Scotland's Syme second as Korhonen wins first European Tour title

Connor Syme on day four of the Shot Clock Masters

Shot Clock Masters final standings
-16 M Korhonen (Fin); -10 C Syme (Sco); -9 J Walters (SA), S Websterm (Eng), N Colsaerts (Bel), R Jacquelin (Fra)
Selected others: -8 A Chesters (Eng), O Farr (Wal), D Horsey (Eng); -6 L Slattery (Eng); -5 G Forrest (Sco), B Stow

Scotland’s Connor Syme finished second in the inaugural Shot Clock Masters in Austria as Finland’s Mikko Korhonen won his first European Tour title.

Korhonen took a five-shot lead into the final round at Diamond Country Club and his score of 69 put him on 16-under-par, six shots ahead of Syme.

Syme, 22, birdied the 18th with a 50-foot putt to clinch second place.

“I felt like I was going to do something really cool towards the end,” Syme told BBC Sport.

“I didn’t really expect it to drop, but it was absolutely perfect up and over. It was a serious bonus to watch it drop.”

Syme went into the tournament ranked 836th in the world at the beginning of the week.

He finished a shot ahead of Steve Webster, Nicolas Colsaerts, Justin Walters and Raphael Jacquelin, and is expecting to make a huge jump in the rankings after his highest ever finished on the European Tour.

“It’ll really change my season for sure,” he said.

This week’s tournament was the first in professional golf to time each shot from every player in the field.

Players had 50 seconds to take their shot if they are first to play, including tee shots on par threes, or 40 seconds for tee shots on other holes or when second or third to play.

The first two days went by without a single time violation, but there were three on Saturday, with Clemens Prader, Scotland’s Grant Forrest and Andrea Pavan all handed one-stroke penalties.

“I absolutely loved it,” said Syme.

“With me being in contention, there may have been shots I would have stood off from, but with the time limit I knew I couldn’t. In that sense I think it helps the players.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the format.”

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St Jude Classic: Dustin Johnson & Andrew Putnam share lead in Memphis

Dustin Johnson

St. Jude Classic second-round leaderboard
-15 D Johnson (US), A Putnam (US); -10 S Cink (US); -9 W Bryan (US), R Werenski (US); -8 C Reavie (US); -7 Pan CT (Tpe), T Mullinax (US), B Snedeker
Selected others:-6 B Koepka (US), S Power (Ire), S Stricker (US); -5 H Stenson (Swe); -3 S Lowry (Ire); -1 P Mickelson (US); +1 P Harrington (Ire)
Full leaderboard

Dustin Johnson is tied for the lead with Andrew Putnam as he aims to win the St Jude Classic in Memphis and return to the world number one ranking.

Johnson carded a third-round 65 and fellow American Putnam hit a six-under 64 as the pair moved to 15 under in Tennessee.

Stewart Cink is third on 10 under after a 64, which included a hole-in-one on the par-three eighth.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence in the game right now,” said Johnson.

Four weeks ago the 33-year-old lost top spot in the world rankings to compatriot Justin Thomas, who is not playing this week, and needs to win to regain it.

“I can kind of control my own destiny,” added Johnson, who chose to play in the tournament rather than rest in the build-up to next week’s US Open.

“If I play really good golf, I’m probably going to win. If I don’t, I’m sure Andrew’s going to beat me. It’s pretty simple.”

Putnam, 29, has never won on the PGA Tour and will be playing in the final pairing for the first time.

“It’s going to feel a little different than a typical Sunday round of golf but I’m excited. I’ve earned my way here,” he said.

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Clock catches Prader & Forrest on historic day

Clemens Prader at the Shot Clock Masters

Shot Clock Masters leaderboard
-13 M Korhonen (Fin); -8 J Walters (SA); -9 Jeppe Huldahl (Den); A Wu (Ch); David Horsey (Eng); Peter Hanson (Swe); Adam Bland (Aus); Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spa); Connor Syme (Sco); Austin Connelly (Can)
Selected others:-8 Lee Slattery (Eng); -7 M Foster (Eng); Level G Forrest (Sco)

Clemens Prader became the first golfer to be penalised a stroke for slow play at the Shot Clock Masters and Scotland’s Grant Forrest soon followed in Austria.

Home favourite Prader took four seconds over his allotted time for a third-round putt on the sixth hole.

Forrest incurred a penalty when he took three seconds over the regulation 40 for an approach shot at the 15th.

Finland’s Mikko Korhonen leads by five strokes going into the final round.

The halfway leader recorded a four-under-par 68 to leave South African Justin Walters as his nearest challenger on eight under.

Englishman David Horsey, Scotland’s Connor Syme and veteran Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez were among the large group in a tie for third on seven under at Diamond Country Club.

This week’s tournament is the first in professional golf to time each shot from every player in the field.

Players have 50 seconds to take their shot if they are first to play, including tee shots on par threes, or 40 seconds for tee shots on other holes or when second or third to play.

The first two days went by without a single time violation, but there were three on Saturday, with Prader, Forrest and Andrea Pavan all handed one-stroke penalties.

Prader, who is last in the field after a 76, said: “I didn’t hear ‘time’.

“I was just in my routine and it must have been called sometime when I was walking to my ball, which is fine, I just didn’t hear it.

“It was just four seconds over, which is a little unfortunate.

“I was a little angry. It got me so heated that I actually holed a bunker shot on the next hole, which was OK, it kind of reversed it.”

Leader Korhonen told Sky Sports: “I always love to come here and it seems to be working well this year.”

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St. Jude Classic: Dustin Johnson takes one shot lead in Memphis

Dustin Johnson

St. Jude Classic second-round leaderboard
-10 D Johnson (US); -9 R Blaum (US), A Putnam (US); -8 W Bryan (US), Pan CT (Tpe); -7 B Snedeker; -6 S Power (Ire), C Reavie (US)
Selected others: -5 B Koepka (US); -4 P Mickelson (US), S Stricker (US); -1 H Stenson (Swe), S Lowry (Ire); E P Harrington (Ire)
Full leaderboard

World number two Dustin Johnson hit a seven-under-par 63 to take a one-shot lead after two rounds of the St Jude Classic in Memphis, Tennessee.

The American holed from 110 yards for an eagle and hit seven birdies and two bogeys as he moved to 10 under overall.

Irishman Seamus Power carded a 69 as he went from having a one-stroke overnight lead to trailing Johnson by four.

Americans Ryan Blaum and Andrew Putnam are a shot behind the leader after both went round in 64 on day two.

Brooks Koepka of the United States, a week before defending his US Open title, carded 69 to slip five strokes behind, while compatriot Phil Mickelson (70) fell six adrift.

“When you’re around or in the lead you can definitely feel the pressure – but I like it,” said Johnson, who won the US Open in 2016.

“I hadn’t played a whole lot the last couple of months. I felt it was more beneficial to play here and be sharp going into the US Open than to stay home and maybe go up there a couple of days early.”

Mickelson needs to win next week at Shinnecock Hills to become the sixth man to have claimed all four majors – the US Open, the Masters, The Open and US PGA Championship – and his second round included five birdies and five bogeys.

“I didn’t really have it today but I was able to close out the round with a couple of birdies and get it back to even,” said the 47-year-old.

“My iron play needs to be a little bit better. And when I miss a green I’ve got to be sharper around the greens.”

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St. Jude Classic: Phil Mickelson & Brooks Koepka trail first round leader Seamus Power by one shot in Memphis

Brooks Koepka

St. Jude Classic first-round leaderboard
– 5 S Power (Ire); -4 T Merritt (US), W Bryan (US), F Gomez (Arg), B Koepka (US), P Mickelson (US), C Kirk (US), M Kim (US), B Harkins (US), S Stricker (US), M Hughes (Can), S Appleby (Aus)
Selected others: -3 D Johnson (US); -2 H Stenson (Swe), P Harrington (Ire); +2 S Lowry (Ire); +3 B Davis (Eng)
Full leaderboard

Phil Mickelson and US Open champion Brooks Koepka trail Irish leader Seamus Power by one shot after the first round of the St. Jude Classic in Tennessee.

Mickelson and Koepka are among a group of 11 players on four under par after rounds of 66 at TPC Southwind.

Power, who went to university in Tennessee, had six birdies and one bogey in his 65.

World number two Dustin Johnson is just a shot further adrift after a round of 67, which included a chip-in birdie.

Johnson holed a wedge from the edge of a water hazard on the par-four 12th after removing his right shoe and sock to take his stance in muddy water.

“I actually didn’t hit it very well and got lucky and it went in the hole,” he said.

Mickelson will again try to complete the career Grand Slam at Shinecock Hills next week after six runners-up finishes at the US Open.

The 47-year-old, who won The Open in 2013 to add to his PGA Championship and three Masters titles, said: “I had a nice simple round going and then I missed the last four fairways.

“I finished the round off, even though I didn’t quite have it there at the end, I was able to gather myself and control my thoughts a little bit better.”

Koepka, who has missed a lot of this season with a wrist injury, conceded “I didn’t play well at all,” adding he was “all over the place”.

“I’m a good putter. I just need to figure out everything else.”

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Shot Clock Masters: Players respond positively to speeding up play

Nicolas Colsaerts

Shot Clock Masters first-round leaderboard
-6 Lengden (Swe); -5 Jimenez (Spa), Hanson (Swe), Pulkkanen (Fin)
Selected others: -4 Neil, Syme (both Sco); -3 Lewis, Webster, McGowan, Foster (all Eng) Farr (Wal); -2 Horsey, Thompson (both Eng); -1 McKibbin (am) (NI), Chesters, Evans, Canter (all Eng).
Full leaderboard

Players have reacted positively to speeding up play after the first round of the inaugural Shot Clock Masters.

Players were allowed either 40 or 50 seconds to hit the ball at the event in Vienna, Austria, or risk a one-stroke penalty if they exceeded the limit.

No penalties were given and rounds were completed around 40 minutes quicker than normal on the European Tour.

Swede Peter Hanson said he was “loving” the format and Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen called it a “learning experience”.

The format is being tried amid ongoing concerns that a round of golf takes too long at the professional level, setting a bad example for amateurs.

There have been some attempts to speed up play, but none as serious as this week’s experiment.

Hanson said: “I think this is the way we should play golf, the way I was born and raised to play the game.

“We played the front nine in one hour, 55 minutes and managed to get in under four hours.

“It is so nice to play. You don’t overdo things, don’t think too much and everybody is ready to play.”

Kjelsen said: “You decide ‘I am not going to back off even if there is a sound or a fly or something like that’.

“I was surprised how much that helped me because in a way you are more committed, because (you are thinking) I am going to hit now, no matter what.”

Sweden’s Oscar Lengden topped the leaderboard after the first round with a six-under-par 66, with Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez, Hanson and Finland’s Tapio Pulkkanen a shot further back.

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Curtis Cup 2018: GB&I captain confident of win in America

The Great Britain and Ireland team celebrate with the Curtis Cup trophy in 2016

Curtis Cup
Venue: Quaker Ridge, United States Dates: 8-11 June

Despite a frustrating flight delay to New York, Great Britain and Ireland remain confident they can upset the odds and retain the Curtis Cup.

The match between the elite amateur women of GB&I and the United States begins at Quaker Ridge on Friday.

America boast a formidable line-up with all eight of their players ranked inside the world’s top 25 amateurs, including number one Lilia Vu.

But visiting captain Elaine Farquharson-Black believes her young team can repeat the stunning triumph they achieved at Dun Laoghaire in the Republic of Ireland two years ago and win on American soil for only the second time in the match’s 86-year history.

“We’ve been thinking about it and planning for what seems like a very long time,” Farquharson-Black told BBC Sport.

“We had a false start when the first plane didn’t take off and we had an extra night in London but we used that for everybody to get to know each other better.

“We were sitting on the runway for six hours because of technical faults. It started with the toilets not working at the back of the plane to then the intercom not working and then they cancelled the flight, so we flew on Wednesday instead of Tuesday last week.”

The average age of both teams is under 20 for a match that includes several players destined for the professional ranks. Only two players, Olivia Mehaffy and Alice Hewsen, remain in the visitors’ line-up from their victory in the last contest.

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At 20 in the world, Mehaffy is the highest-ranked player in the GB&I team which includes 15-year-old Annabel Fuller and Lily May Humphreys, 16. The US have teenage sensation Lucy Li, who qualified for the 2014 US Open when she was only 11-years-old.

Farquharson-Black, who played in the 1990 and ’92 matches, is not concerned about the youthful nature of her team.

“I think playing golf gives you a bit of maturity,” she said.

“You are out there having to control your emotions and decision making. We’ve made sure they spend time with the more experienced ones when they go out to practice, to work on course strategy and management, but they are a lot of fun.”

GB&I made their final preparations at nearby Fenway and paid particular attention to shots on and around the greens that they expect to face at Quaker Ridge. Short-game expert Steven Orr was flown in to oversee the sessions.

“With a Curtis Cup match in the States it is generally won and lost on the greens,” Farquharson-Black said.

She was in charge when GB&I completed their stunning 11.5-8.5 victory in Ireland two years ago. “Somebody commented to me that it was the best golf they had ever seen in a Curtis Cup,” the captain said.

GB&I Team Captain Elaine Farquharson-Black

“We made a whole heap of birdies, I think 70-odd birdies over the three days. It was very good golf and we are going about things in the same way in terms of our prep here.”

With the Ryder, Walker and Solheim Cups all in American hands, the Curtis Cup is the only one of the big four transatlantic golf trophies currently held outside the United States.

“I’m not sure I’m looking at it in terms of us being the only ones out of all the different cups,” Farquharson-Black said. “I suppose I look at it that it was fantastic to win in 2016 and we don’t have a great record over here, so I think it would be pretty special.

“We have a very good chance because we have eight exciting players playing well, we will be prepared and ready when the whistle blows.”

The contest is played over three days starting on June 9 with three foursomes followed by three fourball matches on each of the first two days and eight singles on Sunday.

These are the two teams:

GB and Ireland

India Clyburn, 21, Woodhall Spa, England

Annabell Fuller, 15, Roehampton, England

Paula Grant, 24, Lisburn, Ireland

Alice Hewson, 20, Berkhamsted, England

Lily May Humphreys, 16, Stoke-by-Nayland, England

Sophie Lamb, 20, Clitheroe, England

Shannon McWilliam, 18, Aboyne, Scotland

Olivia Mehaffey, 20, Royal County Down Ladies, Ireland

USA

Mariel Galdiano, 19, Pearl City, Hawaii

Kristen Gillman, 20, Austin, Texas

Jennifer Kupcho, 20, Westminster, Colorado

Andrea Lee, 19, Hermosa Beach, California

Lucy Li, 15, Redwood Shores, California

Sophia Schubert, 22, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Lauren Stephenson, 20, Lexington, South Carolina

Lilia Vu, 20, Fountain Valley, California

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Young Scots swap putting games in Dumfries for the European Tour

Liam Johnston, Connor Syme

A decade ago they were trying to out-do each other on the putting green at Dumfries & County Golf Club.

This week, Connor Syme and Liam Johnston are competing in the same European Tour event in Austria.

“If you’re being realistic, the chances of this were pretty slim, but we’ve both worked incredibly hard at it, so why not?” Johnston told BBC Scotland.

“I’ve known Connor since he was 12 or 13. We used to always play putting competitions at the club – and even some of them I can remember exactly how they finished.

“If you lost the putting competition, you had to go to the furthest pin on the course then bring it back. Then the loser of the next one had to take it back out.

“So you knew they had gone far enough to go and get it.

“That happened to Connor more, obviously.”

‘Win in Spain changed my year’

The entertaining way Johnston relays that story – in the company of a beaming Syme – indicates the great relationship the pair have but also that they simply just love their golf.

Syme, 22, is midway through his debut season on the European Tour.

Connor Syme

Johnston, 25, has a win under his belt on the Challenge Tour, something that might help him make the step up for the 2019 season.

“To see a long-time friend get his card first year out, straight out the blocks, is a huge inspiration to try and get myself there as well,” said Johnston, whose younger brother, Ryan, is his caddie at the Shot Clock Masters this week at Diamond Country Club, near Atzenbrugg.

“My win in Spain changed my year completely, has given me a massive boost and totally changed my schedule for the rest of the year.”

‘We want to be back here next year’

Syme was born in Kirkcaldy but lived in the Dumfries area from the age of two until his late teens because of his dad Stuart’s job as the professional at Dumfries & County, a role now occupied by James Erskine.

Now based at Drumoig Golf Centre in Fife with his Dad as his coach, Syme’s maiden year on the European Tour has been an enjoyable one but has not been without its challenges, as he seeks to acclimatise at a level he admirably reached ahead of schedule.

In the European Tour’s Race to Dubai rankings, Syme is currently 206th and, over the summer, will seek to get inside the top 110 to be assured of keeping his card for 2019.

Johnston is 11th in the Challenge Tour’s Race to Oman rankings and, if he stays in the top 15, will win a European Tour card for 2019.

“If Liam and I are both on the European Tour next year then we’re both doing something right,” Syme told BBC Scotland.

“It would be awesome if we could both be back pegging it up next year.

“It’s class to be out here playing together in a European Tour event, something we’ve both been striving to do since we were much younger.

“We’re always messaging each other and keeping an eye on each other’s results.”

In an attempt to speed up the game, there is a 40-second limit to play each stroke at the Shot Clock Masters in Austria, but at least there’s no requirement to run to the furthest pin as punishment for a bad putt.

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Richie Ramsay: Scot qualifies for US Open while compatriots bid for places

Richie Ramsay

Richie Ramsay has secured a place at next week’s US Open after finishing in a tie for third in the qualification event at Walton Heath in Surrey.

Englishmen Andrew Johnston and James Morrison were tied for first, sharing a one-shot lead on 10 under par.

Three Scots are taking part in another qualifier in Columbus, Ohio.

Amateur Ryan Lumsden and PGA Tour pair Martin Laird and Russell Knox are bidding to join compatriot Ramsay at Shinnecock Hills.

Like the Walton Heath event, the top 14 in Ohio qualify for the US Open, which was won last year by American Brooks Koepka.

Ramsay missed the cut on his two previous appearances at the major in 2007 and 2017.

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Jutanugarn wins US Women's Open after play-off

Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn playing out of a bunker on the 18th hole

US Women’s Open final leaderboard
-11 Hyo Joo Kim (Kor), A Jutanugarn (Tha) (Jutanugarn won at the fourth play-off hole); -7 C Ciganda (Spa); -3 D King (US) -2 L Thompson (US), P Tavatanakit (am), Wei-Ling Hsu (Tai), S-J Smith (Aus)
Selected others: level C Hull (Eng), M Wie (US); +5 J Ewart Shadoff (Eng); +6 G Hall (Eng)

Ariya Jutanugarn saw a seven-shot lead evaporate on the back nine but beat Hyo Joo Kim at the fourth extra hole to win the US Women’s Open in Alabama.

World number five Jutanugarn birdied five of the first nine but four shots went in three holes in a one-over 73.

Korea’s Kim, 22, carded five birdies in a bogey-free 67 to also end 11 under.

Both were level after a two-hole play-off and both parred the first sudden death hole before Jutanugarn, 22, won her second major with another par.

Jutanugarn became the first Thai major champion when she won the 2016 Women’s British Open and was four shots ahead overnight at Shoal Creek.

She made her fifth birdie of the day at the ninth but drove into the trees and ran up a triple bogey at the 10th, before dropping another shot when she failed to find the green in regulation at the 12th.

And when Kim, the 2014 Evian Championship winner, holed a putt from off the green at the 15th, for her fifth birdie of the day, the lead was reduced to a single stroke.

Hyo Joo Kim at the US Women's Open

But after a long wait on the tee at the par-three 16th which she spent calmly sitting against her golf bag, Jutanugarn hit a majestic shot to three feet for another birdie.

When world number 67 Kim, playing in the penultimate group, missed a five-foot birdie chance at the 17th it appeared to hand the Championship to Jutanugarn.

But the Thai went through the green at the par-five 17th, duffed a chip and had to hole from six feet to only drop one shot.

Then at the last another shot went after she put her second shot into a greenside bunker and failed to get up and down in two.

The two-hole play-off began at the 14th and Kim holed another long putt from the edge of the green for birdie, but she found a bunker at the 18th to drop a shot, while Jutanugarn sank a four-foot putt to take the Championship to sudden death.

The players went back to the 14th, which they both parred.

That meant another playing of the 18th and both found a greenside bunker but Jutanugarn played a sublime escape to two feet while Kim’s pulled up 18 feet from the hole and she could not hole her par putt.

They had finished four shots clear of Spain’s Carlota Ciganda in third, while world number one Inbee Park was ninth after four bogeys in a 73 and a one under total.

England’s Charley Hull was the highest placed British player, the world number 25 holed four birdies in a closing 71 for a share of 10th, 11 shots adrift.

Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg, who beat Park in a play-off to win the first women’s major of the year, the ANA Inspiration in April, finished a distant 15 over.

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