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Golf — The Open — Branden Grace admits he had no idea he was on the brink of history

SOUTHPORT, England — Two years ago, Jack Nicklaus was asked about golf’s greatest scoring barrier. At the time, there were 26 rounds of 63 — five more have since been added — but never a 62. The most accomplished player in the game’s history quickly offered a reason for why it had never happened. “Why do I think it hasn’t? Because I missed a 2-foot putt at Baltusrol to break it,” he said of the final hole in his opening round at the 1980 U.S. Open, obviously still disturbed by…

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Noah Goodwin, Matthew Wolff advance to U.S. Junior Amateur final

ANDOVER, Kan. — Noah Goodwin advanced to the U.S. Junior Amateur championship match for the second straight year Friday, setting up a title showdown with Matthew Wolff at Flint Hills National. The 17-year-old Goodwin, from Corinth, Texas, beat Davis Shore of Knoxville, Tennessee, 2 up in the quarterfinals, and topped India’s Rayhan Thomas 5 and 4 in the semifinals. Goodwin fell 2 and 1 to Australia’s Min Woo Lee last year in the 36-hole final at The Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tennessee. “I played great golf in the final last…

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Rose Zhang wins Girls Junior PGA

ST. ALBANS, Mo. — Rose Zhang won the Girls Junior PGA Championship by six strokes Friday with a record-tying 72-hole total of 268. The 14-year-old Zhang, from Irvine, California, shot a 4-under 68 to match Kristen Gillman’s 2014 tournament mark. Zhang opened with rounds of 69, 65 and 66 and finished at 20 under on the Country Club of St. Albans’ Lewis and Clark Course. “When I first came, I didn’t have any expectations,” Zhang said. “I was just trying to play my own game and complete the four-day tournament….

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British contingent left to celebrate minor triumphs in round two of The Open

SOUTHPORT, England — Conventional wisdom insists that when the wind blows, the locals have an advantage. Conventional wisdom could be tainted, however, because, with three notable exceptions, the home contingent was left celebrating minor triumphs in round two of the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. No doubt, the standouts were strong: Ian Poulter maintaining his audacious title bid, Richie Ramsay’s reminding us that he boasts U.S. Amateur-winning pedigree, and Rory McIlroy’s resurgence. Poulter has been a revelation, buoyed by qualification on home soil at Woburn Golf Club and inspired…

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Golf — The Open — Jordan Spieth dissects Royal Birkdale to grab share of Open lead

SOUTHPORT, England — Anyone who has watched Jordan Spieth closely the past five years likely understands how obsessive he is about maintaining routines. He tries to hit the same number of balls in warm-ups before each round. He’s used the same putter since he was 15 years old. His meticulous pre-shot routine almost never varies, even when he’s criticized for slowing down play. He is a man who thrives most when he can disappear into the familiarity of the mundane. It was somewhat surprising, then, to see Spieth chomping hard…

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Martin Flores, Cameron Tringale, Zac Blair share Barbasol Championship lead

OPELIKA, Ala. — Martin Flores, Cameron Tringale and Zac Blair shared the Barbasol Championship lead at 6-under 65 on Thursday when first-round play was suspended because of darkness. Flores and Tringale played in the morning on the Lake Course at Grand National, and Blair finished his afternoon round after a rain delay of nearly two hours. Robert Allenby, Chad Campbell, Rory Sabbatini and Tag Ridings shot 66, and Richy Werenski also was 5 under with two holes left. Steven Alker was 6 under after eight holes, then bogeyed two of…

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Golf — Open Championship — Paul Casey leads strong British showing in first round at Royal Birkdale

SOUTHPORT, England – There cannot have been many golfers at Royal Birkdale happier with their lot than Paul Casey after the first round of The Open. Never mind that there were a few names above the Briton’s on the leaderboard, he was justly satisfied with a 4-under 66, and that was not all. As he prepared to reach the middle-age landmark birthday of 40 on Friday, there seemed little in his life that wasn’t spot on. “I’m loving being back in England,” the Arizona resident said. “The Open Championship at…

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Golf — Michael Collins’ Top 25 Open rankings — Weather looms large over predictions

SOUTHPORT, England — Time for you to enjoy the bane of my existence — The Open Top 25. Why do I call it that? Because 90 percent of the time, Mother Nature decides who gets to be in the best position to win. I’m writing this from the media center here at Royal Birkdale, and right outside there are very few clouds, and it’s about 74 degrees Fahrenheit with a 10 mph breeze. No chance it stays like this, but I can dream, right? Just once, I want Mother Nature…

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Golf — The Open — Open conditions often negate length of golf’s best players

SOUTHPORT, England — Of golf’s four majors, the Open has evolved into the one where length is not such an overriding key to prosperity. Sure, it helps. But in some cases, it is of no advantage and can even hurt. For every big-hitting Champion Golfer of the Year such as Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson, there is a Ben Curtis, Todd Hamilton or Stewart Cink. The tournament seems to play no favorites when it comes to long or short hitters. “Length isn’t that important,” said swing instructor Pete…

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Golf — The Open — Not an Open and shut case for naming a major

SOUTHPORT, England — In the moments after their ceremonial opening tee shots at Augusta National this year, while regaling with tales of the good ol’ days, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player each did it. A month later, speaking about his schedule, Rory McIlroy did it. They’re hardly alone. Tiger Woods has done it, too. Even — gasp! — Tom Watson has done it. Each of these men — each of whom has held the Claret Jug aloft in his hands, the triumphant symbol of not just a champion but The…

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