Horschel wins BMW Championship by 2

By Associated PressSeptember 7, 2014, 10:27 pm

CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. - The bad swing a week ago is a distant memory. The blown lead Sunday - that wasn't enough to derail Billy Horschel, either.

Horschel let a three-shot lead drop to nothing early in the final round of the BMW Championship before rebounding for a two-stroke victory over Bubba Watson. Horschel shot a 1-under 69 and finished at 14-under 266 to put himself in prime position for the FedEx Cup title and its $10 million bonus at the Tour Championship next week.

''If I were a betting man, I'd put some money on me,'' said Horschel, who made $1.44 million for his second career PGA Tour victory.

Horschel heads into the final week of the playoff chase in second place in the points standings thanks to the victory and his tie for second a week ago - when he chunked a 6-iron well short on the final hole at TPC Boston, squandering a chance to win or force extra holes with playoff leader Chris Kirk.

This time, nursing a two-shot lead, the 27-year-old from Grant, Florida, smoothed a 9-iron into the middle of the 18th green and the only drama was whether he'd have time for a quick pit stop before he had to putt. Horschel sprinted up the fairway, ducked under the ropes and was back in plenty of time to two-putt and close out the victory.

''Obviously, after last week, a lot of people on Twitter were calling me a choker,'' Horschel said. ''I didn't choke. I made one bad swing at a bad time. To start with a three-shot lead today and hold on means a lot.''


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About an hour earlier, it was another chunked shot that drastically altered the course of the tournament.

Ryan Palmer erased his opening three-shot deficit to Horschel and was tied after six holes, then again after 11.

Palmer was one behind as the final threesome walked down the 13th fairway, with Horschel buried in the right rough and Palmer buried in the left. Horschel hit his second shot safely on the green. Palmer shanked his into a small creek that runs in front of the green. He made double bogey to fall three behind.

''A shank? (Doesn't happen) very often,'' Palmer said. ''But I'm doing with the downhill, down in the rough, I'm blaming it on that. But it happens. It's a fickle game.''

That left Sergio Garcia, who cut a seven-shot deficit to two, as the last true threat, but his chance imploded on the par-5 17th - when he laid up, cooked his third shot over the green, then chipped into the water. He made a triple-bogey 8 - sullying a round of 67. He finished at 9 under, tied for fourth with Palmer (71), Rickie Fowler (68) and Jim Furyk (66).

''It's what happens when you're not mentally sharp,'' Garcia said about the decision not to go for the green in two. ''Then, just a mistake after another mistake.''

Horschel said losing the lead early didn't bother him much.

''That's why you have a three-shot lead. To have a little wiggle room,'' he said.

Unlike Palmer and Garcia, Watson, who shot 66, never truly threatened to take the lead, but he didn't blow up, either. He missed a 25-foot birdie putt on 18 that would've drawn him within one of Horschel, who was behind him in the fairway.

But Watson didn't make much all week. He finished 42nd in putting over four rounds. Still, he'll go to Atlanta third in the standings, joining Kirk, Horschel, Rory McIlroy and Hunter Mahan among the top five, all of whom control their destiny - meaning a win will give them the playoff title, as well.

''Maybe that's when I make my putts,'' Watson said.

Palmer's fourth-place finish moved him from 37th to 23rd in the standings.

But outside of Horschel, Sunday's biggest winner was third-place finisher Morgan Hoffman, who turned the old-school, mile-high layout at Cherry Hills into his personal pitch and putt over the weekend. He shot 7-under 63 on Sunday to go with his course-record 62 on Saturday and vaulted from 68th to 21st in the standings. He started the playoffs 124th, matching the worst starting ranking to make the 30-player Tour Championship in the eight-year history of the playoffs.

''That's the perfect way of putting it - 'nothing to lose,''' Hoffman said. ''Carefree and just go out and fire at pins.''

McIlroy finished tied for eighth after a 66 that included a replay of the worst kind - a four-putt on the 12th green for the second straight day. Still, he's comfortably in the mix for next week.

Not so for Stuart Appleby, who missed an 18-foot birdie try on his last hole to end up in 31st. And Keegan Bradley's decision to withdraw Saturday because of a question over a drop he took in the opening round left him in 33rd, a five-spot drop.

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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.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials phoned Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial. 

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm