss any I felt like I should have made, I just didn’t really make any,”

“I feel like I’ve been putting really well, and it’s one of those things, just keep doing what you’re doing and one day it’s going to get good and go in. That just happened to be today for me.”

“I have been practicing hard and getting ready. I really like this stretch of tournaments I’ve got here, and obviously like playing at home and being here. I was looking forward to this week.”

Three strokes adrift is Hideki Matsuyama at -10 under par for the competition, a magical -8 under par 63 third round elevating him quickly up the leaderboard, and into contention for the title, tied in second place with Zach Johnson and Brooks Koepka.

Zach was full of fighting talk for tomorrow’s final round, especially the finishing holes, the island-green par-5 15th, short par-3, 16th and the easily driveable 332 yard par-4, 17th. They can lead to quick changes on the leaderboard;

“The tournament is not over until you get to that stretch.”

“If there is rough, I like the golf course. If the four to ten footers mean a lot, I like the golf course.”

“I felt like my game was coming and I wanted to kind of end the West Coast on at least a somewhat sweet note rather than a bitter note.”

Brooks is known as a wandering global golfer, he came to this tournament after a short break from his travels;

“I had played so much over the last two years, I got a little tired of golf, tired of the travel. It’s been a long two years, but the break was good for me.”

Hideki won last year’s Memorial Tournament and said it was his biggest win to date;

“I think obviously the Memorial would be my biggest win.”

“I don’t know how that’s going to translate going into Sunday. I don’t know if that’s going to help, but I hope that I can play tomorrow like I did today and have a good day.”

 

John Deere Classic. Harman Has High Hopes

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Brian Harman has high hopes of winning the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run.

Brian Harman has been in control of his game for three rounds and could win his first TOUR title Sunday. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Brian Harman / Getty Images

Brian shot a -6 under par 65 on Saturday, which gives him a one shot lead at -17 under par, to take into the final round at TPC Deere Run, searching for his first PGA Tour victory. Brian said he pays attention to what Steve Stricker is doing;

“I pay attention to what Steve’s doing but don’t base my game on his, he’s had a lot of success here.”

“I watched Zach win this golf tournament, and learned a lot.”

Hot on his heels is Steve Stricker, who carded a -7 under par 64 to occupy second place on his own at -16 under par. Steve thinks it will be difficult to win with so many guys contending;

“So many guys are in this thing, guys can get off to hot starts here, but you can answer them also.”

 “It will still be difficult for me tomorrow, I’m not in that final group a lot out here, especially now. I’ll want to take advantage because I’m not playing very much. To get back into the winner’s circle would mean a lot.”

Scott Brown is in third spot, after his beautiful bogey free third round of -10 under par 61 gave him a tournament total of -15 under par.

Scott Brown carded the week's best round (10-under 61) to to pace his strong Saturday grouping. (Gregry Shamus/Getty Images)

Scott Brown / Getty Images

Scott said he was really just trying to get back into the competition, then started to think about a 59;

‘I was just trying to get back into the golf tournament, and it turned into a great round.”

“Yeah, we kind of got it going early, we were all making a bunch birdies and it just turned into a really special day. Well, they are great guys to play with for one thing, and it’s a bonus when you start making birdies and everybody is feeding off each other. It’s like, he made a birdie, I better make one on the next hole. It is a great mentality and great to have a group like that.”

Tim Clark, Jerry Kelly, William McGirt along with 2012 champion Zach Johnson are three shots back of the leader at -14 under par.

John Deere Classic, Three tied at the Top.

 

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Zach Johnson is one of the three who are tied at the top, with Brian Harman and Rory Sabbatini at the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run.

Johnson hot at John Deere

Zach in action / Getty Images

Zach burst back onto the scene opening the John Deere Classic with a -8 under par 63, and is tied at the top with Brian Harman and Rory Sabbatini.

 Zach had this to say about being patient;

“I have found myself a little impatient in the weeks prior to this week. In Hartford, I missed the cut by like 35 shots, it felt like. In the U.S. Open, I made the cut, but it was pretty boring, bad golf after that. I was a little spent.”

Today he actually thought about shooting a 59, like Paul Goydos;

“It entered my mind very briefly, I don’t want to say I should have shot 61 or 58 or 60 or 59 or whatever. But I had a chance. I’d rather have 59 wins than shoot 59.”

 Brian had a spot of caddie trouble,  he was -2 under par through six holes when his caddie, Scott Tway, suddenly took ill. A volunteer from the crowd, Jay Hatch of Davenport, Iowa, took over for the next 12 holes;

”I called a medic over and Scottie said he was going to have to sit out at least a couple holes. Jay was standing there and said, I’ll do it. I’ll keep up.”

”If you go out and birdie half of the golf course, you feel you’ve done fairly well.”

Rory has not been in contention for quite a while, but said he like the look of this course;

‘I like this course and how it plays, it’s fun for spectators because there are a lot of fireworks, and fun for us players, too. This golf course requires the basics, hit the fairway, hit the green, make some putts.”

Is that not true of any golf course ?

These three are ahead of  Todd Hamilton, Steven Bowditch, and William McGirt  by a stroke with all of them at -7 under par following their opening rounds of 64.

Todd, who is now a  decade removed from The Open victory at Royal Troon, birdied his first two holes and was off on an improbable round of 64;

‘I haven’t been playing well, it seems if I play well, I shoot 71 or 70. Everyone else when they play well, they shoot 65 or 64. It’s a big discrepancy.”