Bowditch leads Nelson by 2

By Associated PressMay 31, 2015, 2:10 am

IRVING, Texas - Steven Bowditch positioned himself Saturday for his second PGA Tour win in Texas. Hometown favorite Jordan Spieth might have to keep waiting for his first.

Bowditch shot a 4-under 65 on Saturday in the AT&T Byron Nelson to take a two-stroke lead and leave Spieth six shots back heading into the final round.

On a mostly sunny day that started with the second straight three-hour delay because of earlier rain, Bowditch got to 13-under 195. The Australian, who won the Texas Open last year in San Antonio for his lone PGA Tour title, was much steadier a day after a wild second round of seven birdies and six bogeys.

"I was able to grind it out and still create not a bad golf score yesterday when things were looking not so good," Bowditch said. "It was pretty important yesterday I felt just to put myself in position to go again."

Dustin Johnson was in the group tied for second after the day's low round of 62 on the rain-altered par 69 at TPC Four Seasons.


AT&T Byron Nelson Championship: Articles, videos and photos


Jonathan Randolph, playing with Spieth and sitting 266 spots behind him in the world ranking, briefly held the lead but went in the water on 18 for a double bogey that dropped him into a tie with Johnson, Texan Jimmy Walker, Scott Pinckney and Jon Curran. Pinckney shot 64, Randolph 65, and Walker and Curran 67.

Spieth had a 68. The Masters champion was tied for 18th.

"I just didn't have it," said Spieth, whose first PGA Tour start was in the Nelson as a 16-year-old amateur five years ago.

Curran, the rookie who shared the second-round lead with Bowditch and Walker, rallied with three straight birdies late in the round.

Clouds gradually disappeared during the afternoon and the forecast is clear for Sunday. But the course is still soggy enough that the normally par-4 14th will remain a pitch-and-putt par 3 barely longer than 100 yards for the third straight round.

PGA Tour officials believe it's the first par-69 course in records going back to 1983. Threesomes will play off both tees again Sunday to give the course more time to dry, and the final par total will be 277 after the first round played at the normal 70.

"All the players were talking about it at the start of this week, it's more than likely going to be a 54-hole tournament, even possibly a 36-hole tournament," Bowditch said. "To be sitting here Saturday night - I think it's a perfect day tomorrow - it's pretty amazing."

Bowditch, who held the lead alone after the first round, battled some marshy conditions to stay on top. The 31-year-old who lives in the Dallas area had his only bogey at No. 9, when his tee shot went way right into a water hazard and he had to take the drop in a mushy part of the rough.

The squish of his footsteps could be heard as he spent several minutes discussing his lie with rules official Peter Dachisen before finally hitting. Bowditch shook his head as he walked while the ball rolled onto a cart path behind a bunker left of the hole. He missed a par putt.

"We couldn't find anywhere to drop it," Bowditch said. "So, just took time. Probably happened all day with everyone."

Spieth, the world No. 2 and FedEx Cup points leader, missed short birdie putts on his first two holes and never could make a strong push despite another large gallery urging every shot to go in.

That almost happened on the best spectator hole, the par-3 17th, when Spieth's tee shot landed less than a foot from the pin before backing up and settling about 8 feet away.

Fittingly on a frustrating day, Spieth left the putt on the edge of the cup, bending down to stare at it for a few seconds in case it dropped before the Dallas native tapped it in.

"When I was walking up there I was a little upset it wasn't a tap-in," said Spieth, who finished second in the other three Texas events this year - including the water-logged Colonial last week - and got his other tour win at the Valspar Championship in Florida a month before the Masters. "It was a really cool shot. Fun to hit. Crowd went crazy."

Randolph played a six-hole stretch in 5 under, including an eagle at the par-5 seventh. He was a stroke up on Bowditch after making about a 25-footer at the par-4 12th, with Bowditch pulling even again after almost driving the green on the 323-yard, par-4 11th.

Johnson, who won the Cadillac Championship at Doral in March for his first win since a six-month hiatus for personal reasons, had four birdies in five holes on the front and finished his round by putting his approach at the par-4 18th inside 5 feet for a birdie.

"It's a fun course to play," said Johnson, who has finished seventh or better in three of his past four Nelson appearances going back to 2009. "Got to hit all kinds of shots. If you're hitting the ball well, you can make a lot of birdies."

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Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”