Kuchar holds Colonial lead after long Saturday

By Associated PressMay 25, 2013, 11:35 pm

FORT WORTH, Texas – Matt Kuchar finished a long Saturday at Colonial exhausted and still a stroke in front.

''This morning feels like a day ago,'' Kuchar said. ''It's hard to believe it's the same day.''

After making a 12-foot birdie putt at the par-3 16th hole, the same place where his day began at 7:13 a.m. to finish the suspended second round, Kuchar had two nifty par-savers to finish a 1-under 69 in the third round. He was at 11-under 199, one ahead of Graham DeLaet, Boo Weekley, Chris Stroud and Matt Every.

When the second round was suspended Friday night because of an approaching storm, Kuchar had just hit his tee shot at the par-3 16th. He resumed there early Saturday with a two-putt from about 40 feet. That was part of three quick pars to keep his one-stroke lead after two rounds, then he played in the final group that finished just after 5 p.m.


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Kuchar made his go-ahead stroke in the third round at No. 16 – after falling behind by as many as two strokes – before his approach shot at the 379-yard 17th landed in a greenside bunker. He blasted to 13 feet and saved par before hooking his tee shot at No. 18 into the left rough. He found more tall grass near the green with his second shot before pitching inside 3 feet.

''To not give away a stroke and maintain a one-shot lead is a good position to be in. Everybody has got to come get me,'' Kuchar said. ''Not only a bunch of players, but a bunch of good players up there. ... I'm looking forward to having the lead and seeing if I can maintain it, and my goal will be to grow the lead.''

Weekly, even with problems maintaining focus in his left eye, and Every shot third-round 66s. Stroud had a 67 and DeLaet, playing with Kuchar, had three back-nine bogeys before a birdie at No. 18 for a 69.

Ranked No. 13 in the world – the highest in the field – Kuchar started the third round with a birdie at the easy par-5 first hole. At the 458-yard third hole, his 8-foot birdie attempt rolled over the cup without falling, ending his streak of 34 consecutive made putts under 10 feet this week at Hogan's Alley.

Kuchar missed another short one, a 5-foot par putt after blasting out of a greenside bunker at the seventh hole. He then missed the green on at the par-3 eighth and bogeyed again, putting him 9 under and two strokes behind DeLaet, the 31-year-old Canadian looking for his first PGA Tour victory.

''I felt like they were easy up-and-downs,'' Kuchar said. ''I was glad to bounce back.''

DeLaet was at 12 under after he and Kuchar both had birdies at the par-5 11th hole before his bogeys at Nos. 13, 14 and 17.

Kuchar won the WGC-Accenture Match Play in February, and will try Sunday to join Tiger Woods as the only multiple winners on the PGA Tour this season. Kuchar is a five-time winner, but never has won twice in the same season.

There could be a lot of competition in the final round at Colonial, where 12 players are within three strokes of the lead. That dozen includes defending champion Zach Johnson, who also won in 2010, at 202.

Johnson shot 68, his 18th time under par his last 19 rounds at Hogan's Alley. The lone exception being his closing 72 last year that included a two-stroke penalty. Five-time winner Ben Hogan is the only player to win Colonial more than twice.

''Certainly the confidence of playing well here is something I'm going to try to lean on,'' Johnson said.

Weekley, who has won twice but not since 2008, had gotten to 10 under during his second round Friday when he made consecutive birdies after making his turn. But he had a late four-hole stretch with a double bogey and two bogeys. He was back at 10 under Saturday with consecutive birdies at Nos. 11 and 12, and was still there after an up-and-down finish.

''When we got done playing (Friday), I went out to the range and practiced a little bit and focused back on what we are here to do, and that's win and play the best we can,'' Weekley said.

There was a bogey at the 14th when he missed the fairway with his tee shot and the green with his approach, but he made a 6-foot birdie at No. 15. He missed a 5-foot par chance at No. 16, but finished with a birdie after his approach inside 3 feet at the closing hole.

After having problems reading greens in recent tournaments, Weekley this week went to a doctor to have his left eye checked. But he still hasn't found out what the problem is.

''I get like a real bad twitch when I'm trying to focus on something, especially staring down on the ball,'' Weekley said. ''It's happened, I'd say probably 15-20 times so far this week.''

Even with that problem, he's still got a chance to win.

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Lexi looks to shine as LPGA season begins next week

By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 6:06 pm

Lexi Thompson may be No. 4 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, but in so many ways she became the new face of the women’s game last year.

That makes her the headliner in a fairly star-studded season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic next week.

Three of the top four players in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings are scheduled to tee it up on Paradise Island, including world No. 1 Shanshan Feng and co-Rolex Player of the Year So Yeon Ryu.

From the heartache at year’s start with the controversial loss at the ANA Inspiration, through the angst in the middle of the year with her mother’s cancer diagnosis, to the stunning disappointment at year’s end, Thompson emerged as the story of the year because of all she achieved in spite of those ordeals.

Next week’s event will mark the first time Thompson tees it up in an LPGA tournament since her season ended in stunning fashion last November with a missed 2-foot putt that cost her a chance to win the CME Group Tour Championship and the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and become the world No. 1.

She still walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for the season’s low scoring average.

She also walked away sounding determined to show she will bounce back from that last disappointment the same way she bounced back from her gut-wrenching loss at the year’s first major, the ANA, where a four-shot Sunday penalty cost her a chance to win her second major.

“Just going through what I have this whole year, and seeing how strong I am, and how I got through it all and still won two tournaments, got six seconds ... it didn’t stop me,” Thompson said leaving the CME Group Tour Championship. “This won’t either.”

Thompson was named the Golf Writers Association of America’s Player of the Year in a vote of GWAA membership. Ryu and Sung Hyun Park won the tour’s points-based Rolex Player of the Year Award.

With those two victories and six second-place finishes, three of those coming after playoff losses, Thompson was close to fashioning a spectacular year in 2017, to dominating the tour.

The new season opens with Thompson the center of attention again. Consistently one of the tour’s best ball strikers and longest hitters, she enjoyed her best year on tour last season by making dramatic improvements in her wedge play, short game and, most notably, her putting.

She doesn’t have a swing coach. She fashioned a better all-around game on her own, or under the watchful eye of her father, Scott. All the work she put in showed up in her winning the Vare Trophy.

The Pure Silk Bahamas Classic will also feature defending champion Brittany Lincicome, as well as Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, Brooke Henderson, I.K. Kim, Danielle Kang and Charley Hull.

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One & Done: 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 5:55 pm

Beginning in 2018, Golf Channel is offering a "One & Done" fantasy game alternative. Choose a golfer and add the salary they earn at the event to your season-long total - but know that once chosen, a player cannot be used again for the rest of the year.

Log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to start your own league and make picks for this week's event.

Here are some players to consider for One & Done picks this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, where Hudson Swafford returns as the defending champion:

Zach Johnson. The two-time major champ has missed the cut here three years in a row. So why include him in One & Done consideration? Because the three years before that (2012-14) included three top-25s highlighted by a third-place finish, and his T-14 at the Sony Open last week was his fifth straight top-25 dating back to September.

Bud Cauley. Cauley has yet to win on Tour, but that could very well change this year - even this week. Cauley ended up only two shots behind Swafford last year and tied for 14th the year prior, as four of his five career appearances have netted at least a top-40 finish. He opened the new season with a T-7 in Napa and closed out the fall with a T-8 at Sea Island.

Adam Hadwin. Swafford left last year with the trophy, but it looked for much of the weekend like it would be Hadwin's tournament as he finished second despite shooting a 59 in the third round. Hadwin was also T-6 at this event in 2016 and now with a win under his belt last March he returns with some unfinished business.

Charles Howell III. If you didn't use him last week at the Sony Open, this could be another good spot for the veteran who has four top-15 finishes over the last seven years at this event, highlighted by a playoff loss in 2013. His T-32 finish last week in Honolulu, while not spectacular, did include four sub-70 scores.

David Lingmerth. Lingmerth was in that 2013 playoff with Howell (eventually won by Brian Gay), and he also lost here in overtimei to Jason Dufner in 2016. The Swede also cracked the top 25 here in 2015 and is making his first start since his wife, Megan, gave birth to the couple's first child in December. Beware the sleep-deprived golfer.

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DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

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Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.