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'Relaxed' Power is in 'good spot'

Which Padraig Harrington will show up? That's what fans asks at the beginning of every tournament he starts in. Tomorrow, he'll tee off in the British Open, along with two other Irish former champions, Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke, and the reigning champion Shane Lowry.
INPHO/TOMMY DICKSON

By John Manley
Seamus Power ran his string of consecutive top-20 finishes on the PGA Tour to five by earning a share of eighth place in the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois. Whereas he has been something of a frontrunner stumbling over the weekend, he flipped the script here.
A bogey-free 68 in the first round wasn’t enough to put Power in contention, nor was Friday’s 67. Saturday began auspiciously enough with birdies at the first three holes and the sixth but he refunded three of those on consecutive holes beginning at the ninth. Birdies at 16 and 17 helped yield a round of 68 that still had him outside the top 20, six strokes off the lead.

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A somewhat desultory start to Sunday’s round – one stroke under par at the turn – couldn’t predict what was to come. Power got hot with birdies at 11, 12, 14 and 15 as the rest of the field began to struggle with the wet conditions. He rose as high as second place on the leaderboard just a stroke off the lead only to see his momentum stall. Medium-range putts for birdie at the three finishing holes were just wide of the mark. Yet, he shared the clubhouse lead for a spell.

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Power’s 66 left him four strokes off Lucas Glover’s winning score. More importantly, perhaps, he’s now 123rd on the FedEx Cup points ladder. If he can finish the campaign 125th or better, he’ll have full status on next year’s Tour, unlike now where his life is full of Monday qualifiers and biding time on alternates lists.

“My game is in a good spot at the moment,” Power said. “It obviously kind of helps the mind be a little bit more relaxed but I’ve still got a lot of work to do to get at least in the Top 125 to get in the playoffs. That’s going to be my main goal for now.”Next up for Power is this week’s Barbasol Championship in Kentucky.

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Seamus Power. INPHO/OISIN KENIRY[/caption]

EUROPEAN TOUR
One of the more fascinating aspects to this 2021 season is wondering which Padraig Harrington is going to show up at a tournament. There’s the version that finished tied for fourth place at the PGA Championship and then there’s the other version that finds it tough to make a cut elsewhere. The former showed up for the Scottish Open and worked out space amongst the group at 18th place.

Harrington was always on the cusp of contention in this event on the strength of rounds of 67, 68 and 68. Sunday’s 70 knocked him down a few pegs as he gave up one more stroke than he’d been accustomed to in his two previous rounds and was one birdie shy of the five strokes he’d taken off par over the three previous days. Seven strokes separated him from the group that moved on to the playoff, which was won by Min Woo Lee.
Cormac Sharvin also played the weekend after opening with rounds of 70 and an immaculate 66. Saturday’s 68 suggested he might make his presence felt with an extraordinary round on Sunday but that was not be. Four bogeys mixed with three birdies yielded a round of 72 and he receded into a share of 44th place.

Rory McIlroy finished Friday’s round with bogey on two of his final six holes, thus pushing him onto the wrong side of the line. He missed the cut by one, having shot 70 and 71. Graeme McDowell (73-71) and Jonathan Caldwell (74-76) also counted as early dismissals.

Ready to tee up in this week’s British Open are McIlroy, Harrington, Clarke and defending champion Shane Lowry, all former champions of this event. This year’s venue is Royal St. George’s, which is where Clarke lifted the Claret Jug in 2011.

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Shane Lowry begins his defense of the British Open title tomorrow. INPHO/TOMMY DICKSON[/caption]

BIZARRE START FOR
RORY ON FRIDAY

Rory McIlroy’s spin at this year’s Scottish Open may be long remembered but not for anything he did with a golf club in his hand; after all, he missed the cut and did not play the weekend.

Rather, McIlroy garnered attention as he was waiting to begin his round at the 10th tee on Friday. While he was chatting with his caddie Harry Diamond and playing partner Jon Rahm, a spectator casually strolled onto the tee box, reached into McIlroy’s bag and lifted out one of his woods.
The spectator then walked a few feet to the side, dropped the head cover to the ground and made as if he was going to hit the cover. McIlroy, meanwhile, never took his hands out of his pants pockets and began looking around to summon security. A tournament official materialized after about 20 seconds, with a security person along soon thereafter. The spectator was later reported as inebriated.

McIlroy’s languid play can’t be attributed to the incident. He went out in 33 without a bogey for the back nine. Not until returning to the front nine did matters deteriorate. He shot 38 there, combining three bogeys and a birdie, to miss the cut by a stroke.

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Rory McIlroy. INPHO/PETER FITZGERALD[/caption]

LPGA TOUR
Leona Maguire was flirting with missing the cut after 27 holes of the Marathon LPGA Classic at Highland Meadows in Sylvania, Ohio. She’d shot 2-under-par 69 in Thursday’s first round, but began the second round with double bogey-6 at the 10th hole. She played the rest of the back nine evenly before reporting to the first tee (her 10th hole of the round). Maguire then turned her tournament around, picking up five birdies for a front-nine score of 29.

A similar script played out on Saturday. Maguire was a stroke under par for the event through 15 holes, but then birdied each of the three finishing holes for a round of 67.

Rain forced the cancellation of Sunday’s final round, leaving Maguire tied for 15th place, 10 strokes behind the victorious Nasa Hataoka, who separated herself from the field by shooting 61 on Thursday. She won by six strokes.

Rounds of 74 resulted in a missed cut for Stephanie Meadow, who was six strokes on the wrong side of the cut line. She and Maguire now move on to this week’s Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational in Midland, Michigan.

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Leona Maguire.[/caption]

INPHO/RYAN BYRNE

CHALLENGE TOUR
Just a month after finishing up at the University of Louisville, John Murphy has a joint-11th finish to his credit on this feeder circuit to the European Tour. The youngster out of Kinsale, Co. Cork was in contention for much of the La Vaudreuil Golf Challenge in France until the top two finishers pulled away in the final round. He shot 67, 69, 71 and 71 to finish the event six strokes under par and nine behind the champion, Marcel Siem.

Murphy entered the final round five strokes off the lead but ran into immediate trouble on Sunday, starting the round bogey-double bogey. He lost another stroke before making the turn but got back on track with four birdies over the back nine.

Tom McKibbin, an 18-year-old from the Belfast suburbs, combined rounds of 71, 69, 72 and 67 to earn a share of 16th place at 5-under 279. He played the final 33 holes with only one stumble but it was a big one – a triple-bogey 7 at 14 on Saturday that cost him a top-10 placing. He signed to an immaculate scorecard on Sunday.

Conor Purcell got a piece of 20th place, having shot 280 (71-68-71-70). Like McKibbin, he coughed up strokes on only one hole over his final 33; here again, it was a triple-bogey 7 at 15 on Sunday.
Robin Dawson (71-73) missed the cut by a stroke. Michael Hoey (71-74) and Gavin Moynihan (75-74), likewise, had the weekend to themselves.