Golf

Dustin Johnson, Andrew Landry tied for US Open lead

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Dustin Johnson, Andrew Landry tied for US Open lead

OAKMONT, Pa. - Dustin Johnson unleashed another powerful tee shot that got lost in the darkening sky over Oakmont. Positioned some 200 yards away on a forward tee, his caddie tried to track the flight of the ball until he gave up and said, "Where did it go?"

Like he even had to ask.

One year after Johnson let the U.S. Open slip away from him at Chambers Bay, he drove his way to the top of the leaderboard Friday at Oakmont on a marathon day of 36 holes with rounds of 67-69 that left him poised for another shot at a major.

"I've got a good game plan for this course," Johnson said. "And if I keep driving it like I am, I'll be tough to beat."
More than the long ball, Johnson has a short memory.

For all his chances in the majors - four of them and counting - he has the remarkable capacity to move on. The most crushing was last summer at Chambers Bay, when Johnson had a 12-foot eagle putt to win the U.S. Open and three-putted to finish one behind Jordan Spieth.

When asked if last year motivated him, Johnson deadpanned, "What happened last year."

This year has been nothing short of impressive. Johnson played 27 holes before making his only bogey in two rounds. He still hasn't made a birdie on a par 5. And he was at 4-under 136, the best score by two shots of the 50 players who finished two rounds in the rain-delayed championship.

Andrew Landry had a much shorter day.

The 28-year-old qualifier only had to hit one shot Friday when he returned in the morning to make a 10-foot birdie putt for a 66 and the lead. It was the best opening round in 10 majors at Oakmont, beating a record shared by Ben Hogan and Tom Watson.

Landry also became the first player in 30 years to have the sole lead after his first U.S. Open round. Now his name shares billing with Johnson, whom Spieth recently described as "arguably the most talented player on the PGA Tour."

Landry doesn't start his second round until Saturday morning.

Three storm delays Thursday left a disjointed schedule and no clear picture of who's in control. The nine players who completed the opening round Thursday, including 19-year-old Scottie Scheffler and his 69, had the entire day off Friday. Those who had to return to finish the first round initially were given tee times deep into the evening until the USGA decided it best that everyone from that half of the field - including Spieth at 2 over - start Saturday morning.

Sergio Garcia, who also knows his share of heartache in the majors, stayed with Johnson as best he could. He made a tough par on No. 4 by playing his third shot from the fifth fairway. And he finished his round with a 50-foot par putt for a 70.
Garcia was at 2-under 138, along with Scott Piercy, who also went 68-70.

"I'm too old for this," the 36-year-old Spaniard said. "We know how difficult the U.S. Open is, and here at Oakmont even tougher."

On the leaderboard, they were one shot behind Lee Westwood, who closed with two birdies in the morning for a 67.
Daniel Summerhays had a tournament-best 65 and joined Andy Sullivan (68) at 1-under 139. Jim Furyk, a runner-up at Oakmont in the 2007 U.S. Open, also was at 1 under with one hole remaining before play was halted by darkness.

Johnson made his only bogey when he found a deep bunker left of the first fairway, a rare miss off the tee. He could only advance the ball about 40 yards and narrowly missed a 20-foot par putt. He missed plenty of other birdie chances along the way, not alarming because Oakmont's greens are difficult to putt.

Far more impressive was his accuracy.

Johnson missed only three fairways in the second round, and he has missed only five greens through two rounds. If the lead stands after the second round is over, it would match the lowest 36-hole score in a U.S. Open at Oakmont. And he still hasn't made a birdie on a par 5 in two rounds.

"It was a long day today, but I felt like I played really solid all day for all 36 holes," he said. "I drove it really well."
Spieth, who finished off a round of only one birdie for a 72, returned to Oakmont in the afternoon to putt. Rory McIlroy, who matched his worst score in a U.S. Open with a 77, came back to work on his swing.

On the course, other stars were struggling.

Jason Day, the No. 1 player in the world, opened with a 76 and was at 5 over with three holes remaining. Phil Mickelson was in danger of missing the cut for the second straight time at Oakmont. He was at 7 over with two holes remaining.

For Johnson, it's time to put up his feet and contemplate another run at a major.

"He played awesome," Garcia said. "It's impressive. He drove the ball great, very far. I don't think he missed many fairways at all. Out of 36 holes here at Oakmont with only one bogey, it shows you have to play really, really well. He's going to be tough to beat, but I'll give it a shot."

© 2016 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.

Patrick Reed wins first major title, holding off Fowler at Masters

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USA TODAY Sports Photo

Patrick Reed wins first major title, holding off Fowler at Masters

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The tepid applause that greeted Patrick Reed on the first tee made it clear he wasn't the people's choice.

All he cared about was being the Masters champion.

He turned back an early move by Rory McIlroy and a late charge by Rickie Fowler. Most daunting in the middle of the final round Sunday was a familiar name at Augusta National - Jordan Spieth - on the verge of the greatest comeback in Masters history.

Reed had the game and the grit to beat them all. And when he slipped on that green jacket, he had everyone's respect.

"I knew it was going to be a dogfight," Reed said. "It's just a way of God basically saying, `Let's see if you have it.' Everyone knows you have it physically with the talent. But do you have it mentally? Can you handle the ups and downs throughout the round?"

He has proven that playing for his country. He did it Sunday for himself.

The final test was a 25-foot putt down the scary slope on the 18th green, and Reed pressed down both hands, begging it to stop as it rolled 3 feet by. From there, the 27-year-old Texan calmly rolled in the par putt for a 1-under 71 and a one-shot victory.

Known as "Captain America" for his play in the Ryder Cup, Reed added a far more important title: Masters champion.

The loudest cheers were for everyone else, and Reed picked up on that right away. The crowd was squarely behind McIlroy and his best chance yet at completing the career Grand Slam. Then it was Spieth, running off four birdies in a five-hole stretch on the back nine to challenge the course record. The loudest cheer was for Fowler when he made an 8-foot birdie putt on the final hole to pull within one.

Reed never flinched through it all.

"I just went out there and just tried to play golf the best I could and tried to stay in the moment and not worry about everything else," Reed said.

Reed, who finished at 15-under 273, won for the sixth time in his PGA Tour career.

Until Sunday, he was best known for the trophies he shared at the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup. He is ferocious in match play, especially the team variety, and his singles victory over McIlroy at Hazeltine in the 2016 Ryder Cup led to his nickname.

"He's not scared. I think you guys have seen that previous from the Ryder Cups and the way he plays," said Fowler, who closed with a 67. "He won't back down. I don't necessarily see him as someone that backs up and will let you come back into the tournament. You have to go catch him."

Fowler did his best with three birdies in a four-hole stretch, and the 8-footer on the final hole. It still wasn't enough. Fowler was runner-up for the third time in a major. He left the scoring cabin when Reed tapped in for par.

"Glad I at least made the last one, make him earn it," Fowler said with a grin as he waited to greet the newest major champion.

"You had to do it didn't you?" Reed told him as they exchanged a hug. "You had to birdie the last."

Spieth put up the most unlikely fight and was on the verge of the greatest comeback in Masters history. He started nine shots behind going into the final round, and was inches away on two shots from a chance at another green jacket.

His tee shot on the 18th clipped the last branch in his way, dropping his ball some 267 yards from the green. His 8-foot par putt for a record-tying 63 narrowly missed on the right. He had to settle for a 64.

"I think I've proven to myself and to others that you never give up," Spieth said. "I started the round nine shots back and I came out with the idea of just playing the golf course and having a lot of fun doing it and try to shoot a low round and finish the tournament strong and see what happens, if something crazy happens."

McIlroy, meanwhile, will have to wait another year for a shot at the career Grand Slam.

Trailing by three shots to start the final round, he closed to within one shot after two holes. That was as close as he came. McIlroy's putter betrayed him - he missed four putts inside 10 feet on the front nine - and he was never a factor on the back nine. He closed with a 74 and tied for fifth.

"Tough day, but I'll be back," McIlroy said. "And hopefully, I'll be better."

Reed is old-school among his generation, with a brash attitude and a willingness to speak his mind. He has never been terribly popular in this state, mainly because of allegations of bad behavior while playing for Georgia that led to an early departure from the Bulldogs. He transferred to Augusta State and led the outmanned Jaguars to a pair of NCAA titles. His parents live in Augusta, but were not at the tournament. They weren't at his wedding in 2012, a relationship Reed chooses not to discuss.

"I'm just out here to play golf and try to win golf tournaments," Reed said.

He won a big one Sunday, and it was hard work, just the way he likes it.

Different about this victory for Reed was the fuchsia shirt he wore as part of a Nike script. Reed always wears black pants and a red shirt because that's what Tiger Woods does, and Reed has long modeled his mental game after Woods. "Be stubborn," he once said about learning by watching Woods.

Woods broke par for the first time all week with a 69. He tied for 32nd, 16 shots behind, in his first major since the 2015 PGA Championship.

Reed went to the back nine with a four-shot lead over four players, and they all had their chances. That included Jon Rahm, the 23-year-old from Spain, whose chances ended when he went after the flag on the par-5 15th and came up short in the water. He shot 69 and finished fourth.

Reed made a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 12, and his biggest birdie was a 9-iron to 8 feet on the 14th that broke the tie with Spieth. He made all pars from there. That was all he needed.

He became the fourth straight Masters champion to capture his first major.

Reed once claimed after winning a World Golf Championship at Doral that he was a top 5 player in the world, which subjected him to ridicule because it was only his third career title. His first major moves him to No. 11. It also comes with a green jacket, which is worth far more notoriety, not to mention respect.

Tiger Woods 9th as Rickie Fowler wins in Bahamas

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Tiger Woods 9th as Rickie Fowler wins in Bahamas

NASSAU, Bahamas - Rickie Fowler and Tiger Woods both had cause for celebrations large and small at the Hero World Challenge.

Fowler rallied from a seven-shot deficit by opening with seven straight birdies at Albany Golf Club and closing with an 11-under 61 Sunday for his second victory worldwide. It was the second time in his eight years on tour that he won multiple times around the world.

Woods had his best finish in four years.

Playing for the first time in 10 months while recovering from a fourth back surgery, Woods closed with a 68 despite a bogey-bogey finish. Even so, his back felt good and he was swinging at full strength. He tied for ninth in the 18-man field, his best result since a playoff loss at this holiday event in 2013.