February 15, 2019

GOLF Story
By Gethin Coolbaugh, The Sports Xchange
Publish Date: August 25, 2016 02:16:11 PM


Reed, Laird share lead at Barclays

Patrick Reed is trying his best to focus on one cup at a time.
The 26-year-old San Antonio native and world No. 14 ranks eighth in the Ryder Cup standings for the United States, but can put himself in prime position to hoist his first career FedExCup with a victory at The Barclays.
"Of course (the Ryder Cup is) on my mind," Reed said after shooting a 5-under-par 66 to share a one-shot lead with Scotland's Martin Laird after the opening round of the FedExCup Playoffs kickoff at treacherous Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, N.Y.
World No. 8 Rickie Fowler anchors a four-way tie for third with J.B. Holmes, Kevin Chappell and Spain's Emiliano Grillo at 67.
Top-ranked Jason Day of Australia is in four-way tie for seventh with Sweden's Jonas Blixt, South Korea's Sung Kang and Venezuela's Jhonattan Vegas at 68.
Reed didn't play like a man distracted Thursday, carding a bogey-free round with an eagle and three birdies. His eagle came at the 517-yard, par-five No. 4, his 13th hole, after sinking his putt of 16 1/2 feet.
"It was a clean day," said Reed, who hit nine of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens in regulation. "I feel like I hit the ball pretty solid."
Reed rose to eighth in the Ryder Cup race after a tie for 22nd at last weekend's Wyndham Championship. The top eight earn an automatic spot on the team, and qualifying concludes once The Barclays crowns a champion.
"I know for me this year, it's about getting sweet revenge," Reed said of his Ryder Cup aspirations. "My first one was down at Gleneagles (2014 in Scotland), and I played some great golf, but ... our team didn't win. So for us, it's sweet revenge, go back out and keep that Cup here in the States."
Laird took an unconventional route to his 66, landing on only five of 14 fairways in regulation. However, he was a crisp 15-for-18 on the greens.
"I didn't hit that many fairways, but I really hit a lot of good tee shots, which left me in good spots," said Laird, a three-time PGA Tour winner who tied for 63rd at last weekend's Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C.
The 33-year-old last won with a two-stroke victory over Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy at the 2013 Valero Texas Open.
Reed, whose last victory came in a playoff against this year's PGA champion Jimmy Walker at the 2015 Hyundai Tournament of Champions, is seventh in the FedExCup standings while Laird is 89th.
Day, who holds a 34-point lead over world No. 2 Dustin Johnson atop the FedEx Cup standings, opened par-bogey before closing with a stretch of four birdies and 12 pars to close his opening round.
Day was last year's Barclays champion, tying tournament records for aggregate and to-par scores at 19-under 261 to beat Sweden's Henrik Stenson by six strokes at nearby Plainfield Country Club in Edison, N.J.
"If you're trying to win a tournament such as The Barclays, first FedExCup Playoff event, the best players in the world are playing here, and it is a U.S. Open-style golf course, it's very difficult," Day said.
Fowler eagled the 553-yard, par-five No. 7 and had three birdies opposite a bogey on No. 9.
World No. 3 Jordan Spieth, who hoisted the 2015 FedEx Cup, is tied for 33rd with world No. 5 McIlroy and world No. 6 Bubba Watson, among others, at 71.
Spieth had four birdies and four bogeys while McIlroy and Watson also struggled amid windy conditions. McIlroy's three birdies were cancelled out by three birdies while Watson penciled two double-bogeys on his card.
"I think everyone saw it was difficult conditions out there this afternoon," McIlroy said. "I think anything under par today, especially in the afternoon, is a good score."
Stenson, the world No. 4 and silver medalist at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero, withdrew with a right knee injury after carding a triple- and double-bogey en route to a 74.
Stenson, who won The Open Championship in July for his first major, also withdrew from this year's U.S. Open with minor neck and knee injuries.
"My right knee, which required surgery in December, 2016, has flared up again," Stenson said in a statement. "Regrettably, I need to withdraw this week to allow time for an MRI (exam) and see what the next step is."
Johnson, the 2011 Barclays winner, and Phil Mickelson are among a large group tied for 20th after firing opening-round 70s.
World No. 7 Adam Scott of Australia, the 2013 Barclays winner, is tied for 11th at 69.
Olympic gold medalist and world No. 9 Justin Rose of England shot a five-bogey 73 and is tied for 69th at 73.
Wyndham winner Si Woo Kim of South Korea is tied for 86th with Steve Stricker, who won the Barclays in 2007, at 74.
Fiji's Vijay Singh, a two-time Barclays winner in 1995 and 2008, is tied for 51st at 72. The former world No. 1 is on the bubble to advance in the playoffs after entering the week ranked 97th in the standings.
The top 100 in the FedEx Cup standings move onto next weekend's Deutsche Bank Championship in Norton, Mass., the second of four playoff events.
NOTES: Brett Stegmaier withdrew with a left wrist injury after an 8-over 43 start on his first nine holes, including double-bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17. ... Bubba Watson and caddie Ted Scott, a Louisiana native, pledged to donate to the Louisiana flood relief effort. "(Watson) told me he was going to donate $100,000," Scott told PGATour.com. Scott will donate 10 percent of his FedEx Cup Playoffs earnings. ... Rory McIlroy, a Nike client, switched putters from a Nike Method Origin blade to a Scotty Cameron prototype mallet. "I feel like with the putter change to a mallet, it doesn't encourage that face to close that much, which is the bad putt I was getting," the Northern Irishman told PGATour.com. McIlroy's switch came after Nike halted production on golf clubs, balls and bags, a move McIlroy called "a shock to all of us


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