Defending champion Sam Burns is one of four players to score a seven-under-par 64, after the first round of play at the Valspar Championship on Thursday.

The world number eight had a busy round on the opening day, with nine birdies and two bogeys. He recovered well after bogey the par-four 16th and reeled off birdies on the final two holes to close out his opening 18 holes.

Following a chaotic weekend at The Players Championship, the Florida weather had a positive effect on the Copperhead course, with Burns reaping the benefits from facilitative greens.

"The greens are really receptive with the rain we’ve gotten last week," he told reporters following his round.

"Yeah, I think the golf course will continue to firm up after we get some sun and wind and I think it’s going to play really well the next few days."

Burns, David Lipsky, Adam Hadwin and Jhonattan Vegas share the lead at Copperhead after the first day of play.

Scott Stallings, Richy Werenski, Davis Riley and Danny Lee are one back at six under, while Justin Thomas, Kramer Hickok and Doc Redman are a further two strokes back.

After missing the cut at TPC Sawgrass, Jason Day opened with a one-under-70, only two weeks after the passing of mother.

Notable names in group at four under include Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Louis Oosthuizen.

Out of the co-leaders, though, Lipsky was the only one to go bogey-free, opening with a birdie on the par-five first to set the tone on a confident front nine. He closed out the round with four consecutive pars.

The 33-year-old has never won on the PGA Tour and has not won an event since his time on the European Tour in 2018.

Florida native Daniel Berger moved five strokes clear ahead of the final day at the Honda Classic, matching the largest 54-hole lead in tournament history on Saturday.

The world number 20 had held a three-shot lead at the halfway mark but extended that with a one-under-69 following back-to-back 65s at Palm Beach Gardens in Florida.

Berger led by as many as six strokes after sticking a brilliant tee shot for birdie on the par-three 15th hole before a bogey on the 18th hole.

The American leads from a group of four players tied on six-under, including Irishman Shane Lowry who carded a round of six-under-67 to move up the leaderboard.

Lowry is tied with Sepp Straka, Chris Kirk and day one leader Kurt Kitayama, with the latter two carding rounds of one-over-71 having been tied for second after the first two days.

“Obviously you want to go out and catch him tomorrow, but I don’t think you can go and catch anyone on this golf course," said Lowry, whose round was the best of the day with only 13 players above even.

“You just need to do your thing and shoot the best score you can and hopefully it will be somewhere near good enough."

Lowry's round included four birdies and a bogey, while he drained a 20-foot putt on the sixth hole to save par.

Canadian Adam Svensson is one stroke back from the quartet at five-under, before a three-shot gap to the next in the field.

Pre-tournament favourites Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen are both well back, at one-over and two-over overall respectively.

Hometown hero Daniel Berger opened up a three-stroke lead at the halfway mark of the Honda Classic in Florida after carding six birdies on Friday.

Berger, who is ranked 20th in the world, backed up his opening day five-under 65 with a repeat score, highlighted by a 38-foot birdie putt on the par-three seventh hole, to be 10-under at Palm Beach Gardens.

The Florida native leads by three shots from Chris Kirk and first day leader Kurt Kitayama, the latter carding a one-under-69 to slip from the summit.

“Just one of those days when I kept the momentum going,” Berger told reporters. “I hit a lot of quality shots, even though they don't look like they're five feet from the hole, or 10 feet from the hole.

“I know that they're so difficult, that to hit it to 20 feet is a good shot. And that's the challenge for this golf course is the pins are tucked, the greens are firm, wind's up, so you have to be really on point with where you're going to miss.”

Mark Hubbard surged up the leaderboard into a tie for fourth alongside Canadian Adam Svensson with the pair carding rounds of 64 and 65 respectively to be six-under overall.

Pre-tournament favourite Louis Ousthuizen produced a strong round to avoid the cut, after his opening day five-over-75.

The South African is even after two rounds, behind Berger by 10 strokes, but managed six birdies on his back nine to stay in contention after a double bogey on the 11th hole seemed to condemn him.

Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka is among a large group alongside Oosthuizen that are even after two rounds with the American carding a two-over-72.

Padraig Harrington, Brian Harman, Charl Schwartzel and last week's Genesis Invitational winner Joaquin Niemann were among those to miss the cut.

Kurt Kitayama managed four straight birdies on his back nine to claim the lead ahead of Daniel Berger in a group of three after the opening day of the Honda Classic in Florida on Thursday.

The little-known American carded a six-under-round of 64, starting the day with three straight birdies, before his hot run on his back nine at Palm Beach Gardens.

Kitayama has enjoyed a good recent period, making the cut at his past five starts before Thursday's impressive feat as solo leader.

"I think when you're struggling, I think just that self-motivation to find keep getting better and finding a way to figure it out, it's kind of how you've got to keep going," Kitayama told reporters.

The 29-year-old leads by one stroke from Rory Sabbatini, Chris Kirk and hometown hero Berger who are five-under.

World number 20 Berger started his round brilliantly, with three birdies on his first four holes, while he also sunk a 28-foot birdie putt on the ninth hole with no ill-effects from a back problem that has been plaguing him lately.

Slovakian veteran Sabbatini made birdie on the 18th to jump into a share of second, with Kirk having eight birdies and three bogeys in an entertaining round.

Danny Willett, Matthias Schwab, Andrew Kozan, Aaron Rai and Peter Uihlein are all next tied for fifth at three under.

Four-time major winner and current world number 15 Brooks Koepka managed three birdies in his round of two-under-68 to be four shots off the pace.

Last week's Genesis Invitational winner Joaquin Niemann had an even round of 70, despite leading early after four birdies on his front nine, with a double bogey holding him up on the fourth hole.

Pre-tournament favourite Louis Oosthuizen will battle to make the cut after five bogeys on the front nine before a double bogey on the 17th hole left him with a five-over-75.

Talor Gooch has returned to form at the RSM Classic and took his place at the top of the leaderboard heading into the weekend with another low round.

Gooch made a superb start to the new season, finishing in ties for fourth, 11th, fifth and 11th respectively across his first four events.

The American failed to build on another strong start last time out at the Houston Open, but he now has a first PGA Tour victory firmly in his sights at Sea Island Resort.

Gooch had carded an eight-under 64 when playing the Plantation course on Thursday and further improved his position with a five-under 65 at Seaside in round two.

That was enough for a one-stroke lead over John Huh and Sebastian Munoz, the latter having led after shooting 60 to start at Seaside before two bogeys capped his progress on Friday.

The day undoubtedly belonged to Gooch, who sunk the longest putt of his Tour career for an eagle from 66 feet at the seventh.

"It's just comfortable, man. I'm playing well, but I think my game has made a turn for some good stuff in some ways," he said.

"I've been working my butt off for years, but especially the last six, eight months with driving the ball and working my butt off with putting."

The majority of the big names made the cut, with slumping former world number one Jason Day one notable exception, but Louis Oosthuizen – the highest-ranked player at the tournament – is no threat to Gooch.

The South African withdrew before Friday's round due to his latest bout of back pain.

Colombian Sebastian Munoz leads the way after the opening day at the RSM Classic in Georgia after carding a career round of 10-under 60 on Thursday.

Munoz landed eight birdies along with an eagle on the 15th hole on a day of low scoring at the event, which is played over both the Seaside and Plantation courses at Sea Island.

Zach Johnson, who like Munoz played his opening round on the par-70 Seaside course, is one stroke behind, while Mackenzie Hughes, Scott Stallings and Chez Reavie are also nine under after starting on the par-72 Plantation.

Munoz's round equalled Tommy Gainey's 2012 round record at Seaside, while Hughes, Stallings and Reavie also matched the Plantation course record with their 63s.

Johnson, who hit all 18 greens, said: "When you’ve got just absolute pure conditions weather-wise and pure conditions on the golf course — the best I’ve ever seen these two golf courses, period — you know you’ve got to get after it."

A further four players are tied at eight under in Russell Henley, Jhonattan Vegas, Talor Gooch and Corey Conners, with only the latter starting on Seaside.

Scottie Scheffler carded seven-under 63 at Seaside, working with Bubba Watson's long-time caddie Ted Scott for the first time.

Australian Cameron Smith, among the pre-event favourites, started with a six-under round at Seaside, while defending champion Robert Streb opened with a four-under day at Plantation. 

A double bogey at the Plantation seventh hole meant Webb Simpson slipped off the pace after shooting a three-under-69, while Louis Oosthuizen had an unspectacular one-under opening round at Seaside.

Harris English heads into the weekend at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational with a two-stroke lead after maintaining his spot atop the leaderboard Friday.

The American followed Thursday's 62 with a five-under-par 65 at TPC Southwind, where he won his first PGA Tour title eight years ago. 

Australia's Cameron Smith and Abraham Ancer of Mexico surged into a tie for second place after carding 62s of their own in Memphis to sit at 11 under for the tournament.

Ian Poulter (66), Scottie Scheffler (65) and Sam Burns (64) are three back of the lead at 10 under, while Louis Oosthuizen (64) and Bryson DeChambeau (66) are well within striking distance at nine under. 

English started on the back nine and made three birdies going out before carding his first and only bogey of the day at the par-four second hole. But he managed to follow that disappointment with an eagle on the third before adding one more birdie later in his round.

Smith also eagled the third on the way to tying a PGA Tour record, as he needed just 18 putts to complete his bogey-free round. 

That included a two-put at the last, not long after Smith figured out he was on the verge of history. 

"I was walking down 17 and was counting my putts up and I thought, 'No, that can't be right,'" Smith said. 

Further down the leaderboard, defending champion Justin Thomas (67) is seven strokes back of the lead at six under along with two-time major winner Dustin Johnson (65).

Phil Mickelson (66) is at five under, whie Hideki Matsuyama (69) and Patrick Reed (69) are well back at three under. 

Rory McIlroy (66), Sergio Garcia (68), and Collin Morikawa (71) are at two under, one stroke better than Brooks Koepka (69). 

Jordan Spieth (69) enters the weekend at even par and Olympic champion Xander Schauffele (73) is at two over. 

Harris English won his first PGA Tour title at TPC Southwind eight years ago, and he has another triumph in his sights after opening with a 62 at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. 

The American has a two-stroke lead over four pursuers, as Ian Poulter, Carlos Ortiz, Jim Herman and Matthew Wolff carded six-under-par 64s Thursday in Memphis, Tennessee. 

Bryson DeChambeau, Scottie Scheffler and Marc Leishman were three shots back after shooting 65, with DeChambeau making his first start since missing the Tokyo Olympics following a positive COVID-19 test. 

Among the group two shots behind them at five under were defending champion Justin Thomas, Open Championship winner Collin Morikawa and the red-hot Louis Oosthuizen, who has top-three finishes in four of his last five starts.

Among other notables, Patrick Reed and Hideki Matsuyama are at two under, with Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Olympic champion Xander Schauffele at one under, and Brooks Kopeka and Sergio Garcia at even par.

Jordan Spieth is at one over and Rory McIlroy at two over, leaving him 62nd in the 66-player field. 

But they will all start Friday chasing English. The 32-year-old carded seven birdies on a blistering front nine, then faltered a bit with bogeys at 10 and 12 before closing his round with birdies at three of the last four holes. 

"It was one of those rounds where I was hitting it really good off the tee and making a lot of good putts," English told reporters. 

English won at Memphis in its previous incarnation as the Tour's St. Jude Classic in June 2013, then added another title that fall. 

That was his last PGA Tour win before this year, which has seen him take the Tournament of Champions in Maui in January and the Travelers Championship in June. 

 

 

Cameron Champ's three-day charge up the 3M Open leaderboard ended at the top on Sunday as the American took his third PGA Tour title.

Champ spread five birdies throughout a bogey-free final round at TPC Twin Cities, shooting 66 to finish the tournament at 15 under par.

That was two strokes better overall than the trio of Louis Oosthuizen (66), Charl Schwartzel (68) and Jhonattan Vegas (68), who tied for second at 13 under.

The 26-year-old Californian winner looked like he would need that cushion on the final hole as he yanked his tee shot well off the fairway, but a perfect approach shot gave him a two-foot putt for par and the title.

Champ battled his own body at times in the Minnesota heat, moving slowly late in his round and occasionally bending over while waiting to hit his shots.

He hung on at the end, though, adding a third title to his previous two PGA Tour wins at the 2019 Safeway Open and the 2018 Sanderson Farms Championship.

"I was definitely dehydrated, but obviously I feel a lot better now," Champ told reporters, adding that he began to feel light-headed when he bent down to place or pick up his ball marker.

"Not sure why I was, because I drank a lot of water. You have so much adrenaline going and I was just trying to control that."

Sunday's near-miss was a familiar feeling for all three of the men who shared second place.

Oosthuizen has been runner-up in four of his last seven starts, while Vegas finished second for the third time this season and Schwartzel for the second time.

Keith Mitchell (67) finished a shot behind that trio to take fifth place, a day after recording seven consecutive birdies on the back nine.

Third-round leader Cam Tringale had a desperate day, shooting 74 to finish six strokes back of Champ at nine under.

Among other notables, Sergio Garcia (67) finished at eight under after his best round of the week, while Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed were at six under after closing with 71s.

Adam Hadwin and Ryan Armour have waited a long time for their second PGA Tour wins, and they will enter the weekend with a chance as they sit atop the leaderboard at the 3M Open. 

The Canadian Hadwin and the American Armour each followed opening-round 67s at TPC Twin Cities with six-under-par 65s Friday to sit at 10-under for the tournament as first-round co-leader Rickie Fowler crashed out of the top spot after shooting 73.  

The 45-year-old Armour birdied four of the last eight holes with a bogey mixed in at 13 to claim a share of the lead.

Hadwin, 33, started on the back nine and had a roller-coaster ride through the same stretch of course, taking a bogey at 13 and double bogey at 15 with birdies on 14 and 16 before settling in for a more consistent final nine holes. 

Armour's lone Tour win came at the Sanderson Farms Championship in October 2017, while Hadwin secured his only title to date seven months earlier at the Valspar Championship. 

Fowler entered the day tied with Troy Merritt and Jhonattan Vegas after carding a bogey-free 64 Thursday for his best score of the year, but he managed only one birdie Friday and finished his round tied for 26th at five under overall. 

Merritt also dropped off the pace with a 71, leaving him three back of the leaders, while the Venezuelan Vegas (69) is one stroke back along with Bo Hoag, Chez Reavie and Roger Sloan. 

Louis Oosthuizen is four back of the lead after a second consecutive 68, while former world number one Luke Donald (68) is five back at five under. 

Former Masters champions Sergio Garcia (70), Patrick Reed (70) and Bubba Watson (68) just made the two-under cut.

Among the high-profile players missing the cut were Dustin Johnson (72) and Stewart Cink (73), who were both at even par for the tournament. 

Dylan Frittelli (76) also did not make it to the weekend on the heels of his fifth-place finish at The Open. 

Former Masters runner-up Rickie Fowler is a joint leader alongside Troy Merritt and Jhonattan Vegas after the opening day at the 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities in Minnesota on Thursday.

Fowler had a bogey-free round to card a seven-under 64, which included holing a 29-foot putt for birdie on the first hole.

Merritt stormed home with six birdies for 30 on his back nine after bogeying the ninth hole to share the lead, along with Venezuelan Vegas who shot seven birdies in his round.

"I'm happy about it," Fowler said about his round of 64, which was his best score of the year. "Coming off Sunday at The Open [where he shot 65], a lot of good stuff there, but I drove it a lot better."

Scott Stallings, Adam Schenk and Roger Sloan – who got through 16 before play was suspended due to darkness – are all tied one stroke back after rounds of six under.

Stallings may have held the outright lead but double bogeyed the 18th hole to cap an up-and-down round for the American which included nine birdies, one bogey and the double bogey.

Chez Reavie hit an eagle on the 18th set up by a nice fairway wood, finishing up with a five-under 66 to be joint seventh among a host of players.

After his dramatic top-four finish at The Open, Louis Oosthuizen carded a three-under 68, while Royal St George's fifth-place getter Dylan Frittelli started with a two-under 69.

Former major winners Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia are both a stroke back at one under. Johnson hit four birdies and three bogeys, while Garcia landed three birdies in four holes but struggled to find the consistency.

The 149th Open Championship concluded in thrilling fashion on Sunday as Collin Morikawa claimed the Claret Jug.

It was a fitting finale to a memorable tournament, which marked the return of fans en masse to watch golf's oldest major.

Royal St George's was bathed in sunshine for all four days and it was a joyous event for everyone in attendance.

Stats Perform's man on the ground said a fond farewell to the Kent links, but not before one last wander around the course.

SHELTER FROM THE WARM

The soaring temperatures made walking the course a test of endurance, and not everyone was keen to partake.

What few spots of shade there were soon became occupied by weary bodies, sheltering from the warmth of the sun.

The queues at the water refill points were longer than for the grandstands.

CELEB SPOTTING (TAKE TWO)

It may have been premature to share the story of a chance encounter with British comedian Michael McIntyre on Saturday, as Sunday heralded the arrival of an even bigger celebrity.

Milling around outside the entrance to the media centre, and somehow not surrounded by a large crowd of autograph hunters, was One Direction's Niall Horan.

He's a keen golf fan and can often be seen at the majors rubbing shoulders with the biggest names in the sport.

FLAGGING...

At the end of a long tournament, some members of the media pack wanted a morale-boosting moment, so waited patiently for Champion Golfer of the Year Morikawa to exit from the interview room in hope of an autograph or photo.

Two had souvenir flags with Open Championship branding, in the expectation Morikawa might take the time to sign them.

He bolted through the doors carrying the Claret Jug, saw his waiting fans, but had no time to stop, telling them: "Sorry guys. Maybe I'll see you later."

Oh, the disappointment. 

Open champion Collin Morikawa revealed the unexpected and tasty secret to his success after winning the Claret Jug at the first attempt on Sunday.

The 24-year-old produced a blemish-free 66 in a stunning final round at Royal St George's to thwart the charge of Jordan Spieth and eclipse overnight leader Louis Oosthuizen.

Morikawa, who also won the 2020 US PGA Championship on debut, secured his second major win in eight entries after starting the day a shot behind Oosthuizen.

In the end his greatest beef was with 2017 Champion Golfer of the Year Spieth, who recovered from being two over through six holes to sign for a 66 himself, finishing two back.

But Morikawa, who saw playing partner Oosthuizen limp to a closing 71, clearly relished the challenge as he went bogey-free to make mincemeat of the field in sizzling sunshine on the Kent coast.

But, when grilled by the media as to what the key to his triumph was, Morikawa had an answer nobody saw coming.

"The secret? Well, I never do this, but I had a burger for four straight days, so my body is probably feeling it. I know my body's feeling it," he said.

"I think I just enjoy these moments, and I talk about it so much that we love what we do. And you have to embrace it.

"You have to be excited about these opportunities, and that's how I looked at it today, especially coming down the stretch, was I'm excited. To have the Claret Jug right here in my possession for a year, I believe, I'm excited to have it."

Runner-up Spieth lamented his putting as he came up short, but Morikawa was delighted with that side of his own game.

He made a succession of potentially tricky putts, including one for birdie from around 15 feet on the 14th just after Spieth had cut the gap to one.

"Definitely one of the best [putting displays], especially inside 10 feet," he said.

"I felt like it was as solid as it's going to get. I don't think I really missed many from that distance. Especially in a major.

"I think in a major on a Sunday in contention, I wasn't thinking about anything other than making a putt.

"I'm going to tell myself probably tomorrow: 'Why can't I keep doing that all the time?'.

"But you know, I'm going to try to figure out what worked and use that for the future because I know I can putt well. I know I can putt well in these pressure situations. I've just got to keep doing that."

Jordan Spieth was left to lament a slack finish to his third round after he came up just short at The Open on Sunday.

The 2017 Champion Golfer of the Year recovered from two over through six to sign for a final-round 66, which left him two shots shy of winner Collin Morikawa.

But it was Saturday's round at Royal St George's that bothered the three-time major winner, who dropped shots at each of the last two holes.

Reflecting on a close call with what would have been a first major triumph since that success at Royal Birkdale four years ago, Spieth was quick to point out where it went wrong.

"It's hard to be upset when I was a couple over through six," he said. "I couldn't have really done much more after that point.

"But the finish yesterday was about as upset as I've taken a finish of a round to the house. I walked in and I said: 'Is there something that I can break?'.

"I knew that was so important because I would have been in the final group."

Spieth is usually a safe bet with the putter in his hand, but the 27-year-old felt that side of his game was lacking in Kent.

He took 1.58 putts per greens in regulation, which was better than the field average of 1.68, but Spieth felt he was well short of his own high standard.

"My putting is not where I want to be at all," conceded. "I say at all; It's progressing the right direction, but it's not where it has been.

"I know what needs to do to get there, and it's just very difficult to do. But it's rounds like today or this week, major championship rounds, where you have to obviously test not only your touch out here, but also a lot of knobs and breaking putts and trust lines. It's a good test for it.

"I just wasn't extremely sharp with the putter this week. I was sharper than I was at Augusta, and it's been a little bit kind of here and there this year.

"My bad weeks have been okay and my good weeks are really good, but I needed to put in a little bit of work."

Paying tribute to champion Morikawa, who has two major wins from eight starts, Spieth added: "He swings the club beautifully, gets it in positions that make it very, very difficult to not start the ball online, so therefore, he's going to be very consistent tee to green.

"At 24, obviously there's a bright future ahead."

Collin Morikawa produced a stunning final round to win The Open by two strokes from Jordan Spieth at Royal St George's.

The 2020 US PGA Championship winner added a second major to his list of honours in only his eighth appearance in such tournaments, with this his debut at the oldest of golf's four headline events.

His blemish-free 66 on Sunday ensured he overturned the one-stroke overnight lead that Louis Oosthuizen had held, while Spieth closed with the same score as he came up just short.

Morikawa nailed a lengthy birdie putt on the 14th, just after Spieth's run of four gains in four holes around the turn had cut the gap to one, and the 24-year-old never looked back as he sealed the prize on 15 under.

 

Spieth, the 2017 champion at Royal Birkdale, and Oosthuizen, who triumphed at St Andrews in 2010, had each been chasing a second Claret Jug.

But Morikawa showed nerves of steel as he refused to wilt in the sunshine on the Kent coast, the American averaging 1.5 putts per greens in regulation.

He needed to hit such a high level to keep Spieth at bay, his compatriot rallying from two over for the day after six holes to close at 13 under.

Oosthuizen endured the frustration of finishing as runner-up at the US PGA Championship and the U.S. Open this year and he suffered more disappointment following a closing 71.

Pre-tournament favourite Jon Rahm wrapped things up in style with a 66 and he will return to the world number one spot next week, displacing Dustin Johnson. 

Reigning champion Shane Lowry finished at six under, while Rory McIlroy closed with a 71 to wrap up a low-key outing at even par.

SHOT OF THE DAY

Morikawa's approach shot on the 14th was short and left him with a long uphill putt for birdie on a par five that was playing at a generous average of 4.6.

Spieth was on the charge and momentum looked to shift in the three-time major winner's favour, but Morikawa turned a potential negative into an overwhelming positive with one decisive swipe of the putting blade.

It was the point at which the engravers may as well have started putting his name on the silverware.

CHIPPING IN

Shane Lowry: "I really enjoyed the whole week. It was an amazing experience. Walking down the last hole today was one of the coolest things you'll ever get to do, and I got to do it."

Rory McIlroy: "For me at the minute it's just the process of trying to work my way back to the sort of form and the sort of the level that I know I can play at."

Brooks Koepka: "I like coming over here and playing links golf. It's always a bunch of fun, and I've always said that it's the one tournament a year where the fans actually know what a good shot is."

A LITTLE BIRDIE TOLD ME

- Louis Oosthuizen's last three major results are now tied second (US PGA Championship), second (U.S. Open), and tied third (The Open).

- Shane Lowry's failure to retain the Claret Jug means no player has successfully defended the honour at Royal St George's since Harry Vardon in 1899.

- Germany's Matthias Schmid won the silver medal for low amateur after finishing two over par.

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