Spain and Germany start Euro 2022 in style
NORTH BERWICK, Scotland: Cameron Tringale finally saw off the Renaissance Club in windy weather and held on Friday to stay three strokes clear at the Scottish Open as he tries to win for the first time in his 13th year on the PGA Tour.
Tringale stayed on course after making four consecutive bogeys on the turn and finished with three pars for a 2 of 72. He had a three-stroke lead over Gary Woodland (72) and Doug Ghim, whose 69 prompted the hope that he could win one of the three places available for the British Open.
The Scottish Open is the first time the PGA Tour has co-sanctioned a European Tour event, and it has led to the strongest field in tournament history, with 14 of the world’s top 15 ranked players. Tringale won’t have to face half of them.
Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, the world number one, was among seven players who can start early on the Old Course in St. Andrews. They all missed the cut.
Most of them got caught on the wrong side of the draw. There was only a light breeze Thursday morning when Tringale opened with a 61 and Woodland shot 64. In the afternoon the wind was blowing at 30 mph and the difference was just over three strokes .
Friday brought a steady dose of strong wind, typical of these games and still playable given the links course design that allows the ball to be played on the ground.
Scheffler (72) was on the right side of the draw and got a taste of the quirky rebounds, finding pot bunkers and other issues that kept him from catching up. PGA Champion Justin Thomas had a 77 and missed the cut by seven strokes. He got the bad end of the draw.
Xander Schauffele and US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick also had the bad end but did very well. Schauffele started his day with a big wind at his back, 225 yards to the flag and an 8-iron in hand. He was trying to figure out how close he should land, and he judged it well. He went 15 feet for an eagle, and while the round wasn’t perfect, his 65 was the best of the day.
After winning the Travelers Championship, the Olympic golf medalist was tied for fourth place, three strokes behind.
Fitzpatrick was even stronger. He was 6 under for the day with no bogey on his card until he dropped shots on each of the last two holes. His 66 also left him with three backs.
The difference in turns?
“Huge,” said Fitzpatrick, knowing full well Thursday afternoon’s average heat score was 3.2 strokes higher. “It’s obviously a lot and to be honest I feel like the wind kind of died down at the start this morning. I think it’s safe to say that we had the worst half of the table.
Kurt Kitayama (71) and Jordan Smith, whose 69 featured an ace that made him and his caddy happy, were also three shots behind. Smith hit a 186-yard 6-iron that rolled into the cup at the par-3 17th. Title sponsor Genesis awarded him an electrified GV70 SUV, while caddy Sam Matton received an all-electric GV60.
The only problem is how to get them home as both have cars this week. It was the least of their worries. Still to come is a windier weekend and a dozen players separated by five strokes.
Tringale took advantage of the downwind holes for birdies, then began to return them from the par-5 16th to the first hole. He had to make a par 5-foot putt on the No. 2 to end the bad streak and held on from there. The effect of the wind was as difficult on the greens as it was from the tees or the fairways.
“It’s so hard to judge how bad the wind is going to hurt, and then you get a putt where the wind is going sideways,” Tringale said. “It could be a ball, two, a cup, even as close as 7, 8 feet. It’s really tricky.
Woodland called it a mental grind, especially as the temperatures dropped late in the day. Even so, he’s thrilled to be within heading range and playing well, which he attributes to swing coach Butch Harmon’s return to the payroll.
Harmon is retired from a full-time job, which involves traveling, and Woodland was bouncing around with various instructors. He finally had enough and left for Las Vegas after the Memorial. He’s seen differences in his swing now since winning the US Open at Pebble Beach three years ago, and Harmon’s words were both valuable and inprintable.
“I needed it,” Woodland said. “He puts me in the right frame of mind.”