Sunday 22 April 2018

McIlroy goes head-to-head with the Tiger

Next week's US Open could end Tiger Woods' barren run in major championships
Next week's US Open could end Tiger Woods' barren run in major championships

William S Callahan

World No 1 Tiger Woods, second-ranked Rory McIlroy and Masters champion Adam Scott will form a mouth-watering grouping for the first two rounds of next week's US Open in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.

For the third consecutive year, the top three players in the world rankings have been drawn together at the year's second Major – a popular ploy that generates hype and attracts huge galleries.

Woods, seeking his first Major title since the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines, is a strong favourite for the June 13-16 championship at Merion GC after winning four times in eight starts on the 2013 PGA Tour.

The big three will start Thursday's opening round off the first tee at 6.14pm Irish time. They will then set off from the 11th tee at 12.44pm on Friday.

In keeping with tradition, tournament officials have placed defending champion Webb Simpson in the same group as the British Open champion (Ernie Els) and the reigning US Amateur winner (Steven Fox).

Meanwhile, Padraig Harrington carded a second-round 70 for a midway score of one-under 139 at the FedEx St Jude Classic in Memphis, nine shots behind clubhouse leader Harris English of the US.

Harrington's two birdies at three and 16 were cancelled out by a pair of bogeys at five and nine as the Dubliner looks to hone his game over the weekend ahead of next week's US Open.

English's 66 on Thursday had put him in a six-way tie for the lead after the first round. However, while many around him could not match their first-round exertions, the American exceeded his efforts with a 64.

Shawn Stefani was almost as impressive as he followed Thursday's 67 with a 65, including five birdies and no bogeys to move two shots behind English.

Three shots further adrift was Paul Haley as he added a 68, including three birdies and one bogey, to his first-round 67. A shot behind was a group of four.

Davis Love III had been in the group of six at the top of the leaderboard overnight. However, after starting on the back nine, the American dropped a shot at the 11th and hit a double bogey at the par-four 17th.

The front nine included a birdie and a bogey before he picked up a valuable shot at the final hole to card a round of 70, four-under overall.

On the European Tour, Holland's Joost Luiten will take a slender lead into the third round of the Lyoness Open as England's Tom Lewis fell four shots off the pace.

Luiten added a 68 to his opening 65 at Diamond Country Club to finish 11-under, one shot clear of England's Paul Waring, Scotland's Callum Macaulay and Spain's Eduardo de la Riva.

Lewis began the day with a two-shot lead over Luiten following a flawless 63 on Thursday, but could only manage a 74 which contained three birdies and five bogeys.

Starting from the 10th, Luiten covered the back nine in 35 with three birdies and two bogeys before coming home in 33 thanks largely to some brilliant approach shots.

Lyoness Open, Day 3

Live, Sky Sports 3, 12.0

FedEx St Jude Classic, Day 3

Live, Sky Sports 3, 6.0

Irish Independent

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