July 10, 2017
A strong finish in the U.S. Open late month helped prepare Xander Schauffele for the nerve-racking grind of chasing a title on the PGA Tour.
The rookie made a 3-foot birdie putt on the final hole Sunday to win The Greenbrier Classic by a stroke over Robert Streb for his first tour victory.
Schauffele closed with a 3-under 67 and finished at 14-under 266 to cap a daylong duel with Streb and third-round leader Sebastian Munoz.
Streb shot 69. Munoz had a 72 to tie for third with Jamie Lovemark at 12 under. Lovemark shot 69.
The 23-year-old Schauffele, who took up golf after giving up soccer because his coaches wanted him to switch from offense to defense, tied for fifth in his first U.S. Open at Erin Hills.
''The U.S. Open was a huge moment in my career,'' Schauffele said. ''It was one of the biggest stages, and for me to be calm and collected throughout the week and just kind of hang on and tie for fifth was huge for me mentally. It kind of gave me the confidence and allowed me to play to win this week.''
Watching fellow youngster Jon Rahm of Spain win the Irish Open earlier Sunday also served as motivation for Schauffele, who shot from 94th to 27th in the FedEx Cup standings.
''Everybody knows I'm a late bloomer,'' Schauffele said. ''To jump into the top 30 is something special for me.''
Schauffele, Streb, Munoz and Lovemark earned spots in the British Open in two weeks. The leading four players not already exempt from the top-12 finishers qualified. Russell Henley was the only player among the top 10 finishers who already was in.
Schauffele also punched a ticket to this year's PGA Championship and next year's Masters. He already had a spot in the 2018 U.S. Open for last month's performance.
He's the third rookie to earn their first tour victory in West Virginia and the fourth overall. The others were former U.S. Amateur champion Danny Lee in 2015 and Scott Stallings in 2011, along with Ted Potter Jr. in 2013.
It was another close finish in a tournament that narrowly avoided its fourth playoff since debuting in 2010.
Munoz, Streb and Schauffele traded the lead all day with each having their share of troubles.
As Schauffele reached the 161-yard 18th with a pitching wedge, Munoz and Streb heard the crowd's roar from the par-5 17th green and both missed birdie putts.
Streb then found the left rough on 18 and his chip that would have forced a playoff came up short. Munoz needed to ace the 18th to tie it, but settled for par.
Munoz couldn't become the first-to-wire winner of the tournament, which no third-round leader has ever won. The rookie also led the St. Jude Classic at the halfway point last month, but tied for 60th. Sunday marked his first top-10 finish.
''I'll take it as a positive,'' he said. ''It's my best finish ever. It's not like I can be mad about it.''
Munoz's putter was his strength in the first three rounds and his downfall Sunday. The 24-year-old Colombian made four bogeys on the front nine, including a pair of three-putts.
Streb had his second straight narrow miss in the tournament. He lost in a four-man playoff in 2015.
Streb retook a share of the lead with Munoz with a 32-foot birdie putt at No. 14, only to witness Schauffele pull it out in the end.
''I heard the racket. You could see it,'' Streb said. ''I had my chances and just didn't do very well with them.''
Lovemark doubled-bogeyed the first hole to fall five shots back and made three birdies over his next 12 holes but never held the lead. He had his fourth top-10 finish this season.
At age 53, Davis Love III fell short in his bid to become the oldest-ever winner on tour. Love started his round four strokes back, bogeyed the first two holes and was never a threat. He shot 75 and tied for 29th at 5 under.
July 9, 2017
Davis Love believes his experience might give him an edge as he tries to become the PGA Tour's oldest winner at age 53. First, he must surpass several others, including a rookie trying to become the first wire-to-wire winner in The Greenbrier Classic.
Sebastian Munoz shot a 2-under 68 on Saturday to maintain a two-stroke lead over Robert Streb after the third round. The 24-year-old Colombian was at 14-under 196 at Old White TPC. Streb shot a 65.
Love was tied with two others at 10 under after a 68 with four players ahead of him. The two-time Ryder Cup captain who will enter the World Golf Hall of Fame in September likes his chances Sunday.
''Under the pressure, I know how to handle things,'' Love said. ''I've seen some guys this week kind of go up and down and make some rookie mistakes, including myself. I'm going to make mistakes too, but hopefully the experience will pay off.''
At No. 221 in the FedEx Cup standings, Love wants to make the season-ending playoffs and is among those trying to qualify for the British Open in two weeks. The leading four players not already exempt from the top-12 finishers will earn spots. Russell Henley is the only player in the top 10 who has already qualified.
Sam Snead won the last of his eight titles at Greensboro in 1965 at 52 years, 10 months, 8 days. Love will try to break the mark at the former playground of Snead, who was the longtime head pro and pro emeritus at The Greenbrier resort.
Love's last win was two years ago at the Wyndham Championship, making him the tour's third-oldest winner.
''I don't think much about age,'' Love said. ''I think that I want to go out and compete. There's a reason why I keep having surgery, coming back, doing the rehab and trying to play. There's a lot to play for, not just for this week but for the rest of the season. I'm going to stay after it.''
Munoz welcomes the challenge, especially from Love.
''That would be awesome if he wins,'' Munoz said. ''He has to beat me and all the other guys. We'll just have to wait and see what happens.''
While his birdie pace slowed to a trickle, Munoz overcame several miscues to stay atop the leaderboard. He saved par on the ninth hole after driving under a tree, regained the lead with a 26-foot birdie putt on the par-4 13th after driving into the rough, and added a 36-footer for birdie on the par-4 15th.
Streb, five strokes behind Munoz entering the day, birdied the 490-yard 11th and hit his 231-yard approach shot next to the flag and made eagle at the par-5 12th.
He'd like to do a little better than in 2015 at the tournament, when he lost in a four-man playoff won by Danny Lee.
That year, Streb broke his putter on the ninth hole in the final round when he tossed it at his bag next to the green. He made five birdie putts on the back nine with a 56-degree wedge. He was able to put a new putter in his bag for the playoff but was eliminated on the first extra without ever getting to use it.
Using the wedge on the greens ''worked out pretty well at the time,'' Streb said. ''I'm not planning on living up to that again.''
Streb has one top-10 finish this season, a tie for ninth at the Farmers Insurance Open. Munoz has none. At the St. Jude Classic last month, Munoz was tied for the lead through 36 holes, but he played the final two rounds in 11 over and tied for 60th.
Rookie Xander Schauffele and Jamie Lovemark were at 11 under after 66s. Kelly Kraft (67) and Henley (68) joined Love at 10 under.
July 8, 2017
PGA Tour rookie Sebastian Munoz has found a comfortable routine at The Greenbrier Classic - go play golf, then watch a movie at night.
After catching ''Ferris Bueller's Day Off'' following an opening-round 61, Munoz kept it going Friday, shooting a 3-under 67 for a three-stroke lead over Ben Martin and Hudson Swafford heading into the weekend on the Old White TPC.
On Friday night, his plans were the same.
''I'm here with one of my best buddies, so we're just going to hang out and watch a movie and be ready for tomorrow,'' Munoz said.
Munoz has been in this situation before. At the St. Jude Classic last month, Munoz was tied for the lead through 36 holed, but he played the final two rounds in 11 over and finished tied for 60th.
''I feel like Memphis taught me that maybe I was caring too much, trying to hit too many perfect shots all the time,'' Munoz said. ''(I'll) just take those past experiences and use them this week.''
The 24-year-old Colombian played his college golf at North Texas and said he got a wake-up call when his coach threatened to take away his scholarship for his senior year. Then, former college teammate Carlos Ortiz won three times in his first season on the Web.com Tour in 2014.
''I talked to him and was like, 'Hey, man, I know you're good, but come on. Like, I can get you sometimes,''' Munoz said. ''So that really helped me kind of push through and realize I was good as well.''
Munoz won the Conference USA individual title in 2015 and earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour last year. He's still looking for his first top-10 finish.
Starting his second round on the back nine, Munoz birdied four of his first seven holes, making three putts of over 20 feet. After two bogeys on the front nine, he made a 13-footer for birdie from the fringe on the par-4 seventh. He was at 12-under 128.
No first-round leader has won at Old White TPC since the tournament debuted in 2010. Munoz's closest challengers all have victories on tour.
Swafford, who hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation Friday, won the CareerBuilder Challenge in January and has two other top 10 finishes this season.
Martin, who won in Las Vegas in 2014, is coming off his first top 10 finish of the year last week at the Quicken Loans National.
Martin shot 67 and Swafford had a 66. Both were at 9 under.
Davis Love III, seeking to become the oldest-ever winner on the PGA Tour, followed up his first-round 63 with a 69. He was at 8 under, along with defending champion Danny Lee (68) and Russell Henley (64).
Phil Mickelson accomplished one thing he never managed with longtime caddie Jim ''Bones'' Mackay on the bag - he made the cut at The Greenbrier Classic. He did not play the weekend in three previous starts.
Mickelson had five bogeys and three birdies to shoot 72 and make the cut on the number at 1 under.
''This has been probably the two worst putting days I've had this year,'' Mickelson said. ''The greens are perfect. I just haven't putted well.''
Mickelson and Mackay announced after the U.S. Open they were parting ways. Tim Mickelson is carrying his brother's bag for the rest of the year. Mackay has signed to do on-course commentary for NBC and Golf Channel.
July 7, 2017
Davis Love III can still get some solid work done in a PGA Tour event.
Heading into the World Golf Hall of Fame in September, the 53-year-old Love shot a 7-under 63 on Thursday in The Greenbrier Classic, leaving him two strokes behind first-round leader Sebastian Munoz.
Love is looking for his first win since the 2015 Wyndham Championship, which made him the third-oldest winner in PGA Tour history. He would be the oldest if he wins in West Virginia.
Slowed this year by a bad back and a broken collarbone sustained in a January snowboarding accident in Sun Valley, Idaho, Love took advantage of a course softened by overnight rain for his best round of the season. He birdied four of his first five holes in the morning round on Old White, the course that was reconstructed after deadly floods forced the cancellation of last year's tournament.
His son, Davis Love IV, also is in the field, receiving a sponsor exemption. It's the second time they are playing the same tournament; the other was the RSM Classic two years ago. The elder Love served as his son's caddie in the U.S. Open last month.
''I've been working real hard the last couple of weeks on trying to fix my swing to kind of swing around a stiff back and a stiff hip,'' the elder Love said. ''I've given up on hitting it a long way. I'm just saying I've got to hit it straight, and this is the perfect golf course for me to get it in the fairway. A lot of hard work is kind of starting to pay off.''
Munoz, a 24-year-old Colombian, was boosted by five birdies on the back nine for a 61.
Defending champion Danny Lee was at 64 along with David Lingmerth, Ben Martin, rookie Xander Schauffele, and Canadians Graham DeLaet and Nick Taylor.
Players were allowed to lift and clean their golf balls in the fairway because of the wet conditions. It took a full year after the June 2016 floods that killed 23 statewide to get Old White back to playing conditions.
''To get anything back in order out there would've been an incredible feat,'' Love said. ''But what they did with the renovation, to take really, really good golf course with a lot of history and make it even better, the redesign is incredible. The players are just raving about it.''
Munoz is looking for his first top 10. His best finish is a tie for 27th at the Texas Open.
The PGA Tour rookie was 6 under through 10 holes. He missed a short birdie putt on the par-5 12th and bogeyed the par-4 13th after his approach shot found the greenside rough. He then took charge with birdies on the next four holes.
He said he didn't feel comfortable putting during practice Wednesday, so a friend helped him with some tips on tracking the ball instead of the motion of his putter.
''Things kind of clicked,'' Munoz said. ''It was a good surprise.''
Phil Mickelson shot 67 in his first tournament since parting ways with his caddie of 25 years, Jim ''Bones'' Mackay. Mickelson's brother, Tim Mickelson, is his caddie for the rest of the year.
''I think any time you have a change of environment it brings about a new energy,'' Phil Mickelson said. ''But more than that, Tim is one my favorite people to be around. We really had a lot of fun together today.''
Mickelson missed the cut in his three other Greenbrier Classic appearances and he hit some erratic shots Thursday, including striking a fan in the head on his approach to the par-4 11th.
Lingmerth is looking to atone for a collapse last week in the Quicken Loans Invitational. The Swede led after each of the first three rounds but shot 3 over in each round on the weekend to tie for fifth, along with Martin.
''I'm not going to dwell on it too much,'' Lingmerth said. ''A nice little start today. I didn't really have my best stuff. I never really got into trouble. I gave myself a couple of opportunities.''
|T9||USA||J. B. Holmes||-9||-||68||69||66||68||271|
|T29||USA||Davis Love III||-5||-||63||69||68||75||275|
|T29||USA||Harold Varner III||-5||-||67||71||70||67||275|
|T29||USA||J. J. Spaun||-5||-||68||69||71||67||275|
|T37||USA||Ted Potter Jr.||-4||-||68||68||72||68||276|
|T45||USA||Charles Howell III||-3||-||69||70||69||69||277|
|T45||USA||J. J. Henry||-3||-||69||67||72||69||277|
|T68||TPE||Cheng Tsung Pan||2||-||65||74||70||73||282|
|T73||RSA||Tyrone van Aswegen||5||-||70||69||75||71||285|
|CUT||ZIM||Brendon de Jonge||Par||-||70||70||-||-||140|
|CUT||USA||D. A. Points||Par||-||69||71||-||-||140|
|CUT||USA||Billy Hurley III||1||-||71||70||-||-||141|
|CUT||USA||Davis Love IV||3||-||74||69||-||-||143|
|CUT||KOR||K. J. Choi||3||-||72||71||-||-||143|
|CUT||USA||J. T. Poston||4||-||69||75||-||-||144|