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2015 Presidents Cup headed for South Korea, on Nicklaus course in Incheon

AKRON, Ohio — The 2015 Presidents Cup will be played at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea in Incheon, South Korea, marking the second time in a row that a course designed by the 18-time major championship winner will host the competition.

This year’s Presidents Cup is set for Oct. 3-6 at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio.

The announcement was made Wednesday by PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem along with Nicklaus, who was at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational to receive an honorary award.

Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea hosted the Songdo Championship in 2010 and 2011, and the 2012 Korea Women’s Open on the Korean LPGA Tour.

The biennial Presidents Cup pits the United States against an International side comprised of players from everywhere outside of Europe.

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2015 Presidents Cup headed for South Korea, on Nicklaus course in Incheon

Love eager to return to high-altitude golf at Reno-Tahoe Open

RENO, Nev. — Davis Love III says he’d rather be playing this week in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio.

That said, he’s looking forward to his debut at the Reno-Tahoe Open this week, partly because it uses the same scoring system he rode to victory twice when the International was played at Castle Pines outside of Denver.

2013 RENO-TAHOE OPEN

PGA Tour leaderboardGolf on TVWhat’s in the winners’ bagsWeek’s worth of equipment tweetsWho’s winning driver derby?Who’s winning putter derby?Photos: Top 10 equipment shotsPhotos: Golf around the worldPhotos: Snedeker’s winning clubsLove eager to return to high-altitude golf

Love said Wednesday he’s always been a fan of the modified Stableford format that puts a premium on eagles and birdies and makes a winner out of the man with the most points instead of the fewest strokes.

Padraig Harrington, David Toms, Stuart Appleby and defending champ J.J. Henry also are in the field that begins play Thursday on the edge of the Sierra Nevada.

Defending champion J.J. Henry knows that calculating how far the ball travels at high elevation was one of the keys to his victory last year.

He got a greater appreciation for the altitude when his rental car broke down this week on the narrow, winding mountain highway that travels over an 8,900-foot pass between Lake Tahoe and the Montreux Golf & Country Club.

“Unfortunately, the car clunked out on us right on the side of Mount Rose,” said Henry, who claimed his second career PGA Tour victory at the 7,472-yard mountain course.

“We could have picked a better place to break down,” he told reporters. “It was kind of an adventurous hour and a half on the side of Mount Rose.”

Tournament officials dispatched another car to pick up Henry and his friend near the entrance to the Mount Rose ski resort.

“Nothing like rental car trouble at 8500 ft!” Henry tweeted his followers complete with a photo of his car and barren ski runs in the background. “Thanks @Reno-Tahoe Open for coming to the rescue.”

“It’s a great golf course,” Henry said. “A lot of risk-reward, reachable par 5s, drivable par 4s based on the tees and the wind direction. It’s one of the most picturesque and one of the most exciting.”

Exciting because of the scoring format adopted for the first time last year that puts a premium on eagles and birdies and makes a winner out of the man with the most points instead of the fewest strokes. Used for years at the International in Colorado, players are awarded 8 points for double eagle, 5 for eagle, 2 for birdie, 0 for par, minus-1 for bogey and minus-3 for double bogey or worse.

Love, who is making his Reno debut, won the International in 1990 and 2003 when it was played at Castle Pines outside of Denver. He thinks long hitters will have an advantage this week on the edge of the Sierra Nevada.

“I like playing at altitude and I like Stableford, obviously,” Love said Wednesday before getting his first look at the course in a practice round.

“I’ve had some success at that in the past, so I’m excited about this week,” said last year’s Ryder Cup captain and winner of the 1997 PGA Championship.

Love was on the players’ board of directors when the tournament first approached the tour two years ago about the scoring change.

“My first reaction was, `I want to play.’ Obviously you’d rather be at Akron. But this is going to be a fun week for me,” he said. His daughter told him she might have trouble following the scoreboard.

“Hopefully, I can show her pluses are good and minuses are bad,” Love said.

Henry said the key is to be aggressive. He had three eagles last year in claiming the $540,000 winner’s check.

“All I think about is that a birdie and a bogey is better than two pars,” he said. “You can pass 40 guys making an eagle on one hole.”

Love agrees, but warned being too aggressive can prove costly.

“You want to make sure you’ve got a putt for par and it’s not a putt for bogey. You don’t want to make `others,'” he said. But in many cases he said he’s more likely to fire at pins from the fairway — “because a bogey is not going to kill you. Six birdies and six bogeys is better than six pars.”

“That is why I think a lot of the long hitters did well at Castle Pines,” he said, “because they make a lot of birdies but they also make a few bogeys so it balances out better for the bombers.”

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Love eager to return to high-altitude golf at Reno-Tahoe Open

Wright can relate to Park’s pursuit of majors, but not to all the attention

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — Mickey Wright can appreciate Inbee Park’s pursuit of a fourth straight major this year at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

She just can’t relate to all the attention over a potential Grand Slam.

2013 RICOH WOMEN’S BRITISH OPEN

PGA Tour leaderboardGolf on TVWhat’s in the winners’ bagsWeek’s worth of equipment tweetsWho’s winning driver derby?Who’s winning putter derby?Photos: Top 10 equipment shotsPhotos: Golf around the worldPhotos: Snedeker’s winning clubsUS Solheim Cup to be settled at Women’s British OpenPark keeps cool with history on line at Women’s British OpenWright can relate to Park’s major pursuit, not to all attentionThursday recap

“One big difference in golf now and then — and this was well before Title IX — is women’s golf did not get a lot of hoopla,” the 78-year-old Wright told The Associated Press from her Florida home Wednesday. “There was not a lot of hoopla around winning four majors at the same time. I didn’t have that kind of pressure. It was internal pressure.”

Park begins her bid Thursday at St. Andrews to become the first golfer to win four professional majors in the same season.

Wright is the only LPGA Tour player to hold all four majors at the same time, which she achieved over two seasons — the U.S. Women’s Open and LPGA Championship in 1961, and the Titleholders and Western Open in 1962. Her bid for the calendar Grand Slam in `62 ended on a tough course and high wind in Myrtle Beach, S.C. at the Women’s Open.

Her record makes a strong argument as the greatest female golfer ever — 13 majors over an eight-year span and 82 career wins on the LPGA Tour.

She would love to see Park join her — and Tiger Woods — in the record book. Woods also held all four professional majors over two seasons in 2000-01.

“I watch her when they put her on television,” Wright said. “She certainly is an unflappable young lady. She’s probably the best putter I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen some good ones. I’m hoping she can pull it off, and then win the fifth one in France. No one will ever come close to that unless the LPGA adds a sixth major.”

The LPGA, which doesn’t have the history or the financial support of men’s golf, added the Evian Championship in France as a fifth major this year. That has led to some debate whether Park will have the Grand Slam if she wins at St. Andrews because one more major remains in September.

“What she has already done is absolutely fantastic,” Wright said. “I know she’d be satisfied even if she doesn’t win this week. I just hope people leave her alone.”

That’s one aspect Wright knows all too well.

Wright, who had a swing Ben Hogan once said was the best he ever saw, carried the LPGA Tour in its early days and was under intense pressure to play — and win — to appease sponsors. She won 68 tournaments in the 1960s, including 44 events in a four-year span. For seven straight years, she won at least one major, including the four straight in 1961-62 and her attempt at a calendar Grand Slam stopped short in 1962.

“There was no talk about a Grand Slam,” Wright said. “We were trying to exist. It was a different time. You have to remember, we were the pioneers. We were trying to keep the tour going.”

What impresses Wright the most about Park is her calm demeanor and her putting stroke, considered among the best in women’s golf. What amazes her is that Park is winning all the majors even though she doesn’t overpower golf courses with length or overwhelm the competition with superior ball-striking. The 25-year-old South Korean doesn’t have a presence that Annika Sorenstam had during her great run, or Nancy Lopez in the 1970s, or that Wright had for nearly all of her career.

“She has yet to prove that presence and that takes time,” Wright said. “This is a phenomenal year, not a career.”

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Wright can relate to Park’s pursuit of majors, but not to all the attention

Park keeps cool at Women’s British Open as she tries to make history

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — Inbee Park once felt she could walk down the streets of Seoul as the No. 1 player in women’s golf without being recognized.

That was two months ago.

2013 RICOH WOMEN’S BRITISH OPEN

PGA Tour leaderboardGolf on TVWhat’s in the winners’ bagsWeek’s worth of equipment tweetsWho’s winning driver derby?Who’s winning putter derby?Photos: Top 10 equipment shotsPhotos: Golf around the worldPhotos: Snedeker’s winning clubsUS Solheim Cup to be settled at Women’s British OpenPark keeps cool with history on line at Women’s British OpenWright can relate to Park’s major pursuit, not to all attentionThursday recap

Now she can’t even make it through a toll booth.

The week before she set out to make history at St. Andrews, the 25-year-old Park went home to South Korea to visit family and friends. She was surprised by the number of people who met her at the airport, and who looked her way when she was out in public dressed in regular clothes.

“I was driving by the toll gate and some lady was giving me a toll ticket and she was like, `Oh, are you Inbee Park?’ And she was stopping my car,” Park said Tuesday. “So there was a lot of episodes there. It’s cool to be recognized and to have a lot of fans. And I think that really helps me.”

It helps to be on the verge of doing something no other golfer in this Royal & Ancient game has ever achieved.

Slam or not, Park has a shot at something grand.

On an Old Course that even in sunshine is dripping with history, she goes after an unprecedented fourth straight major this year at the Ricoh Women’s British Open. Park is the heavy favorite at St. Andrews, much like Tiger Woods when he won on the Old Course in 2000 to complete the career Grand Slam.

The gray old town doesn’t have the same energy level as when a claret jug is on offer, though Park’s name is part of every conversation. Woods (2000-01) and Mickey Wright (1961-62) are the only players to have won four straight professional majors, though never in the same calendar year. Woods was the last player to win three straight majors in a single season.

The debate is whether to call it a Grand Slam if Park were to win. The LPGA Tour added a fifth major this year, the Evian Championship in France. The modern version of a Grand Slam is about four majors. The original version of the Grand Slam — from bridge — is about winning them all.

It’s a nice problem to have, and it really doesn’t need any definition except to note that it has never been done.

“If it could happen, it’s something that I will never forget,” Park said. “My name will be in the history of golf forever, even after I die.”

What’s amazing is how quickly Park reached this point.

Turn back the calendar two months, and Park already was satisfied with her season. She won the first LPGA Tour major of the year at Kraft Nabisco Championship, which helped her to regain her spot at No. 1 in the world ranking.

But the dominant player of her sport?

She sure didn’t look that way, especially if anyone happened to be watching a stretch of holes at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic earlier this year. On a 145-yard hole, her tee shot was 10 yards short and 20 yards wide of the green. On the next hole, a longer par 3 over a pond and into the breeze, Park fanned a 4-iron so badly that it landed in the middle of the lake. Her next tee shot splashed down closer to the bank — still some 30 yards short of the pin — and she eventually made a 9.

She missed the cut. She didn’t break par in any round of her next tournament and finished middle of the pack.

“I was really struggling with the swing that week,” Park said. “I was trying different things on the golf course. After that, I found the right swing.”

Since then?

Park looks to be somewhere between unstoppable and unbeatable.

She won the Wegmans LPGA Championship in a playoff over Catriona Matthew, and then became made it three straight majors by making the toughest test in golf look like a breeze in her U.S. Women’s Open victory at Sebonack Golf Club.

In technical terms, she is driving the ball straighter and her putting stroke is among the purest in women’s golf. What sets her apart is a calm demeanor and a unique outlook for someone who has no reason to think she can’t win every time she tees it up.

The higher the pressure, the lower her expectations. That’s the formula she took to the U.S. Women’s Open.

“I kept thinking it’s OK if I don’t win,” she said. “I’ve already won five times, and just wanting more is wanting too much.”

As far as the attention, Stacy Lewis feels that’s one area where Park deserves more. The star of this show didn’t get much of a turnout for her press conference after a pro-am round Tuesday on the Old Course. The room was not even half full.

“I think for what Inbee is doing right now, she’s not getting the credit that she deserves for it,” Lewis said. “If somebody was doing this on the men’s tour, it would be talked about over and over and over again for a month before the major — not just a couple of days before.”

Maybe that will help Park, although she is well aware of what’s at stake this week.

The attention she received at home in South Korea — her gifts included a gold putter and a red Ferrari that she gets to keep for one year — was nothing like what Se Ri Pak endured after her blockbuster rookie season in 1998. The media crush was so great that Pak was hospitalized briefly for exhaustion.

Park only got stopped at a toll booth. And she still had to pay the fare.

It was rare proof that she’s not much different from anyone else.

Or is she?

Park can become the first golfer to win four majors in a single year. The stage is St. Andrews, the most historic golf course on earth.

“You would think after winning two of them it would faze her a little bit,” Lewis said. “But obviously at the U.S. Open, it didn’t. I don’t know. Inbee is playing so good this year, and she’s so steady. You wouldn’t know whether she’s winning a tournament or whether she’s losing it, and that’s what you need in a major.

“As a player, you’d like to know if she’s human, to see if she actually feels the nerves like the rest of us do.”

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Park keeps cool at Women’s British Open as she tries to make history

Price wants his team members to feel like winners as Presidents Cup nears

AKRON, Ohio — Nick Price has circled the globe dozens of times as a professional golfer.

He’s won three major championships among almost 50 tournament titles, enough to build a Hall of Fame career.

Yet it is clear how much his one team victory — at the 1998 Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne — means.

“I just wish in some form or fashion on the Monday or Tuesday of the week of the Presidents Cup just to be able to show the guys the feeling of what it’s like to be on the winning team,” said Price, the captain of the International team which will take on the United States in October at Muirfield Village.

Golfers lead a relatively solitary life, shuffling from event to event, practicing, playing, checking bags, catching flights, sleeping in hotels, then practicing and playing some more.

When the opportunity arises to share the feeling of victory with others — to win as a team — it’s a remarkable, career-changing emotion.

“Those 11 teammates I had, those were like my brothers,” the 56-year-old native of Zimbabwe said. “We had such a phenomenal week and huge ups and downs and huge emotional swings. If you could just capture that and put it in a capsule and show the guys what it’s like, we’d have their attention.”

As the time draws near for this year’s competition — in almost nine weeks — Price and assistants Shigeki Maruyama, Mark McNulty and Tony Johnstone will have some decisions to make. The top 10 International players (excluding those eligible for the European Ryder Cup Team) will make the team, along with two captain’s picks.

One major worry is that former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen is currently sidelined while allowing a series of injuries to heal. He is No. 2 in the International rankings heading into this week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Akron Firestone, and is expected to be out for two months.

“I spoke to him and he’s not going to play until the Dunhill Cup, which is the week before the Presidents Cup,” said Price, who won what was then called the World Series of Golf at Firestone in 1983. “So we really won’t know until he’s match fit or not until the week before. Since he’s one of the top four or five players I have on the team, it’s a concern.”

Price says he’s encouraged by the way many of his players are performing, including reigning Masters champion Adam Scott, four-time major winner Ernie Els, 2011 Masters winner Charl Schwartzel and 2007 U.S. Open and 2009 Masters champ Angel Cabrera.

Still, he recognizes that any team that takes on an American side that includes Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will likely be overlooked.

“You know, I’ve always enjoyed being an underdog,” Price said. “The favorites have more pressure on them, no doubt about it.”

Price said the Presidents Cup is about where the Ryder Cup was in the 1970s. Then the British side added European players, the Euros won, and now the Ryder is a centerpiece of the sport.

A similar explosive upset would change everything.

“Something is waiting to happen,” Price warns.

Great players are one thing; it’s a huge reason why the Americans have dominated the Presidents Cup with a 7-1-1 record. But as he looks back on his career, Price also realizes the strength of playing for and with others.

“I go back to the morale and the camaraderie and the momentum in a team,” he said. “When you have that, the sky’s the limit.”

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Price wants his team members to feel like winners as Presidents Cup nears

Notebook: PGA Championship holds spots for winners of events this week

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — Despite closing with a 73 in the RBC Canadian Open, David Hearn earned just enough money to move up one spot on the PGA Championship points list to be first alternate. That might be all it takes to get into the field next week at Oak Hill.

The PGA Championship’s field is holding open two spots in case the winners of the Reno-Tahoe Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational are not already exempt. It’s not unusual for the Reno-Tahoe winner to head straight for the final major. The Bridgestone Invitational, however, has never produced a winner that wasn’t already in the PGA Championship (perhaps because Tiger Woods seems to win every year).

2013 WGC-BRIDGESTONE INVITATIONAL

PGA Tour leaderboardGolf on TVWhat’s in the winners’ bagsWeek’s worth of equipment tweetsWho’s winning driver derby?Who’s winning putter derby?Photos: Top 10 equipment shotsPhotos: Golf around the worldPhotos: Snedeker’s winning clubsMahan to skip Bridgestone to spend time with new daughterOosthuizen to sit out two months to rest series of injuriesNotebook: Few PGA Championship spots still openPrice wants International players to feel like winners at Presidents Cup Mickelson still pinching himself after British Open win Woods, going for 8th win at Firestone, headlines elite fieldThursday recapThursday notebook

Only three players at Firestone are not exempt for the PGA — Satoshi Kodaira, Toru Taniguchi and Daniel Popovic.

The PGA of America gives exemptions to those in the top 100, and as expected, it went beyond that to award spots to Peter Uihlein (No. 108) and Brooks Koepka (No. 115), the two Americans who started the year with no status and earned European Tour cards. Also, Ryo Ishikawa received an exemption while sitting at No. 158 in the world.

THE GOOD GUYS: Golf Digest came up with a unique survey for its September issue — its first ranking of the “Good Guys” on the PGA Tour.

Topping the list was Steve Stricker, which would come as little surprise. But the magazine put together criteria and surveyed a variety of people who could best answer the questions — tournament directors, locker room attendants, players, caddies, media, golf administrators and tournament volunteers. They were asked to score active players they know personally from 1 (awful) to 10 (great).

The criteria included the players’ personal involvement in charity, being friendly to fans, gracious to the “little people” (drivers, attendants, volunteers), being nice when no one is looking, being good ambassadors for the sport, media friendly and keeping their entourages friendly.

Stricker had an average score of 9.25.

Rounding out the top 10 were Brandt Snedeker, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, Graeme McDowell, Joe Durant, Adam Scott, Bo Van Pelt, Rory McIlroy and Zach Johnson. Five of them are in the top 10 in the world ranking. The one that stands out his Joe Durant, who lost his card and played this year through limited status as a past champion and on the Web.com Tour. Durant’s “Good Guy” rating was 8.25 to rank No. 6.

DOWN TO THE WIRE: Brandt Snedeker’s win in the Canadian Open makes him almost certain to end one of the most peculiar streaks in the short history of the FedExCup. The defending FedExCup champion has never advanced to the Tour Championship the following year.

Snedeker improved to No. 3 in the FedExCup standings with 2,178 points. Only three tournaments remain before the playoffs begin. Even if he missed every cut the rest of the way, history shows his total is more than enough to crack the top 30 and get to East Lake for the Tour Championship. Besides, there is no cut at Firestone and the BMW Championship outside Chicago.

As for everyone else, the race is on to at least get to the playoffs.

Vijay Singh is at No. 138 and could lose his full card. His five-year exemption from winning the FedExCup in 2008 runs out this year, though he has two one-time exemptions from career money he can use. Padraig Harrington is at No. 123 and at risk of missing the playoffs for the first time.

Camilo Villegas, second to Singh in the FedExCup in `08, is at No. 113. He might not be in position to advance very far, but he would at least get his card back. Villegas played this year mainly on sponsor exemptions after failing to earn his card at Q-School.

DIVOTS: Two of three players who used one-time exemptions from career money are assured of getting their full PGA Tour cards for next year. Jerry Kelly, who missed the top 125 by $1,809 last year, is at No. 76 in the FedEx Cup. Justin Leonard is at No. 83. The other was Mike Weir, who is at No. 169. … Former PGA champion Y.E. Yang and two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal have been appointed captains of the Royal Trophy, matches between Asian and European players to be held Dec. 20-22 in China. … Jeff Overton, who played on the Ryder Cup team in Wales in 2010, is the fourth alternate for the PGA Championship.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Inbee Park, with three majors among her six LPGA Tour wins this year, would rank No. 19 on the PGA Tour list.

FINAL WORD: “Something prevented him from winning the majors he’s played so far, but then again, certainly maybe ought to give Adam Scott and Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson a little bit of credit for playing better. That’s sort of the way I look at it.” — Jack Nicklaus, on Tiger Woods not winning a major so far this year.

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Notebook: PGA Championship holds spots for winners of events this week

Solheim Cup team to be decided at Women’s British Open this week

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — Inbee Park isn’t the only player in need of a big week at St. Andrews.

The Ricoh Women’s British Open is the final qualifying event for the Solheim Cup, which will be played Aug. 16-18 at Colorado Golf Club outside of Denver. Even though the points count double at a major, this week might be more of a chance for a few Americans to make an impression on Captain Meg Mallon.

2013 RICOH WOMEN’S BRITISH OPEN

PGA Tour leaderboardGolf on TVWhat’s in the winners’ bagsWeek’s worth of equipment tweetsWho’s winning driver derby?Who’s winning putter derby?Photos: Top 10 equipment shotsPhotos: Golf around the worldPhotos: Snedeker’s winning clubsUS Solheim Cup to be settled at Women’s British OpenPark keeps cool with history on line at Women’s British OpenWright can relate to Park’s major pursuit, not to all attentionThursday recap

The top eight players qualify from the points list, and they are virtually certain: Stacy Lewis, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Angela Stanford, Brittany Lincicome, Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda and Brittany Lang.

Lang has a 56-point lead over Jennifer Johnson, who would have to finish alone in second at St. Andrews to bump her. The only other players who could mathematically move into the top eight in the standings are Gerina Piller, Lizette Salas, Morgan Pressel and Michelle Wie. They all would have to win this week.

Salas, however, already is set to make her first Solheim Cup team through the world ranking. After the top eight on points, the next two Americans available in the women’s world ranking qualify. Salas leads that list at No. 20 and the next closest is Johnson at No. 50.

So it’s at the bottom where the final spot on the team could be up for grabs.

Pressel is one spot behind Johnson in the world ranking, and could easily pass her with a good finish at St. Andrews to claim the 10th spot. Piller is at No. 55 and stands a reasonable chance to move ahead of Johnson.

After that, Mallon gets two captain’s picks. The Americans already have three rookies — Johnson or Piller would make four — so Mallon might be inclined to go for experience. That would bode well for Pressel and Wie.

“If someone plays well this week, they could definitely get into the conversation,” Lewis said.

Mallon hasn’t said much about how she is thinking, only that whoever doesn’t get picked shouldn’t seek sympathy because they had their chances to qualify. Mallon and her two assistants will be at St. Andrews all week — Dottie Pepper as an ESPN analyst and Laura Diaz as a player. Diaz qualified for the British Open on Monday.

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Solheim Cup team to be decided at Women’s British Open this week

Haas and Alker share Albertsons Boise Open lead after first-round 62s

BOISE, Idaho – Texan Hunter Haas and New Zealand’s Steven Alker posted 9-under 62s Thursday and climbed to the top of the birdie mountain in the opening round of the Albertsons Boise Open, one of four Web.com Tour events that have been on the schedule since the tour’s inception in 1990.

The co-leaders are one better than lefty Tim Wilkinson, also of New Zealand, while Washington’s Alex Prugh is two shots back.

2013 ALBERTSONS BOISE OPEN

PGA Tour leaderboardGolf on TVWhat’s in the winners’ bagsWeek’s worth of equipment tweetsWho’s winning driver derby?Who’s winning putter derby?Photos: Top 10 equipment shotsPhotos: Mickelson’s winning clubsPhotos: Golf around the worldThursday recap

Ten players – including 2002 champion Jason Gore – are tied at 6-under 65 at Hillcrest Country Club, which yielded a scoring average of 69.026, the lowest mark in the tournament’s 24 year history. The proliferation of low scores is partially the result of this tournament moving into July from its customary early September spot on the schedule.

“It’s the easiest I’ve seen it play,” said Haas, the 2010 tournament champion. “The greens are receptive and you’re not afraid of running it through a fairway and into ankle-deep rough. We don’t have that here. In years past if you missed a fairway you were hoping to get it on the green.”

This time around, with the course playing a bit softer and slower to keep things green, players are back to blasting drivers and aiming at pins.

“You know scores are going to be low this week,” said Alker, who collected his third career win at the Utah Championship two weeks ago. “I’ve got my blinkers on. I’m going to keep my head down and try to make as many birdies as I can.”

Haas and Alker popped their names on the leaderboard late in the afternoon, supplanting playing partners Wilkinson and Prugh at the top. The two were joined by leading money Michael Putnam, whose 4-under 67 has him well back and tied for 29th.

The threesome combined for 19 birdies and zero bogeys and were led by Wilkinson, who closed with five birdies to end the day.

“I was thinking about that coming up on 18 but thought I should hold my tongue,” said Wilkinson.

“It felt like someone did make a bogey somewhere but it more or less a par on a par 5,” said Prugh. “You see good shots. You see putts go in. You just feed off of that.”

It was pretty good for Alker, who posted a career-best, 10-under 61 in the third round in Salt Lake City a couple weeks back en route to a playoff win over Aussie Ash Hall.

“It was a stress-free day. I had a nice start, a nice middle and a nice end,” said Alker, predictably understated. “It’s a funny game. I’ve really been patient the last month or two and I felt my swing was coming around. I started rolling the ball nice a few weeks ago and started making some putts. I think my ducks are in a row right now.”

First-Round Notes:

–Co-leaders Hunter Haas and Steven Alker matched the lowest opening-round score in tournament history with their 62s. Jonas Blixt (2011), Michael Putnam (2012), Andrew Svoboda (2012) and Tyrone van Aswegen (2012) have previously started this event with similar scores.

–Jeff Klauk (76) withdrew after the first round.

–Haas (2010) is one of three past champions playing this week. Also in the field are Fran Quinn (2009) and Jason Gore (2002).

–Haas’ 62 is his career-low on the Web.com Tour. His previous best on this tour was 64, which he posted five times previously, including twice in this event when he won in 2010. Haas’ all-time best came on the PGA Tour – a a 10-under 61 in the second round of the 2011 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

–This is the fourth time on the Web.com Tour that Haas has shared the lead after the opening round. He was also a co-leader lead three times previously, and has held the outright lead once on the PGA Tour at the 2005 Funai Classic at Walt Disney World Resort.

–Alker’s 62 is one off his career low – a 10-under 61, which he posted in the third round of the Utah Championship two weeks ago.

–This is the first time Alker has been in first place after an opening round on the Web.com Tour. He was tied for second twice previously in his career after the initial 18 holes.

–Alker has made the cut three times in seven previous starts in this event. His best finish was a tie for 14th in 2002. He missed the cut here in his last three starts (2009, 2010 and 2012). His previous low round at Hillcrest CC was a 66 in the opening round in 2006.

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Haas and Alker share Albertsons Boise Open lead after first-round 62s

Canadian club on the rocks after opening round

By Steve Keating

OAKVILLE, Ontario (Reuters) – The search for a home-grown winner of the Canadian Open looked poised to stretch into a sixth decade after the local contingent failed to make an impression on the first round leaderboard on Thursday.

Only once in the last 99 years has a native son claimed the national title and that was back in 1954 when Pat Fletcher ended what was then a 50-year barren run with a victory at Vancouver’s Point Grey Golf and Country Club.

Local fans were out in force offering their support on a brilliant sunny day at the Glen Abbey Golf Club but they could not inspire the Canadian contingent to anything better than a three-under-par 69 from Brad Fritsch.

That left him four strokes behind pacesetting American Brendan Steele, who took advantage of ideal early scoring conditions to return an eight-birdie 65.

“I feel like I’ve played well, I feel like I hit the ball great off the tee,” said Fritsch, who closed his round with three straight birdies. “The stats won’t say it, but I think I missed, you know, five or six fairways probably by a foot.”

Eighteen Canadians teed off on Thursday but only four – Fritsch, David Hearn (70), Roger Sloan (71) and amateur Corey Conners (71) – broke par.

ROLLER-COASTER MORNING

Graham DeLaet, the top-ranked Canadian in the field and considered the country’s best hope to end the long drought, had a roller-coaster morning that included a triple-bogey seven at the 14th before he birdied his final hole for a level-par 72.

“It was pretty Jekyll and Hyde,” said world number 67 DeLaet, who is also battling for a spot on the International team that will take on the United States at the Presidents Cup in October.

“I hit a couple of bad tee shots, had a couple of plugged bunkers and a three-putt from four-feet but other than that I made six birdies. I made enough birdies to shoot a good round, I just had too many poor swings in there.

“You want to play well, you don’t want to get behind the eight-ball and I feel I kind of am a little bit with that even par because it was pretty scoreable out there today.

“At the same time, I didn’t shoot myself out of it. It was nice to finish with a birdie to kind of make lunch taste a little better.”

Mike Weir, the 2003 Masters champion who is on the comeback trail after a series of injuries, battled to a one-over 73 but declared himself satisfied with his effort.

The little lefty may have lost some of his form but none of his confidence as he looked ahead to the weekend.

“I could have easily been six, seven, eight under, who knows,” said Weir. “You get rolling. You have a good putting day and that’s a 63. I feel like I can make a charge tomorrow morning.”

(Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)

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Canadian club on the rocks after opening round

Golf-U.S. PGA Tour Canadian Open scores

July 26 (Infostrada Sports) – Scores from the U.S. PGA Tour Canadian Open at the par-72 course on Thursday in Oakville, ON

65 Brendan Steele (U.S.) 65

66 Scott Brown (U.S.) 66

Matt Kuchar (U.S.) 66

Scott Gardiner (Australia) 66

67 David Lingmerth (Sweden) 67

Hunter Mahan (U.S.) 67

68 Chez Reavie (U.S.) 68

Patrick Reed (U.S.) 68

Chris Kirk (U.S.) 68

Bubba Watson (U.S.) 68

Kyle Stanley (U.S.) 68

Trevor Immelman (South Africa) 68

Aaron Baddeley (Australia) 68

Kevin Chappell (U.S.) 68

Joe Affrunti (U.S.) 68

69 James Driscoll (U.S.) 69

Vijay Singh (Fiji) 69

Stuart Appleby (Australia) 69

George McNeill (U.S.) 69

Rory Sabbatini (South Africa) 69

Will Claxton (U.S.) 69

James Hahn (U.S.) 69

Hideki Matsuyama (Japan) 69

Andres Romero (Argentina) 69

Charley Hoffman (U.S.) 69

Roberto Castro (U.S.) 69

Gary Woodland (U.S.) 69

Brad Fritsch (Canada) 69

70 Greg Owen (Britain) 70

David Hearn (Canada) 70

Brandt Snedeker (U.S.) 70

Robert Garrigus (U.S.) 70

Morgan Hoffmann (U.S.) 70

Noh Seung-Yul (South Korea) 70

Daniel Summerhays (U.S.) 70

Jason Bohn (U.S.) 70

Cameron Beckman (U.S.) 70

Mark Wilson (U.S.) 70

Jeff Overton (U.S.) 70

Ryan Palmer (U.S.) 70

71 Chad Campbell (U.S.) 71

Justin Leonard (U.S.) 71

Billy Horschel (U.S.) 71

Tim Petrovic (U.S.) 71

Jeff Gove (U.S.) 71

Pat Perez (U.S.) 71

Kyle Reifers (U.S.) 71

Marcel Siem (Germany) 71

Bobby Gates (U.S.) 71

Cameron Percy (Australia) 71

Henrik Norlander (Sweden) 71

Roger Sloan (Canada) 71

William McGirt (U.S.) 71

Casey Wittenberg (U.S.) 71

Matt Every (U.S.) 71

Scott Piercy (U.S.) 71

Ernie Els (South Africa) 71

John Merrick (U.S.) 71

Scott Stallings (U.S.) 71

Bae Sang-Moon (South Korea) 71

Scott Langley (U.S.) 71

Ricky Barnes (U.S.) 71

Justin Bolli (U.S.) 71

David Mathis (U.S.) 71

Jesse Smith (U.S.) 71

Kim Si-Woo (South Korea) 71

Andrew Svoboda (U.S.) 71

Corey Conners (Canada) 71

72 D.J. Trahan (U.S.) 72

Richard Lee (U.S.) 72

Jeff Maggert (U.S.) 72

Fabian Gomez (Argentina) 72

Graham DeLaet (Canada) 72

Geoff Ogilvy (Australia) 72

Scott Verplank (U.S.) 72

Justin Hicks (U.S.) 72

Troy Matteson (U.S.) 72

Robert Streb (U.S.) 72

Park Jin (South Korea) 72

Martin Flores (U.S.) 72

Ryo Ishikawa (Japan) 72

Luke Guthrie (U.S.) 72

Cameron Tringale (U.S.) 72

Brian Gay (U.S.) 72

Jim Furyk (U.S.) 72

Robert Allenby (Australia) 72

Brian Stuard (U.S.) 72

Jason Kokrak (U.S.) 72

Ben Kohles (U.S.) 72

Alistair Presnell (Australia) 72

Luke List (U.S.) 72

Jim Herman (U.S.) 72

73 Michael Letzig (U.S.) 73

Nicholas Thompson (U.S.) 73

Charl Schwartzel (South Africa) 73

John Senden (Australia) 73

Michael Bradley (U.S.) 73

Scott McCarron (U.S.) 73

Brian Harman (U.S.) 73

Greg Chalmers (Australia) 73

Eric Banks (Canada) 73

Steve LeBrun (U.S.) 73

Doug LaBelle II (U.S.) 73

Aaron Watkins (U.S.) 73

Andres Gonzales (U.S.) 73

Jesper Parnevik (Sweden) 73

Bud Cauley (U.S.) 73

Luke Donald (Britain) 73

Mike Weir (Canada) 73

J.J. Henry (U.S.) 73

Tommy Gainey (U.S.) 73

Bob Estes (U.S.) 73

Colt Knost (U.S.) 73

Eric Meierdierks (U.S.) 73

Wil Collins (U.S.) 73

Lee Williams (U.S.) 73

74 Charlie Wi (South Korea) 74

Kevin Stadler (U.S.) 74

Tom Gillis (U.S.) 74

Mackenzie Hughes (Canada) 74

Paul Haley II (U.S.) 74

Stephen Ames (Canada) 74

Brian Davis (Britain) 74

Camilo Villegas (Colombia) 74

Peter Laws (Canada) 74

75 John Rollins (U.S.) 75

Robert Karlsson (Sweden) 75

Joey Snyder III (U.S.) 75

Dustin Johnson (U.S.) 75

Darron Stiles (U.S.) 75

Chris Stroud (U.S.) 75

John Huh (U.S.) 75

Johnson Wagner (U.S.) 75

Yang Yong-Eun (South Korea) 75

Billy Mayfair (U.S.) 75

Rod Pampling (Australia) 75

Erik Compton (U.S.) 75

Tag Ridings (U.S.) 75

Riley Wheeldon (Canada) 75

Eugene Wong (Canada) 75

76 Chris DiMarco (U.S.) 76

Graeme McDowell (Britain) 76

Billy Andrade (U.S.) 76

Adam Svensson (Canada) 76

Andrew Georgiou (South Africa) 76

77 Kevin Carrigan (Canada) 77

Albin Choi (Canada) 77

Bryn Parry (Canada) 77

Stephen Gangluff (U.S.) 77

78 Nathan Green (Australia) 78

Adam Hadwin (Canada) 78

79 Donald Constable (U.S.) 79

Brian Hadley (Canada) 79

82 Woody Austin (U.S.) 82

Derek Ernst (U.S.) 82

Taken from: 

Golf-U.S. PGA Tour Canadian Open scores

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