Koepka leads Spieth by 2 in Nelson

By Associated PressMay 21, 2016, 10:39 pm

IRVING, Texas - Brooks Koepka knew all those spectators lined several deep along the fairways and around the greens were there to cheer for one of his playing partners.

Many of them were lugging around some of the 8,000 Jordan Spieth bobbleheads given away Saturday at the Byron Nelson or using hand-held fans with his picture. They also got to watch the third-round leader play.

Koepka overcame two early bogeys and the huge shadow of playing alongside Spieth in his home event, shooting a 5-under 65 and matching the Nelson's best 54-hole score at 16-under 194. He had a two-stroke lead over Spieth going into Sunday's final round when they will be paired together again.

''Doesn't really bother me. I mean he's got a lot of support which is cool to see,'' said Koepka, describing himself as a chilled athlete. ''He has grown up here. ... He should.''

Spieth played his first PGA Tour event at the Nelson as a 16-year-old amateur six years ago. He is now the world's No. 2-ranked player and his image is everywhere at TPC Four Seasons, including those treasured bobbleheads and on signage for AT&T, which sponsors him and this tournament.

Playing in the final threesome with Spieth and second-round leader Ben Crane, Koepka hit his first drive way left on the way to an opening bogey. There were birdies at Nos. 3 and 5, but Koepka followed with another bogey at No. 6 when he hit his first two shots into the rough.

But Koepka was bogey-free the rest of the day and took the lead with a 20-foot birdie at the difficult 405-yard 14th hole. Spieth drained a 23-foot putt there to salvage a bogey after hitting his drive into the water and having to punch a shot back into the fairway.

''Powerful. Fearless and powerful,'' Spieth said when asked to describe Koepka's game.


AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos


Matt Kuchar (65), Bud Cauley (68) and Sergio Garcia (68) were tied for third at 13 under.

Crane, who turned 40 in March, shot 72 and dropped to 10 under and in a tie for 11th.

Even though Koepka played well enough to take a two-stroke lead, he felt like he hit the ball terrible and that his round ''wasn't anything to brag about at all'' with the exception of the round-low 22 putts.

''It wasn't good today. It was kind of embarrassing,'' Koepka said. ''We both kind of hung in there, battled it out and we made some good, good key 10-footers.''

A stressful round is what Spieth called it.

''I just don't have confidence over the ball right now,'' he said. ''It's very frustrating and actually pretty incredible to still be in this tournament.''

Garcia was 15 under and with the outright lead after his fourth birdie of the round, and second in a row, when he made a 25-footer at No. 8. But the 36-year-old Spaniard, the 2004 Nelson champion, then three-putted from nearly 60 feet at the ninth hole before missing the fairway with his drive for another bogey at No. 10.

That second bogey came about the same time Spieth, in the final group right behind him, made a 9-foot birdie at the 416-yard No. 9 to get to 14 under for the lead.

But Spieth had the bogey at 14 and his only other birdie after that was from about 20 foot at the par-3 17th to get back within a stroke of the lead - ''Probably the loudest roar I think I ever heard on a golf course,'' Koepka said. Spieth gave the stroke right back with a wayward tee shot and bogey at No. 18.

This is Spieth's sixth Nelson, his fourth as a professional. The Dallas native's best finish was a tie for 16th as a 16-year-old in his 2010 debut.

At 26, Koepka is four years older than Spieth with one win (Phoenix in 2015) in his 54 previous PGA Tour starts.

''I feel like I'm pretty mentally tough,'' he said. ''Nothing really bothers me but I know I've worked my tail off, so the results should come.''

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The Social: G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T.

By Jason CrookJanuary 23, 2018, 6:00 pm

Tom Brady compares himself to Tiger Woods, who coincidentally is returning to the PGA Tour this week, Jordan Spieth hangs out with some decent company and kids these days ruffle some feathers with their friendships.

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

Well, it’s finally Farmers Insurance Open week and Woods has been spotted practicing for his official return to the PGA Tour on Thursday.

Some thought this day might never come after a 2017 filled with mostly downs for the 14-time major champ.

But as he has taught the golf world time and time again, you just can't count Tiger out.

So even as Jon Rahm attempts to overtake Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world this week at Torrey Pines, all eyes will be on one of the greatest we've ever seen do it, even if that guy is ranked No. 647 in the world.

Speaking of greatness …

There’s not many who can just offhandedly compare themselves to Tiger, but if anyone gets a pass, it’s Tom Brady.

The 40-year-old New England Patriots quarterback led his team back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year despite playing the AFC title game with a cut on his throwing hand.

When asked about it after the Patriots come-from-behind victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady answered, “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”

So there you have it. A 40-year-old Brady is winning AFC Championships with his C game. Good luck, Eagles; you’re going to need it.

Also, if for some reason you wanted an update on Justin Thomas' life, it's still awesome:

Yeah, that's last year's PGA Tour Player of the Year hanging with Cy Young winner Cory Kluber in a suite at the Patriots game and teasing us with a possible #SB2K18 cameo.

Curtis Strange likes his competitive golf straight up, hold the friendliness.

This, according to Curtis Strange.

The two-time U.S. Open champ took to Twitter during the CareerBuilder Challenge to vent his frustration regarding the constant chit-chat and friendliness between Rahm and Andrew Landry:

This, of course, makes sense in theory. But good luck watching golf – or really any sport – from here on out. Sure there will be a few old school guys who buck the trend here and there, but for the most part, it’s really hard to share a private jet/dinners/vacations/(insert awesome thing here) with someone, and then completely turn off the friendship coming down the stretch of a big tournament.

Damn millennials. They ruin everything.

By now you've all seen that poor Philadelphia Eagles fan who lost his battle with a subway station pillar (from multiple angles), so instead here is a video of a man attempting to stand on an egg. Bet you can't guess how that goes.

Tony's gonna stand on an egg

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Seriously if you haven't seen the video of that Eagles fan, here's your last chance in this column. You'll be glad you did.

Jordan Spieth, Michael Phelps and Bryce Harper walk on to a golf course … there’s no punchline, that actually happened last week in Las Vegas.

Was the whole thing just a big advertisement for Spieth’s new Under Armour shoe? You bet.

But that doesn’t make the optics of three of the biggest superstar athletes on the planet teeing it up for a round any less awesome.

Off to the next. #Spieth2 #TEAMUA

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The trio has three major wins, five All Star Game appearances and 28 Olympic medals between them, and there they were over the weekend just fake laughing for the camera and driving around individual golf carts with their own personalized logos on them.

Just guys being dudes. Nothing better than that.

Matt Kuchar. Still good at golf. Still overly polite. This according to European Tour pro Eddie Pepperell who had the privilege of hitting on the range next to Kuuuuuch in Abu Dhabi last week.

That image is burned into your brain forever now, thanks Eddie. From now on when you think of Kuchar you're going to think of those Sketches ads and "oopsies."

Which, I suppose is better than a, "Did you get that?"

Blayne Barber's caddie, Cory Gilmer, collapsed and hit his head while at a restaurant at the Sony Open and has been mostly unconscious in the neurological intensive care unit ever since.

The outpouring of love and support from the golf community has been overwhelming on social media, and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with the mounting medical costs for Gilmer and his family.

Check out the link below for more info or to donate to a worthy cause:

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Top-ranked amateur wins LAAC, earns Masters invite

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 5:38 pm

Joaquin Niemann walked Augusta National Golf Club as a patron last year. He’ll be a competitor in 2018.

Niemann, the top-ranked amateur in the world, shot 8-under 63 Tuesday at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Santiago, Chile, to win the Latin America Amateur Championship.

And with the title, both redemption and an invitation to the Masters Tournament.


Full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship


Niemann finished runner-up in last year’s LAAC to fellow Chilean Toto Gana. He followed Gana around Augusta grounds, watching as his best friend played two rounds before missing the cut.

Niemann, who was going to turn professional had he not won this week, started the final round one back of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz. Niemann was sluggish from the start on Tuesday, but then drove the 313-yard, par-4 eighth and made the eagle putt. That sparked a run of five birdies over his next six holes.

Niemann was bogey-free in the final round and finished five shots clear of Ortiz, at 11 under.

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Judges Panel, Host Announced for Wilson Golf's "Driver vs. Driver 2," Premiering This Fall on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 23, 2018, 4:15 pm

‘Driver vs. Driver 2 Presented by Wilson Currently in Production; Sports Broadcaster Melanie Collins Returns to Host

Morning Drive: Driver vs. Driver 2 Judges Announced

Golf Channel and Wilson Golf announced today the panel of judges and host for the second season of Driver vs. Driver, the innovative television series that follows aspiring golf equipment designers as they compete for the opportunity to have their driver idea or concept transformed into the next great golf driver from Wilson. The show is currently in production and will premiere this fall.

Joining judge Tim Clarke, President of Wilson Golf, are two newcomers to the series: 9-time National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star and current NHL on NBC hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick – an avid golfer with a single digit handicap and a self-described golf equipment junkie; and PGA Professional, golf coach, equipment reviewer and social media influencer Rick Shiels.

“Golf is a big passion of mine, and personally I enjoy learning about new equipment and concepts,” said Roenick. “To be able to see this side of the business in how equipment is developed first-hand is fascinating. Being a part of the process in reviewing driver concepts and narrowing them down to an ultimate winning driver that will be sold across the country is a tremendous honor.” 

“Jeremy, as an avid golfer, and Rick, as a coach, equipment reviewer and golf professional, bring incredible, real world insights and different perspectives to the show and this process,” said Clarke. “I’m excited to work alongside these two judges to push the boundaries of innovation and bring a next-generation driver to golfers around the world.”

Sports broadcaster Melanie Collins returns as the host of Driver vs. Driver 2. Currently a sideline reporter for CBS Sports’ college football and basketball coverage, Collins hosted the inaugural season in 2016 and formerly co-hosted Golf Channel’s competition series, Big Break.

Production for Driver vs. Driver 2 began in the fall of 2017 and will continue through the summer, including this week at the PGA Merchandise Show. The series is being produced by Golf Channel, whose portfolio of original productions include interview series Feherty hosted by Emmy-nominated sports personality David Feherty, high-quality instruction shows School of Golf, Golf Channel Academy and Playing Lessons and a slate of award-winning films.

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Tiger Tracker: Farmers Insurance Open

By Tiger TrackerJanuary 23, 2018, 4:00 pm

Tiger Woods is competing in a full-field event for the first time in nearly a year. We're tracking him at this week's Farmers Insurance Open. (Note: Tweets read, in order, left to right)