Langer on the verge of a four-peat at Senior Players

By Associated PressJuly 15, 2017, 10:43 pm

OWINGS MILLS, Md. - While Brandt Jobe was ripping up the golf course, the unflappable Bernhard Langer steadfastly remained in the hunt.

<p>Sure enough, by the time the third round of the Constellation Senior Players Championship drew to a close Saturday, Langer's unspectacular bogey-free 6-under 66 was good enough to put him atop the leaderboard.

Langer finished the day at 18 under, good for a one-shot lead over Jobe.

Jobe bogeyed Nos. 16 and 17 and settled for a 65. Corey Pavin (71) and Scott McCarron (69) were tied for third at 12 under.

The 59-year-old Langer trailed by two shots after Jobe birdied No. 15, but he made up three strokes over the next two holes to take control of the major tournament he's won the last three years.

''You want to continuously play well, make very few mistakes,'' Langer said. ''That's my goal. You don't always achieve it, but so far, so good.''

Jobe was 9 under after 15 holes and very much in contention to break the Caves Valley Golf Club record of 63, set in 2005 by James Lepp in the NCAA championships.

But he made his first bogey of the day on No. 16 and followed by hitting his tee shot into the water on 17. That led to another bogey, and Langer subsequently dropped in a 10-foot birdie putt on 17 to take the lead.



''Just a stupid mistake on 16, and I kind of carried that over to 17,'' Jobe said.

He will have a chance to make up for it Sunday, playing in the final twosome of the day with Langer.

"I'm going to have to play a very, very good round because I know he's going to go out and play well,'' Jobe said.

If Langer wins the tournament, his run of four successive victories in the same event will be the second-longest streak in PGA Tour Champions history, trailing only Hale Irwin's five straight titles in the Turtle Bay Championship.

Langer is taking nothing for granted.

''If I had a seven-shot lead I would expect to win, but a one-shot lead can be gone on the first hole,'' he said.

Langer and Jobe began their day by playing the final two holes of the second round, which was suspended by rain on Friday with 30 golfers still on the course.

To make up for the time lost, all players were grouped in threesomes. Langer, Jobe and Pavin began their fascinating five-hour duel with a trio of birdies on No. 1.

''We all birdied the first hole and I thought, 'Oh, here we go,''' Jobe said.

Jobe gained a share of the lead by sinking a 2-foot putt for eagle on the 550-yard, par-5 second hole.

Jobe completed his 7-under front nine by making a twisting 25-foot birdie putt on No. 8 and nailing a 40-footer on 9.

Langer, meanwhile, hit his tee shot on No. 7 off a tree and still managed to par the hole.

''That's how he plays,'' Jobe said. ''There's no give up in him. He's playing very good golf right now.''

Over the first 15 holes, the threesome of Jobe, Pavin and Langer combined for an eagle, 16 birdies and only one bogey.

''Brandt played extremely well early on,'' Langer said. ''Just looked in total control.''

The shot of the day was delivered by Fred Funk, who had a hole-in-one on No. 17, a 215-yard par 3.

''I thought I saw it disappear, but I wasn't sure,'' Funk said. ''It's exciting when you actually hit what you're aiming for.'' 

He was tied for 11th at 6 under after a 69.

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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.