Kuchar, Brown share lead as Snedeker shoots 60

By Sports Desk June 07, 2019

Matt Kuchar and Scott Brown share the Canadian Open lead, but the second round belonged to the surging Brandt Snedeker.

Snedeker shot a 10-under 60 to climb into a tie for third place at 11 under alongside Nick Taylor, a stroke adrift of Brown and Kuchar.

Snedeker's second-round score was the lowest 18 holes in tournament history at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club. He carded eight birdies and one eagle, which came on the par-five fourth hole.

The mistake-free round was also the second lowest on the PGA Tour since the start of the 2017-18 season. Snedeker, who shot a 59 at the Wyndham Championship last year, is the first player since 1983 to have one round of 59, 60 and 61 on the PGA Tour.

"I think it's my putting. When I get hot, I feel like the hole is a beach ball to me," Snedeker said after his round, via Golfweek.com. "I'm not scared about going low. I realise these days don't happen very often. So it almost gets me more excited if I feel like it's going that way."

Kuchar also fared well heading into the weekend. He had one blemish at the par-four seventh but otherwise finished with eight birdies for a seven-under 63.

Brown matched Kuchar's second round to join him in first place.

Brown, who is searching for his first win since the 2013 Puerto Rico Open, said it was due to his irons. He had an eagle on the front nine and five birdies on the back nine.

"Just a lot of good iron shots," Brown said, via GolfDigest.com. "Kind of was feeling it with the irons and had a lot of good looks for birdies most of them."

Webb Simpson sits in fifth place at 10 under, Adam Hadwin follows in sixth at nine under and Mackenzie Hughes, Henrik Stenson and Graeme McDowell, among others, make up a sizable tie for seventh a shot further back.

McDowell, at one point, was in control of the leaderboard after he fired off three birdies. But two bogeys on his back nine pushed him back down the standings.

Dustin Johnson, the 2018 champion, is in a tie for 33rd place at four under with the likes of Brooks Koepka.

Surprisingly, the world's top two were just above the two under cut line.

Some notable names not making it into the weekend were Russell Henley, J.B. Holmes and Sergio Garcia.

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  • Reality stings for Rory McIlroy on Portrush homecoming Reality stings for Rory McIlroy on Portrush homecoming

    In sport the greatest of dreams can instantly become the stuff of nightmares.

    For Rory McIlroy, Thursday's Royal Portrush homecoming for the first round of The Open must have felt like that fabled dream where you're stood naked in front of a room of your peers, as his worst fears were laid bare in front of the world in a torrid round on the Dunluce links.

    It simply wasn't supposed to be like this. It wasn't the narrative so many had expected or hoped for, even.

    Addressing the media this week, McIlroy discussed how he did not feel like the centre of attention.

    It was an admirable attempt at staying low key, but there was never any chance the focus of everyone's attentions at Portrush would not be on the four-time major winner.

    Ever since he made a mockery of Portrush's reputation as one of the game's toughest links course as a 16-year-old with a startling course-record 61, McIlroy has been the man in these parts of the world.

    But boy did Portrush have its revenge on Thursday and in the cruellest of fashions.

    An almighty roar welcomed McIlroy onto the first tee as an expectant home crowd waited with bated breath to see what one of Northern Ireland's greatest sons would produce.

    A spectator's broken phone as a result of McIlroy's opening wayward tee shot was a fitting metaphor for a round that fell to pieces from the off.

    By the time he trudged off the opening green, having made an ugly quadruple eight, the smattering of almost apologetic applause told its own story. 

    It was tough viewing as McIlroy scratched his way through the early holes. There was hope a recovery was on the way with birdies at the seventh and the ninth, and he went 12 holes without a bogey.

    Yet, just like the showers that arrived at intermittent intervals, that hope proved brief as McIlroy three-putted inside five feet at the 16th – aptly named 'Calamity Corner' – before triple bogeying the last.

    A clearly disappointed McIlroy put on a brave face and struck a determined tone, even allowing himself a little joke when asked if there was a way back to the cut mark from 79.

    "Definitely a way back to Florida," he quipped. "I definitely think if I can put the ball in the fairway tomorrow I can shoot a good enough score to be around for the weekend. 

    "Obviously I'm pretty sure anyone starting with a 79 in this golf tournament doesn't think about winning at this point. But I think I can go out there and shoot something in the mid-60s, be around for the weekend, and then try to play good from there."

    Suggestions nerves due to the weight of expectation on his shoulders were a factor were quickly quashed by McIlroy.

    "I don't think so. I was nervous on the first tee. But not nervous because of that. Nervous because it's an Open Championship," he added. 

    "I usually get nervous on the first tee anyway, regardless of where it is. So maybe a little more so today than other places. But I don't think it was that. It was a bit of a tentative golf swing with a hard wind off to the right and the ball just got going left on me."

    There is a sadly familiar pattern in golf's four biggest majors with McIlroy. He has 10 top-10 finishes since he won the last of his four majors at the 2014 US PGA Championship.

    But there have not been many times he was genuinely in contention and this week – one of the most important McIlroy has had in his career – is surely now another lost cause.

  • Rahm hits the front as Tiger toils at Portrush Rahm hits the front as Tiger toils at Portrush

    Jon Rahm moved into the outright lead through nine holes of his opening round at The Open as Brooks Koepka shot into contention - but Tiger Woods endured a miserable day at Royal Portrush.

    Spaniard Rahm, a man in form having won the Irish Open at the start of the month for the second time in his career, was in fine touch on the Dunluce Links.

    Rahm made birdies at the second and fourth holes before picking up three straight gains before the turn to reach five under through nine, lifting him one clear of clubhouse leader Shane Lowry.

    Koepka, who has gone 2-1-2 in the first three majors of 2019, was two under par by the turn and picked up further strokes at 12 and 14, which at the time left him in a share of the lead.

    The four-time major winner dropped a shot at 17 to fall into a stacked pack at three under, a score Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton and Ryan Fox all achieved after 18 holes – the latter having recorded the lowest back nine in Open history with 29.

    Woods was toiling much further down the leaderboard, though. The Masters champion went bogey, double bogey, bogey between the fifth and seventh holes.

    He dropped further shots at the ninth and 10th and the American was six over with eight holes to play.

    Earlier on Thursday, home favourite Rory McIlroy toiled to a 79 in front of an expectant crowd. He started with a quadruple-bogey eight and finished with a seven on the par-four 18th.

  • Think 13 is unlucky? Try 14 - David Duval's Portrush horror show gets worse Think 13 is unlucky? Try 14 - David Duval's Portrush horror show gets worse

    David Duval's dreadful day at Royal Portrush was made worse after a score adjustment turned his 13 at the seventh hole to a nine-over-par 14.

    The 2001 Open champion began this year's tournament with back-to-back birdies, but that was not at all a sign of things to come as he dropped four shots at the fifth.

    Duval then endured a nightmare of scarcely believable proportions at hole seven, with a statement from Open officials detailing the events which led to the double-figure number that eventually adorned his card.

    "David lost his first two balls from the tee and then played the wrong ball for the third ball played from the tee," the statement read.

    "On discovering the mistake at the green he had to return to where the wrong ball was played, but the correct ball could not be found.

    "Therefore he had to play again for the fourth time under penalty of stroke and distance. He played six shots in completing the hole with the fourth ball from the tee.

    "He incurred a two-shot penalty for playing the wrong ball but the strokes played with the wrong ball do not count in his score."

    The high farce ultimately contributed, quite substantially, to a first-round score of 91 - that is 20 over par.

    Speaking when he thought he had scored a mere 90, the 47-year-old - who batted away a podium microphone in the mixed zone - said: "The description was like that tee shot didn't count as a stroke because it was a wrong ball, so there was a two-stroke penalty. It was the wrong ball.

    "Everything after that is null. Doesn't matter. The next shots don't count anyways.

    "Then up on the front of the green we discovered it was the wrong number two Titleist. So I'm at fault. I didn't take a close enough.

    "You know what, there's a lot bigger things than this. And honestly, I stood here starting this week knowing that I'm playing really well.

    "I figured if some good things happened I could run top 20. And obviously I'll be in last place."

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