Bowditch (62) leads Byron Nelson; Spieth 7 back

By Associated PressMay 29, 2015, 12:46 am

IRVING, Texas - Steven Bowditch considers the AT&T Byron Nelson his home tournament - just maybe not to the extent Jordan Spieth does.

The Australian matched his low round on the PGA Tour with an 8-under 62 on Thursday to take a two-shot lead over another Texan, Jimmy Walker. Spieth was seven shots back in his first round as Masters champion in the event that gave the Dallas player his start as a 16-year-old amateur in 2010.

Bowditch, who moved to the Dallas area 10 years ago, has made the cut just once at the Nelson - in his debut in 2011, when he tied for 60th after a third-round 80. He didn't make it to the weekend each of the past three years at TPC Four Seasons.

The 31-year-old missed the cut last week at Colonial in Fort Worth, which is a little farther from his home in the suburb of Flower Mound and he says doesn't have quite the "hometown" draw as the Nelson for Bowditch's family and friends.

"It's starting to feel that way, to be honest. Starting to get a lot more ticket requests," said Bowditch, whose only PGA Tour win was the 2014 Texas Open in San Antonio. "You always want to play well, but I guess it is a little more special when you have everyone around that only get to see you play golf once a year."


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The Nelson had the hometown feel for Spieth the moment he stepped to the 10th tee as a high school junior five years ago, when he tied for 16th as the sixth-youngest player to make the cut in a PGA Tour event. He returned as a rising star after his win at Augusta, frequently tipping his cap to large galleries that even cheered as he walked onto greens.

"It feels different when I tee off now versus when I was out there then," said Spieth, who has finished second at all three Texas events this year, including Colonial. "Obviously, off the course I prepare hard for this and would like to play well and get in contention. But when I'm inside the ropes, it's just another week. Back then, it was the biggest tournament I've ever played in."

James Hahn and Dallas resident Ryan Palmer shared third at 65, and 2011 Nelson champion Keegan Bradley was in the group 66. Danny Lee aced the par-3 17th with a 5-iron from 190 yards and was tied for ninth at 67.

Defending champion Brendon Todd, playing a group ahead of Spieth, had just one birdie and shot 72.

Despite an opening birdie, the 21-year-old Spieth couldn't get the warm greetings to escalate on a mostly sunny but soggy course that has absorbed about a foot of rain in less than three weeks. Players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairways.

Spieth didn't give himself many good chances for birdie, and let a couple get away in the last three holes by missing short putts while playing with Justin Thomas, his friend and opponent in the 2012 NCAA team final when Spieth led Texas over Alabama. Thomas opened with an even-par 70.

A grim-faced Spieth tossed his putter toward his bag after not even catching the lip from 8 feet on 16, but was generally upbeat after the round.

"I just didn't give myself enough looks inside of 15 feet today," said Spieth, who won the Valspar Championship about a month before the Masters. "That's the only reason I'm at 1 (under) and not better. I felt comfortable driving the ball and striking it."

Bowditch made three putts of 24 feet or longer while shooting a 30 on the front nine and had the last of eight birdies in a bogey-free round with a 6-foot putt after a long bunker shot at the par-5 16th. His previous best round at the Nelson was a second-round 65 that helped him make his only cut four years ago.

"Probably my best putting in the way of longer putts made," said Bowditch, whose other 62 was in the final round of the 2011 Viking Classic in Mississippi. "I typically don't make a lot of longer putts."

Walker, who picked up his second win of the year in March not far from home at the Texas Open, birdied four of his last five holes. All of the putts were inside 10 feet.

"I'm a Texas guy and lived here a long time, so yeah, winning in Texas is cool," said Walker, a five-time winner who is second to Spieth in FedEx Cup points. "It was a nice finish. Good iron shots."

Hahn, also starting on No. 10, was 6 under with six holes to play but had a pair of bogeys before a finishing birdie.

 

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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.